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Thread: Explorations in Strategy - Italy at War

  1. #2521
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    BlitzMartinDK: Well of course it's intense fighting, I said it was. After all, there's about 1.2 million soldiers in the Balkans right now.

    Baltasar: What, making the Dnepr wider and deeper?

    Starfury: Damn I must be getting sloppy in my old age.

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  2. #2522
    Second Lieutenant Palmyrene's Avatar
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    Excellent update, Myth. I really like the historical and clear analytical writing style you have used in this aar.

    What vision Il Duce has, to see the whole of the Balkan's as a pocket! Lets hope da Zara's aviators can slow down the Soviet reinforcements, otherwise I fear for how long the "Dacian Neck" will hold.

    Can you remind us what you have in the construction queue at the moment? Clearly reinforcement of existing formations will be eating IC, given the horrendous casualties in Illyria, but it seems you need complete fresh formations as well... .

    Good luck, and looking forward to the update.

  3. #2523
    So that was the plan all along =D Although I can't help but feel pity for the italian officer who would be in charge of managing logistics for this massive operational jumble you have going on here. Do you feel confident in the ability to hold the Dacian Neck long enough to annihilate the soviets trapped in the Balkans? I'm having flashbacks to our last attempt at this, but as I recall it brought a rather signifcant haul of soviet troops.

  4. #2524
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    Palmyrene: To be honest I don't remember what's exactly in the production queue either! Probably a handful remaining runs of infantry, but that's probably about it. I had to start throwing a lot of IC into supplies cause this plague of Germans has been using them all.

    Zanziabar: Hmm, which attempt are you thinking of? The 1942 attempt in Dacia, or the 1943 attempt from Illyria? I got nothing from the first, unfortunately. The second was a good haul, yes. I inflicted about 400,000 casualties upon the Soviets, including destroyed divisions.

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  5. #2525
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    The Year of the Masters of War
    Part 9: The Great Gamble of the War IV, July 24 – August 6, 1944

    Surprise is a powerful ally for any soldier, this is certain. However, its effects rarely lost long. Military organizations intuitively understand certain aspects of war that tend to escape the notice and realization of their civilian superiors. These aspects include friction, surprise, enemy action and so on. Thus, the armed forces are chock-full of redundancy, and yet it is this redundancy that gives them flexibility in unforeseen situations. The Soviets had no real need of half a million men on Illyria front at the beginning of the year. By mid-summer, however, they were certainly glad to have had that many troops, for those redundant troops were making something of a difference.

    By midday on the 23rd, Pintor’s army had an empty front before it. He saw the opportunity and took it, sending Roatta’s corps racing along the Hungarian southern border eastward, though within twenty-four hours a Soviet formation appeared to try to block the way. He directed Gambara southeastward at first, to sweep some minor Soviet flanking elements out of the way before he too would turn to exploit. At the same time, German units, both those under Italian operational control and those beyond it, began the attack to clear the Soviet pocket in the north, in which six Soviet divisions were trapped. Within twenty four hours, the pocket had been reduced by half and the final assault was finally underway. In the south Zadar, too, lay isolated by this point, albeit perhaps even only one Soviet division remained there. The second thrust to the Adriatic coast, at Korcula, was about to close like a great vice, and here it was anticipated perhaps even another half dozen Soviet and Allied divisions would be trapped. In the center of the front, the Soviets were simply getting pushed back, and with greater ease than before. Their formations were being ground down, their combat efficiency worn away. It would not be long until breakthrough all across the front.


    The Illyrian front at midday on the 24th of July.

    In the east, progress could of course not be nearly as rapid. Whereas the Illyrian front comprised five armies, after all, the Dacian and Thracian fronts together comprised only two, albeit large, armies. Here the advance was slow, particularly in Dacia, where Soviet resistance had truly begun increasing to potentially dangerous levels. If the Soviets managed to wrest control of the initiative from the Italians, they could concentrate sufficient strength to burst through Vercellino’s overstretched army and create a supply corridor into southeastern Europe. On the positive side, Baistrocchi’s and Vercellino’s armies finally linked up. Vercellino sent both of his infantry corps pushing south and southwest along the coast, and this resulted in the encirclement against the coastline of two Soviet divisions. Until these divisions were to be destroyed however, they remained just as dangerous as ever, and even more so as they forced the Italians to reverse fronts. The back and forth across this sector of front was unlike the character of operations further west. The Soviets were moving north, and Vercellino and Cei were simply trying to slow them down using their cavalry divisions. One of the two infantry corps was attacking southwestward into the flank of a Soviet formation that was itself attacking an Italian position directly east of it, and at the same time the other infantry corps was attacking directly southward into the pocket of Soviet troops that was directly behind the Italian troops that were being attacked. Even further south, the Soviets had been just stalled outside of Constanta, which was garrisoned by only a single headquarters brigade. The Italian lines in Dacia were looking very fragile as the sun set on the 26th of July.


    The situation on the Dacian front on the 26th.

