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Members Interview: AUSTERLITZ

Nilgiri

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Oh! what an absolute pleasure, was always the plan from the starting to interview an international member for the second interview. It was very kind of Austrelitz to agree for the interview. I wouldn't compare it to the first interview. love it and i'm sure you guys will like it too. Would like to thank Zaki bhai for his support along the way.
Will try to interview a Pakistani professional for the next one...


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Please give a short introduction about yourself?

I'm 25 years old. Born and lived my whole life in Kolkata(Calcutta) in a typical middle class family. I'm still a student and finishing my masters at Calcutta University on History. I started with Biochemistry but switched to history later when i realized, that it what i enjoyed. I intend to do my P.H.D in history and also intend to take a course in stock investments as that is an area i would like to explore while pursuing my academic career.

For myself i think i can be called a nerd. My main interest-Military history began around class 7 or 8 when i watched a documentary on Alexander, i continued reading a few military books here ad there but it wasn't after my secondary exams were over and i was allowed to get a computer with internet that this really took off. The internet opened up huge horizons, access to actual military history articles and books with maps showing blow by blow accounts which i collect in digital or physical form, and also try to write some simplified articles on battles/campaigns for guys like me who are interested in military history.

Its also around this period 2008 when i joined PDF, my initial visit was out of curiosity and for the first few years i was a drifter mostly with long absences,and mostly fun posting. These days i don't post very often, and am often busy but generally check out PDF every couple of days. The most engaging things about the forum are diversity of topics, volume of replies and the many international members which set it apart from being a mere regional interest forum.

My other interests are movies, binge watching serials,video games-strategy mostly, international politics and food(very important). Used to be a avid cricket fan,but now i no longer feel the passion honestly.I also like classical literature to an extent, when i find time.

Being a part of this forum for so long you must have come across some of the internal problems faced by Pakistan(Most of which are also faced by India), for example: terrorism, radicalization, a weak education and political system, corruption and etc, etc...What are your thoughts on some of these problems faced by the two country and how do you think we can resolve them?
Austrelitz: The root cause of many of these as i said earlier is reform from above, the loose nature of the societies and huge populations involved and weak institutions due to the relatively young age of the 2 nations.

Radicalization -
Currently a major problem for Pakistan.
This was a state initiative initially during the afghan war to create soldiers to deal with the soviet army on Pakistan's doorstep. Zia is blamed as a fanatic by many, but i think more important for him aside from his personal beliefs was: 1.To create a loyal support base among the orthodox sections of Pakistani society, because he removed Bhutto who's main social base was lower middle class to whom his socialism had appeal. Zia tried to counter socialism with religion, both inside and outside. 2.Second in 1979 ayatollah Khomeini came to power after Islamic revolution in Iran, neighbor of Pakistan. This was a pretty significant event of the time,and i'm sure would have left its influence on Zia. Then there were external actors , Americans liberally funded afghan jihadi factories to use against soviets and Gulf countries donors have remained a chief source of radicalization. Answer i would say: look into the madrasa system in the areas most affected by militancy. State would have to invest heavily in education and creating a cadre of teachers not just school infrastructure,and also economic opportunities as educated but unemployed people may also feel considerable angst towards the state.

Radicalization around religion in India was a major problem in the '80s in Punjab, but we have got past that now-though at a heavy price. Radicalization amongst Indian Muslim communities has been low volume, except for sporadic SIMI/Indian mujaheddin attacks, very few joined ISIS despite the huge population. There have been riots by Hindu right wing groups too but these on a whole have been few and far in between and not challenged the state structure. Radicalization on economic deprivation, like Maoists are a problem as they are actually challenging the state structure, though limited to remote areas.

Terrorism -
For Pakistan until the 1990's supporting religiously motivated insurgency was a strategy that paid dividends in Afghanistan and when later turned against India in Kashmir was in the '90s a serious menace. However it lost political capital with kargil and the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001. Then came war on terror which was a decisive point in giving birth to terror problem inside Pakistan, Musharraf was forced to support USA and cut off any major aid to the militant groups that had been bred over 2 decades. Parts of these groups were now driven from Afghanistan into Pakistan when NATO occupied Afghanistan, but on one hand Pakistan was committed to War On Terror and couldn't provide support and Musharraf was also doing the peace process with India at this time after 2001 mass mobilization by 2 countries. These groups got cut off, felt betrayed and turned inwards. They are residual problem who have murdered thousands of innocents, though Pakistan army has brought TTP under a semblance of control after its recent operations in the area. In Baluchistan its combination of ethnic-economic grievances, India is probably stoking the fire here(Baluchistan) in some capacity but i doubt RAW is involved with TTP. Terror is a product of radicalization, so the source has to be attacked. And source of radicalization is-ideology and ethnic/economic grievances. These will have to be confronted.

