20th Guards Army

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4th Tank Army (1942-45)
4th Guards Tank Army (1945-46)
4th Guards Mechanised Army (1946-60)
20th Guards Army (1960-present)
Soviet Guards Order.png
Active 1942 – present
Country  Soviet Union (1942 - 1991)
 Russia (1991 - present)
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army (1942 - 1991)
Flag of the Russian ground forces.svg Russian Ground Forces (1991 - present)
Type Armoured
Size currently 2 tank divisions, 2 artillery/missile brigades + several other auxiliary regiments
Part of Moscow Military District
Garrison/HQ Voronezh
Commanders
Current
commander
General Lieutenant Andrey Tretyak

The 20th Guards Army, (originally designated as the 4th Tank Army, 4th Guards Tank Army in 1945, 4th Guards Mechanised Army in 1946, and the 20th Guards Army in 1960 within the Soviet Red Army), is a field army, since 1991, part of the Russian Ground Forces.

1st Formation (4th Tank Army)[edit]

It was first formed within the Stalingrad Front from July 1942 and incorporated the 22nd and 23rd Tank Corps, one rifle division, one tank brigade, and the 8th Separate Fighter Air Brigade, under the command of Major Gen. Kryuchenkin. It was committed to battle without being fully formed, as the German Wehrmacht had broken through. The Army attempted to stop the German 6th Army, but was not successful and lost a large number of tanks. On 1 August 1942 official Soviet records show the Army as comprising the 22nd Tank Corps (133rd, 173rd, 176th, and 182nd Tank Brigades plus the 22nd Motor Rifle Brigade), the 18th and 205th Rifle Divisions, an independent brigade, and two artillery regiments.[1] In August 1942 it fought on the southern approaches to Stalingrad, having conducted some successful counterattacks against units of the German 48th Panzer Corps.

4th Tank Army later came under command of Gen. K.K. Rokossovsky's Don Front. On 22 October Kryuchenkin was replaced by Gen. P.I. Batov. The much diminished army was re-designated the 65th Army on 27 October, and served for the duration under Batov's command.

2nd Formation (4th Tank Army)[edit]

On 15 July 1943, after an abortive attempt to form the Army for a second time had been called off in February, it was reformed as 4th Guards Tank Army drawing on the headquarters of the previous 19th Cavalry Corps. Initially the new army consisted of 11th and 30th Ural Volunteer Tank Corps and 6th Guards Mechanised Corps.

Its first operation as 4th Tank Army, under General Vasily Badanov, was at Orel, the counterattack (Operation Kutuzov) on the northern side of the Kursk bulge after the German defeat at the Battle of Kursk proper. John Erickson writes that '..at 1100 on 26 July, two of Badanov's corps (11th Tank and 6th Guards Mechanised) put in a ragged attack towards Bolkhov. For the next few hours, under the very gaze of Bagramyan [commander of 11th Guards Army, whose sector 4th Tank was attacking through] and Badanov, both corps were heavily battered by the concealed German tanks and assault guns.'[2] It took part in the winter battles in the Ukraine in 1944 (Proskurov-Chernovits), then the L’vov-Sanodmierz Operation in the summer. It then participated in the Lower Silesia, Upper Silesia, Berlin, and Prague operations. In the last days of the war, it achieved Guards status by an order of the NKO dated March, 17th, 1945 (Krasnaya Zvezda).

Cold War[edit]

It was initially part of the Soviet occupation forces in Czechoslovakia, but was then moved to eastern Germany. In the first days of the Soviet occupation of eastern Germany, it had its headquarters at Eberswalde and consisted of the 5th and 6th Guards Mechanised Corps and the 10th Guards Tank Corps.

From 1946 to 1957 the Army was named 4th Guards Mechanised Army. It was renamed 20th Guards Army in 1960,[3] and served for many years as part of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. It took part in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In the 1980s it controlled the 25th Tank Division (HQ Vogelsang, disbanded 1989), 32nd Guards Tank Division (HQ Juterbog, disbanded 1989), 90th Guards Tank Division (HQ Bernau, withdrawn to Chernorech'e in the Volga Military District, early 1990s), the 35th Motor Rifle Division (HQ Krampnitz, disbanded in 1992 in Germany), the 6th Guards Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Berlin-Karlhorst (withdrawn to Kursk) and many combat support and service support units, including two surface-to-surface missile brigades, a SAM brigade, an engineer-sapper brigade, and two helicopter regiments.[4] After the fall of the Soviet Union 20th Guards Army was withdrawn to Voronezh in the Moscow Military District.

Post Cold War[edit]

In June 2006 elements of the Army took part in the "Shield of Union" joint Russian-Belorussian exercises.(Warfare.ru)

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1 August 1942
  2. ^ John Erickson, 'Road to Berlin,' 1982, p.115
  3. ^ 20 армия
  4. ^ Craig Crofoot, document on Group of Soviet Forces Germany accessible at www.microarmormayhem.com, including Conventional Forces in Europe data exchange material