The Lessons of the Unfought Battles of the Cold War

Jim Storr

This book looks at where and how the first battles of the Cold War would have been fought. It focusses on the American, British, West German, French and Soviet armies, and uses sources never previously translated into English. It will be uncomfortable reading for some, and contentious in places.
Date Published :
November 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
15 b/w maps, 26 figures, 2 graphs, 15 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781914059964
Pages : 312
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


What can we learn from the unfought battles of the Cold War? Could any supposed British superiority at the unit level, or superior American equipment and technology, have as much effect on a possible Warsaw Pact attack as the Bundeswehr's apparent mastery of formation tactics?

The Cold War dominated the global events for over 40 years. Much of the world genuinely believed that a nuclear war might break out at any moment. Millions of men were involved. National budgets strained to equip and sustain them. Much of Europe had to endure conscription, tank convoys clogging up the roads, low-flying jet aircraft and large-scale mobilization exercises. But what do we really know about the Cold War? More importantly, what can we learn from it?

Battlegroup! investigates the unfought land battles of the Cold War on the Central Front. It focusses on the 1980s. It looks solely at high-intensity, conventional warfare; largely from NATO's perspective. It concentrates on the lower tactical levels: from company to brigade, or perhaps division. It considers the tactics, organization and equipment and of the American, British, West German, French and Soviet armies.

The book discusses what battles would have been fought; then how they would have been fought; and, lastly, what we can learn from that. The first section looks at the strategic and operational setting and the armies involved. The second section looks at the components of a land force; how those components were organized, and would fight; and assembles them into battlegroups, brigades and divisions. Battlegroup! then steps through the tactics of land warfare: delay, defense and withdrawal; advance, attack and counterattack; fighting in woods, built up areas and at night; and air support to land operations. The final section of the book illustrates some of the possible early engagements of any war on the Central Front. It then draws out the major observations and conclusions.

Battlegroup! relies heavily on two previously untapped sources, virtually unknown to English-speaking audiences. They explain much of the Bundeswehr's highly individual approach to defeating a potential Warsaw Pact attack.

This is not a counterfactual history. It does not attempt to say who would have won the Third World War. It explodes some myths. It will be uncomfortable reading for some, and contentious in places. Battlegroup! will be essential reading for anyone interested in warfare of the last decade of the Cold War: be it as a professional, an academic or a wargamer.

About The Author

Jim Storr wrote high-level doctrine for four years as a Regular infantry officer in the British Army. He then embarked on a second career in analysis, consulting, writing and postgraduate teaching. He has lectured, spoken and taught at staff colleges around the world. His first book, ‘The Human Face of War’, has been on the reading guide at a number of them. It has been described as ‘a superb guide for how to approach the conduct of operation’; a book which ‘attacks a lot of things that military folks … take for granted’. Indeed ‘rarely has there been a book as good as this for stimulating thinking.’

In a temporary change of direction, ‘King Arthur’s Wars’ then looked at how Roman Britain became Anglo-Saxon England. Yet ‘ … it contains lessons for modern commanders, and is a guide for all of us as to how to think about problems holistically and logically’, and ‘his assault on … conventional history … is unrelenting, thorough, and persuasive.’ He now brings the same approach to war and warfare in the 20th century.

Jim Storr was appointed professor of war studies at the Norwegian military academy, Oslo in 2013.

More from this publisher