Political system & Corruption -
Political system in both countries have many similar problems-leaders with poor education, regionalism, cult of personality figures, vote bank politics rather than actual development and of course dynastic politics. In Pakistan there is also army influence as an additional factor. I'm really pessimistic about the nature of politics in our region and really don't see any scope for improvement any time soon. We are of course world leaders in corruption, the politicians are corrupt-but they come from amongst ourselves and are a reflection of society itself. Education doesn't cure corruption, educated people can be equally corrupt, and even more sophisticated in their corruption. It can never be removed but perhaps reduced by promoting civic duty and a sense of stake in the nation. I support the demonetization drive mainly for the feeling that at least there is an effort to shake things up, even though i have doubts how far it will be actually effective.

Weak Education -
I feel strongly about this, being a student myself. My experience is our education system is way too focused on rote learning, private tuition and that what you learn at school and even college doesn't really help you that much in the job market. There should be 7 basic subjects only-2 languages(English and regional mother language), physical education(large numbers of young people have poor health and this subject because it doesn't carry marks is always ignored), computer education(for practical purpose), Basic Law (every citizen should be aware of his/her rights), Basic History( understanding of how we got here), Mathematics , basic physics (how objects work) and biology(focusing just on how human body works, not huge texts filled with taxonomy, plants and anatomy of animals and fish). Basic law, history, physics and biology and regional languages shouldn't be carried on beyond 2 or 3 years from class 6 -8 maybe unless students choose to advance in these streams. Beyond the basics these are not utilitarian subjects for common people.
On passing to higher grades students can take psychology(how mind works), economics(how money works), chemistry and Hindi as additional(provided there is no linguistic sentiment involved) or other advanced disciplines.

Exam should be semester system. The main limitations on this is lack of teachers because govt can't pay them, that is why there needs to be 2-3 times more investment in education and creation of teachers pool with monitoring of availability of teachers of each discipline.

What are your thoughts on current Pakistan-India relations? What role can India play to dissolve tensions? Question:Do you think Pakistan and India will ever be able to resolve Kashmir issue peacefully? And do you think the use of force by the Indian government is necessary in the valley?
Austrelitz: Answering these together. Current state of relations is pretty bad, frequent firing on borders, diplomatic threats and an impasse with no end in sight. As to use of force in valley, i support it against infiltrators coming across the border as these men are coming to kill Indian troops. Against civilian demonstrators though i don't support use of pellet guns, water hoses and Chilli powder can be used against mobs. There is also an excess concentration inside populated areas of troops (from what i saw during my visit )which should be moved outward as day to day interruptions in life causes ill feeling.

As to what India can do to resolve tensions and the crisis, what has to be understood is that any Indian government actually has very little room for maneuver regarding Pakistan and kashmir. If it doesn't respond to border violations strongly it will be dubbed soft, it can't do any peace talks if there is a major terror attack on Indian soil as opposition and press will tear it apart, the Indian army actually DOES have a say regarding Kashmir at least, the govt can't make any unilateral concessions on Kashmir as that would spell the end of that party's political future and could even create the only possible army intervention scenario in India. Also IA recruits heavily from communities in Jammu, so any handover of these territories to Pakistani/non-Indian majority rule is unthinkable for them. On top India is a status quo power so it doesn't have the urgency. Main problem is both countries have invested too much blood and effort into this problem and none can afford to look like it had been in vain. The issue is so ingrained into the psyche of the nations.

LOC firings are just a total waste in every respect, these soldiers on the borders they are hailed as heroes and martyrs on the day after they are killed and then nobody cares. The messages on this forum itself are a reflection of the 2 societies. They will invariably go something like this- ''RIP" or "Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilahi Rajioon". Cowards. There will be payback.'' No one remembers the fallen a few months afterwards except their families. Its a game of national pride and one upmanship than anything else.

