Baltic Military District

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Baltic Military District
Active 11 July 1940 - September 1991
Country  Soviet Union
Type Military district
Headquarters Kaliningrad
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Hovhannes Bagramyan, Aleksandr Gorbatov

The Baltic Military District (Прибалтийский военный округ (ПБВО)) was a military district of the Soviet armed forces, formed briefly before the German invasion, and then reformed after World War II and disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Pre-War and World War II[edit]

Initially the Baltic Military District was created by order of the USSR People's Commissar of Defence on 11 July 1940, and located in Riga. This was after the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States but before they were forcibly legally absorbed into the Soviet Union. On August, 17th, 1940 it became the Baltic Special Military District.

Personnel of the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian Armies were incorporated into the Red Army as the 22nd, 24th, and 29th Territorial Rifle Corps respectively. However they were notoriously unreliable and defected in large numbers to the Germans after June 1941.[1]

In 1941 the District (which became the North-Western Front on the outbreak of war) consisted of the:

3rd Mechanised Corps was also located within the district at Vilnius.

The Baltic Military District was formed for a second time in accordance with the directive of the General Staff of the Red Army on 30 October 1943, at which point the territory of the county (Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian SSRs) were occupied by German troops. The district headquarters was in Vyshniy Volochek. The district was disbanded on March 23, 1944.

Post War[edit]

Postwar the District was created on 9 July 1945 at Riga on the basis of базе управления Zemland Group of Forces formed from the former 1st Baltic Front.[3] It initially included only the Latvian and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics. Following the disbandment on 27 February 1946 of a special military district that had been administering the Kaliningrad region, the Kaliningrad oblast was added to the District's control, and ten years later in January 1956 the territory of the Estonian SSR was transferred from the Leningrad Military District.

Circa 1944 a headquarters for Internal Troops in the area was created, which became HQ Internal Troops NKVD-MVD-MGB Baltic MD (Управление ВВ НКВД-МВД-МГБ Прибалтийского округа). This headquarters supervised several Internal Troops divisions, including the 14th Railway Facilities Protection Division NKVD from 1944 to 1951.[4] Other divisions deployed included the 4th, 5th, and 63rd Rifle Divisions NKVD.

The main combat formation within the District was the 11th Guards Army in the Kaliningrad Oblast, following the disbandment of the 10th Guards Army in 1950. In the 1950s it comprised the 1st TD (former Tank Corps) and all the remaining Guards formations - 2nd Rifle Corps, 16th Koenigsberg Red Banner Rifle Corps (the 1st and 26th RD, 29 MD) and 36th Nemanskiy Red Banner Rifle Corps (5th and 16th RD, 30th MD).

In 1955 the district's forces comprised the 11th Guards Army, the 2nd Guards Rifle Corps, the 4th Guards Rifle Corps, the 1st Guards Rifle Division, the 5th, the 16th Guards, the 26th Guards, the 28th and 42nd Rifle Divisions, the 1st Tank Division, the 28th Guards, 29th Guards, and 30th Guards Mechanised Divisions, and the 15th Guards Airborne Corps (76th Guards Air Assault Division and 104th Guards Airborne Division).[5]

For the entire postwar period the 11th Guards Army comprised the 40th Guards Tank Division (former 2nd Guards Cavalry Corps, then 28th Guards Mechanised Division) and the 1st Tank, and the 1st and 26th Guards MRD (former Rifle Divisions). In 1960 the 5th Guards MRD, a former Rifle Division, was disbanded.

With the transfer of the Estonian area to the Leningrad Military District the 2nd Guards 'Tatsin' Tank Division went with it, leaving the District with only the 1st Guards 'Insterburg' Tank Division in Kaliningrad, which had been reorganised from the 1st Guards Tank Corps in the later part of 1945.

The 51st Guards Motor Rifle Vitebsk Division of the Order of Lenin Red was disbanded in accordance with district Commander' directive № 006471 dated May 5, 1960.

In 1969 the 8th Guards Motor Rifle Division was moved from the District to the Central Asian Military District and arrived eventually at Frunze.

In 1979 Scott and Scott reported the HQ address of the District as PriBVO, Riga-Center, Ulitsa Merkelya, Dom 13, with the officers' club in the same location.

Commanders of the Baltic Military District[edit]

Forces at the end of the 1980s[edit]

Soviet armoured vehicles in Lithuania in 1991

Toward the end of the 1980s the District's forces consisted of:

Russian Wikipedia notes on the 13th Rifle Regiment say that from May 1956 to August 1994 [8] the 13th Regiment was stationed in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and then Latvia as part of the 24th Tank Training Division. The regiment was training and preparing junior officers and specialists: BMP commander, gunner guns of drivers of various military vehicles, radio chiefs, commanders of the engineering units. Located in the village of Adazi-2 (now Kadaga) near the town of Riga.

