Chindit's picture

... The events of 1939, 1940, and 1941 in Poland, France, and Russia respectively again challenged Clausewitz' claim of the superiority of the defense and prompted armies worldwide to frantically field large armored forces and develop doctrines for their use. While blitzkrieg concepts ruledsupreme, it fell to that nation victimized most by those concepts to develop techniques to counter the German juggernaut. The Soviets had to temper a generation of offensive tradition in order to marshal forces and develop techniques to counter blitzkrieg. In essence, the Soviet struggle for survival against blitzkrieg proved also to be a partial test of Clausewitz' dictum. In July 1943, after arduous months of developing defensive techniques, often at a high cost in terms of men and material, the Soviets met blitzkrieg head-on and proved that defense against it was feasible. The titanic, grinding Kursk operation validated, in part, Clausewitz' views.

But it also demonstrated that careful study of force organization and employment and application of the fruits of that study can produce either offensive or defensive victory. While on the surface the events of Kursk seemed to validate Clausewitz' view, it is often forgotten that, at Kursk, the Soviets integrated the concept of counteroffensive into their grand defensive designs. Thus the defense itself was meaningless unless viewed against the backdrop of the renewed offensive efforts and vice versa. What Kursk did prove was that strategic, operational, and tactical defenses could counter blitzkrieg.


Colonel David 81. Glantz - Director of Research Soviet Army Studies Office CAC - CSI Report No. 11 - U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) -
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