103rd Guards Airborne Division

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The 103rd Guards Airborne Division (ru: 103-я гвардейская воздушно-десантная ордена Ленина Краснознаменная ордена Кутузова дивизия имени 60-летия СССР) was a division of the Soviet Airborne Troops. It was established in 1946 and disbanded in 1993, a year after its transfer to the Armed Forces of Belarus.

The original 103rd Guards Rifle Division (ru:103-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия) was formed from the previous 13th Guards Airborne Division.

In accordance with a Resolution of the Council of Ministers on 3 June 1946, the 103rd Guards Rifle Division was reorganised into the 103rd Guards Airborne Division (Red Banner, Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class), consisting of: Division Headquarters, the 317th Guards Parachute Landing Regiment (Order of Alexander Nevsky), the 322nd Guards Parachute Landing Regiment (Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class), the 39th Guards Parachute Landing Regiment (Red Banner, Order of Suvorov 2nd class), the 15th Guards Artillery Regiment and support units. The divisional staff began combat training of the Airborne Troops on 5 August 1946. The division was soon moved to the city of Polotsk.[1]

In 1956 the 350th and 357th Airborne Regiments joined the division from the disbanded 114th Guards Airborne Division. That same year (in June), the division was transferred to Vitebsk, still within the Belorussian Military District.

The division participated in Exercise "Brotherhood in Arms" which was held in East Germany in 1970, and in 1972 it took part in Exercise "Shield-72". In 1975, it became the first Guards Division of the Airborne Troops of the USSR to make a parachute jump out of AN-22 and IL-76 aircraft. The division also participated in Exercises Spring 75 and Vanguard 76. The 103rd Guards Airborne Division participated in the combined arms exercise "Berezin" in Belarus in February 1978. From the outset, they jumped with weapons and equipment, from IL-76s. The actions of the division's personnel on maneuvers were very highly rated by Soviet military commanders.[1]

In December 1979 elements of the division were transferred to Afghanistan. During the war in that country, the division was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner.[2]

The division was transferred to the KGB Border Troops in January 1990, and renamed the 103rd Guards Airborne Division PV KGB.[3] It lost most of its support units, including the artillery regiment, but apparently the 20th independent Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion was retained. On 23 September 1991 it was transferred back to the VDV.

Personnel of the 103rd Guards Separate Mobile Brigade during a demonstration

On 20 May 1992, a directive of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Belarus № 5/0251, the 103rd Guards Airborne (Order of Lenin, the Red Banner, Order of Kutuzov) Division became part of the Armed Forces of Belarus. In 1993, the Headquarters 103rd Guards Airborne Division was established as the HQ Mobile Forces of the Republic of Belarus. The 317th Guards Parachute Battalion was upgraded to the 317th Independent Mobile Brigade. The 350th Guards Parachute Battalion became the 350th Independent Mobile Brigade and the 357th Guards Parachute Battalion became the 357th Independent Mobile Training Battalion. The division's 1179th Artillery Regiment was disbanded. In late 2002, the 317th independent Mobile Brigade of the Armed Forces of Belarus transferred its battle flag to the 103rd Guards Airborne Division. From then on it was called the 103rd Independent Mobile Brigade(Belarusian: 103rd gvardzeyskaya asobnaya mabіlnaya brygada).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Guards Airborne Order of Lenin Red Banner Order of Kutuzov 2nd class division named after the 60th anniversary of the USSR". History. Union troopers. 
  2. ^ Feskov,, V.I.; K.A. Kalashnikov, V.I. Golikov. (2004). The Soviet Army in the Years of the 'Cold War' (1945–1991). Tomsk: Tomsk University Press. p. 101. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7. 
  3. ^ Michael Holm, 103rd Guards Airborne Division, accessed October 2012.