Wednesday 8 July 2015

Counter-Counter-Attack Manual

"Orders to commanders of the 4th Ukrainian Front on fighting enemy tanks and SPGs in depth

When our forces penetrate enemy defenses and especially when they fight in depth, the enemy counterattacks with groups of tanks and SPGs. These groups act carefully from ambushes or fire on our attacking forces from two or more kilometers away. In areas where our infantry is not prepared to fight mobile enemy units, the offensive slows down or stalls.

The sensitivity of our first echelon troops to enemy tanks and SPGs can be explained by insufficiently effective organization of countermeasures to enemy tanks and SPGs. Current faults with our anti-tank defenses are as follows:
  1. Infantry support artillery lags behind our lines, as a result of which when enemy tanks are encountered these guns are either silent or fire ineffectively from long distances.
  2. Our tanks and SPGs also occasionally lag behind and maneuver poorly. There is insufficient cooperation between SPGs. As such, our tanks face significant losses when an ambush is encountered.
  3. Observation of the battlefield is inadequate. There are no special observers looking for enemy tanks. Artillerymen often spot enemy tanks and SPGs either too late or not at all. There is no special signal for when tanks and SPGs are spotted.
  4. Infantry and artillery does not use effective means to indicate the direction of tank attacks, so our artillery opens fire with a delay, fires in a disorganized fashion, often without observers.
In order to increase effectiveness when fighting enemy tanks and SPGs in depth and improve cooperation between infantry and tanks, commanders must do the following:
  1. First echelon battalions (assault battalions) must be able to independently suppress and destroy enemy weapons, personnel, tanks, and SPGs. In order to achieve this, assign 3-4 tanks or SPGs, one 76 mm divisional gun battery, and 120 mm mortars. Guns and mortars need ropes to tow them behind advancing infantry by hand. An infantry squad must be assigned to each 76 mm gun to help their crews.
  2. Each regiment in the first echelon of the advancing division must be assigned a 76 mm ZiS-3 gun battery with the sole objective of destroying enemy tanks and SPGs. These batteries must be maneuverable and daring. If tanks or SPGs appear out of effective range, the batteries must move forward under the cover of terrain or smoke. Attach men to these units from the rear and command platoons to help them push their guns. Equip the guns with ropes and entrenching tools.
    Each division must also have 1-2 122 mm guns or 152 mm gun-howitzers for the same purpose. These guns must follow infantry and destroy enemy tanks and SPGs at 1.5-2 kilometers. The divisional artillery commander must have a direct line of communication to these guns, either by radio or telephone.
  3. SPG groups dedicated to battalion support must be composed of either mixed SU-76 and SU-122 SPGs, SU-152 SPGs, or SU-85 SPGs. Pay special attention to the cooperation between SPGs and AT gun batteries attached to the regiment or battalion.
  4. As forces move out in areas where tanks are likely to appear, prepare suppressing and concentrated fire by one or two artillery squadrons or rocket artillery batteries, which open fire immediately as enemy tanks appear. When repelling tanks attacks, use carefully aimed indirect fire from heavy gun and howitzer batteries. 
  5. In order to reduce the effectiveness of enemy tanks, especially heavy tanks, use smoke shells or bombs.
  6. The main signal for signalling the approach of enemy tanks is smoke or mid-air detonations of shrapnel shells, as well as tracers from machineguns. Keep a supply of smoke or shrapnel rounds and tracers in forward batteries and machinegun squads.
  7. Each observation point (artillery, infantry, tank, combined arms) must have special observers responsible for the detection of tanks that must report their appearance in the sector. Use aircraft, especially artillery spotters, to locate tanks in time.
  8. Commanders of guns, batteries, squadrons, tanks, and SPGs, officers, sergeants and privates of other types of forces that excel at destroying enemy tanks and clear the way for infantry must be rewarded for each destroyed tank or SPG: the crew of the weapon responsible with an Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd class, the officer with an Order of the Red Banner.
  9. These directions must be studied by all officers of artillery, infantry, tank, and engineering units.
Spread the word of rewards for destroyed enemy tanks and SPGs to privates and sergeants."

Collection of Combat Documents from the Great Patriotic War, vol. 2, doc. 09.

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