Although Germans introduced "Blitzkrieg" tactics, to a great extent they themselves evolved
the tactical countermeasures to this form of attack. The Russians, who have fought two
major defensive campaigns, have been quick to seize, adapt, and even improve on the defensive
tactics employed by the Germans in the winter of 1941-42.
a. Anti-Blitz Defense
As a result, the effective defensive measures as developed by both sides are principally
(1) The "Hedgehog" system of all around defense in depth based on effective use
of any ground, and especially of villages and towns, protected by minefields, and
garrisoned by determined troops with a coordinated fire plan.
(2) The rapid conversion of strategically important inhabited localities into modern fortresses
with every street and house an actual strongpoint.
(3) The use of night fighting, in order to give the advancing enemy no rest.
(4) Rapid improvement in means of antitank defense.
(5) Improved disposition and employment of reserves and the better timing of determined
(Note: Dive-bombing, and parachute and glider action, have ceased in themselves to exercise a
decisive influence against a well-disciplined and organized defense.)
b. New Offensive Tactics
The problem facing the attacker has been to evolve new offensive tactics and thereby regain
for the offensive that decisive preponderance which it had lost for the moment.
The most promising developments so far evolved by both Russians and Germans may be summarized
(1) Night Fighting
If the enemy can be made to fight night and day without respite, a decisive result may be obtained
in a particular sector. The Russians, as soon as they discovered that night fighting caused the
enemy particular discomfort, concentrated on this form of warfare. Infantry and engineers are
best adapted for these tactics; tanks either provide a diversion or follow the infantry to
gain favorable positions for the following day's battle.
(2) New Methods of Coordinating Tank and Infantry Action
Tanks carry or haul heavily armed infantry and engineers to prepare and to hold ground, and to
neutralize the antitank defense. (This can be done where there is no undue exposure to small-arms fire.)
(3) Concentration of Effort
Great emphasis is placed on bringing all available fire power to bear simultaneously at the
point of maximum effort, thereby causing changes in the doctrine of deployment. The doctrine
of deployment by echelon, which does not permit this heavy, simultaneous concentration of fire
power, is being abandoned; this doctrine also leads to wastage without any positive returns
for casualties suffered.
(4) New Supply Methods
Improved methods are used to supply advancing troops with essentials by air and by armored vehicles.
(5) New Artillery Tactics
Creeping and box barrages are considered ineffective and a waste of ammunition. The barrage is
only important in screening friendly troops from counterattack while consolidating newly won
ground. Artillery support is based primarily on highly mobile control of artillery fire in
close support of tanks and infantry. A large proportion of guns is self-propelled. The air
arm is employed in the role of long-range artillery and for strafing reserves, dumps, and
lines of communication.
(6) Greatly Increased Infantry Fire Power
This is accomplished principally by increasing the basic allowance of mortars, automatic
weapons, and antitank rifles. The number of mortars particularly, and their massed use, have
been greatly expanded.
(7) The Employment of Shock Groups
Their composition and armament are highly elastic, but both sides consider they are essential
to achieve a decision at the point of maximum effort. The Russians seem to have shock groups
organized in special brigades, or even as special shock armies.
(8) The Achievement of More Effective and Mobile Control in Battle
This is accomplished to a certain extent by greater use of aircraft by senior staff officers
and commanders, both for reconnaissance in the planning stages and to control operations.
(9) Improvisation and Development of Weapons
Although no really new weapons have been introduced, there has been considerable development in
the use of weapons, and the side which is capable of the more rapid improvisation scores an
advantage. Thus, the campaign has seen the development of the rocket gun, the multiple grenade
projector, the multiple-barreled rocket projector, and rapid increase in the caliber of
antitank rifles and of antitank and tank guns.
c. Important Factors
The important factors which appear to have assisted the Russians to keep up in this keen
competition for tactical superiority are:
(1) A centrally controlled and adaptable industry which can provide rapidly improvised weapons
to meet or surpass the enemy's latest technical improvement.
(2) Intense and continuous training in the latest tactical innovations and ruses--night
fighting especially requires very extensive and concentrated training.
(3) Elasticity of tables of organization and basic allowances to meet changing battle requirements.