posted on Oct, 23 2006 @ 07:19 PM
I think that Blitzkrieg can be summarized in two sentences, the first by Clausewitz (duhhhh, IIRR) "Forget your flanks and make the enemy worry about
The second by Sun Tzu. "Never attack the point of your enemy's greatest strength."
2. The basic essence of the Blitzkrieg tactic is not "speed" itself, but mobility in all aspects.
I would say less 'mobility' than the implication of operational freedom it implies. If you are not obeying a linear contiguous formation rule
whereby all unit shoulders must remain in contact with each other, you are able to turn in behind your enemy when he advances in like manner and
terrain or tempo causes discontinuity.
Blitzkrieg cannot be correctly evaluated without considering directly what it is aimed to avoid: a rigid front, the immobile endurance war of WW1
fashion. This mobility is achieved by pinpointing enemy defenses with considerable force, but then using mobile units to target specifically the weak
points in the enemy defenses, break through, wrap up. And here´s the danger: should the enemy be able to prevent being enclosed, and instead close
his own lines again, the breakthrough units are cut off from the main body of the attacking force.
Pincer and Envelopment movements are not prerequisite to true Blitzkrieg tactics as they get you back into the OODA loop of responding to your
opponent's force geometries. The use of such tactics were actually not as preeminent in early German attacks as they were later Russian ones. And
the only reason the Russians switched to such doctrine is because they got tired of battering their heads against German layered defenses which began
with AT guns and mines in depth and had a kampfgruppe capstone to contain any proto-OMG breakout.
Blitz does indeed work against enemy psychologies but it is not one of shock (at least as defined militarily) so much as expectation of occupation.
If you hit here today and there tomorrow, any response which is two days out of phase is going to be hit _in the march_ to the first predictable
encounter point. Rommel and the 'Ghost Division' in France come to mind.
In this, striking at _fixed_ points of high value (civillian, industrial or transport/communications) all can cause the threat to begin to react with
causal agreement to your own ops maneuver-fire-logistic cycle. Indeed, the very depth you operate within someone's country can become 'sufficiently
offensive' to cause them to react on an apparency of territorial loss that has nothing to do with real warfighting abilities.
The mobility of the involved units is not only achieved by the mechanization, but precisely because these units were used at weak defense points
giving them room to maneuver, by the widespread use of radio communication, and also a strong flexibility in the command structure. And here lies the
true strength of the german forces: The "Auftragstaktik", or mission-type tactic, which gives even low commanding officers considerable freedoms in
achieving their goals, and enables them to quickly react on unforeseen or changeing circumstances.
Agreed. Absolutely amazing how many people buy into the Hitler Channel descriptions of German tactical inflexibility when in fact it was the German
ability to puzzle-piece together a scratch force with each unit slotting into a known doctrinal role that made them last so long.
Having said this, there can be no doubt however that excess armor mechanization with specialism panzer and panzer grenadier units ultimately led to
the demise of Germany. Because mech infantry are too slow and really too few to invest a given target location and pure armor (especially that early
in the war) too lacking in ability to reduce or bypass it defended fixed points QUICKLY, without the use of preemptive airpower tactics to assist.
Later attempts to 'fix' this were compromised both by Hitler's obsession with generating new units rather than supporting fielded ones. And by the
heavier weights and reduced fuel economies of the tanks that became necessary to deal not only with fortifications but also field armies possessed of
equal mechanized force architecture.
In this, it can be fairly stated that, at least as Hitler envisioned it as a multidivisional Corps attack, Blitzkrieg was indeed defeated by flattery
in it's opfors, less than 2 years after it's initial inception.
At that point, the steel used in a tank could have been better applied to more guns and trucks to push the pure-infantry (booted) force around the
battlefield in a containment action that was nothing if not an early version of cellular warfare.
In contrast to this is the "Command and control" variant that angloamerican and Russian forces practise to this day. The "Auftragstaktik was a
german concept that began emerging towards the end of the 19th century, but it requires a profoundly professional and educated officer corps ... so it
was perfect for Germany, since they turned the 100.000 soldiers they were allowed by the Versailles treaty into exactly that: a specialized commanding
corps. Basically all it needed in addition to have an army was some conscripted manpower.
The Russian inferiority was political. The American one based on a lack of supporting fires. Once we got both problems solved, the Germans could not
mass sufficient forces to make Blitz work, even without such other-modifiers as air supremacy.
3. "Shock and Awe" has NOTHING in common with the principles of Blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg is aimed at defeating the enemy by local superiority- with
Shock and Awe, the assumption that the enemy is already defeated in his inferiority is a PREREQUISITE to even start. It does not involve tactical
flexibility, because all the set goals HAVE to be achieved to ensure the utter destruction, and to achieve the necessary psychological effect on the
enemy - and all that according to a rigid masterplan. Basically that "tactic" means to continue kicking the opponent in the kidneys while he is
already knocked out just to make sure he´ll neve stand up again.
S&A is nothing but a fires based psyops attack designed to separate a people from their government by showing that unity does not provide a greater
defense. It allows for military operations without /quite/ the worry of facing a united militia type defense but does not remove the threat of
irregular or quick-conscript level tactics.
And as you stated, it also requires a great deal of preparatory work in reducing such things as any operating air defense.
Having said that, there are elements of Blitz operations in both the imbedded media and things like 'Thunder Runs' which are specifically designed
to exploit operational deception in a drive-by kind of attraction of attention away from the operative force frontages in assaults on key COGs.
Where these centers of gravity are not going anywhere and serve as the ultimate 'here we sit and become predictable' Tar Baby potential; the ability
to maintain local operational initiative and freedom by NOT attacking, only 'showing presence' sufficient to enable /other/ activities (infantry
heavy Marine advances from the SE over the bridges) can help avoid Stalingrad like conditions where an overcommitment to investiture immediately
devolves to a MOUT quagmire.
i.e. Typically Blitz has as it's ultimate goal something which is /incredibly/ predictable. And even if you can hump your logistics past all the
leavebehind units designed specifically to slow you up (usually by multi axising WITHOUT intent to envelope so much as feint and split defensive
frontal axes), you have to recognize that that goal cannot be arrived at without itself an endgame that exploits the abilities and weaknesses of the
very unit formations you have designed to win a mobile warfare scenario underarmor.
Hitler failed in this at the Channel, Moscow and S-Grad with the third time charm effect.