Hi , Why so few troops where allocated to AGS and more than enough for AGC ? AGS objectives where more difficult, the field of action bigger and the number of troops smaller, why AGS seems to be neglected compared to AGC ?
You have asked an excellent question about the comparative sizes of Army Group Center and Army Group South. The reality was that Army Group South was stronger than Army Group Center or Army Group North. The German losses in manpower and equipment were so severe by March 1942 that the only way that the Germans could replace everything lost was to go on the defensive for the remainder of the year. That was impossible for the German Army to do because the Soviet Army would also rapidly rebuild and replace it losses.
So General Halder and the OKH looted Army Groups North (AGN) and Center (AGC) to bring Army Group South back to full strength. Every motorized infantry division in Army Groups North and Center were stripped of their panzer battalions while the motorcycle infantry battalions were dissolved with the survivors being transfered over to the motorized infantry regiments. The panzer battalions were replaced with detachments of 16 to 24 STG-IIIs, STU-H42s, and Marders. Every Panzer Regiment in AGN and AGC were reduced in size to a regimental headquarters and one panzer battalion. OKH was gambling that the Soviets would suffer such severe losses with Operation Blue that they would have the time to restore the Panzer and Motorized Divisions in AGN and AGC back to full strength.
This looting by OKH for Operation Blue allowed the panzer divisions in Army Group South to start off with Panzer Regiments of three panzer battalions. This also allowed the Motorized Divisions in Army Group South to start off with reinforced Panzer Battalions to support the motorized and motorcycle infantry.
The worst hit was the infantry divisions in AGN and AGC. The third battalion in every infantry regiment was dissolved with the surviving men and equipment being tranferred to the 1st and 2nd battalions. The trucks, motorcycles, and horses that used to equip the reconnaissance battalions were replaced with bicycles and the replacement battalions were dissolved. Any excess men were sent southward to bring AGS up to full strength while virtually all of the newly trained recruits into the Army were sent southward. Again, General Hadler and OKH gambled that the Soviet losses would be so severe that they would have the time to eventually restore the infantry divisions in AGN and AGC back to full strength.
The infantry divisions in Army Group South at the start of Operation Blue were at full strength with 9 infantry battalions organized into three regiments, a reconnaissance battalion mounted with horses, trucks and motorcycles, a pioneer battalion and a replacement battalion with around 17,000 to 18,000 men. The infantry divisions in AGN and AGC had been reduced down to 6 infantry battalions organized into three regiments, a bicycle mounted reconnaissance battalion, and a pioneer battalion with only 13,000 to 14,000 men.
You have seen following the episodes that General Halder’s and OKH’s gamble had completely and utterly failed. The continuous Soviet attacks against Army Group Center had been so severe in the Reshev meatgrinder that Generals Halder and Zeitzer had to strip away men and equipment that was being sent to Army Groups A and B to keep the understrength units in Army Group with enough strength to prevent a Soviet breakthrough. This stripping away of manpower and equipment from Army Groups A and B played a major role in its defeat in the winter of 1942.
Now, in April 1943; Adolf Hitler, General Zeitzer, and OKH are dealing with the combined nightmare of replacing the severe losses incurred by Army Group South along with replacing all of the looted panzer battalions from Army Group Center in order to strike at the Soviet Army again in an attempt to change the course of the war.
Thank you for this complete and precise answer, you said everything !
I didnt know about this fact, Halder relocating troops from AGN and AGC to AGS, i see better now how AGS was made stronger than the two others for operation Fall Blau and how AGN and AGC where not the AGN and the AGC of june 1941…
Thanks again for the answer !