I actually do think peaceful resolution is possible though it will take perhaps many decades. Solution is something along a demilitarized state divided into four self-administered federal zones(Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir valley, ladakh and Jammu) under an economic union. This will ensure the religious groups in each of these areas can enjoy full expression. Both nations would have to support this setup as Kashmir is landlocked and tourism is its main revenue earner. The agreement would have to come between not just the Indian government and Pakistani government but with direct involvement of Pakistani and Indian army face to face to prevent any problems or Kargil like drama. Pakistan would also have to convince china to demilitarize the border areas around ladakh and Siachen otherwise IA would not consent to leave these areas. These agreements would have to be ironclad and guaranteed by the UN.

Had India not been conquered by the East India Company, how do you think the history of India would have shaped in and what would have its effect on the fate of the sub-continent today?
Austrelitz: I think there would be significant differences. British rule brought both good and bad changes(despite sounding controversial ). On the good side-they brought about territorial unity and created lasting institutions such as the judiciary and the bureaucracy of the Indian civil service. The indirect positive impacts of British rule was the growth of nationalism and the freedom movement which was very important to giving shape to a vague Indian identity, and raising consciousness amongst the masses about this-something that hadn't happened throughout the pre-colonial period when power was a game of kings and dynasties. The other indirect positive impact was social reform that led to abolition of barbaric practices. On the negative side the British distorted Indian agricultural and industrial structures, impoverished the country and were responsible for millions of famine deaths. They also sharpened communal divide.

An India without the Raj, i do believe eventually there would be something akin to political unity due to the civilizational factor but it would much looser,perhaps even a federation of states under a economic union, politically much less centralized. If unity had to be achieved there would probably have been bloodshed. Small states on ethnic/linguistic/religious lines may be been present, don't know if North east would be part of India or whether Pakistan similar to its current shape would be present. Relations between the communities would probably be better. Social reformation would be slower.
But the overall economy would be much stronger and the country more prosperous without the intervening colonial experience.

So my conclusion is the subcontinent would be politically and socially less progressive but economically more advanced.

You are also fond of military history and you must have studied the wars between Pakistan and India, do you think they were necessary? And do you think a Nuclear war between Pakistan and India is inevitable?
AUSTRELITZ: 1947-48 war was unnecessary. Pakistan lost its nerve, it should have let Hari Singh hold a plebiscite about the state's fate and then acted. Even then it should have went through the process diplomatically. Remember both armies were still led by Britishers and if Hari Singh had refused to join Pakistan despite majority vote for it Pakistan would have just cause. Nehru himself was reluctant on intervening in Kashmir and he had respect for international UN mediation, if there had been a plebiscite and Kashmir voted to join Pakistan which probably it would have Nehru wouldn't have had any excuse to intervene. Pakistan's army at this time was very weak, so the course of action was flawed in that not only did it gamble on India not being able to use its army in time or intervening at all but also by its proxy invasion let itself be seen as aggressor on the international arena. Even if something extraordinary happened and Kashmir chose to remain independent, then think about it...that is essentially what Kashmiri separatists in the valley say they are fighting for and what a feasible peace plan almost came to look like under Musharraf with a quasi-independent demilitarized Kashmir under dual administration.

1965 war was necessary, from Pakistan's point of view.Pakistan chose the right time to strike. It had military superiority in tanks, fighters and artillery due to huge US weapon supplies and India was reeling from 1962 war with china with its economy struggling and military modernization just beginning. If i was a Pakistani commander i would attack too,as this did represent Pakistan's last real golden chance to take Kashmir by force and perhaps even parts of Punjab. But they underestimated Indian army and bungled the execution of their plans,thus letting the opportunity slip for a decisive victory, and eventually settled for a stalemate.

1971 war was necessary, from India's point of view. This was reverse, India's golden chance to end Pakistani encirclement of India. India had to deal with refugee pressure and by now had total military superiority after the completion of its modernization, while Pakistan military had stagnated after 1965.India managed to seize the opportunity.

