I've been reading about Russia in the Great War during 1917, and what is quite surprising for me is the Kerensky Offensive. Primarily, what is surprising is that the army was in great material terms by summer: "better prepared than at any time during the war" as described here. In light of this, was the Russian preparation of their troops done to the utmost they could given the circumstances or had they left some obvious preparations incomplete? Is there anything the General Staff (either before or after Brusilov replacing Alekseyev) thought they lacked? Were the Russians aware of how prepared the Germans were to repel them?
Russian motivation for the attack is described:
A concerted offensive had been planned at Allied conferences starting in late 1916. In June 1917 the coalition launched the attack, believing action could strengthen Russia’s diplomatic hand, secure Allied credits, and halt the breakdown of order in the army and the country’s interior.
The operation failed after initial successes against the Austro-Hungarians in the south when the Germans transferred troops and counter-attacked—essentially steamrollering across the Russian front and causing the collapse of numerous armies. In one of the articles, it also said that the Russian failure to attack in the north and south at the same time was fatal to the success of the mission but I've not seen that mentioned elsewhere (and the cause of the delay wasn't described).
Worsening weather conditions are also noted as one of the reasons the attack failed and the retreat ended up so poorly though not by other sources. Most other descriptions blame the Revolution which had sapped the morale of the soldiers who were no longer motivated.
Changes in leadership are also mentioned as being particularly hurtful to the Russians (all errors from the original):
Although the army officers held different attitute about the feasibility of the offensive, none of them ever questioned the necessity of Russia's continuous, active role in the WWI. Even the pessimist officers would agree that the defensive operations were to be only transient until morale and discipline were fully reestablished. However, Kerensy could not wait. Determined to implement the offensive as , Kerensky replaced the cautious Alekseyev with the bold and aggressive Brusilov on May 22.
This makes it sound as if the attack was more a political decision than a military one—Brusilov's optimistic attitude about the assault succeeding is noted as being based on false premises in the paper:
As historian R. Feldmen pointed out, Brusilov arrived at his conclusion largely based on misinterpretation of the soldiers' revolutionary zeal as enthusiasm to continue the war. Indeed, as observed from the documents of soldiers voices during mid-1917, their opinions on the war divided widely.
At the same time, of course, in Petrograd the very thought of attacking Germany in another offensive was anathema to numerous Revolutionary cliques who turned it by default into a political issue. However, the Entente also wanted a Russian advance to occur as had been promised in 1916.