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Thread: Explorations in Strategy - Italy at War

  1. #2661
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    The Year of the Masters of War
    Part 12: Alliance Warfare, September 25 – December 31, 1944

    Of all the challenges of war, one of the most frustrating ones is that of alliance warfare. As allies rarely let their formations be commanded by each other except in extraordinary circumstances or relationships, the frequent result of waging war alongside someone is an incredible amount of bickering. This bickering covers strategy; the conduct of war; the ends of war in both its meanings, that is what the purpose of war is and how it should end; and just about everything else under the sun. There is no such thing as an easy alliance at war. There are workable alliances, but rarely are they actually easy ones, however well alliance members can on occasion manage to work together. Then there are dysfunctional, unworkable alliances. These generally tend to drag down the stronger members to the level of the weaker ones by being forced to bail them out of bad situations time and again, thus diluting strength all over the place.

    The Italian-German alliance was not an easy one. It was not a particularly functional one either. Its original purpose had been to increase Italian domestic tolerance for international expeditionary adventures around the Mediterranean to increase the span of the Italian Empire. It was also hoped that, with Germany being the more worrisome partner in terms of upsetting the European balance of power, Italy would be able to hide behind Germany and essentially act with impunity, the entire world focused instead on the apparently greater threat. By 1941 this had all fallen to pieces when Germany declared war on the Soviet Union and promptly proceeded to not invade that latter country successfully. They instead sat in eastern Poland and Latvia staring eastward and claiming that there were too many Soviet troops for them to move anywhere. Anywhere, that was, except where there were weaker parties to beat up such as the Swedes and Norwegians and Finns, all at the expense of the Eastern Front. They even sent troops southward to Illyria in early and mid-1944, undoubtedly because they knew that they would be safe there, making a gesture while being protected by Italian operational skill. It thus came as a complete surprise to Mussolini and indeed all the Italians when, at the end of the Balkan campaign in late September, the Germans immediately began moving yet again. At first it was all a bit unbelievable, but they were not going home to Germany, nor to any other fronts. Instead, they were pushing northward out from Dacia, and eastward across the Bosporus! A veritable flood of German formations were actually moving against the Soviet Union. Albeit not against any Soviet formations; they were only moving because on those two fronts there was a complete absence of Soviet troops. They were all heading into a vacuum.


    Those crazy Germans, streaming eastward as if they were some sort of torrent or something.

    German contributions to the Balkans and their subsequent march eastward, of course, had to come at a price. That price was paid by the Eastern Front. There, the Soviets gained sufficient confidence in their numerical superiority to launch an offensive in the south, pushing into southern Poland which began achieving results by late October in terms of recovering and even taking territory. They even managed to achieve some sort of minor pocket, possibly destroying a small number of German formations. Meanwhile, in Anatolia the Germans had already advanced past Ankara and were sweeping along the southern coast just behind. The Germans also exploded out of Dacia to sweep across the considerable spaces of the Ukrainian steppes. They crossed the Dnepr at its southern bends and closed the isthmus to the Crimea. This sudden energy puzzled and surprised the Italians, who had simply planned on remaining on the defensive for the remainder of the year while forming plans for further action against the Soviet Union. Instead, Mussolini did not even have them dig in but instead kept them back and scattered across Dacia and Thrace for rest and recreation. He was going to let the Germans carry the brunt of the war, albeit only for a few short months. The Soviets were still slow in reacting to the debacle of the Balkans, and only in November did Soviet formations begin appearing to face the Germans in Ukraine and Anatolia. Mussolini still had command of several German formations and, not particularly caring much for them, sent them on what was essentially a suicide mission northward from Ukraine to the German shelf in Poland. They got as far as Rowne before being encircled and destroyed, resulting in the destruction of sixteen German divisions totaling about one hundred and forty-four thousand men. Mussolini didn’t care. They were only Germans, after all.


    The Germans, doing Mussolini’s work for him in some ways.

    A number of other German troops under Italian operational command, being closer to Germany than to potential doom in Ukraine or elsewhere in the Soviet Union, Mussolini simply sent back to Germany in the hope that German units under operational Italian command might actually achieve something on the Eastern Front. By late December, these units were partaking in a few battles in southern Poland, where the situation had for the Germans deteriorated even further. The Soviets had reached Slovakia and had conquered what probably amounted to a fourth of that country already. They were generally hitting the Germans hard and pushing them back as well. Inexplicably, the Persians appeared once again and even conquered a town for themselves, which is simply mind boggling. There is no explanation for this.


    What?

