Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Allies vs The Soviet Union Pt 2

So, if the Allies had actually fought the Soviet Union after WW2, what would they have to do in order to win?

I see a multi-pronged approach: 1) Western Europe, 2) Baltic, 3) Crimea, 4) Eastern Russia, 5) Sea, 6) Air.

The basic idea is to attack where the Red Army isn't, to stress supply lines, to damage industrial infrastructure, and to create air bases to penetrate further into the Soviet Union.

The East is the easiest and hardest front. The Russian will ceded that territory, giving the invader the long supply lines and extended front in exchange for few lost people or resources. Quite simply, any Siberian campaign would be a significant resource sink for the Allies, requiring years of road building without the Soviet Union spending a single resource. Even a token resistance force inside the area would have a large impact on American operations.

Control of the seas is vital to the Allies, especially the Baltic and Black seas. The Allies would focus on constricting trade as their primary means of warfare. Their goal would be to strangles the USSR economy. While this can't deliver victory, this would be the most effective means of limiting their war machine.

No assault on the USSR could really succeed as long as its manufacturing base was safe, and that would mean a push by the Allies up the Crimea and into the Russian heartland. The Allies had the troop transport and logistical expertise necessary to begin and conduct such a naval operation, assuming that they had enough troops. (That's not necessarily a good assumption). Even so, it's a long way to the eastern Urals with a long, exposed flank. (Objectively, there is no good way to the eastern Urals.)

Meanwhile, the Red Army in German is a juggernaut and knows exactly how to push back a competent and vicious foe. The battle in the west will be brutal under even the most rosy scenario, sucking down troops and equipment.

The Russian challenge is how to knock out an enemy that's equally difficult to crack. They don't have extensive fleets, so how would they even build up a landing against England? Like Germany, they would face D-Day somewhere. Meanwhile, the Allies are all through the Mid-East, with multiple footholds on the continent. They control all the major seaways. Effectively, the Allies can wage war incessantly should they desire, trading with the entire world, out manufacturing Russia on every measure. Their food comes from two hemispheres. They can move goods and services wherever they want.

Once committed to defeating the Allies, the Soviet Union has to take everywhere, because every place that it doesn't take becomes a landing zone for the Allies. The entire coastline becomes vulnerable, and that's a whole lot of coastline. Defending it requires permanently encamped armies, each able to handle an Allied assault.

Most likely, the war would end with a negotiated truce. The Allies will have pushed back the USSR somewhat, and would trade territory in Europe for territory seized elsewhere. The overall borders would look very similar to the Cold War borders.

But what about tanks and planes? Yes, both sides would have them. They'd shoot at each other a lot, then factories would build more. Sometimes Americans would defeat Russians, and sometimes Russians would defeat Americans. There's far more to planes and tanks than rock/scissors/paper. No single set of numbers will tell you who would win because you need context, doctrine, and strategy of the combined military forces to even begin assessing the issue. The simple truth is that both sides had effective weapons and knew how to use them as part of their overall strategy and tactics. The best tank didn't automatically win and the worst tank didn't automatically lose. Tanks and planes may work that way in board games, but they don't work that way in real life.