    On the Illyrian front, the coast was finally cleared of Soviet divisions and the advance could continue southwestward. There the front had emptied considerably as a result of the Italian successes with their two coastal pockets. The very north in front of Roatta was again empty for a while, and he exploited. The greatest concentration of Soviet formations was in the center, opposite Guzzoni’s, Graziani’s and Bastico’s armies, and the southern wing of Pintor’s army. Here fighting was raging heavily: Slavonski Brod finally fell to the Italians after losses of over fifteen hundred on their part, and nearly thirty-eight hundred Soviet deaths. The Italians were nevertheless grinding forward there. In the north, Pintor’s army achieved another encirclement, of two divisions, and opened the front ahead of them again. The east, however, seemed nearly deadlocked. While the Italians were making some progress in relatively undefended sectors, the center of Dacia was locked up tight by the Soviets and their pressure on the thin Italian lines was increasing. The Soviet attack that was developing against the Italians on the Black Sea coast had reached such disturbing proportions, there were up to seven divisions with immediate access to the front of the one Italian division, that Mussolini called in all of Italy’s medium bombers to support the fight. The Italians were only just hanging on, and beginning to take heavy casualties in the east now as well. By the 2nd of August, only one thin cavalry screen stood before the Soviets and a supply line. Here, two of Cei’s three cavalry divisions were attacking to restore a buffer of security, along with Bergonzoli’s motorized infantry. Carrier aviation flew in support of the attack. This gambit eventually proved successful, but decimated—in the original sense of the word—the Italian forces involved. And yet the desperate defense was not yet over, as the Soviets were attacking elsewhere as well. The cavalry had to move to block them. By the 6th of August, the pressure had lessened. The Soviets had either shot their bolt or were reorganizing for another try. The buffer zone had been expanded, the Black Sea coastal pocket destroyed and the Dacian and Thracian fronts were more secure than ever before, despite horrific casualty rates in some battles. On the Illyrian front, Pintor’s army was beginning to race ahead in the north, with nothing but open space in front of it. In the south, Amadeo duca degli Abruzzi’s army too had pushed past the Soviet frontlines and was approaching Albania from the north. The center remained a cauldron of fire and blood.


    The entire situation at noon on the 6th of August.

    The previous thirteen days had cost the Italians, Germans, Soviets and Allies together nearly thirty-five thousand casualties. With the intensity of the fighting in Dacia increasing so too did the overall casualty rates for the campaign. In these thirteen days, nearly sixteen thousand Italians and Germans—and those only the Germans under Italian operational command, the Germans not under Italian control must also have suffered casualties—had died. At the same time, the Soviets and Allies had lost nearly twenty-four thousand six hundred. This is to say that the Soviet casualties increased by four hundred from the previous thirteen days to this set of thirteen days. Axis casualties, however, had increased by nearly five and a half thousand. This increase can probably be entirely put down to the increase of pressure on the Dacian front. However, making up for this increase of Italian and German casualties is the fact that during this period the first Soviet divisions were eradicated: Italian intelligence estimated that perhaps sixteen divisions had been destroyed during this time.
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  6. #2526
    Crazy Canuck! True Grit's Avatar
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    I see a division pushing hard along the Adriatic coast. Move them quicker, lol! With even some supplies coming into the theatre for the Soviets it will be very hard going to bring all this enemy formations to heel.

    Have the CAGs to the north spotted anything at all coming from further east? Are you maintaining your logistical strikes or letting them repair and using them elsewhere - especially since you used CAV formations to hold off modern INF.
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  7. #2527
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    You know, you could also use the HQ's when pushing forward.
    They have good generals that give great boosts to your side in battles and they occupy empty enemy land, drive fast and hold provinces if it comes to that. A HQ is better than no defence at all.

  8. #2528
    Crazy Canuck! True Grit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald View Post
    You know, you could also use the HQ's when pushing forward.
    They have good generals that give great boosts to your side in battles and they occupy empty enemy land, drive fast and hold provinces if it comes to that. A HQ is better than no defence at all.
    Seems too gamey to me to use HQs as regular divisions. However, I commonly will add a support brigade to an HQ (like ART) to represent additional division elements. I only use them to support attack and defence though, never to take territory.

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  9. #2529
    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald View Post
    You know, you could also use the HQ's when pushing forward.
    They have good generals that give great boosts to your side in battles and they occupy empty enemy land, drive fast and hold provinces if it comes to that. A HQ is better than no defence at all.
    That is good advice if you micro manage all, those higher level guys should earn their pay!!!

  10. #2530
    Well done sir! It looks like your cavalry is ready to move west and curl around the Russians to try and pocket them or just head for open ground and try to herd the entire Russian force to the south and their destruction.

    I was doubting all that IC you were spending on aircraft carriers, but it certainly seems to be paying off now.

  11. #2531
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    Quote Originally Posted by myth
    Mussolini called in all of Italy’s medium bombers to support the fight


    I'm surprised he could find them. The forgotten air arm finally gets a role. What have you got, 2 or 3 prewar bombers?

