The Lessons of Barbarossa for NATO's New 'Defensive' Drang Nach Osten and Partial Occupation of Ukraine: National Will and Not Just Technology Matters in Warfare
(Though Russian Intel and Military Tech Usually Comes as a Nasty Surprise)
Although the specter of a hot war with Russia is receding, thanks to the election of Donald J. Trump and the unseen efforts of many 'white hats' in intelligence agencies across the (post)West, there are still many lessons from World War II (to Russians, the Great Patriotic War) that those still pushing for confrontation with Moscow deliberately forget. Including their false belief that wars are won through superior technology if not organization, rather than through the more brutal combination of logistics, cunning and will.
“On 27 November 1941, Eduard Wagner, the Quartermaster General of the German Army, reported that “We are at the end of our resources in both personnel and material. We are about to be confronted with the dangers of deep winter.”
When Hitler's generals saw the advance slow to less than two miles a day in the mud of late October, those who had read about Napoleon Bonaparte's disastrous campaign of 1812 recalled in their post-war memoirs getting that first sinking feeling in their guts. That sense, though unspoken, that perhaps God was not on the side of the Third Reich. Hitler of course, believed that with one more massive push Soviet resistance could be broken at the Russian capital. And indeed, while there was panic and some Soviet officials hastily sought to flee, those sentiments were ruthlessly suppressed by the NKVD [predecessor to the KGB] declaring martial law. Sending the message that Stalin intended to stay in the capitol to the bitter end, on November 7, the Soviets defiantly held their October Revolution parade through Red Square. Thousands of men streamed through Red Square, under the cover of steady snowfall, the Red Air Force, and the massed anti-aircraft guns and balloons around the city. Many of the troops who participated marched straight to the front lines.
The Assassination of Ukrainian Historian Oles Buzina by Ukro-Fascists, Because He Told the Truth About WW2, Stepan Bandera and the Polish Civilian Mass Murdering UPA
To apply some of the lessons from that era to the present, the Russia Analyst turned to the translated work of Oles Buzina, an anti-Maidan historian opposed to the Washington instigated, fratricidal war in the Donbass where the Ukrainian grandsons of Red Army heroes kill each other. Enraging his ultranationalist and Ukro-Nazi detractors, Mr. Buzina referred to himself as 'a Ukrainian -- which is a type of Russian'. Buzina was shot dead outside his apartment building in Kiev on April 16, 2015.
'Scarface' Skorzeny: Another 'Ratlines' and Operation Paperclip Nazi Protected from Justice
The following are Buzina's commentaries on the memoirs of SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto 'Scarface' Skorzeny, a Nazi war criminal wanted immediately after VE Day on charges of training his men to wear American uniforms and infiltrate U.S. lines, and murdering captured GIs during the Battle of the Bulge [as depicted in the opening of the film Harts War] . The postwar 'ratlines', many of them run by the Vatican or the OSS/CIA for their former foes, saw to it that Skorzeny never was shot or hanged for his crimes. In recent months, to the great embarrassment of the Mossad and the tarnishing of Israel's reputation for ruthlessly hunting down Nazi war criminals, it has come to light that Skorzeny worked as an assassin for the Israelis, killing German rocket scientists working for the Egyptians.
Hitler’s favorite commando who became an Israeli hitman pic.twitter.com/suEI2RvtA7
— IN THE NOW (@IntheNow_tweet) December 29, 2016
Skorzeny Recognized If He Stayed Longer on the Moscow Front He'd End Up Dead
At any rate, Buzina makes clear certain lessons that 'scarface', Hitler's super soldier who (if you believe the story of the SS commando's greatest exploit) rescued the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from his Alpine confinement, never forgot. Which is that going to war with Russia is bound to be extremely bloody business, and to come with great shocks and setbacks, particularly to lengthy supply chains that inevitably break down and come under intense attack.
The Limits of Blitzkrieg aka "Shock and Awe" and Lack of Serious Preparation for Long and Bloody Warfare: What NATO Has in Common Today with Hitler's Wehrmacht of 1941
Such as Hitler's troops discovering on December 4, 1941 that not only were the Sturmoviks overhead about to strafe them not friendly, but that their anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns had frozen up. Keeping tank engines from freezing required burning fuel the Wehrmacht didn't have. Some of the Wehrmacht's shells simply bounced off the front armor of the new T-34s that joined in the attack. And 'Stalin's screamers' the theretofore secret weapon of truck-mounted Katyushas could blast holes in their lines [see the War on the Rocks article "Outnumbered, Outranged, and Outgunned: How Russia Defeats NATO" or American expat in Italy Vox Day's essay explaining why "NATO Cannot Stop Russia" on Russia's doorstep]:
German memoirs explain what caused the defeat of the Wehrmacht in the war.
