Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Review - Books, Soviet Airland Battle Tactics, W P Baxter

The title of this book is a complete misnomer it was selected at a time when "Air Land Battle" was a euphemism for doctrine.  Ultimately this book is about Soviet War-fighting doctrine, written by an acknowledged expert in Soviet Military affairs it is an outstanding treatise on the subject of the Cold War Doctrine of the Soviet Army. Chapters 1 and 2 are probably not to everybody's taste and neither are they that relevant to wargaming dealing as they do with the relationship between military doctrine and Marxist Leninism and the soldiers relationship with the communist state.

Thereafter the book contains a host of relevant detail as subsequent chapters deal with the Command and Staff, Offensive Operations, Defensive operations, Supporting Operations and logistics,  I have read fairly widely on the Soviet Armed forces and I found that this text adds significant insight into their way of doing business from a detailed description of how communications was managed in different phases of war to a description of the approach by which soviet officers were taught to appreciate military problems.  This includes namogrames that enabled soviet staff officers to rapidly consider complex problems for which western Staff officers lacked the tools to consider the problem in sufficient detail at speed.

Like Lt Col Glanz, Lt Col Baxter highlights the inappropriateness of the standard western view of a Soviet military driven by simplistic solution templates to standard problems and hypothesises that if the cold war had gone hot we may well have been in for a nasty shock if thats what we were expecting. This book compliments Lt Col Glantz's text on tactical manoeuvre providing the context that enables the reader to better understand the discourse on the forward detachment.  In comparison to the freely available texts in the FM 100 series this is eminently more readable, digestible and informative.

To my mind this is one of the undiscovered texts on cold war soviet operations and doctrine, its about how the Soviet Army thought, approached problems and would fight, there are some excellent second hand prices which make it a steal............how wrong could you be! I enjoyed it and found it useful and informative and the price I got mine for was nuts for a text of this quality.

Lt Col Baxter was a Soviet Foreign area officer, who wrote extensivly for Army magazine on Soviet Doctrine tactics organisation and technology......he knew his stuff.

Soviet Airland Battle Tactics, WP Baxter 1986 @ Amazon


  1. Looks like a nice book.
    Great review!

  2. Given the diagrams and presumably what it has to say about Soviet battlefield technique, it sounds like a boon for the 'Moderns' wargamer. It would be interesting to try out the WARPAC 'Tank Battalion in Defence' scheme against an unsuspecting NATO player, just to see how it would go...

  3. sounds like a good book... I got a few books now with some tactics so I may not get any more however I am still interested in this stuff, trying to think of how my enemy would fight in a soloplay game is hard enough so these books on possible tactics make things so much easier.