You are on page 1of 5

4.

1 Deep Operations in theory and practice
Deep Operations were first formally expressed as a concept in the Red Army's "Field
Regulations" of 1929, and more fully developed in the 1935 Instructions on Deep Battle. The
concept was finally codified by the army in 1936 in the Provisional Field Regulations of 1936.

The Great Purges of 1937–1939 removed many of the leading officers of the Red Army,
including Tukhachevsky. As a consequence, and as a result of experiences from the Spanish Civil
War and the Winter War against Finland, the concept of Deep Operations was abandoned, until
its potential was shown again during the rapid German victory over France in Operation Yellow
in 1940. An early example of the potential effectiveness of deep operations can be found in the
Soviet victory over Japan at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan), where a Soviet corps under
the command of Tukhachevsky's disciple G. K. Zhukov defeated a substantial Japanese force in
August–September, 1939.

4.2 Deep Operations during World War II
The development of Soviet operational doctrine during World War II owes a lot to the sound
doctrinal base that was present in the 1936 Field Regulations, and the ideas of Deep Operations.
The rapid growth of a competent mechanised force, as well as its adept handling, were remarked
on by German officers such as F.W. von Mellenthin. The two military operations that came
closest to the ideal of Deep Operations were probably the Vistula-Oder Offensive against the
Wehrmacht in January/February 1945, and the Operation August Storm against the Japanese
Kwantung Army in Manchuria in August 1945. Both were rapid and crushing victories for the
Red Army.

4.3 The role of technology
Soviet deep-battle theory was driven by technological advances and the hope that maneuver
warfare offered opportunities for quick, efficient, and decisive victory. The concurrent
development of aviation and armor provided a physical impetus for this doctrinal evolution
within the Red Army. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky stated that airpower should be "employed
against targets beyond the range of infantry, artillery, and other arms. For maximum tactical
effect aircraft should be employed in mass, concentrated in time and space, against targets of the
highest tactical importance."

Levels of Warfare

6.1 Tactical:
From a tactical standpoint with a view toward operations, Tukhachevsky’s views addressed the
roles of many other technological advances in armor, aviation, massed artillery and motorization.
Just understanding technological innovations was adequate challenge for many military thinkers

Here also Tukhachevsky showed himself quite adept. Whether or not he had ever read it. and intensity of the action demand the highest degree of initiative and the manifestation of heroism on the part of individual troopers and the smallest units. In seven of 12 works. He also clearly understood the marshalling and integrating of battle operating systems in the conduct of the combined-arms fight and the criticality of command and control as a function of leaders and staffs that actually make the fight take place successfully.during the interwar period. He clearly thought that in warfare. artillery.” in that the soldier’s moral mindset is paramount in the context of technological assets. every soldier counts and every soldier must have a proper mindset for engaging the enemy in the necessary way to bring about success on the battlefield. Tukhachevsky clearly understood the Napoleonic principle of “The moral is to the physical as three is to one. the plane and massed artillery. Finally. Tactically. he never took his eye off the most crucial ingredient for tactical victory—the role of the fighting soldier. air defense. For the tactical to be integrated with the operational requires that leaders and staffs be synchronized conceptually through an understanding of the place of mission type orders emphasizing initiative in lieu of overly centralized control precluding decisive action on fluid battlefields. warfare fundamentally comes down to the individual soldier. . He clearly understood the emerging roles of the tank. those who are exceptional embrace the strategic issues that relate to the tactics. better known as combined-arms warfare.2 Strategic While many officers build a tremendous reputation through demonstrating tactical prowess on the field of battle. most important. Despite his understanding about how to marshal and orchestrate assets at the tactical level. his writings reveal that he clearly possessed a thorough understanding of the integration of assets in the combined-arms fight as his writings progressed well beyond mere technology to address issues such as chemicals on the battlefield. In Battle and the Operation. Unless these elements prevail even the most carefully prepared attack can fail. The proper organization of staff functions and collaboration on the part of the commander with his chief of staff are of especial importance in the control of forces in battle. Tukhachevsky surely demonstrated a mastery of the practical application and the conceptual understanding of the integration of all of the key ingredients for success on the battlefield. high degree of mechanization. the role of the infantry and even rear-area operations. reconnaissance. one has a sense that all would be for naught. The complexity. The same holds true for the defense. Even more challenging were the tactical conceptualization and practical marshalling and integrating of such assets into an orchestrated execution of fire and maneuver to bring about decisive effects on the battlefield. He knew first hand that. he wrote: The spiritual strength of the Red Army is a very powerful weapon in organizing a modern battle. Without them and their spirit for fighting. he never lost sight of the importance of the soldier in the conduct of warfare. while he understood all of these larger pieces of the tactical fight. 6. antitank systems. Soldiers were the glue that held all the other pieces together.

