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Military History

Mural of General Zhukov

Associated Press 9504220378

Muscovites are dwarfed by this giant image of Marshal Zhukov hanging from the Lenin Library, 22 April 1995.

Leadership at the Operational Level: Canadian Doctrine and a Soviet Case Study

by Hugues Canuel

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More than 15 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Canadian Forces (CF) is continuing to adapt to the complexities of the post-Cold-War era. As much in Canada as in the rest of the Western world, the ‘peace dividends’ were achieved at the same time as the ‘New World Order’ sank into instability. The 1990s were difficult years for Canadian military personnel. While suffering stringent reductions to their budgets, as well as to their actual numbers, there was a concurrent and unexpected increase in overseas military operations. The difficulties that were encountered during some of these deployments, as well as several disciplinary incidents that took place in Canada, attained such notoriety that Canadian authorities saw fit to effect a robust turnaround.1

This process eventually culminated in the creation of a new military ethos, as well as a new doctrine dealing with leadership for the Canadian Forces.2 The documents that are their embodiment are based largely upon the post-Cold-War experience, but they equally reflect the long tradition of Canadian military service in the framework of the major conflicts of the 20th Century.3 Furthermore, and given the fundamental nature of the underlying principles, the authors of the new leadership doctrine have accepted the challenge of elaborating upon a theory applicable to all levels of command – strategic, operational, and tactical – for all ongoing operations conducted by units deployed overseas, as well as for those tasked with the smooth running of activities at home, in both line and staff positions.4

This claim to a universal application of Canadian doctrine nevertheless poses concerns when the time comes to disentangle the fundamental constraints that are necessary to the success of the command exercised at a particular level.5 However, this article does not aim to dismantle the fundamental theories of the doctrine. It is, above all, aimed at demonstrating that it remains necessary to identify precisely among the numerous elements of the general theoretical framework those that are truly essential elements for the leader to successfully operate at a given level of command. To do so, the approach adopted will be to isolate the essential principles of Leadership at the Operational Level while applying the Modern Model of the Canadian Forces to the study of a Historic Figure involved in combats that were radically different from recent Western military experience.

General (later Marshal) Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov played a critical role leading armies of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. It is his experience as a commander at the operational level on the East Front, particularly from the summer of 1941, until the end of the following winter, which provides one of the most amazing frameworks to put the Canadian Model of operational level command to the test.6 Although the Zhukov case study is quite different from the most recent operational experiences of the Canadian Forces, it nevertheless confirms the validity of some fundamental principles that were isolated by this author with the Canadian prototypes of the post-Cold-War period, and during all ongoing operations. First, however, it will be necessary to conduct an intuitive analysis of the theoretical Canadian Model in order to identify a key responsibility that is central to each of the five criteria of leadership efficiency found therein. These responsibilities will then be applied to the case study in order to measure the nature of Zhukov’s success as an operational leader during the desperate months of fighting undertaken by a Red Army faltering under the battering blows of the German Wehrmacht.

Leopard 2

DND photo AR2008-JO11-181

The Canadian Forces Leadership Model

A study dealing with leadership must first clarify the term. The modern definition can be summarized simply as: “The process by which an individual can influence a group of people to attain a common goal.”7 Such a definition, while being relatively neutral, is not at all satisfactory in the framework of this study because the aim here is to identify the attributes of a commander exercising effective leadership specifically at the operational level. It thus becomes necessary to define this concept not only in military terms but in a manner that places the emphasis upon the effectiveness of fulfilling a given mission. The Canadian Model rests upon such a definition: “...[To] Lead, Motivate and Empower” in such a way that a group of individuals fulfills a mission in a professional and ethical manner, while also developing or improving upon the capacities that contribute to the group’s success.8

A bonus, from an efficiency perspective to this concept of leadership within the Canadian Model, reflects the adoption of the “Stratified Theory of Systems.” This theory distinguishes between the two functions of leading people in the execution of their mission and daily tasks, and leading the institution, thanks to the development of strategic and professional capacities required by the organization.9 This duality is dynamic, since the roles and responsibilities attributed to a leader within the heart of a military organization evolve during an individual’s career. The individual may generally expect to concentrate upon the first category when at the bottom of the hierarchy. Later, the individual plays an increasingly important role in the leadership of the institution as progression to the top of the pyramid occurs. During the vague time period that constitutes the midst of this upward progression, individuals may find themselves in positions that authorize and even obligate them to carry out two functions simultaneously, although to varying degrees according to circumstances.10