Every Spring in the run up to Victory Day, television starts to show feature films devoted to the Great Patriotic War. Honestly: most of them are simply exploiting the grand subject-matter. They need to sell something “interesting” to the belching inhabitant sitting with a bottle of beer in his hand in front of the TV, something pleasing to his eyes which have grown lethargic from his peaceful life. This is where those shows such as “Fighter” appear, the main plot of which is who gets into the female pilot’s knickers – the “bad” political officer or the “good” son of a repressed pre-revolutionary aristocrat, who carries a small volume of Goethe – in German – under his arm and is played by the actor Dyushev? Those that don’t themselves fight and don’t even serve in the military tell others who do not fight that war is fascinating and erotic. There is even, so they say, time for a Russian soldier to read Goethe.
Frankly, such films disgust me. They are immoral and false. As false as the American film “Pearl Harbour”. Because they are founded on the same clichés – war and girls. And such films do not add to our understanding of the question: why did our grandfathers win back then? After all the Germans were so organised, so well-armed and had such an excellent command system, that a “realist” could only surrender. Thus Czechoslovakia surrendered (without a fight), Poland (with almost no fight), France (nice and easily – like a Parisian prostitute “surrendering” to a client), as well as Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece…but this didn’t work in the East – everything went awry and it ended for some reason not in Moscow but in Berlin. Where it had all started.
It seems to me that the memoirs of SS Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny, the world’s most widely published “commando” and “super-saboteur”, can help clarify this issue. This latter, liberator of Mussolini, kidnapper of Horthy and hunter of Tito, was the same person who, smelling of gunpowder, took part in the 1941 offensive campaign against Russia. He was part of the SS “Das Reich” division, which belonged to the Panzer Group Guderian...
SOVIET DECEPTION AND MASKIROVKA
“We didn’t know that the Russians were using outdated equipment and not their best soldiers in the war with Finland. We did not realise that their hard-won victory over the brave Finnish army was only a bluff. We are talking about concealing a huge force which was capable of attack and defence, about which [Admiral] Canaris – the head of German intelligence [the Abwehr] – had to at least know something.”
WEHRMACHT SHOCKED BY SOVIET T-34s
Like the rest of us, Skorzeny was impressed by the “magnificent T-34s”. The Germans even had to throw bottles filled with petrol at the tanks. In films such an episode characterises images of the heroic Soviet soldier forced to fight virtually bare-handed. But in reality it was sometimes the other way around. Moreover – it was quite often so: “German anti-tank weapons, which could easily destroy tanks of the T-26 and BT class were powerless against the new T-34s, which suddenly appeared out of the overgrown wheat and rye fields. Our soldiers then needed to attack them with “Molotov Cocktails” – ordinary bottles of petrol with a lit fuse instead of a cork. If the bottle landed on the steel plate protecting the engine, the tank would catch fire… “Faust-bullets” appeared considerably later, which is why in the early campaigns some Russian tanks could only be held back with direct fire from our heavy artillery.”
In other words, all of the Reich’s anti-tank artillery proved useless against the new Russian tank [shades of much vaunted TOW missiles simply exploding upon Kontakt 5 armor of Russia’s ‘old’ but modernized T-72 tanks in Syrian Arab Army operation - JWS]. It could only be kept in check by heavy guns. But the memoirist was no less impressed by the Red Army sapper units and their equipment – they could construct a 60 metre bridge, making it possible to transport vehicles weighing up to 60 tons! The Wehrmacht did not possess such technology...[and as one writer covering NATO’s vaunted Anaconda exercises in Poland admitted, Russian bridging and engineering units significantly outnumber their NATO counterparts, who are also hampered by lack of common logistics, spare parts and multiple languages -- JWS]
WHEN GERMAN LOGISTICS FAILED DUE TO TOO MANY VEHICLE TYPES [WHICH NATO HAS IN ABUNDANCE TODAY - JWS] AND EXTREME CONDITIONS
The whole design of the German offensive doctrine was based on the high mobility of its motorised units. Engines however require spare parts and constant maintenance. And there was no procedure for this in the German army. The diversity of car types in one division was a problem. “Each German car company was still making different models of their brand just as they did before the war, laments Skorzeny, remembering his own experience of service in the SS "Das Reich” division in 1941. A large number of models is not conducive to the creation of a corresponding stock of spare-parts. In the motorised divisions there were roughly 2,000 vehicles with sometimes 50 different types and models, although 10-18 would have been enough. In addition our artillery regiment had more than 200 trucks, of 15 different types. In the rain, mud or freezing weather it was not possible for even the best specialist to carry out a high-quality repair."