along with the importance of security for units. Engaging strategic issues came easily for Tukhachevsky. the security of the force became a . And he conveyed these forms of operations with respect to various types of terrain such as mountains. Moreover. he understood that with an increasingly distributed battlefield. Tukhachevsky well understood the interaction between the offense and the defense. forms of warfare such as revolutionary. it is his understanding of the operational level as the interconnection between strategy and tactics that distinguishes him from all others. Some of the most prevalent were the interaction between the offense and the defense. the role of planning in operations. desert and forest. forms of operations. he also understood the operational level as the bridge between the strategic and the tactical levels of warfare. combat in various terrains and security. His ability to understand. embrace and affect the complexity of strategic issues. which were consistently focused specifically on the operational level of warfare. such as the encirclement. effectively functioning militaries need those who can engage. 6.3 Operational: Compared to many of history’s military leaders and theorists. Tukhachevsky’s breadth of ideas and depth of details about merely the tactical and strategic levels of war certainly make him at least respectable. but that ultimately the offense must be preeminent. Seven of 12 sources address the interaction between the offense and the defense. sea and air. who in many of his writings addressed several key strategic issues. and the place of deep and destructive operations on the battlefield. it was perhaps at this level that he would have some of his greatest impact on the future of Soviet operations in World War II and the operational consciousness of modern warfare militaries. conceptualize and preclude the implications of the friction between the tactical and strategic levels of warfare through operations conducted by modern industrial militaries resulted in his development of an operational approach to warfare that would have far-reaching impact for his military and for the conduct of conventional warfare in the 20th century. particularly that of the United States. Such issues include the importance of the political-ideological work. However. and the future of warfare He knew warfare at the tactical level and he knew how those tactics were related to key strategic issues. While tactics win battles. He understood that there was a place for both forms of operations. addressed numerous key concepts.More than tactically proficient officers. the turning movement. He clearly understood and engaged the elements of national power and understood the implications of putting them together to build a practical system to manifest the concepts to which he was committed. understand. However. demonstrating his rare and sophisticated understanding of the important interrelationship between the strategic and tactical levels of warfare. strategy wins wars. the role of the economy in the development of a military. Many of his writings address this idea specifically and in quite some detail. In addition. and eight of 12 mention the forms of battle themselves. follow-on operations. double envelopment and deep attacks via air and airborne assault. the penetration. Tukhachevsky’s focus on the issue of security for units is quite telling. coalition and civil war. Those areas of his writing. the mediums of ground.

the discussion surrounding his execution in the military purge of 1937. Although his very cursory and sanguine order for the attack on Warsaw. From a tactical perspective. diplomacy. However. Instead. a detailed analysis of his early life and Civil War command career has never been completed. his writings do address the issue of war plans or planning specifically in almost half of the 12 works examined. he focused on the integration of all tactical assets at his disposal to bring about maximum effectiveness on the battlefield. From the strategic perspective. The success of Tukhachevsky’s class warfare methods is explained by their relevance to the situation and social fabric of Russia at the time. he well understood the importance of the elements of national power. However. In addition. he was particularly adept at addressing the interaction among the mediums of ground. his command experiences during the Civil War. Tukhachevsky’s success in the Civil War is compared to his failure in the PolishSoviet War and the basis for the latter is that his continuation of class warfare methods were unsuitable for the conflict in Poland. He also saw the importance of planning in operations. Red Star. air and sea. the attendant mechanisation of the Red Army and his role in the development of the Soviet military/industrial complex have been well-researched. The “Tukhachevsky Affair”. He saw a place for planning at all levels.suggests very little in the way of planning in comparison to modern western military doctrine. He avoided the pitfalls of a Mahan focus on the navy or a Douhet focus on strategic bombing. allowed him to develop a theory of class warfare and saw his conversion to a belief in the efficacy of Marxist principles when applied to military methods. he had an excellent command of combined-arms warfare with an approach that discounted a “silver bullet” mentality (a one-size-fits-all wonder solution to the future of warfare such as the Fuller tank- centric or the French infantry-centric views of the interwar period). found in Norman Davies’ White Eagle. military and economy. The retention of these principles to form the basis of the operational side of “Deep Battle” is argued. Tukhachevsky’s theoretical understanding of the various levels of warfare and their integration on the battlefield distinguish him as one of the most exceptional military thinkers of the interwar period if not in the history of warfare. which emphasized . His understanding of these issues is further evidence of the overall breadth of his operational understanding. as is Tukhachevsky’s openness to innovation in weaponry and tactics gleaned during his Civil War command. continues to attract interest. combining military tactics of continuous manoeuvre warfare with constant frontline mobilisations. Tukhachevsky’s early life is explored to provide background. political agitation and repression. In sum.most significant issue in any conduct of warfare. information. but also to provide a biographical account and to illustrate who he was when he joined the Red Army and Bolshevik Party in 1918. as suggested in Questions of Higher Command under the subtitle “Fundamentals of Planning:” Conclusion Development of the “Deep Battle” military theory in the late 1920s and 1930s.

over-arching goal: Get the battlescape moving. 2 Original Deep Battle theory still sought the 'knock-out blow' of earlier wars. such as Tukhachevsky. Deep Battle. with larger.and it fails to reflect the full integration of Mechanization that the wars of the 1930s of and 1940s would have. in short.one medium at the expense of the others. and keep it moving1. but by the end of the initial period of theorizing several individuals. "Operational" level of warfare was the natural evolution of what Chandler described as its embryonic predecessor. Soviet Deep battle. is the Soviet Union's attempt to develop an Operational art . in which tailor-made Corps would be created to form different echelons of the attack. total war. The experiences of the Russian Civil War was the first source of practical experience with which they could create new theory out of . shorter battles-within-battles (tactical engagements). rather than thought of something that would have to be created through larger breaches in a deep. Like most developing theories of Mobile Operations at this time. War is no longer a series of short and sharp engagements but rather a flowing affair. air and sea and tactical combined-arms warfare. were already reaching the conclusion that this would be an impossible goal in a modern. he knew how to put these levels of war into operational execution. Maneuver space was initially taken for granted. in which the Soviets imagined echelons of Infantry and Cavalry. Most important." It is Military science's attempt to keep up with the growing scope and scale of the industrialized battlefield. Achieving operational decisive. it had one. strategically oriented battles ('operations') that often encompass several smaller. .the 'middle ground' of battle that lays between the tactical and the strategic. anchored line. destructive results had become a function of bridging the gap between the strategic integration of the mediums ground. Napoleonic "Grand Tactics. or Deep Operations in particular first begins to develop as a theory in the 1920s. and Practice. This is the most immediate difference from Theory.