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Generals Balck and Von Mellenthin on Tactics: Implications for NATO military Doctrine

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Final technical rept.

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Under the auspices of the Director of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense, The BDM Corporation hosted a conference on tactical warfare during the period 19 to 22 May 1980. The purpose of the conference was to examine twentieth century German military experience in battle against Russian forces with the intent of developing insights useful in aiding our understanding of the challenges NATO faces today in Europe as it prepares to confront the Soviets in any future conflict. In World Wars I and II the Germans learned many valuable, if enormously costly, lessons about the Russians as a people with a distinctive cultural heritage, and as soldiers whose military traditions, proclivities and character in battle derive from these same cultural roots. Owing to their intrinsic nature, these same basic trains and broad patterns of behavior would likely find similar expression on any future battlefield. Thus, the relevance of their study in meeting our current knowledge needs. In spite of the vast wealth of experience the Germans gained in modern warfare against the Russians, there has been little systematic examination of it in the United States, especially as the result of such an examination might be applied to the study of actual and potential problems facing NATO in the event of conflict with the Soviets in Europe. This conference, then, was an effort at developing relevant, transferable insights, appropriate for application in contemporary and future tactical situations, based on the extensive experience of two veteran German general officers who came to know the Russians as few living persons have.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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