The Canadian Forces Leadership Model thus rests upon two principal functions – to lead the people and to lead the institution – to which different effectiveness dimensions are applied, and from which importance varies according to the hierarchical responsibilities previously mentioned.11 The following five dimensions comprise an efficient framework necessary to the execution of the mission while respecting the professional and ethical aspects required from members of the Canadian Forces:

  1. Mission success;
  2. Internal integration;
  3. Member well-being and commitment;
  4. External adaptability; and
  5. Military ethos.12

The first dimension constitutes the essential result, namely, the success of the mission that can become the ultimate aim of the leader – while the next three dimensions are elements that facilitate the mission’s success. Faced with the essential result (success of the mission) and the empowerment results (internal integration, well-being of subordinates, and adaptability to the outside world), the military ethos deals with the execution of the mission by which the general standards fix the limits to be respected while aiming for the desired results.13

This theoretical structure provides a very useful framework when it comes to clarifying leadership of the Canadian Forces. In contrast, as noted in the introduction, its formulation is meant for all levels of command as well as for all current and ongoing operations, and this can make its practical application difficult within a specified context. In the figure illustrating the functional responsibilities of Canadian leaders, different statements of responsibility are presented under the two major leadership functions, as well as for each effectiveness dimension. Even though they are specific, these statements vary greatly within a given dimension. Under the function, Leading People, for example, the effectiveness dimension linked to Mission Success may be filled by a range of responsibilities, from an assessment of personal competence and the pursuit of self-perfection, to achievement and management of the resources necessary to carry out one’s duties. The function Leading the Institution, on the other hand, can be measured under the criterion of effectiveness dimension, “external adaptability” by the responsibilities of initiating change, as well as that of conducting routine reporting on information destined for the outside world.14

This spectrum of disparate responsibilities, although all applicable at different levels according to circumstances, can hinder the reader in understanding what the essential practices really are that are necessary to provide effective leadership for the different levels of command. Thus, it becomes necessary to try to refine this model to stress the elements that are truly fundamental, and even more so at the operational level. The process must include a broader discussion about the nature of command at the operational level in order to identify the framework addressed in this article.

Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke

Art Resource ART315328

Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke.

Leadership at the Operational Level

Canadian military doctrine recognizes three degrees of operations: strategic, operational, and tactical. The operational level is described as follows: “The level of command at which one employs forces to attain strategic objectives in a theatre or a zone of operations through the conception, organisation, and planning of campaigns and large operations.”15 The conflicts of the first industrial era clearly illustrated the need to establish a new military discipline in order to bridge the gap between the establishment of great political/military objectives preceding the battles (strategy), and the application of military might on the battlefield (tactics). This concept is directly inherited from the expanded vision first developed in Prussia during the 19th Century, and it was used by the Soviet Red Army between the two world wars under the banner of Operational Art.

Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke (the Elder), victor of the German unification wars of the 1860s and of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871, is often recognized as the first genuine practitioner of the Operational Art.16 Specifically, he established the procedures and means necessary to coordinate the movement and the procurement of large-scale goods and services destined for the massive armies that then dominated the European battlefields, and they benefited from increasing mobility and lethality, right up until their mutual neutralization in the trenches of the First World War. The new Red Army then adopted and refined the German precepts by applying the lessons learned from this conflict, as well as from experience gained in the battles that would follow the Communist Revolution of 1917. The term Operational Art is likewise attributed to a school of thought inspired during the 1920s through the writings of General A.A. Svechin, whose vision was formally implanted in Soviet doctrine during the course of the following decade by Marshal M.N. Tukhachevskiy.17

Marshal M.N. Tukhachevsky

Associated Press 370511036

Marshal M.N. Tukhachevsky.