    For the better part of three years, the Italian-German alliance was something of a drag on Italian strategy. After all, the Italians had to conduct and will likely have to end the war the Germans had started mindlessly. However, in the last three months of the year, the Germans actually began doing something again (the first time being Finland in the first three months of the year). They indeed pushed the borders of the Italian Empire back to nearly where they were at the beginning of the year in Anatolia, and far beyond them in the Ukraine. However, the trade off for this was an ongoing reversal in southern Poland which the Soviets might or might not remain capable enough of to turn into something greater than it already is. The Italians were still undecided on what their strategy for the forthcoming year should be. The future was as murky and unknown as ever.
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  2. #2662
    Field Marshal reis91's Avatar
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    Hmm... let me guess, Germans successfully pulled a Falkenhausen and replaced Hitler with someone more competent?

    Anyway, good work on your part, your courage and military successes inspired the German troops to try and perform better than yours (after all, they shouldn't fight worse than the spaghetti folks ).

    Now, if brave Hungary holds again, perhaps a push to the North of the Balkans, covered by German troops in Ukraine, I'm sensing a nice encirclement location in Southern Poland. Problem is that la Reggia Marina can't intervene with their air squadrons, and Mussolini doesn't like to leave them out of his undertakings, after devoting so much effort to them.

  3. #2663
    Major Jorath13's Avatar
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    Wow! 1945 will bear watching! Will Il Duce be able to repeat the successes of '44? Will Germany pull their head out of the sand in Poland and actually do...something there? Will Japan ever be more than a footnote in the annals of history in this AAR?
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  4. #2664
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    When Germany coughs, Europe sneezes.
    You should take control over OKW and finish the war.
    The more you kill Soviets, the more they kill Germans.
    How logical.

  5. #2665
    do you have an old savegame? what would have happened if you had not stepped into the alliance?
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  6. #2666
    Lt. General BlitzMartinDK's Avatar
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    That southern "bulge" into Poland..Can you pocket that from the south? For example by going up the river to Kiev, and then westwards? (north of the marsh, perhaps?)

    Oh..And by the way : Aren't some of those Germans headed for India, as I said some pages back?
    Last edited by BlitzMartinDK; 04-07-2010 at 01:45.

  7. #2667
    Houm... interesting! How come none of us intrepid strategic analysts thought of the possibility the Germany AI would see an open front and go all charge of the light brigade at it?

    In any case, this does present an interesting encirclement opportunity in south Poland, if you go around the eastern tip of Hungary (or even through it :evil grin:, assuming it can be accomplished quickly enough).

    How is your supply situation in the Balkans and Dacia? From my experience playing as Italy, the Yugoslavian and Romanian infrastructure really limit the amount of supplies you can pour through there.


    edit: Come to think of it, there are too many mountains in east Hungary for an attack against it to be a viable tactic. It would take too long.
    Last edited by Thomas Kenobi; 04-07-2010 at 01:32. Reason: typos
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  8. #2668
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    Hindsight is always correct. It is now obvious that the German forces would expand the frontier, where there was no opposition. (At least the value of a neutral Hungary has again been proven.)

    It seems the German forces that were destroyed were under the operational command of Italy. The loss of any force is not good. These troops could have been used to provide direction and emphasis to the general expansion, without risk of Italian lives.

    It is dangerous to fall into a plan that is not of your design. This German expansion in the South creates opportunities and risks. Can Mussolini wait and see how this plays out. Could Germany iteslf be at risk if this current situation goes the Soviet way and will Italy find a better opportunity to push the Soviets over the edge?

  9. #2669
    Field Marshal reis91's Avatar
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    Be wary of Stalingrad 1943, in an alternative timeline

  10. #2670
    Those silly Germans.

  11. #2671
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    reis91: Well brave little Hungary isn't as much holding as not fighting at all, being neutral.

    Jorath13: If there's anyone more incompetent than the Germans, it's the Japanese.

    Enewald: I guess my hopes for the alliance worked out after all!

    Juan_de_Marco: I do have a couple, but not that old. After all, I made the alliance in '36 or '37.

    BlitzMartinDK: That'd be a difficult pocket. As for the Germans, that's probably what they're trying to do!

    Thomas Kenobi: I have no idea what my supply situation is, but I think it's alright. So far I'm not really stretching it because none of my armies are doing anything.

    shepherd352: To answer the final question: no.

    reis91: Stalingrad 1946!

    dublish: Very silly.
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  12. #2672
    What the Germans are doing is pushing your borders out past where they can be defended so that the forward German formations can be more easily surrounded and destroyed.

