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Old Apr 29, 2009, 09:48 AM   #21
JonathanStrange
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I've not read any of these alt-histories of a WWIII. Any opinions on what still hold up -- that is, still readable despite time having marched on. I might look for some to check up from the biblioteca.
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 01:00 PM   #22
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I'd advise you to read Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising for this - not only is it a heck of a good read, it also adresses exactly the scenario you're talking about: conventional war in Europe after an attack by the Soviet Union.
Yeah I've read it... it seemed like complete fantasy, where a few heroic American soldiers are able to slaughter hordes of Russian troops. Also I'm NOT talking about a purely conventional war; both sides had massive amounts of tactical nukes and I know that the WP armies, at least, relied upon them in their battle plans. For example their tanks were not designed to fight enemy tanks, but they were designed to be able to safely go through an area that had been hit by a nuclear warfare.
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 01:28 PM   #23
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Because if the US didn't use nukes then Russia would conquer Europe. That simple.
Yes..
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The Soviets often had more actual numbers of things than the West, but the West had better quality, better soldiers and superior technology.
...which is proof this isn't exactly true.
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 01:39 PM   #24
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But they would be.
http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=283166

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It is simple. The USSR was always in a weaker position than the West, but it was close enough to be comparable. Like how China has more people than India, but they're 'comparable.' The West was stronger with the US, but without them was weaker. That's why Russia would have a massive advantage in Europe proper.
I guess you have a different definition of a "weaker position" than I do, then. The way I see it, if the WP would have "a massive advantage in Europe proper" than that's NOT a weaker position! I would define the USSR conquering western Europe as a WP victory, regardless of what else might happen in a war.


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Their navy and airforce were outmatched, particularly their navy - submarines wouldn't be much good to them if they weren't launching nukes from them. Their ground forces had inferior equipment - most Russian equipment was worse than Western equipment, but there were some areas they excelled in, and in most they were again comparable - and morale, but had the size advantage.
The way I see it, they weren't really outmatched or inferior, they just had different objectives. Take the air force. The NAtO air force was larger because they needed it to provide CAS for their ground forces. The WP, on the other hand, used artillery for this instead, and simply used their air force to deny air superiority to NATO. So while NATO's air force might eventually win air superiority, the fighting could easily be over by the time that happened.

At sea, Nato's navy was much larger because they needed to defend their shipping across the atlantic. The WP didn't have that vulnerability, so their navy was just focused on attacking the NATO navy.

On land, I don't see any data to support that the NATO troops would have any sort of quality advantage, and they were CERTAINLY at a quantitative disadvantage.


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Winner's summing up of where the war would have ended at the times he said is actually about right, but he's wrong about the Soviets having their shot in the forties and fifties. A strong breeze could have blown Russia over in 1945; it just so happened that everyone else was susceptible to weak breezes at the time. But when confronted with force, Stalin always backed down. He wouldn't do that if he felt he could handle it.
Well they had 11 million troops in the Red Army at that time, and they had just finished crushing Germany in the west and Japan in the east. I don't think I'd call that weak! But they didn't have the logistical or nuclear capability to take on the western allies at that time, and besides they weren't particularly bad enemies then anyway.


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And Russia's early warning capabilities were far inferior to those of the US. The USSR almost unleashed armageddon on the world in the 1980s when their early warning system revealed a sneak nuclear attack by the US on them. Luckily, the guy in charge of actually firing the retaliatory missiles didn't do it.
Yes, and we had a similar incident. Anyway it doesn't matter who had better early warning capabilities, because we had no way of hitting them with a full nuclear strike without their also nuking us back to the stone age (at least after 1960 or so).

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Don't put words in my mouth. The Western advantage was never "HUGE." It was always there though. Nor did they have "better quality in EVERYTHING." They had better quality in a lot of things, and it was usually in what mattered. And your numbers are way off, the USSR had nowhere near that kind of an advantage.
So, what did NATO have better quality in?

As for numbers, just going by wikipedia here, it looks like the USSR had built about 60,000 T-55 tanks, vs. 10,000 M48 and M60 tanks for the USA. They also had about 30,000 APCs vs. 10,000 for the USA, and a I can't find the numbers for artillery but I'm sure they had an even bigger advantage in that.
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 02:35 PM   #25
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Well they had 11 million troops in the Red Army at that time, and they had just finished crushing Germany in the west and Japan in the east. I don't think I'd call that weak! But they didn't have the logistical or nuclear capability to take on the western allies at that time, and besides they weren't particularly bad enemies then anyway.
IIRC, one of Churchill's comments to "operation unthinkable" was that plan was impossible to realize because of overwhelming advantage of Red army in numbers and land war experience. Keeping in mind that in May of 1945, the US was still busy with Japan, USSR would most likely steamroll the rest of continental Europe in several months.

For 60s-70s scenario, the war would inevitably lead to full scale nuclear exchange.

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Old Apr 29, 2009, 06:42 PM   #26
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If the Cold War turned hot, it would have been called the Hot War.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 01:28 AM   #27
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Yeah I've read it... it seemed like complete fantasy, where a few heroic American soldiers are able to slaughter hordes of Russian troops. Also I'm NOT talking about a purely conventional war; both sides had massive amounts of tactical nukes and I know that the WP armies, at least, relied upon them in their battle plans. For example their tanks were not designed to fight enemy tanks, but they were designed to be able to safely go through an area that had been hit by a nuclear warfare.
Correct. Tanks were meant to exploit the gaps in the enemy lines opened by artillery and motor-rifle division or whatever it's called in English, not to fight the enemy tanks in pitched battle.

That's a fact that most Western authors simply failed to grasp.

