Stupid Question: Single Team Squads

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Re: Stupid Question: Single Team Squads

Post by Kustenjaeger » Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:52 pm


Looking at Charless Sharp's translation of the Combat Regulations of the Red Army (probably what is in the links posted above) 9 November 1942 replacing 1938 instructions.

From this it is pretty clear that in most circumstances the squad operates as a single entity:

"55. The rifle squad is the smallest organisation of the infantry. ...

56. In battle the squad leader must be able to see all members of his squad and directly influence each one of them.

57. In every case the squad leader designates in his squad an observer (of the enemy), a messenger and an ammunition carrier.

63. The light machinegun changes position at the direction of the squad leader: it moves first to the new position under the cover of the fire of the rest of the squad and neighbouring units and covers (by its fire) the dash of the riflemen from the old position.

77. ... The light machinegun attacks with the squad and fires on the move.

102. ... The riflemen start a withdrawal under the cover of fire from the light machinegun ..."

There seems to be provision for deploying 2 scouts - though only during s reconnaissance. The only reference to separate use of the LMG is during movement - advance and withdrawal (under the direction of the squad leader) not during the assault where the LMG was with the rest of the squad, nor in defence. There is no reference in the tactical regulations to there being a deputy squad leader - though interestingly in the shtat 05/551 of 10 December 1942 there is an assistant listed (so his function may have been as replacement not a junior leader?).

It is probably true to say that Soviet infantry were best trained before a major operation - after that replacements seem to have been fed in (by late war with minimal basic training).



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Re: Stupid Question: Single Team Squads

Post by Seret » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:49 am

Arlequín wrote: Short answer: Where does our idea that the Soviets were as dumb as bricks come from? I suspect it's one of those "But everyone knows that's true" cases.
I think it's a huge mistake to imagine the Soviets were "dumb as bricks". Soviet military thinking was highly sophisticated; these were the people who out-Blitzkrieged the Germans. Soviet competence at operational and strategic levels was advanced enough that NATO spent 50 years sweating about it. Soviet innovation at that level and the sheer awesomeness of Deep Battle caused the best Western military minds to continually revise and rethink their philosphy. However, at the tactical level they did consistently choose a less sophisticated approach.

Is that because they're all morons? No, of course not. I once read a really interesting paper on anti-tank missile design by a Soviet scientist that criticised Western designs for "gold plating". It advocated a less sophisticated weapon, and did so with a rigorous mathematical proof! If the Soviets chose simplicity in design, training and tactical concepts they did so very deliberately.

Some of this was pragmatism. At least in the 40s they were dealing with a more rural, less highly educated population (note the distinction between "less well educated" and "stupid"!). This wasn't an issue entirely confined to them, for example when the New Zealand army decided to stream Maori recruits into a dedicated Maori battalion they had difficulty filling technical roles such as signallers because the recruits were from rural areas. Demographics matter. So yes, the Soviet army did expect less from the average man (or indeed woman) than many of the western armies. Again, this was deliberate and a carefully considered decision.

The Soviets were well aware that they could have chosen to train soldiers (and particularly junior leaders) up to a higher standard if they wished. They could also have chosen to produce higher-spec tanks. They chose not to do so because they felt the cost-benefit equation didn't pay off. They carefully analysed what parts of the system produced the greatest input-output ratio and optimised their efforts accordingly. Their theory was that a large, well-armed, tactically unsophisticated army with good leaders at the senior level would outfight an army that tried to be good at everything.

Turns out they were right, and in war the only "dumb" army is the one that loses. So I guess the result showed that the Red Army was in fact smarter than the Wehrmacht.

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Re: Stupid Question: Single Team Squads

Post by changl09 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:42 am

Short answer: Where does our idea that the Soviets were as dumb as bricks come from? I suspect it's one of those "But everyone knows that's true" cases.


A lot of what we read about the Red Army came from interviews and memoirs of German commanders, who consistently downplayed the efficiency of the Russians in order to boost their ego.

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Re: Stupid Question: Single Team Squads

Post by Arlequín » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:35 am

I was trying for facetious with the 'dumb as bricks' remark, on the idea that they can't throw an ambush together like the rest of the boys. Points taken about un-sophistication and 'less-educated' though; something I've stressed before with regard to the relative scarcity of soldiers who could drive in most armies except that of the U.S.


This is an odd one, as the word used is indeed 'observer'... but a different word is used for 'scout' when they are mentioned.

Gordon Rottman describes the 'observer' as an observer/guide with the rank of Corporal; the sense being that he is similar to a 'guide' in the U.S. sense - an assistant leader. In a march file the Sgt is first, then the MG gunner and loader, then the observer, then the riflemen.

When they shake out into a skirmish line, the riflemen follow the observer's lead, while the MG team position themselves to the sergeant's direction. When they are all done (apparently this was all done at the run), the sergeant is on the right of the squad (although the MG team can also be to the right of him) and the observer is on the left of the riflemen.

If the machine gun is covering the section advance and vice-versa, then that is two teams and a whole section assault at the end of the 'fire and movement' phase is not unknown in other armies... as assaults usually take place at around 50 metres, that's a fair bit of game time operating as two teams before they reform as a single squad.

I don't know where Gordon Rottman drew that information from, but I doubt he made it up. He lists the U.S. Army TM and Sharp's translation of the Red Army Manual in his bibliography though.

I'm not seeing the section leader just relaying the orders of the platoon leader here, he's interpreting his orders and leading his section... and he appears to have an assistant, just like any other army.

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Re: Stupid Question: Single Team Squads

Post by siggian » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:13 pm

This can be done in CoC.

The sergeant orders the riflemen to advance on the right (1 CI to create the team and send them off to do something) and orders the LMG gunner and his assistants to stay behind and provide cover fire (the second CI). On the next phase, the riflemen shoot while the sergeant and the gunner team rejoin them.

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Re: Stupid Question: Single Team Squads

Post by Kustenjaeger » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:16 pm

I think Rothman is drawing from the combat regulations I quoted. I'll look up all the references to use of the observer tomorrow.


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