Just outside Moscow: “On 2nd December we continued to move ahead and were able to take Nikolaev, which was located 15 kilometres outside Moscow – during clear sunny weather I could see the domes of the Moscow churches through binoculars. Our troops fired on the outskirts of the capital, however we no longer had artillery tractors.” If you still have guns but the tractors are “all out of commission” it means that the German “supertechnology” had to be left behind as breakdown on the road. You just can’t drag heavy guns yourself. [Consider in a hypothetical combat scenario just how well NATO would be able to maintain spare parts and fuel for vaunted Abrams and Leopard tanks east of the Dnieper, or even in Moldova - JWS]
The German army arrived in Moscow absolutely exhausted: “On the 19th October it started to rain in torrents and the “Centre” army group was bogged down in the mud for three days… It was a terrible scene: a column of equipment stretching out over hundreds of kilometres with thousands of vehicles standing in three rows, bogged down in the mud sometimes up to the hood. There was a shortage of petrol and ammunition. Three valuable weeks and large quantities of equipment were lost… At the cost of hard work and back-breaking efforts we managed to pave 15 kilometres of road with round logs… We dreamt of it quickly turning colder."
But when from the 6th to 7th November cold weather struck and the division in which Skorzeny served was supplied with ammunition, fuel, some food and cigarettes, it became apparent that there was no winter oil for the vehicles and weapons – and the engines started causing problems. Instead of winter uniforms the troops ended up with the sand-coloured kits intended for the Afrika Corps and equipment painted in the same light tone. Meanwhile the temperature dropped to -20° and even to -30° Celsius.
With sincere amazement the dashing SS officer describes the winter uniforms of the Soviet soldiers – short fur coats and fur boots: “It was an unpleasant surprise – at Borodino [site of the biggest battle against Napoleon in 1812, where the Red Army defenders used earthen works from the first Patriotic War in 1941 - JWS] we fought with Siberians for the first time. These were strapping men – superior, well-armed soldiers; they were dressed in wide fur coats and hats and wore fur boots on their feet.” The Germans only learned from the Russian POWs that winter footwear should be a little roomier, if you didn’t want your feet to freeze: “After careful study of the equipment of the courageous Siberians, captured by Borodino, we learned that, for example, if there aren’t any felt boots, you don’t have to wear leather boots – the most important thing is that the boots are spacious and don’t press the foot. This was known to all skiers but not to our specialist clothing service. Almost all of us wore fur boots taken from dead Russian soldiers.”
EXCELLENT RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE
Almost the main reason for the defeat of the German Army was, according to Skorzeny, excellent Russian intelligence. The “Red Orchestra” spy network in Europe – mostly made up of die-hard anti-Nazis – provided the Soviet General Staff with information about German strategic intentions [After the F-117A shootdown in 1999 and other pratfalls enabled by leaks to the Russians, could NATO ever really trust a unified command that included Hungarians, Greeks or others not so keen on going to war with the Russians not to leak to Moscow? We don’t think so - JWS]. Skorzeny also recalls super-spy Richard Sorge, whose information that Japan would not enter the war led to 40 divisions being redeployed to Moscow from the Far East.
“The Reich’s military strategy was superior” Skorzeny says, “and our Generals possessed a more powerful imagination. However, from the ordinary soldier up to the company commander, the Russians were our equals – courageous, resourceful, gifted conspirators. They resisted fiercely and were always ready to sacrifice their lives…The Russian officers from division commander and below were younger and more resolute than ours. From 9th October to 5th December the [SS Das] “Reich” division [whose ‘Wolfsangel’ runes are the model for Ukraine’s Azov Battalion flag - JWS], the 10th tank division and other units of the 16th tank corps lost 40% of their total personnel. Six days later, when our positions were attacked once more by the newly-arrived Siberian divisions, our losses exceeded 75%.”
So there is your answer to the question – why the Germans did not take Moscow. They were quite simply beaten. Skorzeny himself didn’t fight on the front any more. Not a stupid man, he understood that there were minimal chances to survive this meat grinder and so he took the opportunity to transfer to service in the SS commando unit. The front no longer attracted him – kidnapping dictators was more pleasant and safer than coming face to face with Siberians in felt boots, who were fighting under the protection of T-34s and with the best intelligence in the world.”
