|The Red Army had been formed following the 1917 revolution, and was almost immediately called into fighting both the Polish-Soviet War and the Russian Civil War. Any lessons learned from these conflicts were brushed aside in the 1937-39 Great Purge, which saw great numbers of competent officers removed from their posts. The poor leadership in the wake of this lead to the crushing losses suffered in the Winter War and Operation Barbarossa.
Lessons were soon learned, and the Red Army was soon an effective fighting force again. Over 34 million men would serve in the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War, and over 11 million of those were killed or captured.|