In the Third World War by Hackett, the explanation given for conventional nature of the war is moderately plausible - the USSR doesn't plan to fully occupy Europe, it wants to neutralize the "threat" of growing Western economic advantage over the Eastern Bloc. Politburo fears a full-scale nuclear war, therefore a decision is made not to use any nukes and rely on conventional artillery instead. The goal is to reach Rhine and soundly defeat the NATO forces before the US can send reinforcements. Then it would be the Soviets who would dictate peace terms. NATO doesn't use nukes because its forces are never defeated (though most of West Germany and the Netherlands is overrun by the Soviets) - it is suggested that tactical nukes would be used if the front collapsed.

Hackett simply wanted to demonstrate that the Third World War could be fought with conventional means. He wanted to wake up the Western public which believed that any WW3 would inevitably lead to a full-scale nuclear war and thus there was little need to expand the conventional forces.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 02:38 AM   #28
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Moscow planned attack only to total win, not with compromise, in plans were about 150 nukes which would be dropped to make France accesible in one week. Through destroyed Germany would go firstly Czechoslovak and other friendly allies in first line. In quite new book about Czechoslovak military plans (http://www.kosmas.cz/knihy/135999/pl...emyslitelneho/) is written that there werent any plans on conventional war againist NATO. Of course plans and possible reality should be different, but Western public was quite right in comparision with plans of NATO generals believing that Soviets should attack conventionaly.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 03:44 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by pi-r8
I guess you have a different definition of a "weaker position" than I do, then. The way I see it, if the WP would have "a massive advantage in Europe proper" than that's NOT a weaker position! I would define the USSR conquering western Europe as a WP victory, regardless of what else might happen in a war.
They wouldn't have been able to hold it in the long run and that is the likely reason.

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In the Third World War by Hackett, the explanation given for conventional nature of the war is moderately plausible - the USSR doesn't plan to fully occupy Europe, it wants to neutralize the "threat" of growing Western economic advantage over the Eastern Bloc. Politburo fears a full-scale nuclear war, therefore a decision is made not to use any nukes and rely on conventional artillery instead. The goal is to reach Rhine and soundly defeat the NATO forces before the US can send reinforcements. Then it would be the Soviets who would dictate peace terms. NATO doesn't use nukes because its forces are never defeated (though most of West Germany and the Netherlands is overrun by the Soviets) - it is suggested that tactical nukes would be used if the front collapsed.
Of course that is assuming that America didn't have a shot at reducing much of the Warsaw Pacts conventional forces into scrap metal in the meantime.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 03:59 AM   #30
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Yeah I've read it... it seemed like complete fantasy, where a few heroic American soldiers are able to slaughter hordes of Russian troops. .
Actually... no. American ships are sunk left and right, almost completely closing the Atlantic. American equipment (Abrams tank in particular) IS depicted as superior, but I think that was a fair assessment - nevertheless, they can slow the Sovs but not stop them.
The Sovs are ultimately stopped only by a combination of fuel shortages (reasonable under the premises of the book - the war only started because the SU was looking at a fuel crisis) - and a coup d'etat by a new government expressly to AVOID nuclear war.

It's clear enough from the book that, with enough fuel and the will to fight on despite losses, the conventional war would have been won by the Soviets, not the 'heroic' Americans.
Clancy got more and more jingoistic from book to book, but in this, one of his first, he was still fairly balanced and trying to be realistic.

He made a good point that the 'Blitzkrieg' doctrines in tank warfare, which had worked in WWII, faced completely new diffuculties in modern war: tank-killer helicopters, anti-tank missile teams with jeeps, enhanced air power, etc. Thus, the breakthrough through the Fulda Gap with subsequent run to the Canal in a couple of days, as envisaged by many authors, wouldn't have happened that way - which is not to say that the Sovs couldn't have won, only that they would have had to pay a high price.

BTW, I had to laugh more about Clancy's depiction of the GERMANS in that book - somehow, despite not having fought a war since WWII, the German soldiers in the book are just as tough and battle-hardened as the troops of WWII... "When had German soldiers EVER run?" he says at one point. Totally unrealistic...
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 07:04 AM   #31
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I guess you have a different definition of a "weaker position" than I do, then. The way I see it, if the WP would have "a massive advantage in Europe proper" than that's NOT a weaker position! I would define the USSR conquering western Europe as a WP victory, regardless of what else might happen in a war.
Then Austria-Hungary won WWI by conquering Serbia? If they couldn't hold it - and they couldn't if the US was serious about dislodging them - then conquering it wouldn't do them a whole lot of good, would it?

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The way I see it, they weren't really outmatched or inferior, they just had different objectives. Take the air force. The NAtO air force was larger because they needed it to provide CAS for their ground forces. The WP, on the other hand, used artillery for this instead, and simply used their air force to deny air superiority to NATO. So while NATO's air force might eventually win air superiority, the fighting could easily be over by the time that happened.
It is true that they had different objectives. But their air force would have been overcome. It might have gained some time with a Pearl Harbour-style surprise attack on Western bases in Europe, but eventually carrier-based forces would wear them down. Remember, unless artillery is in a hardened position - such as North Korea's - it is always vulnerable to air attacks. So control of the air by NATO would destroy the USSR's advantage on the ground as well.

And the fighting would not "be over" until the Soviets had their arses handed to them. It's possible (re: likely) the West would decide to punish them by depriving them of their satellites and liberating some Soviet republics, though they might stop at a push for Moscow. After all, invading Russia from Europe has a tendency to not work out terribly well.

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At sea, Nato's navy was much larger because they needed to defend their shipping across the atlantic. The WP didn't have that vulnerability, so their navy was just focused on attacking the NATO navy.
Actually, the navy was designed to defend shipping lanes everywhere, not just in the Atlantic. The Russians would rely on closing such bottlenecks as the Suez Canal and Malacca Strait to seriously mess with Western shipping, while concentrating on bringing resources into Russia through Arctic ports that would be difficult to close. Russia also had far greater amounts of natural resources on hand than any of its enemies, so needed shipping less.

It would still be incapable of successfully conducting an air campaign over the US, and without doing that it couldn't keep the US from hitting it in its own territory and on the front lines in Europe. Its navy was simply unable to take out enough carrier-based aircraft and transport ships to keep the US from re-inforcing Europe.