Thanks to nothing less than Divine Providence, the Russia Analyst has hope that American soldiers will ever experience what the Germans felt on December 5, 1941, when the Soviets unleashed a massive counteroffensive that put what had been the best army in the world on its heels. Thanks to the election of Trump, the U.S. will have a Secretary of Defense in James Mattis who has known war, and who knows the costs of war from having buried some of the U.S. Marines under his command -- instead of a neocon airhead like Eveyln Farkas who has probably never read about much less understood how Hitler's thousand year Reich died in the mud, blood and snows near Moscow and Stalingrad.
— Harald Doornbos (@HaraldDoornbos) December 2, 2016
The problem, as has been observed by very intelligent observers such as Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, is that a whole generation of Washington wonks and bureaucrats have come of age since 1991 imagining only conventional invincibility for the American military (not addressing of course, the costly occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq). That is men and women like Mrs. Farkas' only reference point is easy U.S. victories over completely overmatched and weak conventional foes from Serbia to Iraq. They've deliberately forgotten if they ever knew that all the way up until the mid-1980s or so (when the Reagan defense build up led to a surge of modern tanks, anti-tank missiles and the modernization of the Alliance's tactical aircraft) NATO doctrine called for first use of nuclear weapons to blunt the large Soviet advantages in tanks, troops and artillery firepower in Germany. A former U.S. Army officer who goes by the alias 'Shellback' recalled this history vividly in an article for Russia Insider titled, "Why NATO Would Probably Lose a [Non-Nuclear Land] War with Russia":
“I developed a great respect for the Soviet war-fighting doctrine. I don’t know whether it was based on traditional Russian doctrine but it certainly had been perfected in the Second World War where the Soviets carried out what are probably the largest land operations ever conducted. Nothing could be farther from the truth than the casual Western idea that the Soviets sent waves of men against the Germans until they ran out of ammunition and were trampled under the next wave. Once the Soviets got going, they were very good indeed.
The Soviet war-fighting doctrine that I saw in the exercises had several characteristics. The first thing that was clear is that the Soviets knew that people are killed in wars and that there is no place for wavering; hesitation loses the war and gets more people killed in the end. Secondly, success is reinforced and failure left to itself. “Viktor Suvorov”, a Soviet defector, wrote that he used to pose a problem to NATO officers. You have four battalions, three attacking and one in reserve; the battalion on the left has broken through easily, the one in the middle can break through with a little more effort, the one on the right is stopped. Which one do you reinforce with your reserve battalion? He claimed that no NATO officer ever gave the correct answer. Which was, forget the middle and right battalions, reinforce success; the fourth battalion goes to help the lefthand one and, furthermore, you take away the artillery support from the other two and give it to the battalion on the left. Soviet war-fighting doctrine divided their forces into echelons, or waves. In the case above, not only would the fourth battalion go to support the lefthand battalion but the followup regiments would be sent there too.
Breakthroughs are reinforced and exploited with stunning speed and force. General von Mellenthin speaks of this in his book Panzer Battles when he says that any Soviet river crossing must be attacked immediately with whatever the defender has; any delay brings more and more Soviet soldiers swimming, wading or floating across. They reinforce success no matter what. The third point was the tremendous amount of high explosives that Soviet artillery could drop on a position. In this respect, the BM-21 Grad, about which I have written before, was a particular standout, but they had plenty of guns as well.
An especially important point, given a common US and NATO assumption, is that the Soviets did not assume that they would always have total air superiority. The biggest hole, in my opinion, of US and NATO war-fighting doctrine is this assumption. US tactics often seem to be little more than the instruction to wait for the air to get the ground forces out of trouble (maybe that’s why US-trained forces do so poorly against determined foes). Indeed, when did the Americans ever have to fight without total air superiority other than, perhaps, their very first experience in World War II? The Western Allies in Italy, at D-day and Normandy and the subsequent fighting could operate confident that almost every aircraft in the sky was theirs. This confident arrogance has, if anything, grown stronger since then with short wars in which the aircraft all come home. The Soviets never had this luxury – they always knew they would have to fight for air superiority and would have to operate in conditions where they didn’t have it. And, General Chuikov at Stalingrad “hugging the enemy”, they devised tactics that minimized the effectiveness of enemy aircraft. The Russians forces have not forgotten that lesson today and that is probably why their air defense is so good.
[In a shooting war near Russia’s borders - JWS] NATO commanders will be in for a shattering shock when their aircraft start falling in quantity and the casualties swiftly mount into the thousands and thousands. After all, we are told that the Kiev forces lost two thirds of their military equipment against fighters with a fraction of Russia’s assets, but with the same fighting style [from July 2014 in and around Ilovaisk and Saur Mogila near the Russian border to defeats at Donetsk Airport and Debaltsevo in January/February 2015 - JWS].
