Book Review: Combat Engineering Equipment Of The Warsaw Pact

Combat Engineering Equipment Of The Warsaw Pact, by Russell Phillips

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by the author.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

This book fits right in a familiar alley for the author [1] and those who are familiar with his previous works.  This work explores more of the military technology of the Warsaw Pact members during the Cold War and gives some discussion of the strategic doctrine that these forces had in their proposed attacks into Western Europe.  The author makes the savvy note that the Soviet Union had done its homework as far as the width of the rivers that their armies were expected to cross and they developed technology in order to keep the rivers from being barriers to a rapid advance.  Given the fact that the Soviet Union was pretty heavily superior in terms of the numbers of its troops and tanks and related equipment, it is probably a very fortunate thing that the West did not have to deal with one of their attacks and that the Soviet Union collapsed because of its lack of political legitimacy and economic strength.  This book, like previous volumes, is focused on a particular aspect of military technology and it delivers it information in a way that is likely to please those who enjoyed his previous works.

In terms of its structure, this book is organized in a straightforward and familiar fashion, again, in the manner of several previous books.  After a brief introduction the author discusses a wide variety of combat engineering equipment used for river crossing, including snorkeling, swimming, vehicle-launched and pontoon bridges, ferries, bridging boats, and line of communication bridges.  After this, the author discusses various equipment used for mine laying, detection, and clearance.  This section also includes a lot of information of how these technologies were used in Afghanistan where the Russians laid a prodigious amount of mines.  Later chapters include details about Warsaw Pact armored engineer vehicles, recovery and repair vehicles, and earth moving equipment, which was thought particularly important for bunker building.  As was the case with the author’s previous discussion of the tanks and combat vehicles of the Warsaw Pact, there were plenty of technologies here that were developed by nations other than the Soviet Union, and some of the technologies worked on by such nations as Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Bulgaria are noted as having been improvements on the original Soviet designs, showing that the Eastern European satellite states were certainly capable of developing military equipment in a worthwhile way.

At this point, the reader ought to know what to expect when reading the author’s work on military technology, and that is a healthy dose of equipment specifications, comments on development and use (where applicable) in the field, as well as photos and information taken from declassified Cold War reports.  If you like this sort of material, and I must admit that I like it from the point of view of correcting mistaken intelligence from the past, appreciating the approach of an ideological enemy I feel fortunate that we did not have to fight, and in researching for possible counterfactual historical scenarios based on as solid a factual basis as possible, then this is a book that you will likely enjoy.  Given the detail included in the past two volumes on the technology of the Warsaw Pact members, it seems pretty likely that the author has in mind a lengthy series of books on military technology that ought to keep readers busy and add to the author’s already lengthy bibliography for some time to come.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/11/book-review-tanks-and-combat-vehicles-of-the-warsaw-pact/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/10/25/book-review-red-steel-soviet-tanks-and-combat-vehicles-of-the-cold-war/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/08/14/book-review-this-well-defend/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/book-review-a-fleet-in-being/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Military History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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