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On land, I don't see any data to support that the NATO troops would have any sort of quality advantage, and they were CERTAINLY at a quantitative disadvantage.
Their quality advantage was less on the ground than elsewhere, but it still existed. Also, let's not forget morale. The Europeans were fighting for the defence of their homelands - many Russians weren't particularly sympathetic to their leadership, let alone the myriad foreign troops in their armies. There'd be a core of die-hard communist and nationalists, but there'd also be plenty who flat out didn't care, and others who'd even use the opportunity to defect.

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Well they had 11 million troops in the Red Army at that time, and they had just finished crushing Germany in the west and Japan in the east. I don't think I'd call that weak! But they didn't have the logistical or nuclear capability to take on the western allies at that time, and besides they weren't particularly bad enemies then anyway.
Germany crushed themselves, and the US crushed Japan. The USSR just picked up the pieces. That's what happens when you over-extend yourself with a massive empire at your back - it eats you.

The Soviet Union backed down when confronted militarily by the West - sometimes by Britain alone - in the immediate post-war period. I mentioned Berlin and Northern Iran. Let's not forget the withdrawal from the indefensible position they held in Austria, the attempts by Stalin to reign in Tito and the Greek communists, Finland not being satellited, the attempt at coercing Turkey into joint control of the Dardanelles, I could go on forever.

The Soviet Union had a lot of soldiers. Lots and lots of soldiers. Their average age happened to be 15.7 years. 15.7 years! Stalin beat Hitler in large part by simply throwing troops at him. Let's not forget Zhukov's instructins on how to advance through a minefield. While they weren't barbaric hordes as were later claimed, the majority of troops had little, if any, training - during Stalingrad boys were often given a uniform, a rifle, then sent to the front - and many of the talented officers had either died during the war, defected, or disappeared in Siberia. The post-war period left Russia in a massive demographic crisis.

Then there's the matter of industry. With precious few exceptions - a few isolated parts of Germany, Czechoslovakia, parts of France, Sweden - Europe's industrial capacity was gone. Not damaged, gone. The Germans destroyed it going in, the Allies bombed it while they were there, and the Germans blew it up on the way out. In Russia, where the Russians had destroyed their own factories and crops to keep the Germans from getting them, things were even worse. Bear in mind, Stalin stripped machinery from both Germany and Manchuria to take back to Russia. That was because Russia was decimated worse than any other nation in this regard, even Germany, and also a fear that he may not control these territories for very long.

There's a story I read once about American troops capturing a fleeing SS officer on a river in a boat, and the Soviet commissar asking for the return of the boat. Russia was exhausted and frightened. On paper, it looked strong. In practice, it most certainly was not.

And no-one had the nuclear capability to take on anyone in the immediate post-war period. Even under Eisenhower it was still largely a matter of bluff on both sides, as neither were really as strong as they claimed. Until around 1954, neither side had enough operational nukes to seriously affect the other in the case of full-scale war. After all, Hiroshima's industry wasn't actually that badly damaged by the nuke, compared to what the US was hoping for. In as large a territory as Russia, wiping out their industrial capacity simply couldn't be done. And Russia's nukes were even worse. It took a great deal of work to churn out quality nuclear weapons.

And in 1945, the Soviets weren't your enemies. Not until Truman insulted Molotov and made them one. Russia took control of Eastern Europe because it could and it needed to. No-one lifted a finger to stop it, and it was (justifiably) frightened of what might happen to it if it didn't block the corridor through which millions of Germans had marched into their nation. Stalin was one of the most pragmatic practitioners foreign policy in history. He had no desire to make an enemy out of the West, but he was afraid of you. Ask yourself; why would he be afraid if Russia were up to the challenge of a new war?

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So, what did NATO have better quality in?
Submarines, nukes, aircraft - with a few exceptions - tanks - with a few exceptions - replacement parts, etc. The point is that what they had the quality in was more important than what the Soviets had quality in - artillery, medium-range missiles, fur hats, and hot Eastern European women.

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As for numbers, just going by wikipedia here, it looks like the USSR had built about 60,000 T-55 tanks, vs. 10,000 M48 and M60 tanks for the USA. They also had about 30,000 APCs vs. 10,000 for the USA, and a I can't find the numbers for artillery but I'm sure they had an even bigger advantage in that.
Those numbers look wrong, but I don't have my books on me. Regardless, I could have a 1,000:1 advantage over you on the ground, but if you controlled the sky it wouldn't really help me much. Besides which, I've never denied Russia had a quantitative edge. But 3:1 sounds like Kennedy Administration scare-mongering, not the actual data.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 07:58 AM   #32
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Germany crushed themselves, and the US crushed Japan. The USSR just picked up the pieces.
Granted the USSR just 'picked up the pieces' in Japan - but in Germany? Or is the latter sentence just in regard to Japan?
And how do you mean, 'Germany crushed themselves'? By stupidly starting a 2-front war in the first place? In that I'd concur..

But otherwise, both Germany and the Soviets fought like mad bastards on the Eastern Front, with horrendous casualties on both sides, much worse than anything seen on the Western Front. In all fairness, the Soviets paid a huge blood price for that victory, saying they 'just picked up the pieces' is totally misleading!
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 08:03 AM   #33
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Granted the USSR just 'picked up the pieces' in Japan - but in Germany? Or is the latter sentence just in regard to Japan?
And how do you mean, 'Germany crushed themselves'? By stupidly starting a 2-front war in the first place? In that I'd concur..