But, getting back to the scenarios of the [first] Cold War. Defending NATO forces would be hit by an unimaginably savage artillery attack, with, through the dust, a huge force of attackers pushing on. The NATO units that repelled their attackers would find a momentary peace on their part of the battlefield while the ones pushed back would immediately be attacked by fresh forces three times the size of the first ones and even heavier bombardments. The situation would become desperate very quickly.
No wonder they always won [in ‘non nuke’ war games - JWS] and no wonder the NATO officer playing Red, following the simple instructions of push ahead resolutely, reinforce success, use all you artillery all the time, would win the day. I don’t wish to be thought to be saying that the Soviets would have “got to the the English Channel in 48 hours” as the naysayers were fond of warning. In fact, the Soviets had a significant Achilles Heel.
In the rear of all this would have been an unimaginably large traffic jam. Follow-up echelons running their engines while commanders tried to figure out where they should be sent, thousands of trucks carrying fuel and ammunition waiting to cross bridges, giant artillery parks, concentrations of engineering equipment never quite in the right place at the right time. And more arriving every moment. A ground-attack pilot’s dream. The NATO Air-Land Battle doctrine being developed would have gone some distance to even things up again. But it would have been a tremendously destructive war, even forgetting the nuclear weapons (which would also be somewhere in the traffic jam).
As for the Soviets on the defense, (something we didn’t game because NATO, in those days, was a defensive alliance [that hadn’t attacked Serbia or Libya - JWS]) the Battle of Kursk is probably the model still taught today: hold the attack with layer after layer of defenses, then, at the right moment, the overwhelming attack at the weak spot. The classic attack model is probably Autumn Storm.
All of this rugged and battle proven doctrine and methodology is somewhere in the Russian Army today. We didn’t see it in the first Chechen War – only overconfidence and incompetence. Some of it in the Second Chechen War. More of it in the Ossetia War. They’re getting it back. And they are exercising it all the time.
Light-hearted people in NATO or elsewhere should never forget that it’s a war-fighting doctrine that does not require absolute air superiority to succeed and knows that there are no cheap victories. It’s also a very, very successful one with many victories to its credit. (Yes, they lost in Afghanistan but the West didn’t do any better.)
I seriously doubt that NATO has anything to compare: quick air campaigns against third-rate enemies yes. This sort of thing, not so much. Even if, somehow, the nukes are kept in the box.
Thank God, we will probably never see the shocked faces of captured Polish or American advisers standing next to thousands of Ukrainian POWs overrun by Russia's 1st Guards Tank Army in Donbass; or piles of Romanian Army corpses outside Tiraspol after neocon crazies decided a NATO occupation of Moldova followed by a joint Romanian-Ukrainian blockade of Transnistria would be a good idea; or the ruins of U.S. JSOC bases inside Syria incinerated by Kalibr missiles in retaliation for U.S. strikes on Russian troops. All of that could have been 'on the menu' had the war hag Hillary Clinton, with her vows of vengeance against the Russians for hacking the DNC and the classified server she put in her bathroom, won on November 8.
Despite the efforts of Republicrat McCainiacs and Democan warmongers in Congress to pass H.R. 5732, the probability of the Empire of Chaos trying and failing to fight Russia to the last Syrian if not Ukrainian diminishes with every day. For now, it is only by looking back at the last time 75 years ago a 'united Europe' started a war with Russia, that the 'defensive alliance' of NATO which attacked two sovereign nations in the last seventeen years, can recognize why another Drang Nach Osten is a very, very bad idea. Which in turn, must lead the remnants of 'the West' to the path of detente and reform.
Just as the Soviets by bringing Gorbachev to power abandoned the idea of gaining a decisive upper hand in the first Cold War by the early 1980s, in part due to the Reagan defense build up, the Eurasian build up of Putin and Xi has forced Washington's 'Deep State' to accept an economic and foreign policy reformist in Donald Trump's presidency.
— BANKSTER SLAYER (@banksterslayer) December 4, 2016
Let us pray that Cold War 2.0 and the wind up of the US(S)A's Empire in Europe and Asia is concluded as peacefully as the end of the Soviet Empire was from 1989-91. The alternatives are too terrible to contemplate. Tough 'trust but verify' negotiations are ahead for Presidents Trump and Putin regarding Ukraine, Syria, nuclear arms and other subjects. But we can take solace in the fact that it's been done before.