1999 war was unnecessary. This was in many ways a random war,not borne of any actual need to seize a strategic opportunity but the private adventurism and ambitions of Musharraf and his staff.It only further militarized the border, caused needless loss of human lives,sabotaged the then ongoing peace process and cost Pakistan credibility in the international diplomatic stage. Useless war which helped no one.

Nuclear war between India and Pakistan will NEVER happen. Nor will there be a nuclear war ever between any powers, the only ones i can think of actually capable of such action is North Korean regime if it was collapsing with nothing to lose .Beyond the religious and nationalistic bravado,fear is common instinct for all men..fear not just for their own self preservation but of their loved ones, their entire societies, their entire history-past and future, the destruction of which a nuclear war entails. Simply put India will never be madly reckless enough to push Pakistan to that point and Pakistan will never be suicidal enough act preemptively beyond a certain point.
If you were made PM of India what would you do?
Austrelitz: Politically in state elections i would include in voters option 'none', not merely as a protest vote but if none voters are majority there would be governor's rule in the state. This would be a underlying threat at least to state parties to not spend their entire tenure on self service and do actual work, and also prevent the musical chair between the major parties of a state all following essentially same policies -'break the wheel' (in game of thrones speak). I would also like to ban political parties from having student organizations or unions in colleges and universities.Also confiscate properties of convicted persons like mallya sitting in luxury in foreign countries while having plunged thousands to economic loss with his debts.

Economically i support generally the GST tax, and drive to increase tax base beyond the overburdened salaried class, also reduce regulations for small business.

Other measures should be immediate emergency basis clearing up of ganga which is lifeline of northern india, and pay attention to the water scarcity problem in the south too such as the godavari.
My primary investments should be on education,with large increase in budget, increasing teacher pool and reform. There should be one university in each district in the nation. I would tweak reservation . People from deprived groups with high income levels should be less prioritized, to ensure that actually economically struggling people from deprived groups get the priority. I would also try to computerize administrative jobs where bribery is rampant as much as possible.

I would also increase investment in archaeological survey and geological survey of India.So many potentially vital historical sites in India have not been uncovered, which could tell us so much more about our heritage and history. And geological survey should be funded to actively search out new mineral resources.

Regarding the army,i would put a cap on the army's continuous expansion in manpower. Abolish sahayak system. IA needs to be forced to focus on less manpower intensive expansion and increase firepower, mobility and effectiveness of its existing regiments. More regiments only increase pressure on limited budget due to salaries, pensions and maintenance, decreasing overall modernization capability and quality.Also speed up road building in Northeast as much as possible. And privatize Indian defence manufacturing industry further because OFB has been a total failure.
How would you compare the history of Pakistan and India? keeping in mind that the two countries gained independence at the same time?

Austrelitz: Starting from zero hour,in terms of political development India has been more successful. We were able to implement a democratic structure however flawed and this was vital as autocratic rule in as diverse a country as India would have surely meant catastrophe. We were able to do this because-After independence the Indian national congress had a formidable popular mobilization organization at its disposal and a strong cadre of experienced leaders from all over India who had gone through the independence movement under the Gandhian creed of non violence and aversion to militarism. And they had a leader who could impose his authority in Nehru who actually believed in democracy and worked to implement it(one of his few achievements among many blunders).
Another political success was the federal structure with separation of powers between state and center and the quick reorganization of states on linguistic basis.
In Pakistan democracy didn't work because Muslim league never had the popular mobilization organization that congress had built up over half a century through social work and actual grassroots anti colonial movement, Muslim League had only become prominent after 1937 and mobilized mainly on the issue of religious identity, however after partition when Pakistan was achieved this could no longer be used as a mass mobilization tool. The one great unifying persona who could stamp his authority during the early formative period-Jinnah, died .
Secondly the core of the new Pakistan-Punjab province was culturally more militaristic due to being a heavy recruiting ground for the erstwhile British Indian army. Muslim League organizational weakness, political vacuum after Jinnah and legacy of militarism led to failure to create a strong democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan also made a blunder on the linguistic issue and federalism which eventually caused Bangladesh.
Liberalism from what i gather was sustained until the 1970's, when Afghan war and active government sponsored religious indoctrination led to contradictions between political Islam and liberal ideology(in the western sense) creating a bit of a mess,though only a Pakistani who has lived in Pakistan can really explain it. Ofcourse great problems still remain common to both countries especially cult of personality politics, corruption, vote bank tactics and dynastic politics.

