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