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Posted on Nov 24, 2004 in War College

Deep Battle – The Vision of Marshall Tukhachevskii

By Steven McWilliams

Deep Battle requires the first echelon – mainly infantry – directly supported by tanks and artillery to contact the enemy frontage, fixing them in place and preventing reaction to the second echelon – mostly tanks – attacking on a narrow frontage, creating a breakthrough. The exploitation/pursuit force then passes through the breach assaulting the rear echelon. Combined arms of tanks, artillery and airpower interdict the enemy, further reducing his ability to react. The combined effects of these actions collapses the enemy defense operationally and psychologically. Tukhachevskii understood that the commander needed to visualize the entire operation from start to finish, not only the initial engagement. The exploitation force’s last battle was always more difficult than the first, requiring the commander to retain sufficient combat power for this final battle. On this , Tukhachevskii said, “ In mounting a penetration operation, the transition from breaking-in battle, to turning movement, must be carefully thought out and adequately planned. These offensive phases must follow one another without any gap in time, let-up in intensity, or hiatus in communication and re-supply.” This thought embraced the principle of simultaneity – attacking the enemy in depth at the same time. This required heavy artillery and aviation support. By attacking in depth, the enemy commander’s ability to resist is disrupted. Air interdiction and neutralization of deep targets directly supports the maneuver force, denying the enemy the ability to respond. The synergy of deep maneuver increases speed of attack, rapidly collapsing the enemy’s defenses.


The German army in WWII used the concepts of maneuver warfare and combined arms to great effect.

Tukhachevskii also understands how technology will increase the depth of operations, and how command & control and maneuver & fire capability will rapidly increase as technology progresses, each development adding depth and speed to the battlefield. He also understands the potential of attack aviation and airborne forces operating deep in the enemy’s rear and also tried to develop light mechanized airborne and armor forces that could create panic and devastation by sudden appearance in the enemy’s rear area. In PU-36, there are a great many aviation responsibilities in the deep battle, synonymous to modern aviation. This element creates additional depth and produces a tempo feasible for ground forces. The combination of all elements creates great operational shock, interdicting enemy units and disrupting command & control on all levels.

The genius of Tukhachevskii’s Deep Battle doctrine is the use of operational maneuver to seize the offensive initiative from the enemy and to maintain it over time and space towards the enemy’s defeat. Deep Battle entails the understanding that the enemy’s combat power resides throughout the depth of his defensive operations, and not in the strength of the tactical perimeter. This concept leads to the development of tactics to penetrate the enemy’s tactical defense and defeat his rear echelons. Tukhachevskii theorized that:

“Battle will bring about –
a) annihilation of the enemy’s human and material resources; and
b) breaking of his morale and ability to resist.”

Though Tukhachevskii never had the opportunity to apply this doctrine to a real world operation, his theories and concepts may be seen in the armed forces of any nation that utilizes operational maneuver, any that engage the enemy in depth, any that seek to fix an enemy in place and destroy him in detail. Wherever Marshall M.N. Tukhachevskii is today, he must take great satisfaction to see how widely his doctrine and concepts have been applied.

“Speed of action, in conjunction organization, expert maneuver, and dexterous application to the terrain; with an account of the enemy’s air, is a guarantee of success in battle.”

“The fundamental condition of successful maneuver is speeds in movement. Once operational maneuver is achieved, the offensive must not be surrendered. Loss of speed allows for the possibility for the enemy to recover.”

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1 Comment

  1. In practice Tuchsefski didnt do anything but gave an order to Triandafyllov to develope the new doctrine.Triandafyllov was the real developer of the deep battle operational art.HIS BOOKS PROVE IT


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