Economically Pakistan started better, while the nehrus socialism did create core institutions and industry to ensure a basic self-sufficiency, that model stagnated after the first decades.Both nations successfully overcame the food crisis and thus don't have to rely on imported grain for survival today at least. But while East Asia was developing rapidly both missed the boat,India due to ingrained economic socialism until 1991 and Pakistan because it failed to diversify its economy i think beyond agricultural products. One thing Pakistan didn't do was translate its strategic partnership with USA into an economic partnership, thus USA could drop Pakistan whenever the area ceased to be of immediate strategic importance and pick up when it did, however USA being the great capitalist nation never would have done this if it had economic interests entrenched in Pakistan the same way it does in its other allies for example. Economically i would say both achieved basic self sufficiency but not real development.

Socially India is more heterogeneous(especially after 1971) and has suffered more complexities until the war on terror and the homegrown radicalism problem began in Pakistan. Both have long way to go.

Foreign Policy wise i think Pakistan has been much more pragmatic, Indian foreign policy excepting the Indira Gandhi years has been idealistic, self-righteous and often downright incompetent. The core of this was NAM which ceased to be of value because India leaned towards the soviet bloc anyway being dependent on her for the UN veto and military supplies. So what was point of NAM on paper..total waste. I'm saying in fact India should have clearly chosen her side early and secured her position with mutual guarantees or stayed aloof, it tried to do both and fooled nobody. India until 1960's was switching back and forth, took us economic aid throughout 50's and during 1962 got US help, but was also depending on soviet veto. The point of being friendly with a great power is to secure your position which it finally did in 1971 before the war with the mutual defense pact with USSR that kept USA, china away. If such a pact with USA or USSR had been there in 1962 war wouldn't have happened. Instead Nehru was quixotic in his policy...forward policy and panchsheel idealism all together and bunched up in a mess.India was also the one that actually made Kashmir a UN issue ,again thanks to Nehru. Pakistan acted decisively early on and got large economic loans as well as massive military aid with should have enabled it to win 1965 had it exploited its qualitative advantage. That USA used Pakistan and dropped it as i said is more due to a failure to translate strategic partnership into an economic one as well, rather than one of foreign policy itself. It also befriended China further restricting India, its one blunder was strategic depth in Afghanistan after the soviets had left.India under Rajiv Gandhi also made another blunder with intervention in Srilanka. Overall Pakistan was more decisive in foreign policy.
You must have studied history of sub-continent with great interest why do you think we are so divided on Religious and Ethnic lines? and you think we will ever grow out of this mentality?
Austrelitz: I think a root cause of many problems in the subcontinent is that south Asian societies always were deeply religious and customary-secularism, democracy and liberalism were not organic developments but concepts which were imported from Europe through the British. Whereas in Europe these developed over centuries after much bloodshed and introspection in the subcontinent these were all essentially rammed down the throat of a traditional populace by a small western educated reformist group(they meant well) in the last century. The digestion period was too short and under the surface old attitudes largely remained.To maintain their power for the British it became necessary to highlight and encourage the divisions in Indian society. They did this in many ways-the first All India Census reports published on the basis of religion and caste as primary categories,then divide and rule in politics and access to administrative offices. So that was an additional factor. Religious ethnic divisions remain and i do not think there is any need to universalize everything, everybody needs their own space as long as they also work for the larger cause. For this they need to be made to feel that they are partners with a stake in the nation. The internet , globalization and urbanization has brought great changes in changing attitudes but i still think it'll be at least 50 years until these attitudes lessen to a significant degree and 100 to be safe. Progress of technology and economic development are the key.

With development of communications technology, economic integration and the more cosmopolitan culture in cities a balance can be easily reached with diversity. The only thing to watch is that identity politics by regional/ religious parties should not be allowed to become anti national and challenge legitimacy of the nation.

