Russian Naval Infantry and the Bridgehead subject logo: MILGAM
Posted by: badanov

Military operations are always about applying force. How you apply that force has two basic elements: time and space.

We saw in Iraq since the liberation began in 2003, that proper application of maneuver forces using the elements of time and space can resolve a military campaign very rapidly.

On the defense during WWII, the German Army knew these elements all too well and applied those lessons ruthlessly in Soviet Russia and elsewhere. in the great offensives of 1941-1943 What the German Army also developed was using those elements in mobile offensive operations in mobile defensive operations where correlations of forces are against the defender, in this case the German Army.

In 1967, and later in 1991, this aggressive defensive doctrine was expanded and applied by the Israeli Army against a numerically vastly superior enemy and respectively by the US Army with results that essentially only confirmed basic military principles.

In the coming liberation of Iran, we know as all people who are actually military professionals know that how force is applied will matter as much as how much force is applied, using the principles of time and space.

We have been working on a wargame since 1995 which envisages a Russian invasion of Iran with limited objectives, a force of army group size which would push into northwest Iran as far as Tabriz and no farther east than the Iranian border town of Arbadil.

Ten years on, two liberated Islamic countries later, we have not seen much evidence to indicate to us that the Russian military establishment likes the Mad Mullahs of Iran any more than the Mad Mullahs likes the Russians. While it is less likely the Russians woujld actually use an army group sized for it is not unlikely they would use any force at all. And it is not by chance than a flotilla naval headquarters in Astrakhan is the base to a Russian Naval Rifle Brigade. The significance is that the other fleet level headquarters have brigade sized elements of Naval Infantry, but the Caspian Sea flotilla rates the same sized element as much larger naval units.

As we have written elsewhere, the Caspian Flotilla does not have any significant sealift capability, but it does have three major airfields in the area capable of landing troop transports at Astrakhan, Baku and Kaspiysk, which is in Dagestan, and developed to provide air support for their Chechen operations.

We read an article dated in 1998, that the Russian air force has had numerous air incidents with Iran. Without identifying the aircraft, we think the primary patrol craft at Kaspiysk would be a seaplane, but could also be the TU-22M naval patrol bomber. We think the air game Russian air crews prefer to play with Iranian ones is called "chicken."

In any Russian invasion of northern Iran using naval infantry would involve overland operations to gain objectives the naval command in Astrakhan, coastal leapfrog operations similar to the minor operations launched by the American 7th Army in Sicily.

Such operations in an Iranian scenario will involve river crossings.

River crossing are where time and space get oput to the test. The issue in river crossings is often a matter of deception. Your enemy is often not certain given the nature of the terrain around rivers, where to guard to prevent a river crossing. Patrols, both air and ground may help to gain information but ultimately the defender is placed in a position to purely react where and when a river crossing takes place. Also, how much force to place where, the combination of time and space, can consume a defender's staff time and energies. If you place a battalion defending the wrong point at a river, you may as not deployed the unit at all.

In SPMBT, we use a 10 km front and a brigade element consisting of two BTR-80 Marine companies, two heliborne airborne companies, a T-80UM tank platoon, a river crossing element for the T-80s and four batteries of 152mm D-20s. Leading the assault are three heliborne engineer platoons ands two to three half-flights of attack helos, MI-28N.

The AI likes to lay mines especially along roads, especially near likely points of crossing, likes to deploy tanks in spots capable of engaging Russian armor from across the river, as well as tons of manpack SAMs.

That's it for the moment. This is an awfully long post, but we may add to this lesson on river crossings later on.

If you have something to add, Fire Away!

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