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Thread: Explorations in Strategy - Italy at War

  1. #2841
    Lt. General BlitzMartinDK's Avatar
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    I think the purpose of the "Conquer as much as you can" -policy is to take enough strategic objectives to force the soviet into Bitter Peace! And it would be nice to cut of the salient, but the real purpose of that thrust is to keep those soviet units there (or annihilate them, if possible!).

  2. #2842
    Quote Originally Posted by Zanziabar View Post
    It seems as though we're suffering from a diffusion of strategic goals which is worrying lol, We're trying to eliminate the soviet salient thats in slovakia while weakening our already limited strength with operations in the Crimea/Causcus that don't actually have any sort of objective other than "Conquer as much as you can". It seems like a completely different style of warfare than what El Duce normally condones is effectively what im saying =D.

    Perhaps I put too much thought into, or overestimate the soviet ability but I do get the feeling that we're over-extending ourselves in russia with all these operations and that we're due a rude shock.
    It may look like there is a division of forces in the face of the enemy, but Mussolini has concentrated his forces (and, yes, been backed up by the Germans) enough to locally outnumber qualitatively if not quantitatively the Soviet forces. From that perspective, and for a limited period of time, the five eastern armies could be viewed as extraneous to the western/northern thrust.

    Or, if you want, you could view the eastern five armies as being the main thrust, and the western advance as a supporting effort. In this case, the understanding is that the west must cut off the Soviet salient into Central Europe before divisions there can be railed out to shore up (or form) lines in eastern Ukraine and the Caucuses. Those (main) advances presently have such weak opposition that the overall strategic picture creates a win (seizing objective locations) so long as no defense is permitted to crystallize.

    Strategically, to beat Russia you have to starve it of resources, break formations, and secure the (politically, industrially and logistically) important objective points. Since the spaces involved are so vast, you pretty much have to do all of these things at once, where in other conflicts you could make do with, say, two of the three. This makes an attack into a major gamble, indeed, which Mussolini is well aware of.

    I expect that soon Mussolini will be ordering intensive logistical bombing of the Soviet salient neck, to prevent escapees.

    As for the way other countries are playing in this game: it would not be hard to imagine a Japan that suffered an internal ideological coup and decided not to expand so aggressively (after suffering setbacks, or not being embargoed by the USA), a USA that could not muster the political will to go to war in Europe, and a Britain that just could not find the imagination to get its fleet out of the Med--thus paralyzing its sole strategic asset. What is more difficult is imagining a Germany with such inept leadership, but perhaps Hitler is taking a more active role in directing campaigns than he did historically prior to Barbarossa? That would explain their systematic ineptitude.

    --Khanwulf

  3. #2843
    What a well thought out post =D Perhaps im just having trouble ever picturing a situation where Italians would have a Quantative advantage over soviet forces although that does appear to be the case. Although we are all aware that the soviet AI in the game has demonstrated an ability to place forces in highly annoying places to damper our strategic efforts beforehand with the first balkan operation as an example. Admittedly the soviet union has been bleed white since then. I'm also remember the diminishing power of the offensive and with a lax Japan and incompetent german allies perhaps the soviets will send whatever far east reserves they have left.

    Do we happen to have any intelligence reports on how many divisions the soviets have left? It would be reassuring to see just how many divisions we have left to completely annhilate.

  4. #2844
    Lt. General BlitzMartinDK's Avatar
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    Since they don't have a landborder with any potential enemy in the far east, they might have no troops at all over there..Or at least very few.

  5. #2845
    Quote Originally Posted by BlitzMartinDK View Post
    I think the purpose of the "Conquer as much as you can" -policy is to take enough strategic objectives to force the soviet into Bitter Peace! And it would be nice to cut of the salient, but the real purpose of that thrust is to keep those soviet units there (or annihilate them, if possible!).
    Except that's not how the game works, quite. BP fires if USSR surrenders to Germany. If they surrender to Italy, it's just a normal annex/exile choice, with the normal retention of conquered terrain. What decides to whom they surrender? The aggregate of provinces and IC points captured by a given power, with a couple of small (at least compared to the IC+Province count of Russia) bias factors. So "capture as much as you can" is actually to avoid the BP event firing. At the moment it doesn't look like Germany has taken very many provinces/IC off USSR, but if there were to be a sudden collapse of the USSR's Polish front, that could change rapidly, so scattering some units to sieze territory for Rome is precautionary rather than necessary, given the land that will have to be taken to force any kind of capitulation out of the Soviets.

