Belorussian Military District

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The Byelorussian Military District (alternative spelling Belorussian) was a military district of the Soviet Armed Forces. Originally in the times of Russian Civil War it formed as the Western Front, and in April 1924 it was renamed to the Western Military District. In October 1926 it was redesignated the Belorussian Military District, with its staff in Smolensk. It covered the territory of the Byelorussian SSR and the western part of the RSFSR (including Smolensk area, Bryansk area, and parts of Kaluga area).

In 1928, the first maneuvers of troops of the district were held, which was attended by 6th Cavalry Division and 7th Cavalry Division, 5th, 8th and 27th Rifle Divisions, 33rd territorial division, a tank brigade of the Moscow Military District, artillery, aviation, communication, and engineering units. The exercises showed growth in the combat skills of troops, which attended the People's Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, Kliment Voroshilov.

In 1932 it deployed from within the country the 4th Leningrad Cavalry Order of the Red Banner Voroshilov Division commanded by Georgy Zhukov. In 1932-1933, in connection with the development of armored vehicles, it formed seven separate tank brigades, armed with Soviet-made tanks: light T-24, T-26, medium T-28, fast BT-2, BT-5, floating T-37, heavy T-35, slipper T-27. In 1937 the district deployed 15 infantry divisions, grouped into five infantry corps and five cavalry divisions.

On 26 July 1938, the district was renamed the Belarussian Special Military District (Russian: BOVO). After the Soviet/German invasion of Poland in September 1939, it took in most of the former Polish area and was redesignated the Belorussian Special Military District. In July 1940, it was redesignated the Western Special Military District. When the German invasion, Operation Barbarossa, began on 22 June 1941 the district was again redesignated the Western Front.

The district was reformed in October 1943 from the staff of the Moscow Zone of Defense (at Smolensk, which moved to Minsk in August, 1944). From December, 1944 until July, 1945, the district was designated Byelorussian-Lithuanian Military District (covering the territory of Belarus and Lithuania), and from July, 9, until 26 January 1946 it was divided in two districts - Minsk District (from the staff of the 3rd Army), and Baranovichi District (from the staff of 3rd Belorussian Front with its headquarters staff at Bobruisk). The district covered the territory of the Byelorussian SSR.

From mid February 1949, in accordance with a directive issued 10 January 1949, the 1st Air Army, present within the district, was redesignated the 26th Air Army. The 26th Air Army was subordinate to the BVO. In 1962 the 26th Air Army comprised the 95th Fighter Aviation Division (Shchuchin, Grodno Oblast), the 1st Guards Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division (Lida, Grodno Oblast), and three separate smaller units: the 10th independent Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (Shchuchin, Grodno Oblast), the 248th independent Mixed Aviation Squadron (Minsk-Lipki, Minsk Oblast), and the 95th independent Mixed Aviation Squadron (Grodno, Grodno Oblast).[1] In April 1980 the 26th Air Army was renamed the VVS Belorussian Military District. In May 1988 it was renamed again as the 26th Air Army. The 95th Fighter Aviation Division was disbanded in 1988.[2]

The 26th Air Army included in 1990:

  • 1st Guards Bomber Aviation Division (Lida, Grodno Oblast)
  • 50th independent Mixed Aviation Regiment (Minsk, Minsk Oblast)
  • 151st independent Aviation Regiment for Electronic Warfare (Shchuchin, Grodno Oblast)
  • 927th Fighter Aviation Regiment (Bereza, Brest Oblast)
  • 206th independent Assault Aviation Regiment (Pruzhany, Brest Oblast)
  • 378th independent Assault Aviation Regiment (Postavy, Vitebsk Oblast)
  • 397th independent Assault Aviation Regiment (Kobrin, Brest Oblast)
  • 10th independent Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (Shchuchin, Grodno Oblast)
  • 302nd independent Helicopter Squadron for Electronic Warfare (Kobrin, Brest Oblast)
  • 56th independent Communications Regiment (Minsk, Minsk Oblast)

From the beginning of the 1950s three armies were subordinated to the district: 28th Army, 5th Guards Tank Army and 7th Tank Army – numbering 9 tank and 2 motor-rifle divisions, including training formations. 5th Guards Tank Army in 1988 had 8th Guards, 29th, and 193rd Tank Divisions while 7th 'Red Star' Tank Army had 3rd Guards, 34th, and 37th Guards Tank Divisions.[3] From the late 1970s the district was subordinate to the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Strategic Direction. On the dissolution of the Soviet Union the 28th Army, headquartered at Grodno, included the 6th Guards Tank Division (Grodno), 28th Tank Division (Slonim), 50th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Brest), and the 76th Tank Division (possibly a Category 'V'[4] cadre formation), also at Brest. The 120th 'Rogachev' Guards Motorised Rifle Division, subordinated directly to district control, was the district's most prestigious division. Also present was the 51st Guards Artillery Division. Air defence was provided in the 1980s by the 2nd Air Defence Army of the Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) which included 11th and 28th PVO Corps.

