I am reading a book on the spanish civil war from anthony beevor, well i m sorry but according to this guy the battle,coordination and overall effectiveness of the militiamen of the republic was a total disaster.
When the spanish CP enforced centralized authority and a change to a regular army, few things improved (the incompetence of the republic's generals was added), however despite the ideological differences we may have with hierarchical organization,there is a difference between the truth and the common statement that 'oh,you know in spain the anarchist militias were kick ass and the outcome was better from a standard regular army'
My understanding of the history, which I'll admit is fairly limited, was that most of the militas were brave and plucky, but not well trained or organised. Central Spain's cities fell quickly at the start of the war when they were defended solely by the militas (although at least they tried, which is more than most of the Republican forces in the area did!). The Durruti colomn seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. That did fare well, although due to lack of support (again) from the rest of Republican Spain it was eventualy chipped away at by the Nationalists until it was disbanded.
I do think the Durruti colomn was organised slightly different to most of the other militas though. Wheras most went fully for horizontal leadership, I think it was more of the delegate system with Durruti, where they elected recallable "officers" that was used with Durruti's system.
Also bear in mind that the militas in central Spain had only got access to thier weapons days before the Nationalists started fighting and even then it was only down to direct action that they even had weapons at all, as the Republic refused to arm them. The Durruti colomn had more time to organise and train itself before it began pressing forwards.
Modern warfare (of which the Spanish Civil War is possibly the first example of) moves very very quickly and coupled with difficulty in communications, makes it very hard to improvise tactics and strategies on the fly. This means it's nessicary to train officers in and drill soldiers in pre-fabricated tactics long before the fighting starts. Most militas didnt get that chance, the militas in the North East did and it brought results.
The basics of tactics is that for defence you need to take into account every likely move that your oponent may make and formulate, in advance, a plan of how to counter it and then put it into practice when the time comes. For offence, you need to consider how the enemy will likely react to your action and try to find ways to avoid it by attacking them at thier weakest points. Terrain, equipment available to both sides, the knowledge of the officers and the morale and drill of the troops are all factors to go into the equation. Some of that you can plan far in advance (Like you'll have an idea how you and your enemy will be equiped and how well trained the enemy is), so you know at least that you wont need to think up a battle plan to deal with mooning Scottsmen charging with claymores! There is an awful lot that you cant know that far in advance though, so you need to research/create tactics to deal with all the other situations well in advance and not only be confident that the officers understand them, but also that the troops have had enough practice in them that they can carry them out in seconds with a single command, rather than having to explain the whole concept from scratch every time.
e.g. "Charlie and Bravo sections leapfrog up to 50 metres and then frag out" is a lot better for taking advantage of a sitaution than "Chris, Rachel, Micheal and Tom, I want you to run about 20 metres and then get down flat on your chests and start firing at the enemy. I want Luke, Matthew, Sandra and Louise to fire at the enemy while they're moving forward. When the other group lies down, I want you to run 40 metres and then get down and fire like the other group did. Then I want the first group to get up, run 40 metres, get down and so on until you're 50 metres away from the enemy. Then I want you to throw grenades into thier position and be ready to finish off any survivors. A few notes. I'll teach you how to use your weapons when I've finished explaining all this, but I need to tell you not to stop the plan if somebody is hit, even to administer first aid (which I havent shown you yet anyway), you should only be firing single rounds to conserve ammo, unless you're squad support....." etc, etc for another 10 minutes.
You get the idea anyway. If you dont plan in advance these things then they're totaly inpractical to think up on the fly when there's mortars flying around and all that leaves is human wave attacks, which is a nice way of saying "Banzai!", or staying in one place until you get flushed out with explosives. That was the kind of situation facing the militas in Central Spain thanks to the Republic's appeasement of the Nationalists. I'm sure that if they'd attemped to drill militas in the weeks and months leading up to the Civil War, even with wooden weapons, they'd have been arrested, as the Republic was that adamant to ensure that the Anarchists did not pose a threat to them.
Interesting, thanks for the response comrade.
As far as I am aware the CNT militias were well trained and fought admirably. Look at the Iron Column which was made up of a lot of freed prisoners who fought brilliantly like dogs against the facsists and bitterly opposed the attempt to bring the militias under the control of the goverment. Remember not all the militias were CNT. I recommend this: http://libcom.org/library/workers-po...ion-tom-wetzel
Did you really get that out of the Beevor book? I thought it was pretty clear that it wasn't their organisation that was blamed, but the fact that the Soviet-influenced (dare I say controlled) Republican leadership constantly tossed them into symbolic, useless battles.
You should try and get hold of Orwell in Spain, or at least Homage to Catalonia. The former contains all his writings on the subject, the latter is just the book about his experiences on the front and during the May fighting.
As he says (paraphrased), the militas were disorganised. Not because they were democratic or revolutionary. But because any new fighting force is disorganised.
In the end, the democratic system may have actually improved their effectiveness.