    In some ways, you also want to fight as many battles as possible on the soil of the Rodina, to sap the Soviets' will to fight on, so spreading out will increase the opportunities for friction.

  6. #2846
    Colonel shepherd352's Avatar
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    Everyone wonders how Germany can operate with such a failure of strategic vision and a lack of effective aggression on its main battle fronts. In this alternate reality, it is Italy which has emerged from the inter-war period with a clear national will and the drive to achieve its strategic goals. Sure, the invasion of Russia was not on the Italian agenda but, to secure its holdings in Romania and Turkey required an acquiescent Russia: not easy to achieve.

    Just as Hitler was dragged into the Balkans and North Africa due the failure of his Axis Partner in our reality, Italy has been dragged into Russia in this reality. Although I tend to play on historic lines, one of the things I really like in this AAR, is the way Italy has had to change its strategy and priorities to adjust for its bumbling Axis partner. If Germany had been successful in all its campaigns, this AAR would have lost its greatest moments.

    Terminal crashes aside, this AAR presents much of what is good in HOI3.

  7. #2847
    If the bitter peace event does fire where does that leave italy? I'm wishing Myth has some considerable modding ability at this point because given the circumstances I think russia would capitulate to the Italians rather than the undeserving germans. Although I imagine that hitler would be most displeased which could only lead to a better AAR =D

  8. #2848
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    Elimnating the Slovak salient will remove a considerable portion of the Soviet, depending on course were you cut their arm off, and if your/the German forces can hold them in. I imagine supply in the pocket would also be considerable, seeing as some of the units haven't moved in a while, and have built up a good supply base. However, eliminating the Slovak salient doesn't mean the Red Army is entirely done for. Reinforcements from the Eastern Theater take a long time to cross the vast spaces of Russia, so it's likely the Russian's will compensate using that. We'll see.

    Maybe the Slovaks will take the offensive.

  9. #2849
    Quote Originally Posted by Zanziabar View Post
    If the bitter peace event does fire where does that leave italy?
    If BP fires, Italy is, as ever SOL.

    I'm wishing Myth has some considerable modding ability at this point because given the circumstances I think russia would capitulate to the Italians rather than the undeserving germans.
    As it stands, as far as I can see, Russia would capitulate to Italy since they've taken large tracts of land and Germany, erm, haven't. No modding necessary. Unless the Germans get moving forward, fast, somehow, which doesn't seem likely. Ole' Adolf is likely to be spitting his dummy out by Summer.

  10. #2850
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    Good discussion going here.

    LOLKATS: I bet they are but I don't know really.

    Maj. von Mauser: More is coming.

    Sarayakat: You bloodthirsty monster.

    LOLKATS: You're all bloodthirsty monsters!

    BlitzMartinDK: Ahh, Germany always was. It's just that historically, their enemies were even worse for a while.

    Zanziabar: I'm not actually trying to close that massive salient. I'm just trying to occupy the Soviets therein.

    BlitzMartinDK: As womble said, not to force BP but to avoid BP.

    Khanwulf: Indeed, locally I pretty much have superiority everywhere except (arguably) in northwestern Ukraine, where Pintor and Guzzoni are. The idea is to leverage that superiority into effect.

    Zanziabar: Oh I don't have a quantitative advantage if you look at the whole picture. The Soviets still probably have over seven or eight hundred brigades, whereas I only have just over 200. OTOH, the Germans have over one thousand, so actually it's not so bad, even given how passive they are.

    BlitzMartinDK: That is my assumption as well. There's basically nothing exciting going on east of Armenia.

    womble: Yeah, battles are good, which is one reason why I'm not going hell for lather to close the gap, because that would prevent battles from being fought in the future. Then again, that's just another gamble.

    shepherd352: I think what you get out of HoI3 depends on the attitude you have going in. Many want to refight WW2 (which I can sympathize with) and overall have a broadly historical time, notwithstanding winning as Germany etc. I'm going in for the strategy, so a relative lack of historicity doesn't bother me as much and indeed in some ways it's good as it challenges me to think beyond the limits of strategic history to innovate on my own, as now.

