In Galicia Brusilov’s offensive has smashed the Austro-Hungarians. Across a 20 kilometre front the Austro-Hungarians have been thrown back some 75 kilometres. The key city of Lutsk has been abandoned, with its stock of supplies falling to the Russians. Of the two Austro-Hungarian armies facing the Russians, one has lost 70% of its manpower, suffering some 83,000 casualties (many of them men who have given up and surrendered). The other larger army is in somewhat better shape, but it has still taken 76,000 casualties.
Brusilov’s success is the result of his innovative tactics. His men have been trained to infiltrate enemy positions instead of engaging in massed infantry assaults. He has also deliberately attacked on as broad a front as possible, to make it difficult for the enemy to concentrate reserves against any one threatened point.
But Brusilov’s offensive is meant to be just a diversion. He is to draw enemy reinforcements so that Evert to the north can attack the Germans with a free hand. The hope is that these two great offensives one after another will deliver such a thrashing to the enemy that Russia will regain the initiative for the rest of the war.
THE GREAT BEAR: “Don’t worry, old man. I shall take a lot more.” (Cartooning the First World War)