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The Value of Consistent Training


Pictured: Lieutenant-General V. I. Chuikov following the Battle of Stalingrad; cover art for In the Battles for Ukraine, 1972.


Investing in team member development is the cornerstone to successful organizations. Statistics echo this sentiment—a recent study affirmed that employee retention rates rise 30-50% for companies with strong learning cultures. Consistent training reduces the disparity between teams of employees. This is especially true within the ranks of a nation’s defense. In wartime, military training becomes a matter of life and death. After the Battle for Stalingrad in 1943, Lieutenant-General Chuikov knew it was only the beginning of the path to Berlin. In his book titled In the Battles for Ukraine, he outlined tasks to be completed for the next steps. One important practice to note is the amount and frequency of training that took place. Teaching replacement troops how to fight well and survive took consistent study and effort, and this training meant everyone—from the Military Council to the ordinary soldier—had to be vigilant and prepared.


“Meanwhile, time was setting new tasks on the order of the day. We had to tirelessly prepare for the coming battles [and] master the tactics of offensive battles. It's hard to learn, easy to fight. This long-standing army principle is known to everyone. Unfortunately, we often forgot about it. The combat training of troops during an offensive is especially important. When breaking through the defense, the attacker usually suffers very large losses. The Military Council of the [62nd] Army pondered a lot about how and how to reduce possible losses in the upcoming fierce battles.


We pinned our greatest hopes on the artillery. The army's artillery was commanded by General N.M. Pozharsky. In Stalingrad, he showed himself to be a great master of the organization of artillery fire both in defense and in the offensive.


But the offensive for which we were preparing on the Northern Donets differed in many respects from the offensive in which the 62nd Army took part in Stalingrad.


The artillery of the army faced very varied tasks. It is clear that, first of all, our artillerymen had to prepare for massive fire on the enemy's defense. This meant the delivery of a huge amount of ammunition, the synchronized work of gunners with transport units. This meant: the organization of army artillery depots in a combat situation, their camouflage, their location... To locate army artillery depots is a complex science. It is necessary to reckon on the great depth of the advance of our troops and the possibility of transferring shells from the warehouses, to reconcile communications and so on.


But the breakthrough of the enemy's defense entrusted the artillerymen with other tasks: accompanying the advancing infantry with wheels, direct fire at enemy tanks, at the accumulation of his infantry, operational, timely repulse of enemy counterattacks during the offensive.


The artillerymen conducted the exercises, mastered all the components of the battle, the rifle units were trained.


We had to cross the Northern Donets under enemy fire—having overcome this water obstacle, deploy battles, breaking into the defenses, which included wire obstacles, minefields, and anti-tank ditches, and escarpments along the riverbank, and trenches, and firing points of all categories.


The simplest enumeration of the obstacles that we had to overcome already shows how many-sided training the soldiers, junior commanders and officers should have had.

Unshot people poured into the army, and each had to start all over again. Learn to dig in, teach to bury yourself in the ground, cultivate a respectful attitude towards a shovel, a helmet, teach to crawl on the ground without raising your head, merging with the ground, leveling with the grass.


How to throw a grenade? This is also a kind of art, and it's not just about throwing the grenade as far as possible. The throw must be accurate. Accurate in place, accurate in time. It must explode exactly at the moment when its explosion is most effective. In a word, in all units, in all subdivisions, stubborn studies were going on..."

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