    Zanziabar: I've done a bit of modding for HoI3, but not much. I was a big HoI2 modder so it should be pretty easy to get into it, but my energy I usually invest in other more important projects nowadays.

    Axe27: I wouldn't be surprised if the Slovaks march into Kiev! Well, actually I would, but still, they're the second best Axis army after my Italians.

    womble: Indeed, the Germans seem a bit stuck at the moment. I have the opportunity.

    Update tonight! Or tomorrow night, as I have a long weekend (bank holiday Monday).
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  11. #2851
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    The Year of Ruin
    Part 4: The Great Offensive IV, February 2 – February 14, 1945

    In any invasion of the Eurasian steppes, geography remains the ultimate variable, more so even than any actual human foe, regardless how intelligent. In the expanses of the Soviet Union, even the greatest of operational leaps and battles of annihilation, although decisive in any lesser theater, become merely acts of a greater overarching theme: attrition. What good is an advance of five hundred kilometers when this barely gets an army to the river line, and with the whole expanse of Eurasia still in front? Operational art fades into insignificance when matched against sheer geographical might, replaced by the concept that any advance anywhere is more or less of equal value, much as in standard theories of attrition any man killed anywhere is equal. This concept is not entirely true, as certain locations are more important than others, but nevertheless the line of thought is valid enough: the decision of war does not come quickly in the Soviet Union.

    The first four days of February reinforced the scale of the clash that was being waged in the Ukraine, as over twelve thousand Italians and Soviets lost their lives in just those four days. The Italians were advancing by leaps and bounds, and had yet to actually leave Ukraine. In the far west, they were barely pushing into what had once been southeastern Poland, and in the far north of their frontline they had perhaps breached the line separating Belarus and Ukraine, but even this was not certain by any means. Kharkov had fallen long ago, but locations such as Belgorod, Kursk and Orel remained deep in Ukraine and far away from the Italian armies, even though this distance was shrinking daily. Further west, Kiev still remained unconquered for the moment, and Lvov remained secure in its distance from Italian arms. The Dnepr had been breached along much of its length yet there were other rivers behind and very far away. The Italians were winning local victories everywhere and even destroying numerous Soviet formations, and yet the challenge was slowly increasing, not decreasing.


    The situation on the 4th of February.

    On the eastern half of the front, the Soviet frontline had taken a terrible pounding. Northeast of Kharkov, the front had even been broken, with a significant gap between Soviet formations right at the corner of the front. Along the northern side of the front, the Italians were in full offensive mode, pushing the Soviets back with fire and cordite. The Soviet front was becoming increasingly brittle and prone to breaking. This was naturally quite worrisome for the Soviets, as this front was the shield protecting not just Belgorod, Kursk and Orel but also the most direct road from eastern Ukraine to Moscow. The Soviets were beginning to siphon off formations from their German front to send eastward, a clear indication of which threat they deemed the greater, despite the fact that the German army was nearly five times the size of the Regio Esercito. This is not to say that the Germans were not fighting. The battle of Krynica, admittedly instigated while the relevant German forces were under Italian control in late December, only just ended on the 7th of February. The Germans lost over nine thousand men, and the Soviets nearly eleven thousand. The Germans, unsurprisingly, lost. It was no wonder the Soviets did not rate them. This potential influx of Soviet formations would have to be dealt with by the other armies, west of Bastico’s 1a Armata. His goal was clear.


    Bastico’s army on the offensive.

    Even as Bastico was breaking the Soviet armies across his front, to the west Graziani and Vercellino were also doing sterling work in defeating their own respective enemies. While Pintor was maneuvering around Kiev and Graziani was pushing along the Dnepr, Vercellino saw and opportunity and seized it. The Soviet line in front of his cavalry had been broken, its formations all in retreat. Cei’s mobile corps was on the spot to exploit the attendant gap in Soviet defenses. Cei’s hope was that they would actually overrun the retreating Soviet formations and destroy them. He was also putting a division in place to coordinate another encirclement with Graziani. This was one aspect of the Italian plan to make it difficult for the Soviets to move eastward: by continuing to push north, the Italians were increasing the distance the Soviets had to cover to finally get over the hump, as it were, and actually begin deploying units to their desired destinations.