    Watch out for the Persians! If they can take a town on the Eastern Front, they might take TWO towns in Turkey!

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  13. #2673
    Those damn germans they have more than enough soviets on their own border with them, why must they come over to Dacia and Anatolia and steal ours? That's just being greedy =D But in all seriousness this is excellent news.

    This gives us a nice period of respite where we aren't under serious peril of allowing soviets into italian heartland, allows Myth to come up with some war winning strategy to firmly tweak the nose of the soviet bear even further. Although hopefully Myth is keeping an eye on his troops, we don't want any italian formations being lost due to German incompetence.

    Also, do we have any idea how high Soviet IC is? I know that you've done extremely well in annihilating 500,000 soldiers but I'm certain that there's got to be far more than that hiding somewhere in there =D

  14. #2674
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    Germany have apparently studied MUSSOLINI's strategy, and perhaps misapplied it. Attempting a strategic retreat in Poland, to draw the Red army in, then invading from Dacia to trap the advancing Sov units. But then, maybe not, if the Red Army is truly strained after the Italian offensive.

    A lot of grey and not much green showing in the high view of Dacia - hopefully the Italian stacks are just under the German ones. Or are you relocating units for another strike?

    And that Sov thrust into Slovakia could be trouble, if the ITA/GER units can't derail it. IT could end up hitting Italy trhough the back door, if supported.(I keep giving tha AI too much credit, probably.)

    I wonder how long before Hungary decides to join in the fun - and on which side?

  15. #2675
    Field Marshal Baltasar's Avatar
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    Letting those German divisions be destroyed is just a waste. You should either have used them further, having them penetrate deep into Russia, or send them back to the German front. That's 16 division which would have helped stabilize the German front decisively. Mussolini doesn't seem to be that good a strategist after all.

  16. #2676
    A bunny with a hat Moderator Nikolai II's Avatar
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    Just out of curiosity, what was your motivation to destroy more than a dozen german divisions that should have been more useful exploiting the east front for you (or been sent a safer way back to Poland/Germany for some defensive action)
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  17. #2677
    Lt. General BlitzMartinDK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikolai II View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what was your motivation to destroy more than a dozen german divisions that should have been more useful exploiting the east front for you (or been sent a safer way back to Poland/Germany for some defensive action)
    I think he was actually trying what I suggested (suggested after he told about it ) : To cut off the southern ½ of the russian front on germany..
    But he deemed it too risky for any Italians to try..

  18. #2678
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    Beppo: I know, I'm very scared of the Persians!

    Zanziabar: As has been mentioned in discussion, the decisive factor of the Soviet home front is its manpower rate of gain rather than IC, and there the Soviets are in bad shape.

    FrodoB: Hungary will probably never join the fun unless we invite it. Forcefully.

    Baltasar: Reputation is a funny thing, isn't it?

    Nikolai II: They were pissing me off. I never wanted any German divisions in the first place, I never really used them, but they refused to go back to Germany. I'd give them back, they'd revert control, and then Germany would just give them back to me. I didn't want them. So I decided to send them on a difficult mission to link up with the real German front, hopefully creating a big pocket in the process. They died. No tears for those wankers. As people keep pointing out anyway, in the end if I keep success up it's going to turn into a race between me and Germany to see who can get the bigger and better bits of the Soviet Union anyway, so good riddance. They're only Germans after all, it's not like they're valuable Italian troops.

    BlitzMartinDK: Psh if I had wanted to use Italian troops, I would have done it right and won.

    I'll try to get an update done some time this week, guys!
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  19. #2679
    Field Marshal reis91's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    Nikolai II: They were pissing me off. I never wanted any German divisions in the first place, I never really used them, but they refused to go back to Germany. I'd give them back, they'd revert control, and then Germany would just give them back to me. I didn't want them. So I decided to send them on a difficult mission to link up with the real German front, hopefully creating a big pocket in the process. They died. No tears for those wankers. As people keep pointing out anyway, in the end if I keep success up it's going to turn into a race between me and Germany to see who can get the bigger and better bits of the Soviet Union anyway, so good riddance. They're only Germans after all, it's not like they're valuable Italian troops.
    Nice allies Hitler managed to get. With those allies, who needs enemies?

  20. #2680
    Alien Space Bat Judas Maccabeus's Avatar
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    Hahaha, looks more and more like Germany is shaping up to be the Austria-Hungary to Italy's... well... Germany. Hopefully that turns out better for you than for the Central Powers in the first World War, though.
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