Author: Col. A.V. KIRILLOV, Candidate of Historical Sciences
Analysis of military history shows that such a critical form of combat action as the defense was often underestimated with the result that armies were ill-prepared for it. Combat practice has on many occasions shown the erroneousness of views downplaying the role of the defense. As a rule, warring sides had to repulse enemy attacks on an ever growing scale and for increasing periods. Troops had to look for effective methods of preparation and conduct of the defense at the cost of heavy losses, correcting the mistakes that were made in military theory. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 was not an exception in this regard.
Despite the fact that a number of advanced, forward-looking concepts of the military art evolved in the early 1930s (in particular, the theory of operation in depth), clearly insufficient consideration was given to the theory of preparation and conduct of defensive operations. As A.A. Svechin pointed out, the Red Armyнs disrespect for the defense resulted from failure to understand the dialectic relationship between the offensive and the defensive. "He who cannot defend himself will not be able to mount a successful offensive," he stressed. "It is critical to use firm defense in order to prepare an effective offensive; an offensive operation needs a good foundation to build on." 1 The opinion of this outstanding military expert, however, was ignored.
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