While the Second World War would become known as the Golden Age of Operational Art, it appeared initially that the Cold War would deal it a final blow. Several observers imagined that the strategy of nuclear dissuasion adopted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the 1950s and 1960s would eliminate the need to study the movement and utilization of large armed groups.18 However, difficulties experienced in the field with tried and tested procedures by most of the Western powers during the period of decolonization, and, particularly, the failure experienced by the United States in Vietnam, signalled a renewed interest in Operational Art. Ultimately, in further confirmation of this trend, the Atlantic Alliance adopted a strategy of Flexible Response that included the need to employ a grand scale of conventional military forces. This movement led to the formal adoption of Operational Art in the doctrine of all NATO member states, Canada included.19 This appreciation of the nature of the operational level allows one to clearly identify the responsibilities essential to the success of a leader exercising his authority at this level. And intuitive analysis of the Canadian Model leads to the conclusion that for each of the five effectiveness dimensions mentioned earlier,20 and found under the dimension of Leading People, the following responsibilities are indispensable in the effective exercise of leadership at the operational level:

  1. To clarify objectives and intentions;
  2. To oversee, to inspect, to correct, and to evaluate;
  3. To supervise and educate subordinates, and to establish the standards and programs of activities;
  4. To anticipate the future; and
  5. To seek and to accept responsibilities.

It should not be deduced from this list that the other statements of responsibility are not pertinent, or that they are not as essential at the operational level, or that they do not necessarily relate to the range of operations. However, the five responsibilities selected herein are all required, regardless of the mission or the operational context.

However, this intuitive analysis, based upon the particular demands at the operational level of commanding in the Canadian Forces context, needs to be validated to ensure its legitimacy. The application of these concepts to the experience that General Zhukov lived through, under the extremely difficult context of the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany, allows for a determination of the relevance of this leadership model at the operational level.

Marshal M.N. Tukhachevsky

DefenseImagery.Mil HD-SN-99-02756

Zhukov (centre) with General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery at General Eisenhower’s headquarters in Frankfurt at war’s end, 10 June 1945.

General Georgi Zhukov: An Operational Leader

The study of General Zhukov as an operational leader is complicated by the system of command particular to the Red Army during that era. The Soviet system was largely decentralized until the German invasion of 22 June 1941. Immediately following the invasion, an in-depth reorganization led to the creation of a new and very different structure.21 Under the leadership of a new war cabinet (GOKO) that united the most important members of the Communist Party and dictated the – political/military priorities, the Stavka was created to assume the form of a true headquarters, with a system of joint armies that were completely subject to the GOKO, and tasked with the production of large and strategic plans coordinating the whole Soviet military effort.22 The administrative military districts were then abandoned in favour of creating geographic Fronts23 uniting many Army corps and leading them operationally. For the purpose of this study, we presume that the Stavka was directing Soviet military activities at a strategic level under the political direction of GOKO, while, at the Front, the military commanders were exercising their leadership at the operational level.

This clarification does not apply to General Zhukov, as he was busy on both levels. Having joined the ranks of the Red Army at the start of the Russian civil war, Zhukov embarked upon a dazzling career in the cavalry, which led eventually to his specialization with armour during the hiatus between the two world wars, under the supervision of Marshal Tukhachevsky, the aforementioned proponent of the Operational Art. Subsequent to his survival of the Stalinist purges of 1937/1938, General Zhukov distinguished himself during the battles that pitted the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) against Japan in 1939, which then led to his appointment as Chief of Staff of the Red Army in January 1941.24 He held this position during the commencement of fighting between the USSR and Germany in June 1941, and was thus included in the Stavka from its inception. However, as a result of his opposition to the strategic priorities expressed by Stalin during the course of that summer, General Zhukov lost his position as Chief of Staff. He then became the first commander of the new Front of the Strategic Reserve in August 1941, while remaining a member of Stavka.25

Operation Barbarossa was the German code name for the invasion of the USSR. Its purpose was to occupy the European part of the nation, and to eventually draw a continuous line of occupation along the Ural Mountains, from Arkhangelsk in the Arctic, to Astrakan on the coast of the Caspian Sea.26 The countering Soviet strategy necessitated the sacrifice of the forces deployed along the original border, and it depended upon the establishment of successive lines of defence. This deployment within the immense Russian steppe, or grasslands, was intended to exhaust the German Blitzkrieg. These defences were aimed at slowing the enemy while at the same time causing irremediable losses to Wehrmacht formations. Additionally, it allowed the Soviet authorities to assemble the required forces to push an exhausted enemy into a series of counter-offensives, and to recapture their own territory.27