The forces of the district became the basis of the Armed Forces of Belarus after the district was disbanded in May 1992 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

"The Byelorusian Military District is no more. Under a resolution of the Council of Ministers of Byelarus all its units, as well as non-strategic formations, have been placed under the Defence Ministry of Byelarus."

  • Moscow RIA in English 1653 GMT 7 May 92

2nd Air Defence Army 1988[edit]

In 1988 the 2nd Air Defence Army comprised the 11th and 28th Air Defence Corps.

The 11th Air Defence Corps was formed on 15 March 1960 in Baranovichi, Minsk Oblast, from the PVO's 39th Fighter Aviation Division.[5] 3rd Air Defence Division came under 2nd independent Army of the PVO from March 1960 to November 1977.[6]

In 1988 it comprised:

  • Headquarters, Baranovichi
  • 61st Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO (Baranovichi, Minsk Oblast) (MiG-25/Su-27)[7]
  • 201st Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO (Machulischi, Minsk Oblast) (MiG-23)
  • 15th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Fanipol)
  • 115th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Brest)
  • 127th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Lida)
  • 377th Guards Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Polotsk)
  • 1146th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Orscha)
  • 8th Radio-Technical Brigade (Baranovichi, Minsk Oblast)
  • 49th Radio-Technical Regiment (Polotsk)
  • an independent Electronic Warfare Battalion

It was taken over by Belarus in early 1992, and survived to at least 1994.

Over the border in the Ukrainian SSR, the 28th Air Defence Corps was also part of the 2nd Air Defence Army until 1992. In 1988 it comprised:[8]

  • Headquarters, Lvov
  • 179th Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO (Stryy, Lvov Oblast)
  • 254th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Mukachevo, Zakarpatskaya Oblast)
  • 540th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Kamenka-Bugskaya, Lvov Oblast)
  • 270th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Lvov, Lvov Oblast)
  • 312th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Nadvornaya, Ivan-Frankovsk Oblast)
  • 438th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Kovel, Volynskaya Oblast)
  • 521st Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Borshschev, Ternopol Oblast)
  • 1st Radio-Technical Brigade (Lipniki, Lvov Oblast)
  • 10th Radio-Technical Regiment (Stryy, Lvov Oblast)
  • 17th independent Electronic Warfare Battalion (Kolomyya, Ivan-Frankovsk Oblast)
  • 38th Communications Center (Lvov, Lvov Oblast)

Commanders 1945–91[edit]

  • Marshal of the Soviet Union S K Timoshenko (until March 1946),
  • General Colonel S G Trofimenko (04.1946–03.1949)(former commander of the 7th Army)
  • again Marshal of the Soviet Union S K Timoshenko (03.1949–04.1960),
  • General Colonel V. I. Komarov (04.1960–07.1961)
  • Army General V. A. Penkovskiy (07.1961–07.1964)
  • General Colonel S. S. Маряхин (07.1964–09.1967)
  • Colonel General I. M. Tretyak (Третьяк) (09.1967–06.1976)
  • General Colonel M. M. Zaytsev (06.1976–11.1980)
  • Army General E. F. Ivanovsky (12.1980–02.1985)
  • General Colonel V. M. Shuraev (02.1985–01.1989)
  • General Colonel A. I. Kostenko (01.1989–dissolution)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Holm, forces/armies/26VA.htm 26th Air Army, accessed September 2011
  2. ^ See http://scucin-avia.narod.ru/units/95iad/95iad_history.htm (Russian) and http://www.ww2.dk/new/air%20force/division/iad/95iad.htm for the history of this Division.
  3. ^ Feskov et al 2004, p.36
  4. ^ Feskov et al. 2004
  5. ^ For 11th PVO Corps see Michael Holm, 11th Air Defence Corps, accessed March 2012
  6. ^ Michael Holm, 3rd Air Defence Division, accessed February 2012
  7. ^ 61st and 201st Fighter Regiments' details from Air Forces Monthly June 1993, 'Western CISAF', extracts.
  8. ^ 28th Air Defence Corps

References[edit]

  • Feskov et al., "The Soviet Army in the Period of the Cold War, 1945–89"
  • А. Г. Ленский, Сухопутные силы РККА в предвоенные годы. Справочник. — Санкт-Петербург Б&К, 2000

Further reading[edit]

  • I M Tret'yak, ed, "Krasnoznamennyy Belorusskiy voyennyy okrug", "Belarus'", Minsk, 1973; – Soviet history of district
  • E F Ivanovskiy, ed, "Krasnozamennyy Belorusskiy voyennyy okrug", Voenizdat, 2nd edn, Moscow, 1983 - second edition