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an attack delivered by troops on the defense against an enemy grouping that has driven a wedge in the defense or broken through to its depth.
The counterstrike exhibits the active nature of defense. It is usually carried out to rout the intruding enemy forces and restore the lost operational position. In defensive operations by Soviet forces during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 counterstrikes were also carried out to pin significant enemy forces in a certain sector and permit an attack to be directed against them from another sector, to prevent envelopment of the main groupings of friendly defending forces, or to free an encircled grouping.
Counterstrikes are carried out by the forces of second echelons and reserves, strategic units, troops that had not been attacked, and defending troops in the sector where the counterstrike is being delivered. The troops of the counterstrike grouping are supported by aviation, artillery fire, and other means of fire. A successful counterstrike may turn the tide of fighting in favor of the defenders and create favorable conditions for switching to a counteroffensive. An especially brilliant example was the counterstrike of the Fifth Guards Tank Army in the tank battle near Prokhorovka during the battle of Kursk in 1943.