This difficult period extended from August 1941 to December 1942, and, although it was a defensive phase of the overall Soviet strategy, it represents one of the best opportunities to measure the value of the operational leadership of General Zhukov. Although he accumulated more defeats than tactical victories in the field during this period, these operations did not diminish his success at the operational level in the attainment of “strategic objectives in a theatre or zone of operations.”28 Whether it is as the commander of the Front of the Strategic Reserve at the battle of Ielnia during August 1941, or as the representative of Stavka at Leningrad during the following month, General Zhukov did not succeed in halting the German steamroller. However, in the first instance, he managed to slow considerably the momentum of the Wehrmacht toward Moscow, and, in the other, to lay down the necessary defences in order to sustain the “900 day siege” that the old tsarist capital of Leningrad would ultimately endure. As a result of his actions, inestimable German human and materiel resources were immobilized during this siege.29 Even during the very costly defeat, in November and December 1942, endured by General Zhukov during Operation Mars, the overall Soviet strategy was served by immobilizing the German Army Central Group, preventing it from sending reinforcements toward the south to save the VI German Army, which was by then completely surrounded at Stalingrad.30

Operation Barbarossa

Map by Christopher Johnson

Operation Barbarossa.

[Larger Version]

The Defence of Moscow and the Canadian Model

Above all, the defence of Moscow and the Soviet counter-offensive of December 1941 afford us the clearest illustration of Zhukov’s effectiveness as an operational leader. Although the vastness of the Soviet territory had, to this point, resulted in the retreat of the Red Army, the GOKO decided to stand fast at the Soviet capital. Meanwhile, the Stavka had estimated that German offensive capabilities within their Central Army Group would soon reach a breaking point, due to the great distance from the German homeland, as well as to the upcoming effects of the Russian winter. Since the end of September 1941, German troops had been unable to proceed further, due to heavy rainfall and an autumn that rendered the roads of the Russian grasslands practically useless for armoured operations and the transportation of troops. Nonetheless, the frosty conditions of November 1941 reversed this situation. And General Zhukov had been recalled to Leningrad in October – hardly a month after the German Army had launched Operation Typhoon, with the aim of attempting to drive through to Moscow by mid-November 1941.31

In order to assure the mission’s success (the main result and the first effectiveness dimension in Canadian terms), General Zhukov had to first outline his intentions and objectives (the statement of responsibility) to support the strategic purpose or target of saving Moscow in both the short and the long term. The Front was now less than 150 kilometres from the Soviet capital, or midway between Smolensk and Moscow. General Zhukov recognized the urgent need to establish three lines of fortifications between the Front and the capital in order to continue the essential task of wearing out the German troops during their advance.32 However, this defensive goal was not complete in and of itself, as halting the Central Army Group at Moscow’s doorstep by the end of 1941 would not only postpone the final assault until the following spring but it would also give the Wehrmacht several months to concentrate its forces at a time and place of its choosing. Therefore, General Zhukov established that an offensive component was essential to the defence of the capital, as it was not only necessary to halt the German advance but it must equally repulse the enemy to the extent that it would cause a retreat for the first time since the launch of Operation Barbarossa. This retreat to a new line would also facilitate the resistance of the Red Army during the course of renewed fighting in the spring.

Smolensk ablaze

Associated Press 4108010101

Burning buildings in the background as Germans enter the city of Smolensk on their drive to Moscow, August 1941.

