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"Russian Notes on Flank Security in a Breakthrough" from Tactical and Technical Trends

An intelligence report on Russian flank security from an article in the WWII Soviet Army newspaper Red Star, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 28, July 1, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The following is extracted from an article written by two Russian Colonels and published in the Soviet Army newspaper, Red Star.

*          *          *

a. General

In a modern military operation the flanks play a decisive role because of their vulnerability. In any type of battle, success will in a large measure depend on the action on the flanks. In the attack, the principal stress in much of present-day fighting is laid on widening of the flanks and consolidating the corridor created by the breakthrough of enemy positions. In the defense every effort is bent toward holding the positions on the flanks of the hostile breakthrough and cutting the enemy wedge by counterattacking.

b. Consolidation of Flanks

In choosing the direction for a breakthrough, it is unwise to leave enemy strongpoints on the flanks. It is necessary, however, to consolidate the flanks and widen them with all means available simultaneously with the advance. Experience has proven that the Germans launch their counterattacks primarily against the flanks. Rapid maneuver of reserves is the basis of German defensive tactics. Therefore, maximum flank security must be the prime consideration. Units must be designated to consolidate the flank terrain and widen the sector of breakthrough immediately after spearheads have been driven into the enemy lines.

It is not sufficient for flank security to use large numbers of troops only. These flank troops must have a maximum of equipment and be able to throw up strong field fortifications in case of change-over to defense. under heavy enemy pressure. It is most important to hold the flanks until breakthrough units wipe out the whole system of the enemy defense. Wide use must be made of all types of obstacles, including minefields, on the flanks.

c. Ratio of Width of Breakthrough to Depth

It has been established that the desirable ratio between the width and depth of the sector of breakthrough is approximately 1 to 2. For instance, if the width of the breakthrough is 4 miles, the depth should not exceed from 8 to 9 miles. If the units brought into the breach encounter fresh, strong reserves in the depth of the enemy positions, it is necessary to throw in new forces, an operation possible only when the gap is sufficiently wide.


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