Copyright 2013 Russell Phillips
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Rule one, on page one of the book
of war, is: "Do not march on Moscow". Various people have
tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it is no good.
- Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
The Cold War does not have a definitive start and end. For the purposes of this book, it is defined as the period from the end of the Second World War (known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War) to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Soviet military had a deeply ingrained culture of secrecy, to the point that soldiers were not told the designations of the vehicles that they used. Whereas most Western armies believe that crews should be familiar with their own vehicle, the Soviet army believed that once a soldier had been taught to drive a tank or fire a gun, he would be able to drive any tank or fire any gun. It was common for a subset of a unit's vehicles to be used for training, allowing the remaining vehicles to be kept in better condition. If a vehicle was particularly secret, the soldiers would be trained on a different vehicle, while the secret vehicle was kept in storage. In time of war, the soldiers would be given a short time for familiarisation.