The establishment of new and fortified lines within the vast emptiness of the Russian grass plains that surrounded Moscow, as well as the constitution of vast reserves of manpower and materiel necessary for a renewed counter-offensive, represented almost-insurmountable challenges to the Soviets during the autumn of 1941. A high degree of internal integration (the expected outcome and the second effectiveness dimension) was needed to assure the success of the Western Front. General Zhukov constantly supervised, inspected, corrected, and evaluated (expression of responsibility) the preparations for war undertaken by his troops, as well as their performance during the conduct of operations. He always kept himself abreast of the Front’s ongoing developments, not only by extensive and appropriate use of intelligence and communications but also by conducting regular visits to the commanders of subordinates undergoing training. Whenever he was unable to undertake such informative missions, he reassured himself by deploying certain key members of his own staff to the field to observe first-hand how events were unfolding, and – of equal importance – to report upon the performance of his subordinates.33

As the management of the soldiers was largely dependent upon the professionalism of their officers, the well-being and the engagement of the members (expected outcome and third effectiveness dimension) demanded of General Zhukov that he supervise and educate his subordinates, and that he establish the required standards and activities (expression of responsibility). Despite the development of the theory of Operational Art at the core of the Red Army between the two wars, General Zhukov fully understood that the purges of 1937/1938 and the rapid mobilization of 1941 meant that the majority of Soviet officers were not ready to apply the military doctrine that was in place.34 He was then compelled to install a system in which the forces that were at his disposal – whether they were the formations already badly-off as a result of their deployments to the Front or the new divisions that had been assembled during those chaotic months – could execute the tasks assigned to them.

The crisis of 1941 did not allow Zhukov to supervise and educate his subordinates in the modern sense of the term. Nevertheless, he regularly endeavoured to promulgate written instructions on the conduct of operations, based upon the experience that had been rapidly acquired during the first months of the invasion. He insisted particularly upon the need to avoid disastrous frontal attacks against the enemy positions in favour of changing movements and infiltration of their most-exposed positions.35 Taking equal advantage of the slowdown of the German advance during the autumn, General Zhukov insisted that the formations sent to him as further reinforcements would not be divided up to furnish the replacements conveyed directly to the Front. First and foremost, he installed a new system by which these newly-constituted divisions would first establish themselves at the rear in order to pursue a short but intensive training program. This training was based equally upon the combat lessons learned from the viewpoint of the division leaders and the experience gained in the field at the tactical level.36

However, all the efforts exerted for the defence of Moscow would not have achieved much had General Zhukov not first established the required lines of fortification, or had he not undertaken a counter-offensive at a given place and time, based upon the movements and intentions of an enemy that previously had taken the initiative and held the advantage. General Zhukov subsequently developed a certain capacity to predict the future (expression of responsibility) in order to maximize the adaptation to the outside world (expected result and fourth effectiveness dimension) of the forces at his disposal. Zhukov believed that upon confronting the fortification established by the Soviets on the direct route from Smolensk to Moscow, the Central Army Group would, above all, endeavour to conduct an encircling manoeuvre. As a result, it would approach the capital from the northwest after having seized the town of Kalinine, and from the southwest, while transiting the towns of Tulsa and Kaluga.

Thus, while the Front of Briansk was ordered to block this second flank of the German movement, General Zhukov concentrated the efforts of the Western Front by first immobilizing (December 1941), and then pushing (January 1942) the enemy aside while retaking Kalinine. This forced a general retreat of the Wehrmacht in order to stabilize the Front on the most favourable positions, but at a greater distance from Moscow, for the remainder of 1942.37 This success directly resulted from General Zhukov’s capacity to judge the enemy’s intentions, and to formulate a plan while the German Armies were acting exactly as he had anticipated all along. Of further note, Zhukov insisted upon maintaining an efficient military intelligence service (information gathering) at his Army Corps throughout the war.38

With the Soviet capital literally having been saved by Zhukov, he demonstrated the same deep sense of military ethos (the fifth effectiveness dimension, which is linked to mission conduct), by conducting ongoing evaluations and accepting responsibility (expression of responsibility). This was a remarkable fact, given that during this period, Stalin and his henchmen regularly ordered the execution of generals who were perceived as having failed in their fight against the enemy. General Zhukov did not hesitate to accept the command of forces that were the most critical to the Front, thereby defending the most cherished and precious objectives from Stalin’s viewpoint. Zhukov was personally threatened with death in October 1941 by V.I. Molotov, the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and an influential member of GOKO, if he lost Moscow to the enemy.39 Nevertheless, General Zhukov did not hesitate to express himself liberally to his superiors all throughout the conflict.40 His behaviour demonstrated the embodiment of unshakeable character that was repeatedly tested during the most sombre moments in the Red Army’s history. And he always refused to sacrifice the operational efficiency of his forces to satisfy some of the most hopeless schemes of Stalin.

