The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H110: Tanks for the Memories

One of the most dramatic transformation that occurred in the interwar years was the transformation of ground combat. The attrition focused stalemate of the trenches evolved into a new dramatic form of maneuver warfare developed primarily in Germany. When it was executed during the opening months of WWII it was popularly called blitzkrieg and military professionals and the general public alike associated the technology of the main battle tank with this new form of warfare. Was the main battle tank the key enabling technological component of blitzkrieg or was it something else? Was technology really the most important aspect of blitzkrieg? How would you describe the importance of doctrine and leadership, including the idea of mission command, to the blitzkrieg concept. Finally, was blitzkrieg really a new way of war, or simply a better way to prosecute an old way of war?Russland-Süd (Don, Stalingrad), Panzer III

November 5, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized

3 Comments »

  1. The German blitzkrieg is a new way of war because of armor tank, communication system, and development of combined operation. First, German blitzkrieg used armor tanks to penetrate opposite forces’ fronts. The armor tanks are differentiated from special operation soldiers of Storm Troops in the Great War. Although the troops were threatening entity against the opposite side, there was limitation which is that the troops consisted of only human. In aspect of opposite side, the troops might be considered as the unit for raid and attack for command post or field fire units. The storm troops were not threatening entities against lines of communication or entire rear area. However, German tank units are different from the storm troops. In World War 2, the countries experienced German blitzkrieg would feel that their lines of communication and rear area might be cut by the German tanks though the tank units’ intent was not the purpose. We can imagine the shock of people in the rear area when they saw the German tank units there far from the front. Second, German tank units had radio system to communicate with each other. So, the tanks were able to communicate other tanks as well as above echelons vertically. That is very important thing. They could execute deliberate attack against their opposite side under coordination with other units. Additionally, after their initial mission, they could drive other missions continuously. Lastly, German tank units’ activities were conjunction with aircraft and field artillery under operation control measures, that is, training and doctrine were relatively well developed at the time. This factor is different from the Storm Troops.

    Comment by kwon.moon | November 7, 2018

  2. The main battle tank is often associated with blitzkrieg, but it was only one aspect of the concept. The German Army’s use of the tank was not nearly as much as the allies during WWI. After Hans von Seeckt directed a review of the war following the armistice, he unquestionably saw the tank as the way of the future. However, the new doctrine published in Leadership and Battle with Combined Arms focused on the principles of mission command to include using the commander’s intent through mission orders to facilitate disciplined initiative while accepting prudent risk. The concept of blitzkrieg was built from Stormtrooper tactics used during the war that focused on establishing breakthroughs of defensive positions with special units to attack key C2 and artillery positions in the enemy’s rear echelon. The implementation of radios in tanks allowed commanders to give follow-on orders once initial objectives were taken, enabling rapid attacks that covered considerable ground. The use of tank was only the means of conducting such an attack, but not the most important aspect of the new doctrine. These concepts allowed the German Army to succeed in the invasions of Poland and France, but challenged Germany during Operation Barbarossa due to over-extended supply lines.

    Comment by Andrew Lincoln | November 19, 2018

  3. I would argue that that the concept of blitzkrieg is not new, but its application evolved for the Germans from WWI to WWII. The concept as its roots in the Stormtroopers from WWI. The Stormstroopers were an elite group of men who stormed beyond enemy lines after being given generalized, vague, orders of go beyond the enemy lines. Decentralized control of mission command was necessary to the stormtrooper concept. What changed between WWI and WWII was ideology. It is similar to Moltke the Elder. During his time new technology sprung up – railroads and telegraph – and at first the French were able to mobilize in mass faster then the Prussians. However, with the establishment of the staff college and new concept of mission command, Moltke was able to adapt and innovate tactics using technology. Similarly, during the interwar period, the Germans (Seeckt as the leader) studied WWI. While technological advancements evolved between WWI and WWII, so did Germany’s way of war. For example, they were not tied to one single plan, like the Schiefflan Plan, changing their plan when they better understood the environment. Also, Gudniar and Rommnel were better tacticians than Klucks and Bulow. With that said, technology assisted the Germans in applying new concepts. At the outbreak of WWI, communication was broken so there was no shared understanding of the environment. At the outbreak of WWII, there was communication between Gudniar Klietz, and the High Command, and between tanks. Therefore, there was shared understanding.

    Comment by Dustin Murphy | November 24, 2018


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