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Patrol: The Finnish Winter War

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In preparation for Fridays patrol, I present to you:

The Soviet-Finnish Winter War


Two years before Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Soviets squared off against another neighbor, the tiny Nordic neighbor, Finland
After the collapse of the Russian empire in 1918, there was a power vacuum in Finland, and the struggle for power in the aftermath led to militarization of both the left leaning labor movement and the conservatives. This led to a civil war during the country transition from a Russian Imperial Grand Duchy to an independent state. The German Empire backed the Finnish "Whites", consisting of farmers, middle and upper class from rural central and northern Finland, while Soviet Russia backed the Finnish "Reds", consisting of industrial and agrarian workers from the cities and industrial centers of southern Finland.
In the aftermath of this war, the Finns went from being in the Russian sphere of influence to being in a German one, and was on the way to become a German-led Finnish monarchy. This ultimately failed, as Germany was defeated, and Finland became an independent democratic republic.


Preparing for War:

Stalin cited concerns about a potential German attack through Finland to get to Soviet Russia's only Baltic Sea harbor, and sent a series of ultimatums demanding that the Finnish-Russian border across the Karelian Isthmus be moved back 16 miles to create a buffer-zone for Leningrad. As well as demanding that Finland hand over several islands in the Finnish gulf. Russia offered quite a bit of other land for this, but the Finns were suspicious about this, and turned them down.

November 30., 1939 Soviet forces attacked Finland. The Finn had the advantage of fighting on home turf. Led by Marshal Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, they hunkered down behind a network of trenches, concrete bunkers and field fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus and beat back repeated Soviet tank assaults. Elsewhere on the frontier, Finnish ski troops used the rugged landscape to conduct hit-and-run attacks on isolated Soviet units. Their guerilla tactics were only aided by the freezing Finnish winter, which bogged the Soviets down and made their soldiers easy to spot against snowy terrain.

The Soviets were ill equipped for winter warfare, not even having snow-camo.  The Soviets suffered multiple critical losses, as the command-structure was severely top heavy, with all decisions having to go by Soviet top command. This also hampered cooperation between the different branches of the Soviet armed forces.

While the Finns put up a spirited resistance during the winter of 1939-1940, their troops were ultimately no match for the sheer immensity of the Red Army. In February 1940, following one of the largest artillery bombardments since World War I, the Soviets renewed their onslaught and overran the Finnish defenses on the Karelian Isthmus. With its forces low on ammunition and nearing the brink of exhaustion, Finland agreed to peace terms the following month.
The treaty ending the Winter War forced Finland to cede 11 percent of its territory to the Soviet Union, yet the country maintained its independence and later squared off against Russia a second time during World War II. For the Soviets, meanwhile, victory came at a heavy cost. During just three months of fighting, their forces suffered over 300,000 casualties compared to around 65,000 for the Finns. The Winter War may have also carried important consequences for World War II. Among other things, the Red Army’s lackluster performance is often cited as a key factor in Adolf Hitler’s mistaken belief that his June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union would be a success.


Fridays Patrol:


This upcoming Friday, Handberg and I will be hosting a patrol taking place in the Winter War.
We will all be troops manning the Mannerheim-Line, repelling Soviet Forces attacking en masse, fighting with "sisu" – a Finnish idiom roughly translated as "guts and fighting spirit".



2LT K. Grorud

Head of 71st Assault Helicopter Company

Call-sign: Rattler 1-6

S-1 Assistant Administrator, S-3 Operation Development Assistant, & S-5 Information & Technology Specialist

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