Canadian soldiers on patrol

DND photo AR2009-A004-019


General Zhukov carried out his leadership at the operational level in conditions that were unimaginable in the current Canadian military context. Routinely, he led the movements of millions of men and thousands of tanks. He could (and did) suffer the loss of tens of thousands of soldiers during a single day of battle. The welfare of a country depended upon these operations, while the threat of execution constantly hovered over his head should he fail. Nevertheless, it was during this period when the balance of power favoured the enemy that General Zhukov demonstrated his composure as a commander at the operational level. Exemplified by the lesser operations at Ielnia, and also during the defence of Moscow, which was quite desperate, and even during his crushing defeat during Operation Mars, this Soviet general achieved the strategic objectives that were assigned to his theatre of operations.

The success of General Zhukov is attributed to his continued application of establishing essential responsibilities, which today are found elsewhere, such as in the leadership model of Canadian Forces doctrine. The study of this Soviet leader during the Second World War has demonstrated that the successful exercise of the commander at the operational level depends upon attaining specific results within the general model. Under the function Leadership, it is essential above all for the operational leader to exercise the following responsibilities to:

  1. Define his objectives and intentions in order to reach the essential result, meaning the success of a mission;
  2. Oversee, inspect, correct, and evaluate the planning and the execution of those plans (the first expected result dealing with internal integration);
  3. Supervise and educate subordinates (the second expected result dealing with internal integration);
  4. Predict the future in order to adapt to the outside world (third expected result); and
  5. Seek and accept responsibilities within the conduct of a mission.

During this same period, General Zhukov exercised several other operational responsibilities in addition to those stated above within the five effectiveness dimensions. He equally led the institution by influencing the Soviet strategy by virtue of the role he played within the Stavka. However, while the Canadian Model is formulated to cover command as much at the strategic and tactical levels as at the operational level, the successful exercise of leadership at this last level rests upon the continued execution of the five essential responsibilities identified in this article. The study of General Zhukov’s experiences in comparison to the theoretical Canadian Model developed in the context of the post-Cold-War era demonstrates the fundamental nature of these elements, and it validates the practice of operational leadership through a range of ongoing operations.

CMJ Logo

Commander Hugues Canuel is the Executive Assistant to the Chief of the Maritime Staff at National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, as well as a Master of Arts degree from the Royal Military College of Canada. Commander Canuel also completed the Command and Staff Course and earned a Master’s degree in Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College in 2006.


