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Learning Leadership: Observing and Analyzing the Enemy’s Behavior

Pictured: Military Council for the 62nd Army in Stalingrad. (L-R) Major-General K. A. Gurov, Major-General N. I. Krylov, and Commander Lieutenant-General V. I. Chuikov.

Intelligence analysis is crucial to business success, and organizational leaders utilize predictive modeling to anticipate investor and buyer behaviors. Similarly, military officers predict events using analytical techniques to craft a judgment about what will occur in the future. Moving beyond educated guesses, intelligence officers must use specific tools and methodologies and base their assessments on evidence. Conventional analysis involves the examination, enumeration, and comparison of basic pieces of information by military scouts, which is then synthesized into an intelligence result identifying the enemy's strengths and weaknesses. This also involves determining enemy intentions and courses of action.

By predicting the enemy's intentions, military intelligence officers try to determine how approaching forces will be affected. In The Battle for Stalingrad, Marshal Chuikov reflected on his constant efforts to “work out” the enemy tactics:

“I had to know how the Nazi generals organized for battle, see the enemy’s strong points, detect the weak ones and find his Achilles heel. Now, therefore, many years afterward, remembering my constant attempts to observe the enemy and discern his battle tactics I can see that I did not do this for nothing. To observe the enemy, to study his strong and weak points, to know his habits and customs, means to fight with one’s eyes open, to take advantage of his mistakes and not expose one’s own weak spots to dangerous attack” (40-41).

In the days leading to the intense fighting in the city of Stalingrad, Lieutenant-General Chuikov insisted on receiving accurate intelligence, even to the point of pursuing it personally:

“I tried to find out as much as I could about the enemy’s tactical methods and chatted to many officers who had already had the experience of battle. Unfortunately, they had not all correctly weighed up the enemy, some of them simply did not understand his tactics and on occasion reckoned their obvious failures as great successes. I knew that I could not study the enemy by sitting at Army H.Q., without seeing the field of battle. I tried to use every available opportunity, therefore, of being out in the field, so as to learn from experienced commanders.

The month and a half of fighting which had begun at the other side of the Don [River] on 23 July [1942] had taught me a great deal. During this time, I had studied the enemy well enough to be able to predict his operational plans. Pincers driven in depth towards a single point—that was the enemy’s main tactic. With superiority in air power and tanks, the enemy was able to penetrate our defenses relatively easily, drive in his pincers, and make our units retreat when they seemed to be on the point of being surrounded. No sooner would a stubborn defense or counterattack stop or eliminate one of the pincers, than another one would appear and try to find a foothold elsewhere. […]

The enemy stuck to the same pattern in his tactics. His infantry went into an attack whole-heartedly only when tanks had already reached the target. The tanks, however, normally went into an attack only when the Luftwaffe was already over the heads of our troops. One had only to break this sequence for an enemy attack to stop and his units to turn back” (31-32, 79).

David Stone’s article published in The Journal of Slavic Military Studies pinpointed Vasily Ivanovich’s observations and conclusions:

“Chuikov himself stressed the power of a coordinated German assault using aircraft, tanks, and infantry; the key to stopping such an assault, he argued, was decoupling it. Separating German tanks from German infantry made both far more vulnerable” (201).


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