I am asking this question from memory. I remember to keep hearing and reading that the Soviets, in the final stages of WWII, advancing into Germany, have "learned" the "Blitzkrieg" from the Germans. However, they have had developed the "deep operation" strategy, that seems suspiciously similar to the Blitzkrieg to me, before the war. How are both strategies different and have they learned anything in terms of strategy from the Germans?

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    "Blitzkrieg" was a myth just as Soviet "Deep Battle" was too. What is a fact is that German Field Marshal Von Manstein and Russian Field Marshal Zhukov...who would face off against one another at the Battle of Kursk...did evolve a "fighting style" that imo gave rise to these so called "theories." Zhukov used combined air/land and massive and disparate flanking operations to great success in the Battle of Kholkon Gol against Japan long before Germany invaded. The same was true of Von Manstein who created the exact opposite type of "breaching battle" where a small puncture in a defense would be – Doctor Zhivago Nov 1 '16 at 0:15
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    Made from whence massively staged forces would pour through to create a "War of Manoeuvre" which Von Manstein preferred. I think the Von Manstein approach far superior as it was very good on the defense as well as attack although the Battle of Kursk does show otherwise in Zhukov's favor. Still...Zhukov like Grant struggled with following up his defensive Victories. This was uniquely untrue with Van Manstein...most famously at the 3rd Battle of Kharkov when the Waffen SS really showed what a fanatical and elite fighting force they truly were and would be "to the bitter end... – Doctor Zhivago Nov 1 '16 at 0:22
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    @user14394 If you need multiple comments, it should probably be an answer. – Schwern Nov 1 '16 at 5:02

Wiki seems to be answering your question:

While Blitzkrieg emphasized the importance of a single strike on a Schwerpunkt (focal point) as a means of rapidly defeating an enemy, Deep Battle emphasized the need for multiple breakthrough points and reserves to exploit the breach quickly. The difference in doctrine can be explained by the strategic circumstances for the USSR and Germany at the time. Germany had a smaller population but a better trained army whereas the Soviet Union had a larger population but a more poorly trained army. As a result, the Blitzkrieg emphasized narrow front attacks where quality could be decisive, while Deep Battle emphasized wider front attacks where quantity could be used effectively.

Another aspect of the Soviet strategy is that the reserves are given to the most successful of the multiple directions of offensive. IOW, if unit A, B and C are attacking at three different points, and A is making progress, B is stalled, and C walked into an ambush and is being decimated, then B and C are left to deal with their issues themselves and all possible support is given to A (source). However, this makes such an eminent sense, that I doubt that it is specific to the Soviet Army.

  • A way to illustrate the difference is that in the Soviet method, if you wanted to take a strategic point, you would conduct a series of attacks around it. As each attack stalls, launch a new one at a different point, preferably at a weak point. Eventually you'll have everything worth having around the objective so either the enemy is forced to withdraw, or your final attack is at an advantage. The blitzkrieg is more of a deep drive, seeking the path of least resistance (or trying to make one), and trying to get so far behind your enemy that their forward position is untenable. – Smith Nov 1 '16 at 13:47
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    I find it interesting how Darwinian that attitude appears to be. It reminds me of a lot of learning AI algorithms. – T.E.D. Nov 1 '16 at 15:41
  • @Smith in the final years of the war, the Russians were making these deep drives as well, as there was not much left to oppose them, hence my question. – user1095108 Nov 2 '16 at 10:09
  • I think if you look at the details, you find distinct differences. A classic blitz thrust is like that in the Ardennes, or British vs Italian in North Africa, or Germans vs British in North Africa. A large thrust, maybe with smaller supporting ones, going as deep as possible, cutting off points and avoiding resistance. The Soviets were more wide - attack at several points along the line, see what happens. If you look at the Eastern Front lines over time, you'll see they move back in stages as the wide front moves back. – Smith Nov 2 '16 at 15:55
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    Another diffence would be that the Blitzkrieg forces the breakthrough with the Panzer divisions, who then exploit their own breakthrough, while the deep operation leaves the breakthrough to the infantry (whcih notably IS supported by organic tanks!) and leaves the bigger mech formations (corps, army) in reserve for the exploit only. – Jur Jan 8 '17 at 11:24

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