  1. The origins of these reforms are, for the most part, found in several reports published in 1997, including the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia, A Dishonoured Legacy: The Lessons of the Somalia Affair (Ottawa: Procurement and Services Canada, 1997). The list of these reports is contained in a letter from the Minister of National Defence to the Prime Minister, which was made public that same year. See Douglas Young, Letter from Minister Young to the Prime Minister, dated 25 March 1997; accessible at <http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/minister/fr/letter/mndlf97.htm>.
  2. A complete statement of the ethos of the Canadian Forces is found in the Department of National Defence (DND) publication A-PA-005-000/ AP-001, Duty with Honour – The Profession of Arms in Canada (Kingston, ON: Canadian Defence Academy, 2003), pp. 24-34. The new doctrine of leadership is found in the DND publication A-PA-005-000/A-P-003, Leadership in the Canadian Forces- Doctrine (Kingston, ON: Canadian Defence Academy, 2005).
  3. See General R.J. Hillier’s news release on this subject in Chief of the Defence Staff letter, New Doctrine on Leadership in the Canadian Forces, dated 15 April 2005, pp. 1-2.
  4. Department of National Defence publication A-PA-005-000/AP-004, Leadership in the Canadian Forces-Conceptual Foundations (Kingston, ON: Canadian Defence Academy, 2005), pp. xi-xv. This publication “...provides an extended discussion of the theories and ideas underpinning the doctrinal manual.” p. i. Foreword by General Hillier.
  5. The different levels of strategic, operational, and tactical command are defined according to the Canadian doctrine in the Department of National Defence publication, B-GG-005-004/ AF-000, Operations of Canadian Forces (Ottawa: Procurement and Services Canada, 2000), pp. 2-7.
  6. Although General Zhukov has been routinely recognized in Western literature under his title of Field Marshal of the Soviet Union, he had only received this rank in February 1943. As this article deals with the period 1941-1942, the rank of general will be used whenever Zhukov’s name is mentioned.
  7. Liberal translation of the definition that was formulated by Professor Peter G. Northouse in Leadership: Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition (Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications, 2001), p. 3: “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.”
  8. Leadership in the Canadian Forces-Conceptual Foundations, p. 131.
  9. Ibid., p. 2.
  10. Ibid., p. 4. See also Leadership in the Canadian Forces-Doctrine, p. 6.
  11. Table 4-1, Responsibilities of CF leaders as they relate to major functions and effectiveness dimensions, in Leadership in the Canadian Forces-Conceptual Foundations, pp. 48-49.
  12. Ministry of National Defence, Leadership in the Canadian Forces Doctrine, p. 3-4.
  13. This last criterion certainly reflects upon the statement of ethos found in Duty with Honour, pp. 24-34. The theoretical basis supporting the choice of five criteria of efficiency is found in Leadership in the Canadian Forces-Fundamental Concepts, pp. 18-23.
  14. Table 4-1, Leadership in the Canadian Forces-Conceptual Foundations, pp. 48-49.
  15. Operations of Canadian Forces, pp.1-5.
  16. With respect to the influence of von Moltke, see Hajo Holborn, “The Prusso-German School: Moltke and the Rise of the General Staff,” in Peter Paret (ed.), Makers of the Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 281-295, and Bradley J. Meyer, “The Operational Art: The Elder Moltke’s Campaign Plan for the Franco-Prussian War,” in B.J.C. McKercher and Michael A. Hennessy (eds.), Operational Art – Developments in the Theories of War (Westport CT: Praeger, 1996), pp. 29-49.
  17. On the development of Operational Art in the Soviet Union during the space of two wars, see Jacop Kipp, “Two Views of Warsaw: The Rusian Civil War and the Soviet Operational Art, 1920-1932,” in Operational Art, pp. 51-85, and John Erickson, The Soviet High Command – A Political History 1918-1941(London: Macmillan & Co., 1962).
  18. Lawrence Freedman, “The first Two Generations of Nuclear Strategists,” in Makers of Modern Strategy, pp. 735-778.
  19. The adoption of Operational Art in the USA is detailed by Richard M. Swain in “Filling the Void”: The Operational Art and the U.S. Army,” extract from Operational Art, pp.147-172.
  20. 1. mission success, 2. internal integration, 3. member well-being and commitment, 4. external adaptability, and 5. military ethos.
  21. See Erickson, The Soviet High Command, pp.557-560, on the Soviet command structure at the start of the Second World War.
  22. Formed on 30 June 1941, the new Committee on National Defence (GOKO-Gosudarstvennyi Komitet Oborony) assumed political control of the Soviet military effort under the personal direction of Stalin. The general headquarters of the USSR (commonly called Stavka in Western literature instead of SSSR, Stavka Glavnovo Komandovanyia Vooruzhennykh Sil) was established on 23 June under the direction of the Commissioner (equivalent of Soviet Minister) of Defence, S.K. Timoshenko. See Otto Preston Chaney, “Marshal Zhukov as a Military Leader,” extract from Military Leadership and Command: The John Briggs Cincinnati Lectures, 1988, under the direction of Henry S. Bausum (Lexington, VA: The VMI Foundation, 1989), p. 97 and pp. 100-101, Also see Erickson, The Soviet High Command, pp. 598-599.
