Tank Pioneer

Ludwig von Eimannsberger was an Austrian military officer and armored theorist whose 1934 book “Der Kampfwagenkrieg” proved prescient (though as with everything else, there’s argument about just how influential he truly was).

Regular infantry divisions for the grinding, independent tank brigades designed to be attached to the infantry units for support, and a pair of specialized exploitation forces-divisions with hundreds of tanks to spearhead the exploitation and motorized infantry divisions with massive amounts of antitank artillery to guard the flanks of the tanks. The heavier artillery (Eimannsberger was an artillery officer) was intended to be multipurpose, able to be used for anti-tank, anti-air, and both direct and indirect support fire.

His armored division is a little (forgivably) tank-heavy and infantry light. The formations overall are, with hindsight a little too pure and over-specialized. More interestingly, Eimannsberger was a World War I artillery commander who still thought like a World War I artillery commander in terms of command and control. It’s an open question as to whether a more modest and stiff but doable system like his or a shoot-for-the-moon deep attack that the Soviets proposed at the same time, but were unable to meaningfully do in practice until after years of war and hard lessons was “better”.

Still, it’s an interesting historical footnote.

The Circle Trigon Light Division

I’ve been reexamining the Circle Trigon Aggressors lately, and their 1947 rendition, before they quickly turned into a telephone-game version of the Soviets, is a little strange(r).

They range from “normal” formations like conventional triangular infantry divisions (three regiments, three battalions per regiment) to “I see what you’re doing” small, tank-heavy armored divisions that resemble Soviet tank corps/divisions from the time period to slightly offbeat ones like their motorized/mechanized divisions with somewhat odd mixes of organic infantry and tanks , to their specialized airborne and cavalry divisions to, finally, the light division.

Light divisions are divided into two brigades of four battalions each. The division and even brigade headquarters have very little in the way of support or weapons, being mostly there as administrative/command formations. The eight battalions are very large (consisting of five companies of infantry with the usual company-level support weapons) and contain an organic battery of four 75mm field guns.

The light division was not meant for high-intensity warfare and, in the “storyline” was disbanded after the first failed Circle Trigon campaigns. Given my liking of “strange” unit formations, I found the light division somewhat interesting.

The Soviet Pentomic Division

In the late 1950s, the United States adopted the ill-fated Pentomic Division layout of organization for its army. While going through declassified CIA documents, I found that (assuming the CIA document is accurate, the necessary caveat) around the same time, the Soviets were seriously considering adopting a similar model with a similar justification. The document in question is here.

Here’s the important picture. The proposed “Soviet-Pentomic” structure is on the left.sovietpentomic

The big thing that makes the two similar is skipping conventional battalions in favor of regiments/”Battle groups” with a large number of companies in them. I thought it interesting at any rate, a minor footnote in organizational history.


The TO&E Paradox

Here’s one of the most interesting paradoxes.

-The TO&E of a unit tells a lot about what the unit is, what it’s capable of, and what it does.

-Any unit that has been in the field for even a slight amount of time will NOT be matching its on-paper TO&E. So, if a unit’s paper strength is 51 tanks and 173 APCs, even a bit of experience in the “rough” will reduce that, if only to mechanical breakdowns. So it’s one of those “use a bit of common sense” deals.