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When I claimed that the Finnish effort during the 1939/40 war with the Soviet Union was the "most famous", it was not due to its general historical importance or extent in numerical terms. First, it got all the classic elements; it is what they teach in War Academies around the world when dealing with winter warfare. Like it doesn't become guerilla warfare simply by being outnumbered it doesn't become winter warfare just because its warfare in winter conditions, even if you are more successful that your opponent. One of the main prerequisites of Finnish winter tactics was space. Where infrastructure and troops per square mile is dense (as it would have been on most of the Eastern Front) and fighting is marked by pitched battles and fixed defenses, the special skills of the "winter soldier" are rather irrelevant. Here, he cannot cross miles on skis to conduct hit and run attacks, evade capture by swith unmechanized movement, get his food and ammunition delivered by ski patrols, snowmobiles or dog/reindeer sledge et.c. The ground would also be too churned up and terrain littered with debris. In addition, living of the land becomes more difficult when there are too many troops in one place. This is because the real advantage in skis lies in the deployment face. Even for a trained skier it is too difficult to do a classical "pepper potting" attack on skis. It simply takes too long to get up on your feet, accelerate and get down again, ready your weapon (surprise - every possible cavity would be packed with snow every time), fire and up again. Remember, one has about 3-5 seconds before the enemy has targeted you. Biathlon athletes do something in that direction, but they don't have any heavy gear attached to their body and the snow on their range is not loose and neck deep. It might be possible downhill where speed reduces vulnerability, but what enemy would be stupid enough to dig their trenches at the bottom of a hill. In fact, in most cases, when attacking a fixed position in a pitched battle, show shoes would be recommended before skis. I have experienced fire and movement on skis on exercises, but in real battle, it would be suicide. To coordinate a line of infantry on skis, one needs open and clear ground. Moreover, everybody knows that a sound route of advance for an infantry attack on a prepared enemy should have some cover like rocks, bushes, depressions etc. I guess I do not have to paint you a picture of men entangled in branches, not being able to stop for roots and rocks, skis and sticks everywhere going about at their own will... Even without an enemy, you will have casualties. During the Russo-Finnish war, one could see the effects of the above clearly. While the Finns had much success in the outback of the North, the decisive battlefield was that on the Karelian Isthmus. Here there were several rail lines, roads and towns. Also the soldier density on both sides where high and the Finns had to rely on fixed defenses (the Mannerheim line). Here classical winter warfare became as irrelevant as the pre tank offensive doctrines of WWI and it was here that the Finns finally lost the war. They simply could not match the sheer mass of infantry, artillery and tanks that they faced. Frode Lindgjerdet, Archivist, Freelance Historian Norwegian Home Guard Frode Lindgjerdet <fr-lind@FRISURF.NO> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----