World has changed significantly after 9/11 and a new order seem to unraveling. Old Cold war era diplomatic relations have changed significantly and in context of South east Asia, Pakistan and China are firm allies. India seem to be changing its loyalties from Russia to US.How do you see world politics 10 years from now for India and Pakistan in context of above?
Austrelitz: India -Russia relations will not be hugely altered. Russia may be a little colder diplomatically but will remain a major military supplier. Pakistan will be closer to china. If China is assertive vis a vis India , India will move closer to USA otherwise maintain respectful distance. China and USA are likely on collision course themselves with trump in the white house, otherwise difficult to say what USA will do due to trump's loose cannon nature. Europe will undergo major change. EU will be gone and Europe will have surge in nationalism and revival of national state model. Europe's relations with Russia will be repaired.

If you were an army General and you had to invade Russia in winters. How would you do it?
Austrelitz: It can't be done with success. Let me explain why i think so.

If you invade Russia even without the winter there are 3 fundamental problems-
1. Huge Russian population and material resources. This means they can mobilize enormous armies and an invading force must have near equal forces to have hope of success.
2.Massive strategic space and terrain. This gives Russians time to mobilize their enormous resources, spreads out even the largest armies and exhausts them. An attack from the south will be bottled up at the Caucasus mountains, an attack from the east will make no real progress in the Siberian wasteland and an attack from the west will get spread out the deeper it advances, in the north has to negotiate marshes and forests, has to cross river obstacles and if attacking on a broad front the southern attack will be separated from the central attack due to the pripyat marshes .
3. Infrastructure and weather. Logistics becomes a limiting factor, due to point 1 you need huge numbers to succeed, but the infrastructure network is fragile(before nuclear times) and can't sustain huge numbers. Thus requirements of 1 and 3 contradict each other. You also can't campaign after the rainy season or winter thaw during early spring because armies are effectively immobilized by mud. Then there is the infamous winter. So the weather determines your timetable and capacity for mobility.

If you adopt a narrow front advance like Charles or Napoleon Russians will overload your logistics demand with scorched earth and flank attacks on your thin supply line from your exposed flanks. If you go for a broad front approach like the Germans unlikely you will have enough troops, the deeper you go the more stretched thin you become, more attrition you suffer in men and material and while your operating at the end of your supply line, the Russians operate in interior lines with the center at the transport network hub at Moscow. The more stretched thin the forces, less the concentration of effort and less the chances of a decisive victory on each front. Thus in 1941 initially of 3 army groups only army group center was able to gain decisive victory, army group north didn't have sufficient forces and army group south had to be helped by detaching panzers from center for the kiev encirclement, which came at the cost of halting the center. By the time center resumed Russians had reinforced that area.
Added to this is historical legendary tenacity of Russian soldiers, especially on the defense.

So as clausewitz said -any attack that doesn't succeed in its objective must inevitably become a defense, holds very true for a invasion of Russia, and what happened to Germans.

Which war do you think has an end which in long term turned to be a boon in disguise for the losers? Or something to that effect.
Austrelitz: The roman conquest of Europe. They largely laid the foundations of western civilization despite the initial bloodshed.
Islamic conquest of Arabia. It definitely was beneficial for the people of the Arabian peninsula at the least, it unified them, made them a world power from the status of irrelevant tribesmen on the fringe,spread their language and culture throughout Asia.
Norman conquest of England. The beginning of Britain as we know it, the Normans brought with them certain feudal institutions from France which combined with existing more egalitarian anglo-saxon ones to create something unique, eventually resulting in magna carta and parliamentary democracy.

You are known for covering different wars and war tactics on PDF, which military general would you say is your favorite and what are some of the best war tactics used in history in you book?
Austrelitz: My favourite is Napoleon Bonaparte- the last warrior king and the first modern strategist of all the great generals of history faced the strongest collection of enemies, a flawed man who you can identify with despite his greatness, started with nothing and ended with nothing-nothing left but glory.
Close second is Hannibal for me -the ultimate tragic hero, one man against a system, individual genius vs roman collective genius. Reminds me of Karna from the mahabharata. Third favorite is Genghis for his rise from nothing and his unapologetic approach to his brutal conduct -an honest maniac in an age of savagery.

5 of the best tactical masterpieces for me are...
>Cannae - Hannibal's great double envelopment.
>Leuthen - Frederick's classic oblique order attack after diversion.
>Austerlitz - Feigned withdrawal,secret strategic concentration and well timed penetration of centre attack with great eye for terrain.
>Kalka River - Subutai's Classic Mongol victory.Feigned withdrawal,then feigned retreat,then ambush.
>Belisarius at Dara for masterful defense,Caesar at Alesia ,Khalid's double envelopment at walaja or Motke's victory of strategic concentration in the 1870 sedan kesselschacht.