  23. Each time the word appears in italics in this article, the expression Front is cited as a Russian word and not an English expression. In context, Front signifies command of the armed corps. That is how, for example, in June 1941, the troops assigned to the military districts of Leningrad were transferred to the North Front. The Strategic Reserve Front was created similarly by using diverse formations that were not already occupied in defending the borders. See David M. Glantz and Jonathan House, When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (Lawrence, KA: University Press of Kansas, 1995), p. 39.
  24. Tony Le Tissier presented a good summary on Zhukov’s life, from his birth in 1896 until the dawn of the Second World War, in Zhukov at the Oder: The Decisive Battle for Berlin (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996), pp.3-6. For a biography that is complete and objective, see Otto Preston Chaney, Zhukov (Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996).
  25. On the confrontation between Stalin and Zhukov and the transfer of the latter to the Strategic Reserve Front, see Chaney, “Marshal Zhukov as a Military Leader,” p. 98, as well as Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed, p. 76.
  26. See Matthew Cooper, The German Army 1933-1945: Its Political and Military Failures (New York: Stein and Day, 1978), pp. 259-285 for the genesis of this operation.
  27. See Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed, pp. 38-41, as well as Brian I. Fugate and Lev Dvorestky, Thunder on the Dniepr: Zhukov-Stalin and the Defeat of Hitler’s Blitzkrieg (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1997), pp. 39-74. This second work offers an excellent account of the first two years of fighting on the Eastern Front.
  28. Conforming to the Canadian definition of operational level as quoted.
  29. Zhukov carried out an assault against the south flank of the Central Army Group at the end of August 1941 near the small locality of Ielnia, causing heavy losses to the Wehrmacht for the first time since the start of Operation Barbarossa, thereby slowing the advance toward Moscow. Fugate and Dvorestky, Thunder on the Dniepr, pp. 166-174 and pp. 176-193. The German advance toward Leningrad and the ensuing siege from 8 August 1941 to 18 January 1944 are described in detail by Harrison Evans Salisbury in The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad, 2nd Edition (New York: Dalapo, 2003).
  30. Operation Mars was initiated by Zhukov on 25 November 1942, while Operation Uranus commenced on 19 November. The latter was targeted at defeating the German troops as they advanced toward the Caucasus Mountains to the south. Operation Uranus was an unprecedented success, resulting in the destruction of the VI German Army at Stalingrad and a general offensive by the Red Army to retake the Ukraine during the course of 1943. Operation Mars was aimed at eliminating the great salient of Rzhev, occupied by the Central Army Group, but this plan failed. However, it still remained the strategic objective of Zhukov to immobilize the Central Army Group, despite suffering extreme losses. Therefore, he transformed a tactical defeat into an operational success. Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed, pp. 129-139. The authors provided an in-depth treatment of this key aspect of the episode, which was largely ignored in Zhukov’s Greatest Defeat: The Red Army’s Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942 (Lawrence KA University Press of Kansas, 1999).
  31. For a detailed treatment of the preparations and of the execution of the Defence of Moscow during the period October-December 1941, see Fugate and Dvoretsky, Thunder on the Dneipr, pp. 267-299, and Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed. pp. 78-91.
  32. See the excellent map detailing the disposition of forces that were present during the period 30 September-15 November 1941 in John Keegan, The Second World War (New York: Viking Penguin, 1989), p. 207. Keegan also offers a good summary of the first six months of fighting on the Eastern Front on pages 173-208.
  33. Chaney, “Marshal Zhukov as a Military Leader,” p. 106.
  34. This resulted in the almost total abandonment of all expectation as to the tactical performance of the Soviet troops, placing more of an emphasis upon the need to accumulate an irresistible mass and crushing firepower before going on the offensive. Frederic Kagan, “Soviet Operational Art: The Theory and Practice of Initiative”, 1917 – 1945,” in Leadership: The Warrior’s Act (Carlisle PA: The Army War College Foundation Press, 2001), pp. 236-238.
  35. Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed, p. 67.
  36. Fugate and Dvorestky, Thunder on the Dneipr, pp. 303-304.
  37. With respect to the Soviet counter-offensive of January 1942, see Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed, pp. 87-97.
  38. M. Gareev, “Zhukov: The Great Russian Commander,” in International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations, Vol. 43, No. 1 (1997), p. 171.
  39. Ibid., p. 170.
  40. S.M. Shtemenko, The Soviet General Staff at War, 1941 – 1945 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970), p. 383.

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