Deep Battle: Soviet Doctrine for Operational Level Warfare

Everybody knows about the German’s Blitzkrieg style of warfare. But I was surprised to discover the Soviets had a similar approach to warfare called “Deep Operations” or “Deep Battle”. This was a well defined doctrine for Operational Level Warfare, was invented during the 1920s, and deliberately applied during WW2. Admittedly Deep Battle had mixed success during the war, but this was probably more to do with the previous purge of Soviet military leadership than with any fundamental flaw in the doctrine. Soviet doctrine in the Cold War period is still based on Deep Battle.

In the interests of getting this post out I’ll just quote from others…

Wikipedia: Deep operation:

Deep operation (Russian: Глубокая операция, glubokaya operatsiya), also known as Soviet Deep Battle

Dr Huw J. Davies and Dr Robert T. Foley
The Operational Level of War and the Operational Art.

Indeed, by the early 1930s, the concept of glubokaya operatsiya, or deep operations, had become enshrined in Soviet doctrine and training. Tying new emerging technologies of aircraft, tanks, and motorization together with the idea of using large-scale mobile forces (Fronts) on separate axes of operations in the enemy’s rear, deep operations looked to disrupt rather than simply destroy the enemy’s defence. The Soviets put this doctrine to good use, particularly in 1944 and 1945. Faced with large-scale offensives on widely separated fronts, the Germans were unable to be strong at every point, and the cohesion of the overall German defence broke down.

Wikipedia: Deep operation:

Deep operations had two phases; the tactical deep battle, followed by the exploitation of tactical success, known as the conduct of deep battle operations. Deep battle envisaged the breaking of the enemy’s forward defenses, or tactical zones, through combined arms assaults, which would be followed up by fresh uncommitted mobile operational reserves sent to exploit the strategic depth of an enemy front. The goal of a deep operation was to inflict a decisive strategic defeat on the enemy’s logistical abilities and render the defence of their front more difficult, impossible—or, indeed, irrelevant. Unlike most other doctrines, deep battle stressed combined arms cooperation at all levels: strategic, operational, and tactical.

Operation Uranus - Successful Deep Battle -Eastern Front 1942-11 to 1943-03

Operation Uranus
Successful Deep Battle
Eastern Front 1942-11 to 1943-03

Sounds interesting so I’m going to look up the books on this …

Glantz, D. M. (1991). Soviet Military Operational Art: In Pursuit of Deep Battle (Soviet Russian Military Theory and Practice).

Isserson, G. S., and Menning B. W. (Trans). (2013). The Evolution of Operational Art.
Combat Studies Institute Press US Army Combined Arms Center Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Brigade Commander Georgii Samoilovich Isserson was a Soviet military thinker and one of the originators of the Deep Battle concept.

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