[Includes 19 tables, 7 figures, 41 maps]
To be successful, a strategic military operation requires careful planning and meticulous execution. History applauds the commander who orchestrates the operation, and major subordinate commanders share in the glory. In reality, however, commanders and soldiers at the operational and tactical levels play an even more critical role in achieving battlefield success. History often accords them little attention.
Practitioners of war must study war at all levels. An understanding of the strategic aspects of military operations is essential in order to provide a context for a more detailed and equally critical understanding of precise operational and tactical techniques. Few officers practice war at the strategic level. The majority wrestle with the myriad of problems associated with implementing those strategic plans.
Leavenworth Paper no. 8. through the medium of detailed case studies, examines the operational and tactical aspects of a major strategic operation—the Soviet offensive m Manchuria in 1945. The case studies, which involve army, corps, division, regimental, and battalion operations, focus on the many problems commanders and soldiers at that level face. Constrained by time, a desperate enemy, rugged terrain, and severe climatic conditions—the realities of war— Soviet commanders devised find implemented techniques that produced victory. This paper highlights those techniques in the knowledge that Soviet theorists have likewise studied them in detail, both historically and in a contemporary context.