Russia · Ukraine

Soviet Tactics 101


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US Army FM 100-2-1

Soviet Tactics, FM 100-2-1, here.

All of you former US Army Military Intelligence officers, here is a book you all know and probably have long forgotten or thrown deep into your closet of books, templates, maps, grease pencils and acetate.

For you young pups, raised and teethed on computers, JOPES, ASAS and Commander’s terminals, you would be wise to pay attention and heed the advice I am about to give to our Ukrainian brethren, fellow soldiers in arms.

For all you Ukrainian intelligence officers about to put the lives of your soldiers at risk, I urge you to take a few hours and study this book, from cover to cover.  This is the best book out there to teach you what all the Russian officers are taught.  Their tactics have not changed since this book was written, and if they do, you need to report what they are doing to your commanders and their intelligence officers.  Don’t forget, it has been many, many, many decades since the Soviets fought and the Russians have never fought a single battle.  You now have more experience than they do.

A word of caution before you begin.  You will not see the operations and tactics shown in this book, not exactly.  You will not see clearly delineated advance guards.  You will not see clearly defined flanking forces.  You will not see rear guards.  There will not be signs around their necks saying this is a Motorized Rifle Regiment. You might not see a Tank Regiment or a Motorized Rifle Regiment.  It might also be difficult to pick out a Tank Battalion or a Motorized Rifle Battalion.  Heck, it is going to be difficult enough to pick out a Company or a Platoon!

OMG.  It doesn’t mean what you’ve learned in the past, it is an Operational Maneuver Group.  You will have a difficult time picking one of these out, if at all.

But you need to read this book in its entirety because these are the tactics the Soviets used and probably will use whenever possible.  The equipment in this book also conforms to the equipment you are going to see on the battlefield.  Chances are most of their time training was spent on how to maintain the vehicle and perhaps how to fire the weapons. If they were not trained how to maintain their vehicles, they will break down and will stop being a threat to you.  I am sure they got in a little maneuver training but chances are they’re going to go “single file” as soon as they hit the road.  When they come into contact with your brave forces, they will fall into chaos.  I hope you know what a defilade position is (graphic below), where your tanks are behind an earthen berm, with only the turret exposed – that way you’ll kill a bunch of Russian tanks while staying relatively safe.  Construct fall-back positions and know how to get there.  Then construct more fall-back positions.  Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.  When the Russians attack, they are completely exposed – if you are in a defilade position you are almost completely hidden and protected.  When you are about to be overrun, use plenty of smoke and move to your fallback position.  Repeat as necessary.

Defilade position

The Russians and the pro-Russian forces are using ancient equipment, like T-64 and T-72 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), and variants of each.

Just pray you don’t start to see T-80 and T-90 MBTs.  Thank goodness the T-99 won’t be available until 2015.

Let me make a few predictions.

The pro-Russians are not trained to fight as a unit.  They will use mostly individual tactics in support of each other.  If they get some professional Russian officers, they might start to fight as a platoon, perhaps even as a company, but I seriously doubt you’re going to see Battalion or Regimental tactics.  Your defense has a huge advantage – if you fight as a cohesive unit.  The old Soviet formula was to have a minimum of a 7:1 ratio on the offense, before they’d even consider an attack on a defending unit.  10:1 was preferred.  But, as you have seen in the past few months, they don’t care about force on force ratios, a company may attack a defending battalion, hoping that through sheer audacity and the massing of firepower they can break through and defeat the defenders.  Their only support was artillery from Russia, now they have an accompanying Grad systems, but they’re going to break down.  Their logistics tail is probably not strong enough to support sustained combat operations.  So, in addition to killing the big boys up front in the tanks and BTRs and BMPs, take out their logistics and supporting artillery.

Look for their food, shelter and water.  Take those away and the Russians will cease to exist, they’ll surrender in droves. Take away their ammunition and they will be converted to mere targets, because they cannot attack.

They seem to be restricted to the roads, use that against them.  Construct obstacles (an Abatis

Abatis Obstacle

is good) and cover it with fire – kill the engineers who try to clear the way with mortars and artillery.  Then use bulldozers to make tank ditches that are very long, very deep and very wide.

If you construct minefields, make a map, someone eventually is going to have to clean it up.  Again, cover the minefield with mortar, artillery and machine gun fire.  Don’t waste a good obstacle, cover it.

Communicate.  Tell each other where the Russians are, what they’re doing and make sure every commander, all the way to the top, knows what is going on. If your radios conk out, send messengers.  Two way communications is absolutely essential.  But keep all conversations short, very short.

Be professional, be calm, and do your absolute best. No matter what the circumstances.

Good luck.

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4 thoughts on “Soviet Tactics 101

  1. This is great

    Going the distance, Norm Balchunas Sent from my I-phone, so excuse my grammatically deficient thumbs

  2. Thanks Joel. I sure hope this is the kind of advise we or our allies are giving to the Ukrainian officers.

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