    Cei’s mobile corps on the move.

    By the 14th, the Soviet front had been broken in many places and dangerously elongated in others. The Soviet forces in front of Bastico and Vercellino had almost all dissolved away, and played little part in their planning of future operations. To the west, Pintor and Graziani were creating a significant salient that the Soviets would have to detour around to reach more critical areas of front, and Kiev was likely to fall soon. The gap between the Italian and German frontlines had decreased to a considerable extent. In fact, the only place where the Italians were not getting their own way was in eastern Ukraine, where the Germans seemed incapable of defending the flank that was left to them. Therefore, Bastico’s easternmost corps was tasked with reversing direction and clearing up the mess by encircling and destroying all Soviet forces in eastern Ukraine against the sea, with the help of Baistrocchi’s northern corps if necessary. Baistrocchi had finally taken Rostov-na-Don. The future was bright for the Italians.


    The situation on the 14th of February.

    The first two weeks of February confirmed Italian superiority over the Soviets in operational terms. However, strategically the balance was still against the Italians. Their German allies were being passive, allowing the Soviets to redeploy considerable forces eastward. Much distance had already been covered by the Italians, but much more remained to be conquered. Many Soviet soldiers lost their lives, but their army remained vastly stronger than the Italian army. In these fourteen days, six thousand, five hundred and seventy Italians lost their lives in battle. During the same time period, just over twenty thousand four hundred Soviet soldiers died as well. Furthermore, a handful of Soviet divisions had been completely destroyed. The resilience of the Soviet state in the face of persistent disaster was astonishing.
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  12. #2852
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    Italians saving Germans while kicking Soviet arse, how strange.
    Or How Mussolini decided to read Clausewitz before going to sleep every day, whilst Hitler enquires the location of Fegelein.

  13. #2853
    Field Marshal Baltasar's Avatar
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    Even more surprising, the Germans seem to actually create a kessel in eastern Slovakia!

    Where is Hungary on the triangle of insanity?

  14. #2854

    Great AAR

    I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop........ive got the feeling Benito will win all the battles and lose the war.......before you quit can we get one last sweep of the whole world war? Are you still nibbling away at Africa? Is the Royal Navy still bottled up in Tel Aviv?

  15. #2855
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    A good performance by the Italians, but is it good enough? Time and geography work against the Italians (as do the Soviets, and to a lesser degree, the Germans).

    Still, it's amazing to see the progress the Italians are making into the vast expanses of the USSR.

  16. #2856
    I'm sure every Italian/German/Slovakian/Hungarian general is looking with intense delight at the possibility of a giant soviet kessel and to a lesser degree the prospect of a smaller kessel in Eastern Ukraine. There seems to be limitless potential if we do manage to close both. German forces for all their worth do provide a useful distraction for we brave italians =D Also with the majority of the Ukraine under italian control, I take it that we have the oilfields/rich farmlands under our control?

  17. #2857
    Colonel Cpt Crash's Avatar
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    I noticed you have made good use of your "old guard" generals. I wonder how well their skill level has increased? I like to make use of the old guard-they tend to have some useful traits-and they will improve in time.

  18. #2858
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt Crash View Post
    I noticed you have made good use of your "old guard" generals. I wonder how well their skill level has increased? I like to make use of the old guard-they tend to have some useful traits-and they will improve in time.
    I dislike the stigma surrounding Old Guards.
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  19. #2859
    Captain li2co3's Avatar
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    BP: Bizarre peace

    Can Myth trigger a BP? No. Can Myth shatter, take, hold and occupy the Soviet Union? No. Will the Soviet Union destroy the Italians? Unlikely, and thus, no.

    This AAR has focused on the concept of decisiveness: its foundations, its structure, its application. And yet both the British and the Soviet Union will remain eternal thorns in the side of Italian power.

    Defeat is likely not to come on the battlefield, but in the halls of power. A palace coup is required. But I don't think that the national unity of the British or the Soviets is reduced.

    While I expect grand battlefield triumphs this year, the war will not end.
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  20. #2860
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    I don't think there are enough troops to secure the victory in time, or to hold the place if the victory was gained. But Myth may pull off a surprise.

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