CONTEXT The first period of war, by Soviet definition, encompassed the period from 22 June 1941, the day Operation Barbarossa began, to 19 November 1942, the day the Soviet Stalingrad counteroffensive commenced. Throughout this period the Germans maintained the strategic initiative, except during the period December 1941February 1942 when Soviet forces conducted the Moscow counteroffensive and temporarily forced German forces on to the defense. The period was also marked by the near destruction of the Soviet pre-war army, severe alterations of the Soviet force structure to accommodate it to the demands of war, and serious testing of Soviet pre-war operational concepts, which had proven difficult, if not impossible, to implement in wartime.