Leaving aside purely tactical concerns Stalingrad for me is the greatest battle in human history, both for scale, impact and the nature of the fighting which was the very core of the worst of war. It was a tactical masterpiece in its final stage with the double envelopment.
(Since question is on tactics,i'm not mentioning campaigns such 1940 France napoleon's 1796 Italian/1805 one,Genghis in Khwarezm or Aesar in Gaul/Hannibal in Italy, Alexander in Persia)

If you get a chance to visit Pakistan which areas in Pakistan would you particularly like to visit?
Austrelitz: I would definitely like to visit Lahore for its historic buildings and food and also khyber pass(if its safe)and Gilgit Baltistan(if Indians are allowed) for scenic beauty.
Who are your heroes in your life? people who inspire you?

My parents.
Sachin Tendulkar.
Soichiro Honda.
Subhas Bose.
Shivaji.
Hannibal Barca.

Last message:
Enjoy life while you can, because time always wins in the end. Troll lightly and intelligently on PDF. Don't know what else to say... i'm too young to be leaving messages anyway.
Ok finished reading it all. Great job to all involved! Can't wait for the next one!!!
 

RISING SUN

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I never said kashmir should be handed on a platter.I didn't say a solution is likely anytime soon either.And what i proposed would be one hypothetical solution,its the only remotely feasible one i can think of.As for hostility,who can tell ,germans and french thought the same way once,so did french and english.I never claimed to decide policy lol,dont go hyper.
Buddy the qualities of your posts are high, fortunate to have such young people who are trying to give a new direction to this great country. Loved your interview, though not as much as loved last one of Niaz sir.
 
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Nilgiri

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Buddy the qualities of your posts are high, fortunate to have such young people who are trying to give a new direction to this great country. Loved your interview, though not as much as loved last one of Niaz sir.
I am sure when Austerlitz is as experienced as Niaz saab is, his interviews will be just as good.

For 25 year old I was mighty impressed. I always thought Austerlitz was way older than that from his post history.
 

Levina

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The more stretched thin the forces, less the concentration of effort and less the chances of a decisive victory on each front. Thus in 1941 initially of 3 army groups only army group center was able to gain decisive victory, army group north didn't have sufficient forces and army group south had to be helped by detaching panzers from center for the kiev encirclement, which came at the cost of halting the center
Brilliant observation there @AUSTERLITZ

But i dont agree to what you said here>>>
It can't be done with success.
Austy what if we change the strategy a bit and do some extra homework before attacking Russia?
Like for example

1. Austy, if you notice Russia was always attacked from the western side. What if the strategy was changed and russia was attacked from a direction it least expects from?
I mean south.
This so because most of the Russian population is concentrated on its western border.
1.jpg

There's this river which divides russia into two, Irtysh. Parts of Russia towards the east of Irytsh is sparsely populated. So when you attack them from south(near Irtysh) you face lesser resistance and also you cut off military aid to the east. Thats the idea.
Yes, Moscow is closer to the western border (1000 kms or so?). But it is heavily guarded. Infact its a fortress in itself. So its a blunder to attack it from west.


2. I respect germans. To this day anything made in Germany is considered "good" quality.
While the Germans went all BLITZ on Russians initially, they forgot that the German Tanks wouldn't work in the extreme cold. Whereas the soviets came prepared with their winter gears.Their set of Tanks, T-34, could work even in the cold winter of Russia.
So next time an army attacks Russia they should do their homework better and test their weapons for the coldest winters.
And yes...prepare for minutest details so that when general winter comes charging you are not surprised.

3. The army planning to attack should be headed by a pragmatic leader.
Lets accept it that Hitler did make some really good strategic decisions in the beginning, but later on he started over-riding his generals too much.

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To this day i feel, had the Britishers not broken the Enigma code Germans would not have lost the battle of kursk.
The Soviets assured of the German punctuality knew when and where the Germans would attack.
Whats your opinion?


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physical education(large numbers of young people have poor health and this subject because it doesn't carry marks is always ignored)
+1 vote.
Physical education is an imperative part of the syllabus which is often ignored.