    Impressive showing, but that's a lot of soviet divisions to round up and corral before the zerg rush from the north.

    How low do you think the Soviet force strength on the German-Russian front needs to be before the German army starts to move?

  12. #2532
    Field Marshal Baltasar's Avatar
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    I'm suprised not to see any Russians trying to break through your very thin line from the north. Either the AI lacks the forces to move forces there or it's gambling that the Balkan front will eventually be able to steamroll through the Italians by itself. Seeing the progress in Illyria, I have my doubts about that. Without support from the north, the Russian Balkan forces will be annihalated.

    You still may need to transfer an infantry corps or two from the Illyrian front via sea lanes to Dacia to strengthen the blocking force, unless your nothern armies manage to fight their way through to Dacia first. Noticing the lack of Russian troops in front of them, this may actually be an option.

    Any movements on the other fronts, yet? Does the German "intelligence" report sizable Russian troop movements?

  13. #2533
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    North of the Dacian Neck the Soviets appear to be out of troops. Surprising, but certainly welcome.

    Oh yeah, just remembered that supplies are now generated by IC on the map, rather than in the capital. At least there is no way that the little bit of IC in the Balkans can supply the Soviet forces there, so it might actually be to your benefit that there are that many troops there. Interesting thought.

    Let's see how things develop on the western side of the pocket.

  14. #2534
    The Soviet supply situation must be critical at this point. Despite the amount of territory you've left undefended in Greece and Thrace, I can only see 3 Soviet divisions attempting to retake any of it. I wouldn't be surprised if you could take their last port in Albania before they reach Athens.

    Can you tell if you've triggered some movement from the main Eastern Front yet?

  15. #2535
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surt View Post
    That is good advice if you micro manage all, those higher level guys should earn their pay!!!
    Especially with Germany, you have those skill 3-5 generals and field marshals with unfair traits, they give really unfair modifiers once those HQ's join the fray.
    Why let Rommel, Manstein, Guderian & Kumpels sit in their warm offices when they can lead the charge?
    (weird, I use the Mozilla add-on which checks my spelling mistakes, apparently Rommel is word in British English but Guderian and Manstein are not!)

    Plus having a HQ sitting in the front-line may just be enough to prevent the enemy from marching hitherto. 3000 officers is more and better than nothing.

  16. #2536
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    True Grit: That's no division. That's an entire army! As for da Zara's CAGs, they're still doing logistics strikes, and there's no damage to them as there's nothing shooting back at them.

    Enewald: Not my style though. It's one of those things I'd do out of desperation, against a human opponent maybe. But neither of those are the case here.

    True Grit: Indeed, as I mentioned in a previous response, I see it as too gamey too.

    Surt: I tend to manage my armies at the corps level, rarely by individual divisions (not to say I use AI control, as I don't).

    Gen. Hillier: If it can break through the Soviets in front of them. My cavalry is fighting with 1940 weaponry I think. As for my aircraft carriers, I like 'em.

    FrodoB: Yeah it was two or three or four. Either way they represent a bit more kinetic power to add to an overstretched carrier air force. As for the Germans moving, I fully anticipate that a whole two Soviet divisions would frighten them into staying still.

    Baltasar: Well there will be a movement from the Eastern Front, but that's a bit in the future.

    Stuyvesant: The westward side of the pocket can probably be described as RAWR SMASH!

    dublish: Nothing yet as far as I'm aware at this stage, though as I mention to Baltasar there will be a movement at some later point.

    Enewald: That's because Rommel fought against the British but Guderian and Manstein did not. Also, Constanta would disagree! This entire time its been held by an HQ and been under near constant attack by the Soviets, who seem to want that port for some reason.
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  17. #2537
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Oh yeah, just remembered that supplies are now generated by IC on the map, rather than in the capital. At least there is no way that the little bit of IC in the Balkans can supply the Soviet forces there, so it might actually be to your benefit that there are that many troops there...
    Not really relevant in this case, since it's only IC in your cores that generate supply. I don't think the Russkies have cores throughout the Balkans, do they? Looks to me like the Russians in the Balkans have been cut off from any source of supply for at least a couple of weeks now, maybe longer, and might have started in a poor state because of the logistical bombing campaign (you'd hope so, at least...). Maybe this will start to tell in the next update.

  18. #2538
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    Got to admit, for Italy, that is one impressive pocket. Hopefully it will be reduced before a breakthough is achieved by the Soviets.

  19. #2539
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  20. #2540
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    I would use HQs in the same role as they were used in WW2 - in desperation (Bastogne) mainly. I would be hard-pressed though to avoid using Rommel's (or most top German leaders) HQ in advances as historically he was on the front lines quite a bit.

    I think we are starting to see the full payoff value of the carriers and its air arm. Perhaps Il Duce was prescient about their use this far in the future...hrmmm, scary!
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