Strategy refers to the overall approach and long-term plan for achieving goals and objectives, while planning refers to the specific steps and actions taken to implement that strategy. Strategy is more high-level and abstract, while planning is more concrete and action-oriented. In other words, strategy is the “what” and “why” of achieving goals, while planning is the “how” and “when”
In the context of World War II, the Soviet strategy was to defeat Nazi Germany by engaging in a series of prolonged and brutal battles on the Eastern Front. This strategy was based on the idea of using the vast size of the Soviet Union to absorb the initial German offensive, then launching counterattacks that would gradually wear down the German army and force them to fight on multiple fronts.
Planning, in this context, would refer to the specific tactics and actions taken to implement the strategy. For example, the Soviets planned to use a combination of defensive fortifications, mobile units, and guerrilla warfare to slow the German advance and disrupt their supply lines. They also planned to use their superior manpower and industrial resources to launch counteroffensives at key points along the front.
It is also important to note that while the Soviet strategy was to engage in prolonged battles on the Eastern Front, it was also to use scorched earth tactics and to retreat when necessary to keep the German army engaged, and to use the time to rebuild and rearm.
In short, the strategy was the overall approach to defeat Nazi Germany and the plan was the specific steps and actions taken to implement that strategy.
One of the key elements of strategy is understanding imbalances in power, resources, and capabilities between different actors. In the context of World War II, the Soviet strategy was able to take advantage of the imbalance between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in terms of territory, manpower, and industrial capacity.
Understanding these imbalances allowed the Soviet Union to develop a strategy that could exploit these advantages and compensate for its weaknesses. The scorched earth tactics, retreat, and rebuilding were all ways in which the Soviet Union was able to take advantage of these imbalances and ultimately emerge victorious.
One of the key elements of the Soviet strategy in World War II was their ability to accept higher casualties in each battle. This was counterintuitive because, in most conflicts, the side with the highest casualties is usually at a disadvantage. However, the Soviet Union had a significant advantage in terms of manpower, which allowed them to sustain higher casualties and still have a larger pool of soldiers to draw from. This was in contrast to the German army which had a more limited manpower and could not afford to suffer heavy casualties.
Another key aspect of understanding imbalances in warfare is recognizing how different types of terrain and environments can affect the relative strengths and weaknesses of different actors. In the case of World War II, the Soviet Union’s strategy was able to take advantage of urban warfare, which greatly negated many of the key German tactics and advantages.
Urban warfare is characterized by close-quarters combat in built-up areas such as cities and towns. This type of warfare greatly negated many of the key German tactics such as armored warfare and air power. The narrow streets, buildings, and alleys of urban areas made it difficult for tanks and other armored vehicles to maneuver, while the presence of civilians and the need to avoid damaging infrastructure limited the use of air power.
On the other hand, urban warfare played to the strengths of the Soviet Union. The Red Army had a large number of well-trained infantry units, who were well-suited for close-quarters combat in urban areas.