Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Anatomy of Failure by Dan
It was clear from the opening advances that the Russians felt the Finns would be unable to mount a defence against such irresistable force, certainly not on their own. The initial delays the Soviets suffered were symptoms of a series of issues that would plague them throughout the Northern Campaign.
While the Soviets clearly had superiority in numbers and equipment, the quality of the men and materiel sent north was severely lacking for example.
While catagory A & B formations were sent south, The Northern front, which was seen as a subsiduary front at best, would recieve Catagory C formations. The Catagory C formations were generally made up of those soldiers who had either been regarded as politically unreliable, unsuitable through fitness, (including a number of war wounded veterens used to stiffen the ranks), or mentally and/or intellectually unsuitable for normal army service.
There were also the penal battalions employed by the NKVD, although normally of the highest calibre in terms of fitness and training, being prisoners and treated terribly by their guards, their effectiveness was also minimal.
The majority of the Soviet troops also suffered from a perculiar lack of effectiveness for psychological reasons during both summer and winter, the endless days of the summer causing insomnia, hallucinations and mental breakdowns, while the endless night of the winder caused gloom and depression.
The effect of this on the Soviet soldiers was so profound and the increase in battlefield suicides so remarkable that an order eminated from the NKVD, that it became an offence punishable by summary execution, to fail to report when a comrade begins making suicidal comments.
The Finns on the other hand, their morale high, their motivation high and their confidence in their leadership, from the highest levels downwards also high, were able to make an impact in the Soviet offensive out of all proportion to their numbers.
-- Anatomy of Failure - Professor James Robertson - Sandhurst Publications, 2003