But otherwise, both Germany and the Soviets fought like mad bastards on the Eastern Front, with horrendous casualties on both sides, much worse than anything seen on the Western Front. In all fairness, the Soviets paid a huge blood price for that victory, saying they 'just picked up the pieces' is totally misleading!
Yes, yes, and yes.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 10:58 AM   #34
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Actually... no. American ships are sunk left and right, almost completely closing the Atlantic. American equipment (Abrams tank in particular) IS depicted as superior, but I think that was a fair assessment - nevertheless, they can slow the Sovs but not stop them.
The Sovs are ultimately stopped only by a combination of fuel shortages (reasonable under the premises of the book - the war only started because the SU was looking at a fuel crisis) - and a coup d'etat by a new government expressly to AVOID nuclear war.
Well it's been a long time since I read it, maybe I'm remembering wrong. But I remember it as, in the beginning the Soviets win some victories, at a heavy cost, in order to build dramatic tension. But in the end, the heroic Americans overcome them with their fighting spirit, just like a hollywood movie.

At any rate, that book was set in the 80's, right? That would definitely be the worst possible time for the soviets to attack, since their economy was really falling apart and Reagan ramped up our defense spending so much.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 04:25 PM   #35
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Well it's been a long time since I read it, maybe I'm remembering wrong. But I remember it as, in the beginning the Soviets win some victories, at a heavy cost, in order to build dramatic tension. But in the end, the heroic Americans overcome them with their fighting spirit, just like a hollywood movie.

At any rate, that book was set in the 80's, right? That would definitely be the worst possible time for the soviets to attack, since their economy was really falling apart and Reagan ramped up our defense spending so much.
I don't remember the book exactly, but figure if you have M1 Abrams tanks, hull down, on wooded hills with long fields of fire, and T72s and poorer charging forward at ground level, then figure lots of Abrams making hits against the Soviets' turret top armor, at range, of cheap tanks; I'd forsee the Abrams getting targeted by artillery or running out of cannon shells (and lots of smoking Soviet hardware) before the Soviet tanks get a direct fire hit on an Abrams.

I recall the book had lots of relocating to defensive positions, digging in, holding against an assault, then repeat/recylce. It's Clancy, and rah rah team stuff, so no doubt it probably leaves out some tactical possibilities, but I suspect it is somewhat believable.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 05:39 PM   #36
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Just thought I'd chime in. NATO tactics in the event of an invasion were stall, delay and give ground. The numbers needed for an attack against dug in targets are minimum 3 to 1. The Soviets would have had a tough road to chew, they would have been over extended on their supply lines, and beat up when fresh NATO forces poured into the fray. I believe the West couldn't have invaded the Soviets successfully, but they could have driven them back to their borders.

BTW, tactical nukes were in NATO thinking at the time. LRRP's were trained with manpack nuclear mines. Six man teams would deploy them in avenues of approach, and they would be detonated when the area was filled with large numbers of troops and tanks. Not to sure what the qualifiers were to break these out, but the thinking and training had been done.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 08:37 PM   #37
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Then Austria-Hungary won WWI by conquering Serbia? If they couldn't hold it - and they couldn't if the US was serious about dislodging them - then conquering it wouldn't do them a whole lot of good, would it?


It is true that they had different objectives. But their air force would have been overcome. It might have gained some time with a Pearl Harbour-style surprise attack on Western bases in Europe, but eventually carrier-based forces would wear them down. Remember, unless artillery is in a hardened position - such as North Korea's - it is always vulnerable to air attacks. So control of the air by NATO would destroy the USSR's advantage on the ground as well.

And the fighting would not "be over" until the Soviets had their arses handed to them. It's possible (re: likely) the West would decide to punish them by depriving them of their satellites and liberating some Soviet republics, though they might stop at a push for Moscow. After all, invading Russia from Europe has a tendency to not work out terribly well.


Actually, the navy was designed to defend shipping lanes everywhere, not just in the Atlantic. The Russians would rely on closing such bottlenecks as the Suez Canal and Malacca Strait to seriously mess with Western shipping, while concentrating on bringing resources into Russia through Arctic ports that would be difficult to close. Russia also had far greater amounts of natural resources on hand than any of its enemies, so needed shipping less.

It would still be incapable of successfully conducting an air campaign over the US, and without doing that it couldn't keep the US from hitting it in its own territory and on the front lines in Europe. Its navy was simply unable to take out enough carrier-based aircraft and transport ships to keep the US from re-inforcing Europe.
First of all, I must point out that apparently the Soviet units were only equipped with supplies for about 30 days. Not sure about Nato forces, but I imagine they'd be similarly equipped. So, one way or another, the war would be finished in a month. That's what happens when you've been building up forces for 20 years and they're armed with nuclear weapons, there's just no way to replenish losses fast enough once the fighting starts, because the fighting is so destructive.

So here's how I imagine a war going down. NATO positions most of it's troops, especially it's heavy tanks, in the Fulga gap. WP charges towards this position. NATO air attacks the WP troops, however the soviets have so many interceptors that NATO is too busy fighting the interceptors to be able to send in any bombers or CAS. WP artillery begins shelling the NATO troops with artillery and tactical nukes, destroying most of their heavy equipment. Probably most of the WPs initial wave of tanks and mechanized infantry would be destroyed, but they have a 2nd and 3rd wave ready to move. NATO does not.

At this point, NATO is forced to retreat from the Fulga gap. This is a big problem, because there's not a lot of defensible terrain between there and the western coast of France- it's all flatland. Also, the soviet tanks are extremely fast and mobile, and they're specifically designed for nuclear warfare, so NATO would have a lot of trouble just getting away at all. Suffice to say that if they break the Fulga gap, they'd quickly roll over West Germany and France, forcing those two countries (key NATO allies) to surrender. Italy wouldn't last much longer, either.

At this point, the WP can now attack England with medium-range rockets from across the channel. And since that was one of their specialties, they'd easily be able to destroy all of the air fields in England. They probably couldn't conquer England, but they could at least remove it's ability to project force into Europe.

So how is the US going to dislodge them from this position? First of all, they have no where to base any of their aircraft any more. They would be left with only carrier based aircraft, which are somewhat limited. Not to mention that the soviets had a huge number of subs and missiles specifically designed to destroy American carriers. Since they were never tested, we'll never know how effective they could be, but having all of their carriers intact is the BEST POSSIBLE outcome for the US.