In accordance with the Directive of the First Deputy Chief of the Joint Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States on March 11, 1992 № 314/3/0327, and the Directive Commander of North-Western Group of Forces on August 29, 1992 № 6/1 / 0287, 13th Guards Red Banner Sevastopol training Motor Rifle Regiment named Red Latvian Riflemen was reorganised as the 25 Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade Sevastopol Red Banner named after the Latvian Riflemen. In accordance with a directive of the Defence Minister of the Russian Federation on October 11, 1993 № 314/1/001200, Directive General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on November 11, 1993 № 453/4/01002-25 25th Guards Motorized Rifle Sevastopol Red Banner separate brigade named after the Latvian Riflemen was relocated from Latvia in Pskov Oblast Russia, becoming part of the troops of the Leningrad Military District.

The 7th Guards Cherkassy Airborne Division with its headquarters at Kaunas Fortress, and the 44th Training Airborne Division, at Gaižiūnai, of the Soviet Airborne Forces were also located within the district. The Soviet Air Force's presence within the District in the 1980s consisted of the 15th Air Army, headquartered at Riga, and the 2nd Army of the Soviet Air Defence Forces.

On 1 January 1991 the 15th Air Army consisted of the:[9]

  • 79th Independent Communications Regiment (Riga)
  • 249th OSAE (Riga) with 7 Mi-8, 1 Mi-6 and a few transport aircraft
  • 285th OVEREB (Jelgava, Riga area) with 19 Mi-8
  • 886th Order of the Red Banner "Stalingrad" ORAP (Jēkabpils, Latvian SSR) with 12 Su-24 and 14 Su-17M4 [known as the 16th ORAP in WW2]
  • 39th ADIB (Liyelvalde, Riga area) [activated 1981][10]
    • 53rd Guards "Stalingrad" APIB (Shaulyay, Lithuanian SSR) with 35 MiG-27 and 11 MiG-23
    • 327th APIB (Daugavpils, Latvian SSR) with 49 MiG-27 and 12 MiG-23
    • 899th APIB (Liyelvarde, Riga area) with 47 MiG-27 and 11 MiG-23

The 15th Air Army was activated in July 1942; from Oct 1943 attached to the Bryansk Front, and later the 2nd Baltic Front; ended the war attacking the Courland pocket. It was renamed the 30th Air Army in January 1949, but became 15th Air Army again in April 1968.

During September 1991 the District was reorganised into the North Western Group of Forces (ru:Северо-Западная группа войск). The Baltic MD was renamed by USSR Presidential Decree of 15 Nov 1991[11] The NWGF was subordinated to the jusrisdiction of Russian Federation by a Decree of the Russian President of 27 January 1992.[12] The NWGF ended its existence on 1 September 1994 with all Russian forces withdrawn from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Russia officially ended its military presence in the Baltics after it turned off the Skrunda-1 radar station in Latvia on August 31, 1998. Ground Forces in the Kaliningrad oblast came under the command of 11th Guards Army, which four to five years later became the Ground and Coastal Defence Forces of the Baltic Fleet.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Nigel Thomas, Germany's Eastern Front Allies (2): Baltic Forces, Osprey, 5.
  2. ^ Orbat.com/Niehorster, Baltic Special Military District Order of Battle June 22, 1941
  3. ^ Советская военная энциклопедия М., Е979 Т.б. 822с, via Feskov 2004.
  4. ^ Soldat.ru, Headquarters of Internal Troops 1941-1951, accessed April 2014.
  5. ^ Feskov, 2004, p.49
  6. ^ Scott and Scott, The Armed Forces of the USSR, 1979, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado (for district commanders to 1972)
  7. ^ Feskov et al 2004, p.106
  8. ^ Until 1993 - as the regiment until August 1994 - as an induction. 25 Definition of SMEs. omsbr.
  9. ^ OTAN vs Pacto de Varsovia
  10. ^ Michael Holm, 39th Aviation Division Fighter-Bomber, retrieved January 2013.
  11. ^ Krasnaya Zvezda 26 Nov 91 First Edition p.1]
  12. ^ Moscow INTERFAX in English 1418 GMT 28 Jan 92
  • [1]
  • 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. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7.  (inc district commanders 1972-)
  • Andrew Duncan, Russian Forces in Decline - Part 2, Jane's Intelligence Review, October 1996

Further reading[edit]

  • Petersen, P. and Petersen, S. (1993) "The Kaliningrad garrison state", Jane's Intelligence Review, 5:2, 1993
  • И.А. Губин. Слово о Краснознамённом Прибалтийском. — 1. — Riga: Авотс, 1981. — 296 pp