LOC firings are just a total waste in every respect, these soldiers on the borders they are hailed as heroes and martyrs on the day after they are killed and then nobody cares. The messages on this forum itself are a reflection of the 2 societies. They will invariably go something like this- ''RIP" or "Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilahi Rajioon". Cowards. There will be payback.'' No one remembers the fallen a few months afterwards except their families. Its a game of national pride and one upmanship than anything else.
:tup: :tup: :tup:
One thing that amuses me is the lack of respect for the soldiers on this forum.
IMO,Irrespective of their nationality soldiers deserve respect.
Words like RIP for a soldier from your country sounds hollow if you demean soldiers from other countries.

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Overall a great interview. :-)
@AUSTERLITZ Kashmir being the bone of contention between India and Pak, i was looking forward to reading your answers on the subject. Your answers were very honest and unbiased. This is a proof>>>
1947-48 war was unnecessary. Pakistan lost its nerve, it should have let Hari Singh hold a plebiscite about the state's fate and then acted. Even then it should have went through the process diplomatically. Remember both armies were still led by Britishers and if Hari Singh had refused to join Pakistan despite majority vote for it Pakistan would have just cause. Nehru himself was reluctant on intervening in Kashmir and he had respect for international UN mediation, if there had been a plebiscite and Kashmir voted to join Pakistan which probably it would have Nehru wouldn't have had any excuse to intervene.
But let me be frank,when it comes to present state of affairs in J&K, my views differ from yours.

Could i ask you something?
Do you intentionally avoid showing your funny side on the forums? Lolz

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Good job @WAJsal :-)


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WAJsal

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Thank you for the kind words.
can you try to get @Bilal Khan 777 interview i think he is the only war(65 and 71 both if i remember correctly) veteran we have on the forum
Will try to interview a Pakistani professional for the next one...
Will contact professionals for the next one, unfortunately some of them cannot share their stories.

I am sure when Austerlitz is as experienced as Niaz saab is, his interviews will be just as good.

For 25 year old I was mighty impressed. I always thought Austerlitz was way older than that from his post history.
I was thinking the same thing.
 

Nilgiri

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There's this river which divides russia into two, Irtysh. Parts of Russia towards the east of Irytsh is sparsely populated. So when you attack them from south(near Irtysh) you face lesser resistance and also you cut off military aid to the east. Thats the idea.
Yes, Moscow is closer to the western border (1000 kms or so?). But it is heavily guarded. Infact its a fortress in itself. So its a blunder to attack it from west.
Is there a better thread we can take this to?

Germany actually hedged relatively well strategically (unlike their higher feint based gamble taking on France through the ardennes).....they had decent forces stationed in the Ukraine to conduct a strategy like you are describing (and Hitler did eventually move on to it with that army there....though he made Stalingrad the focus eventually rather than the caucasus oil).

The problem regarding the Eastern Front is if you commit everything to one attack "channel" even if its in the south like you propose, will be it will cut through pretty well, but its logistic/supply chain will become very exposed and quite narrow given the massive land size and distances involved with Russia/USSR (compared to say France). In fact the speed of the cut through will become its own biggest weakness in the long run.

This is why the Wehrmacht went for a broader front, to check which strategic vector proved the most successfull in the long run (and coordinate in relation to that), while not risking a massive encirclement or supply chain vulnerability (which ultimately happened anyway on their multiple vectors when they ran out of steam).

I feel overall mid-strategically (taking into account hindsight is 20/20), the wehrmacht generals made the right decision. The high-strategy of Hitler (starting 2 front battle at you discretion + jumping to engage with the US) was always flawed, the low order strategies (really important) were also fraying right from operation barbarossa not accomplishing the degree of success it set out to do...and Hitler crucially overruled Guderian when he could have done some serious damage at the very least to Russian logistics on the path to Moscow (I personally doubt he could have taken Moscow like some have speculated though).

I can go into more details about all of these....but wondering if its better to do elsewhere?

@The Sandman @Desert Fox @Vergennes
 

livingdead

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congrats for continuing with the interview initiative. People who are upset with austrelitz's assessment of current affairs should remember he is only 25 and probably using same info source as rest of us(Indians)
 
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