And if they wanted to send in more land troops- . D-day barely succeeded, despite the Allies having an overwhelming advantage, complete naval and air superiority, and a short hop across the channel. Is the US going to launch an amphibious invasion from all the way across the channel, against an enemy that can instantly attack any beachhead with overwhelming amounts of artillery and aircraft?

Of course the USSR would not be able to invade the US, either (I don't think this was ever even planned for). But it seems like the war would pretty much have to end here, with western Europe occupied, and Britain under siege. Unless the US decides to launch ICBMS, of course, and then everybody dies.

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Originally Posted by Sharwood View Post
Their quality advantage was less on the ground than elsewhere, but it still existed. Also, let's not forget morale. The Europeans were fighting for the defence of their homelands - many Russians weren't particularly sympathetic to their leadership, let alone the myriad foreign troops in their armies. There'd be a core of die-hard communist and nationalists, but there'd also be plenty who flat out didn't care, and others who'd even use the opportunity to defect.
I've not seen any evidence at all that the ground tech of the USSR was at all behind that of NATO. Morale, maybe, since their soldiers were conscripts and most of ours were volunteers. But on the other hand, Russian soldiers have always fought extremely fiercely, even in their ridiculous war against Afghanistan. They had experienced one of the most hellish wars ever, and were determined not to let such a thing happen to their country again. They had also been inundated with anti-western propaganda their entire lives. So, I'm inclined to think that they would not have given up easily.

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Germany crushed themselves, and the US crushed Japan. The USSR just picked up the pieces. That's what happens when you over-extend yourself with a massive empire at your back - it eats you.

The Soviet Union backed down when confronted militarily by the West - sometimes by Britain alone - in the immediate post-war period. I mentioned Berlin and Northern Iran. Let's not forget the withdrawal from the indefensible position they held in Austria, the attempts by Stalin to reign in Tito and the Greek communists, Finland not being satellited, the attempt at coercing Turkey into joint control of the Dardanelles, I could go on forever.

The Soviet Union had a lot of soldiers. Lots and lots of soldiers. Their average age happened to be 15.7 years. 15.7 years! Stalin beat Hitler in large part by simply throwing troops at him. Let's not forget Zhukov's instructins on how to advance through a minefield. While they weren't barbaric hordes as were later claimed, the majority of troops had little, if any, training - during Stalingrad boys were often given a uniform, a rifle, then sent to the front - and many of the talented officers had either died during the war, defected, or disappeared in Siberia. The post-war period left Russia in a massive demographic crisis.

Then there's the matter of industry. With precious few exceptions - a few isolated parts of Germany, Czechoslovakia, parts of France, Sweden - Europe's industrial capacity was gone. Not damaged, gone. The Germans destroyed it going in, the Allies bombed it while they were there, and the Germans blew it up on the way out. In Russia, where the Russians had destroyed their own factories and crops to keep the Germans from getting them, things were even worse. Bear in mind, Stalin stripped machinery from both Germany and Manchuria to take back to Russia. That was because Russia was decimated worse than any other nation in this regard, even Germany, and also a fear that he may not control these territories for very long.

There's a story I read once about American troops capturing a fleeing SS officer on a river in a boat, and the Soviet commissar asking for the return of the boat. Russia was exhausted and frightened. On paper, it looked strong. In practice, it most certainly was not.

And no-one had the nuclear capability to take on anyone in the immediate post-war period. Even under Eisenhower it was still largely a matter of bluff on both sides, as neither were really as strong as they claimed. Until around 1954, neither side had enough operational nukes to seriously affect the other in the case of full-scale war. After all, Hiroshima's industry wasn't actually that badly damaged by the nuke, compared to what the US was hoping for. In as large a territory as Russia, wiping out their industrial capacity simply couldn't be done. And Russia's nukes were even worse. It took a great deal of work to churn out quality nuclear weapons.

And in 1945, the Soviets weren't your enemies. Not until Truman insulted Molotov and made them one. Russia took control of Eastern Europe because it could and it needed to. No-one lifted a finger to stop it, and it was (justifiably) frightened of what might happen to it if it didn't block the corridor through which millions of Germans had marched into their nation. Stalin was one of the most pragmatic practitioners foreign policy in history. He had no desire to make an enemy out of the West, but he was afraid of you. Ask yourself; why would he be afraid if Russia were up to the challenge of a new war?
I'd rather not get involved in an argument about WW2 history, since it's really outside the scope of this thread. But suffice to say I think you really overstate the Soviet Union's weakness at that time. What do you think of this article?

http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail....K_ID=35&PAGE=1
to quote:
"What most people don’t know is that the Red Army had another huge triumph still to come: a crushing strategic victory on a front 3000 miles long, with 1.6 million Soviets annihilating a force that, on paper at least, totaled more than a million battle-hardened Axis troops. I’m talking about Operation August Storm, the Soviet invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria on August 9, 1945—exactly three months after the surrender of the Nazis."

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Submarines, nukes, aircraft - with a few exceptions - tanks - with a few exceptions - replacement parts, etc. The point is that what they had the quality in was more important than what the Soviets had quality in - artillery, medium-range missiles, fur hats, and hot Eastern European women.

Those numbers look wrong, but I don't have my books on me. Regardless, I could have a 1,000:1 advantage over you on the ground, but if you controlled the sky it wouldn't really help me much. Besides which, I've never denied Russia had a quantitative edge. But 3:1 sounds like Kennedy Administration scare-mongering, not the actual data.
Those fur hats and hot Russian women can be crucial in a war situation
Anyway, while I agree that Nato certainly had an edge in naval power, and nukes, I don't agree that they had better quality of tanks or replacement parts. In fact the Russian tanks were known to be quite robust and easy to repair.

