Academic journal article Military Review

Belorussia 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study

Academic journal article Military Review

Belorussia 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study

Article excerpt

BELORUSSIA 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study, David M. Glantz and Harold S. Orenstein, trans. and eds., Frank Cass, London. Distributed by International Specialized Books, Portland, OR, 2001, 337 pages, $39.50.

Belorussia 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study moves on several planes for the professional soldier and military historian. The Belorussia operation, a multifront offensive from 23 June to 29 August 1944, initiated a strategic offensive by the Red Army to tie down German units on the Eastern Front while allies established a Western Front after the Normandy invasion.

The operation exhibited Red Army operational-level capabilities after three years of surviving and driving back the German invasion. The staff study, source material from a Soviet perspective, covers preparation, penetration of German defense, offense in depth, encirclement, liquidation of the Minsk encirclement, and pursuit.

On another plane, Soviet Lieutenant-General E.A. Shilovsky, supervisor and editor of the study, illustrates a fascinating part of the Red Army general staff's ability to change army operations through the Directorate of the Exploitation of War Experience. Shilovsky, groomed as a military thinker, produced a 1939 study on World War I breakthrough operations. At mid-war, he observed Western and Bryansk fronts during the Red Army Kursk counteroffensive and published an excellent guide to the preparation, attack, and exploitation phases of a breakthrough operation. These lessons were applied in the Belorussia operation. …

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