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Subject: Thought Experiment
buzzard    3/20/2009 10:11:12 AM
OK, I tend to re-read Red Storm Rising every so often because it simply is a fun book. Not brilliant or anything but fun. It generally portrays the slugfest between NATO and WP armies as a fairly close thing, with WP numbers making up the difference against NATO technology and allowing for the WP forces to advance. However, as we saw in Gulf War I, there really didn't seem to be any comparison between Soviet hardware and NATO tech. M!s and Challengers cut through T-72s like a hot knife through butter, and Iraqi air defenses, which were state of the art Soviet systems, were systematically dismantled without any real issue. I have to wonder, if Clancy were writing Red Storm Rising with the data from the Gulf War, how much different a book would it have been?
 
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CJH       4/9/2009 10:35:30 PM
The Gulf War showcased the dominance of air power. The ground war was the final phase which exploited the damage caused from above.
 
The preliminary to the air war was to knock out Saddam's air defenses.
 
In "Red Storm Rising", IIRC, the Soviet/Warsaw Pact forces had air defenses and air forces intact (maybe I should check my copy).
 
The difference was that the sky over Kuwait and Iraq was uncontested.
 
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voltigeur       1/9/2010 4:55:20 PM
I think the Gulf War has lead to the greatest misunderstanding of the Cold War. For the Soviet System of land warfare to work takes great resources and thier doctrine has to be understood. Comparing Russia's Cold War forces to the incompetent forces of Iraq is a huge mistake. It has been found that the Soviets had an Export version of the T72 that was far inferior to what they had in Europe. Also the T64 and T80BV were much better tanks than the Iraq's deployed.
 
The terrain of Europe would have made it much easier to hide movements and NATO would not have been as able to take long Range shots like they could in the desert.
 
I think it is terribly insulting to compare Russian troops to the incompetent crap that Iraq put in command. Europe would have been a much tougher fight.
 
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timon_phocas       1/10/2010 4:58:01 PM

Excerpted from:  Into the Storm, Tom Clancy with General Fred Franks, Jr. (Ret.)

G. P. Putnum?s Sons, 1997  

 

Pages 115- 116

 

  ?In the spring of 1988, before he assumed command of 1st AD, Fred Franks had the opportunity to visit Eastern Europe to observe a Warsaw Pact military exercise as part of the observer exchanges of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). This visit gave him a unique opportunity to see for himself the training and doctrine of his potential enemy in operation

 

  This was the first time he had been behind the Iron Curtain to have a look for himself. Though he ad patrolled it as a platoon leader, troop commander and regimental commander during previous tours in Europe, for the first time he was driving through the checkpoints, then down to Prague, and on up to the training exercise north of the capital. He spent a week in the field visiting a Soviet armored division and watching them go through training exercises. He took a lot of pictures, talked to Soviet officers, talked to observers from other countries, and saw at first hand the cpapbilities and limitations of a Soviet armored division.

 

  The visit to Czechoslovakia confirmed all he?d always imagined about them: The Soviet?s doctrine emphasized tight control. Everything had to go according to a tight timetable; nobody did anything on their own, 

 

   Franks visited a Czech mechanized infantry unit in a dug-in defensive position, and saw a Soviet unit in a similar position, and a Soviet tank unit equipped with T-72?s . They were permitted to take pictures of it and of the troops and their positions, and also to observe one of their second echelon units moving up; they talked on the side of the road and got out to talk to them. From all this, he got a decent insight into their mentality, leadership, equipment capabilities approach to training, and approach to wartime situations. They were technically competent. Their fieldcraft was quite good- digging holes, camouflage, movement of vehicles. But everything was very rehearsed. ON their major maneuver range, you could see well worn trails in the snow here unit after unit had done the same thing over the same ground . If anything unexpected happened, or if any radical change was required by some unexpected actions, that would be very disruptive to them.

 

  Their training was very rote, very set piece. They did this, then they did that. There were no real opposing forces- or thinking enemy,

 
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timon_phocas       1/10/2010 5:27:08 PM
based on the previous except, it looks like the Soviets would be outmatched in much the same way as the Iraqis were.
 
Martin Stanton, an American officer serving as a trainer with the Saudi National Guard, was on vacation in Kuwait City when the Iraqi army invaded. He spent a week or so observing the Saddam.s military from a high rise hotel in Kuwait City. In his subsequent book, Road to Baghdad, Behind Enemy Lines he observed that fieldcraft in the Iraqi army ranged from mediocre to abysmal.  
 
Soviet soldiers were better individually, but they were still shackled to an inflexible command system.
 
On the other hand, not all Soviet training exercises were so tightly scripted. A GRU defector, writing under the pseudonym of  "Victor Suvorov" described annual Soviet airborne exercises that conformed to the American "free play" concepts. In his Inside the Soviet Army, he relates how he first gained the notice of his superiors by breaking the "rules" of an exercise to capture a Scud launcher.
 
The best judgment about the relative capabilities of American versus Soviet armies might be the Russian, who are moving to adopt the basic American military model: thoroughly trained professional soldiers with the freedom to accomplish the mission assigned by their political superiors.  
 
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