As for air power, that only comes into play if you can gain at least some air superiority. And with the vast numbers of extremely effective Soviet interceptors, I don't see that happening (remember the WP air force was designed primarily to prevent NATO from ever gaining air superiority). Besides, I'm not convinced that air power is ever as decisive as our military leaders would like it to be. In the same site I linked above, he quotes an Iraqi tank commander in the first Gulf war as saying, "After two months of bombing, I still had 17 of my 24 tanks operative. After one battle with the M1s, I had three." And that's with about as overwhelming an air advantage as any side has ever had.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 09:24 PM   #38
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Remember that Latex uniformed Soviet Chick in Red Alert 2?

Yeah you do, ya you nerdy wargaming nuts. I will not allow for denial.

That's what would happen if the US and Soviets faught.



This thread just turned hot!

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Old Apr 30, 2009, 09:51 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
At this point, the WP can now attack England with medium-range rockets from across the channel. And since that was one of their specialties, they'd easily be able to destroy all of the air fields in England. They probably couldn't conquer England, but they could at least remove it's ability to project force into Europe.
No nuclear weapons? I'll throw some more uneducated guesses...

They wouldn't need to conquer Britain. Any power which held the whole of continental Europe would be able to starve Britain into submission. Unlike Germany in WW2 the USSR had the resources to build a navy capable of blockading Britain. Not immediately, but in a couple of years... also unlike nazi Germany with its racist policies, the soviets would probably be able to integrate Western Europe into their block and take full advantage of its resources.

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Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
So how is the US going to dislodge them from this position?
The hardest places to speculate about on your "WW3, no nukes" scenario are the Middle East, Turkey, and the Iberian Peninsula.

The Middle East, with its oil, was far more important to the USSR that the USA, which could still find plenty of oil in the Americas and Africa. It would also be the gateway to northern Africa. An obvious place for the USA and Britain to continue fighting against the USSR, even while the european front was still hot. Turkey, being a member of NATO, would have the role of delaying the USSR's advance there. But I'm not sure that Turks wouldn't switch sides rather than face certain defeat - so long as their territorial integrity was guaranteed against greek, armenian and kurdish claims.

The Iberian peninsula might be invaded, but I doubt that it would be a priority. Spain was officially neutral, and would certainly try to remain neutral. The UK might well turn over Gibraltar to Spain rather than risk losing it, while the US shifted armies into Morocco and kept the straits under control. The USSR might still invade in order to guarantee control of the whole continent, fearing that the US might concentrate forces in Portugal and try to push the soviets back from France. In theory the Iberian Peninsula would be easy pickings. But by the time the war reached the Pyrenees NATO might already have moved substantial forces there. I guess that it would depend on how hard it looked, what forces would be in place by that later stage, and how things were going in the Middle East, a far more important front by then. A frozen conflict for many years, with opposing forces separated by Spain, might be possible.
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Old May 01, 2009, 12:22 PM   #40
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First of all, I must point out that apparently the Soviet units were only equipped with supplies for about 30 days. Not sure about Nato forces, but I imagine they'd be similarly equipped. So, one way or another, the war would be finished in a month. That's what happens when you've been building up forces for 20 years and they're armed with nuclear weapons, there's just no way to replenish losses fast enough once the fighting starts, because the fighting is so destructive.
From memory you're about right on the supply score. I believe NATO had more supplies, but the Russians were actually trained to function with less. Interesting dichotomy.

But you're dead wrong about the war being over in a month. The US would not allow Russia to control Europe. Period. It would be suicide for the US, in the same way that allowing Germany and Japan to eat their respective zones of conflict would have been in WWII.

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So here's how I imagine a war going down. NATO positions most of it's troops, especially it's heavy tanks, in the Fulga gap. WP charges towards this position. NATO air attacks the WP troops, however the soviets have so many interceptors that NATO is too busy fighting the interceptors to be able to send in any bombers or CAS. WP artillery begins shelling the NATO troops with artillery and tactical nukes, destroying most of their heavy equipment. Probably most of the WPs initial wave of tanks and mechanized infantry would be destroyed, but they have a 2nd and 3rd wave ready to move. NATO does not.
NATO wouldn't be stupid enough to position that much of their materiel within range of Russian artillery. Come on, do you think they'd act like the Civ AI and continuously send troops into a deathtrap?

You're also assuming that both sides were aware of the buld-up of the other. In the case of actual war, it would almost certainly be a sneak attack, as either side getting wind of the other's plans would result in the other side being prepared for them. That's why Russia was so frightened during the 1983 crisis (Abel Archer? I've got about four names circling around in my head): they suspected the West would attack them while holding an 'exercise.' If the West knew Russia was preparing an attack, the US would send massive amounts of troops and materiel, not to mention the hectic preparations Europeans would themselves be making. If Russia got wind of an American attack, well, they were paranoid to begin with. They'd likely pre-empt.

Also, your idea that the use of tactical nukes wouldn't lead to strategic nukes is ridiculous. If Russia drops a nuke on a French Army, France would retaliate, as would everyone else. The idea that such a war can remain limited is just ridiculous. Europe would not allow itself to be conquered, the US cuold not commit state suicide by losing Europe to the Soviets, and Russia would desperately try to survive by attacking every nuclear facility they knew about. It's an incredibly farcical argument. The 'no nukes at all' thing is bad enough, but I can live with. 'Some nukes but not the really big ones' is a crock.

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Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
At this point, NATO is forced to retreat from the Fulga gap. This is a big problem, because there's not a lot of defensible terrain between there and the western coast of France- it's all flatland. Also, the soviet tanks are extremely fast and mobile, and they're specifically designed for nuclear warfare, so NATO would have a lot of trouble just getting away at all. Suffice to say that if they break the Fulga gap, they'd quickly roll over West Germany and France, forcing those two countries (key NATO allies) to surrender. Italy wouldn't last much longer, either.
If you think the Soviets can cross the Rhine and the Alps with ease, you don't know much about geography or logistics. Even if Russia succeeded in taking France and Italy - and Italy would probably be more directly threatened by Communist insurgents in Italy than the Soviets outside - they sure as hell wouldn't '"quickly roll over" France. West Germany knew it was a speedhump. But France wouldn't fall without one hell of a fight. And I don't see De Gaulle surrendering. He strikes me as the type who would unzip his pants and tell Brezhnev to mind his teeth rather than surrender. France knew what reaching an accomodation with an invader meant, intimately. They wouldn't do that again, they would have to be conquered.

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Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
At this point, the WP can now attack England with medium-range rockets from across the channel. And since that was one of their specialties, they'd easily be able to destroy all of the air fields in England. They probably couldn't conquer England, but they could at least remove it's ability to project force into Europe.
You obviously don't know what a medium-range rocket entails. The Soviets could hit Britain with medium-range rockets from the USSR, let alone Poland or East Germany. They certainly wouldn't need to set them up in Normandy. And the US was perfectly capable of flooding Britain with planes and flying over troops and materiel in order to shore up the levies, so to speak.

The question is whether said medium-range missiles could be shot down outside of a test situation. The opportunity to find out never happened until the Gulf War. If they could, much less damage would be done than you assume. If the technology wasn't there yet, I sincerely doubt the British would allow their planes to be caught on the ground. They'd immediately begin moving them around and establishing new airfields unknown to the Soviets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
So how is the US going to dislodge them from this position? First of all, they have no where to base any of their aircraft any more. They would be left with only carrier based aircraft, which are somewhat limited. Not to mention that the soviets had a huge number of subs and missiles specifically designed to destroy American carriers. Since they were never tested, we'll never know how effective they could be, but having all of their carriers intact is the BEST POSSIBLE outcome for the US.
They can easily base their aircraft in Britain, as I've already mentioned. You also seem to be forgetting Iceland and Scandinavia as potential sites. Not to mention the fact that Russia was certainly not capable of knocking out half as many carriers as you seem to think. They could take out some, but the US would still have control of the seas. And carrier-based aircraft, while limited, are still more than enough firebomb Dresden all over again if necessary.

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Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
And if they wanted to send in more land troops- . D-day barely succeeded, despite the Allies having an overwhelming advantage, complete naval and air superiority, and a short hop across the channel. Is the US going to launch an amphibious invasion from all the way across the channel, against an enemy that can instantly attack any beachhead with overwhelming amounts of artillery and aircraft?
They won't need to, as they'll arrive before France falls. Secondly, D-Day nearly failed because it was done in the wrong goddamn spot - Churchill's plan of attacking through the "soft underbelly" of Europe was a better idea. Also, you're completely ignoring Turkey, Greece, and other nations bordering Russia, including a giant pink elephant I'll mention later. The US could land troops in those nations. Unless you think Russia is magic, and can simultaneously win a war on two, three, four, or more fronts?

If the US was forced to launch an amphibious invasion, why the hell would they do it across the Channel? Because that's what Roosevelt wanted in '44? There are easier places in Europe to attack. They'd go there. And you seriously over-erstimate exactly how much force Russia will be able to bring to bear. It's not like the US is going to call them up and say; "we're landing in Sarajevo tomorrow, lulz." They'd keep the precise location of the assault a secret, and while Russia would have an inkling, they wouldn't know the exact place. So they'd have considerably fewer aircraft and artillery to hand than you think. Railroads wouldn't grant the WP free movement you know. It takes time to move things, even planes. And the US would have been moving stuff into position since the second the Russians attacked the Fulga gap, if not sooner. Russia wouldn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
Of course the USSR would not be able to invade the US, either (I don't think this was ever even planned for). But it seems like the war would pretty much have to end here, with western Europe occupied, and Britain under siege. Unless the US decides to launch ICBMS, of course, and then everybody dies.
If things got that desperate, the US would launch ICBMs. You and I both know they would launch them much earlier in your doomsday scenario. But it wouldn't reach that point. The USSR could overrun Europe, but not quickly enough to secure it. The US could get supplies and men to Britain and elsewhere despite Soviet attempts to stop them. Therefore, the Soviets would never be in such a powerful position anyway.

If you think the US is allowing the war to end with a massive Soviet victory, I'm sorry, but you're an idiot. That's not to mention the small matter of the conquered territories not exactly rolling over and dying; they'd fight, and fight hard. I wouldn't be surprised if former terrorist groups all of a sudden turned their wrath on the invaders, and that's discounting the more usual resistance groups that would crop up.

Russia might, MIGHT, be able to occupy Western Europe. They could never hold it. Not unless America's balls dropped off and it announced an all new "girly-man" Doctrine.

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I've not seen any evidence at all that the ground tech of the USSR was at all behind that of NATO. Morale, maybe, since their soldiers were conscripts and most of ours were volunteers. But on the other hand, Russian soldiers have always fought extremely fiercely, even in their ridiculous war against Afghanistan. They had experienced one of the most hellish wars ever, and were determined not to let such a thing happen to their country again. They had also been inundated with anti-western propaganda their entire lives. So, I'm inclined to think that they would not have given up easily.
It was behind, but not that much. it was elsewhere that the technological advantage was comfortably in the West's favour.

They were so inundated with anti-Western propaganda that many of them idolised the West and jeans were the ultimate fashion accessory? The Russian people distrusted the West, but they never succumbed to Communist propaganda to the point where they hated and feared it with a passion. And the other nationalities within the USSR and WP had much more reason to hate and fear Russia than they did the West. A Russian soldier in a predominantly Lithuanian unit would probably stand more chance of being shot in the back than the front.

WP soldiers were tough and brutal, largely because they were treated brutally themselves. But the majority weren't exactly supporters of the party. There's a reason for the old joke about the Soviet apparatchik being the greatest enemy of Communism.

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I'd rather not get involved in an argument about WW2 history, since it's really outside the scope of this thread. But suffice to say I think you really overstate the Soviet Union's weakness at that time. What do you think of this article?

http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail....K_ID=35&PAGE=1
to quote:
"What most people don’t know is that the Red Army had another huge triumph still to come: a crushing strategic victory on a front 3000 miles long, with 1.6 million Soviets annihilating a force that, on paper at least, totaled more than a million battle-hardened Axis troops. I’m talking about Operation August Storm, the Soviet invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria on August 9, 1945—exactly three months after the surrender of the Nazis."
And? The USSR needed three months to get troops into position to treacherously invade a crippled Japan. Is that supposed to show their might? No, it shows their weakness. Stalin needed time to recover, and they were hardly fighting the creme de la creme of Japanese troops. They were fighting starving, ill-equipped troops, most of whom had never seen any action, or not in years. This was Manchuria after all, pretty far from the front line. You did notice the "on paper at least" line didn't you? That's because they were beating up on an off-guard, numerically inferior and ridiculously under-supplied enemy, after they'd just been re-equipped.

The USSR had local superiority in many regions at the end of WWII. But every single time they were militarily confronted they withdrew! Do you think Stalin withdrew from Iran, Austria, Berlin, etc., because he was a lovable rogue, spreading cheer under cover of darkness by leaving toys underneath trees at Christmas time? He withdrew because he was outmatched! And he knew it. Russia's policy post-WWII was based on fear and bluff. Fear of the West's strenght, and one great big bluff about its own.

If Russia truly wanted world domination - and that argument can be made, though I disagree with it - why didn't it continue to advance in Europe in 1945? It was the best chance it would ever have, right? They had massive local superiority, many Communist insurgencies in France, Italy and elsewhere would have welcomed them, and it wouldn't be the first time Uncle Joe broke a treaty. It's not like Manchuria was anywhere near as important as France.

Russia didn't advance because it couldn't! It could not defeat the West. It could beat up on Germany and Japan, which were on their last legs. It could have taken out any single European power, except Britain - and let's not forget the almighty Switzerland - with consummate ease. But an alliance of all these nations, backed by US military force? Not a chance in hell. Not a chance in hell. In WWII, Russia became a superpower the same way Truman became President: those who were higher up the ladder shrivelled and died. It was relatively stronger than most of its enemies, but its absolute power was extremely finite. Russia wasn't a giant in the playground, it was just the tallest child left after Britain and France collapsed.

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Those fur hats and hot Russian women can be crucial in a war situation
Anyway, while I agree that Nato certainly had an edge in naval power, and nukes, I don't agree that they had better quality of tanks or replacement parts. In fact the Russian tanks were known to be quite robust and easy to repair.
Russian tanks may have been relatively easy to repair, but Russian manufacturing policy didn't include making spare parts. Russian tank strategy called for not bothering to repair tanks. If they stopped working, hop in another one. Western strategy called for replacing the nut that had come loose. Which one do you think is cheaper and more effective?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pi-r8 View Post
As for air power, that only comes into play if you can gain at least some air superiority. And with the vast numbers of extremely effective Soviet interceptors, I don't see that happening (remember the WP air force was designed primarily to prevent NATO from ever gaining air superiority). Besides, I'm not convinced that air power is ever as decisive as our military leaders would like it to be. In the same site I linked above, he quotes an Iraqi tank commander in the first Gulf war as saying, "After two months of bombing, I still had 17 of my 24 tanks operative. After one battle with the M1s, I had three." And that's with about as overwhelming an air advantage as any side has ever had.
And you over-estimate the Russian ability to keep the West from gaining air superiority. The Soviets would likely enjoy initial air superiority, but it wouldn't last. And air power is massively important. The Gulf War involved a strategic bombing campaign. That means bombing the factories said tanks come out of, not the tanks themselves. If the US had used bombing tactically, they'd have taken out many more tanks from the sky.

This brings me to other, miscellaneous points.

The giant pink elephant: China. WTF is China doing throughout all this? You don't think China might decide to invade the USSR while Russia's busy? Or help themselves to Taiwan? Maybe both? China wouldn't sit this one out, depending upon the time period they'd get involved in favour of one party or the other. If nukes started flying they'd lay low, but if your magical 'tactical nukes only' scenario came to pass, Vladivostok may well be speaking Mandarin now, or Taipei may not have its own political party.

The Middle East. Russia didn't have the capacity to utilise its own oil and natural gas supplies effectively during the Cold War. Hell, some would say they still don't. They'd need oil. Would the Middle East be willing to supply them with it? Depending upon the time period, Russia may have many allies in the region, or none, but either way there are problems. Does Russia bring the oil overland through the Caucasus, or via the Dardanelles? Either way, they'll run into opposition from Turkey. Could Russia get enough oil to satisfy its demand? I don't think so.

Then there's the question of the volatile situation in the Middle East itself. Would Israel take advantage of the war to snatch some territory from its neighbours? Would they use the opportunity to attack Israel? Would autocratic regimes be overthrown as their backers were busy elsewhere? Or would said backers tighten their grips? I suspect that if war broke out in Europe, the ME would very quickly follow suit.

Russia's strategy. A little-known - and frankly quite frightening - aspect of Russian invasion plans is that they seemed to think they could nuke an enemy, then send their own troops in through the breach with no ill-effects. Now, obviously this is not the case. Russia's plans relied on tactical nuclear weapons, and Russian generals did not fully appreciate how problematic these things would be for their own men. Or maybe they just didn't care. Expect many, many Russian soldiers to die of radiation sickness. If you don't think that's going to affect morale negatively, not to mention the sheer numbers of Russian troops that would be out of commission, and the resources tied up in treating them, you're not thinking.

The Pacific. What does Japan do? Taiwan? Korea? How about Soviet and American carrier groups? The US had an absolutely massive advantage over the USSR in the Asia-Pacific region. It wasn't even close, especially after the Sino-Soviet rift and subsequent rapprochement. You were wondering about an amphibious invasion earlier. What exactly is supposed to stop American troops in Japan deciding that Vladivostok has nice beaches, and that it's more fun raping teenage Russian schoolgirls than Okinawan ones?
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