108th Motor Rifle Division
|108th Motor Rifle Division|
Soviet Union (1941-1992)
Soviet Army (1941-1992)
|Type||Motorized Rifle Division|
|Engagements||World War II
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
Tajikistan Civil War
The 108th Nevelskaya Motor Rifle Division, abbreviated as the "108th MRD," was a unit of the Soviet Ground Forces. It was the successor to the 360th Rifle Division Nevelskaya, which was formed during the Second World War. The division was created on 14 August 1941 by the State Defense Committee and the Volga Military District Commander, Vasilii Gerasimenko, at the Volga Military District in Chkalov (now Orenburg).
On 1 December 1941, the 360th Rifle Division became part of the 60th Army. It launched an offensive on Velizh on 29 January 1942. On 1 April, it became part of the 4th Shock Army, then part of the Kalinin Front.
The division then fought in the Battle for Velikiye Luki from 24 December 1942 to 14 January 1943. The division's units reportedly destroyed 23 guns, 72 machine guns, 5 mortars, 30 vehicles, 81 tanks and 4 aircraft. They also reportedly killed 7,000 German soldiers during the battle. On 1 April 1942,
Until August 1943, the division operated with both the 3rd and 4th Shock Armies. On 1 December 1944, the division was subordinated to the 83rd Rifle Corps of the 4th Shock Army, part of the 1st Baltic Front.
From then until October 1945 the division was posted on the Leningrad Front and the Baltic Military District. In October, the division was relocated by railway to the Turkestan Military District in the city of Termez. Arriving there at the start of November 1945, the whole division was housed in military camps for combat and political training until the end of the year. In November and December, new units were created. By September-October 1945, the 360th Rifle Division (Military Unit No. 11090) was part of the 119th Rifle Corps with its headquarters at Dushanbe. By May 1949 it had shifted into the 17th Rifle Corps.
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Between World War II and late 1979 the division provided security for the Soviet Union along its southern borders. On 19 February 1962, the 333rd Separate Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion and 646th Separate Missile Battalion were formed. In 1968, the 271st Separate Sapper Battalion became a sapper-engineer unit. On 15 November 1972, the 738th Separate Anti-Tank Artillery Battalion was activated.
Invasion of Afghanistan
In December 1979, the division was part of the invasion force into Afghanistan. On December 13, 1979, the whole division was brought to full combat preparedness after years of partial disbandment. On December 24, the Minister of Defense signed a directive for the entry of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The 781st Independent Reconnaissance Battalion became the first unit of the Soviet Army to cross into Afghanistan. At the same time, military transport planes carrying the 103rd Guards Airborne Division also crossed the border. On December 27, advance units of the 108th MRD entered Kabul to strengthen the protection of military administrative buildings. By mid-January 1980 the invasion of the 40th Army into Afghanistan was largely complete. The 108th MRD division headquarters was established at Khair Khana camp to the northwest of Kabul, on the road to Bagram airfield.
From 1980 to 1989 the division carried out tasks to ensure the safety of convoys along the Doshi-Kabul and Kabul-Jalalabad routes, and the protection of key facilities (Bagram airfield, grain elevators, fuel and lubricant supply depots, a power station in Kabul, a dam and hydroelectric power station site in Surubi, etc.)
The division's operations in Afghanistan can be divided into four stages:
- December 1979 - February 1980: entered Afghanistan and established bases.
- March 1980 - April 1985: participated in active hostilities including large-scale operations, and worked to strengthen the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The division participated in the Panjsher VII offensive of April–May 1984, and the commander of the Afghan Bureau of the ISI at the time, Brigadier Mohammed Yousaf, says it was likely that Major-General Saratov, commander of the 108th MRD, commanded the operation. During one battle, on April 30 in the Hazara Valley, the 1st Battalion of the 682nd Motor Rifle Regiment was decimated: the losses of Soviet troops were estimated at 60 KIA.
- April 1985 - January 1987: transition from active operations to a role supporting Afghan troops using artillery and demolition units. The division assisted in the development of the armed forces of the DRA, and participated in the partial withdrawal of Soviet troops.
- January 1987 - February 1989: assisted the Afghan leadership in carrying out the policy of national reconciliation, and continued the support of Afghan forces.
The stages of the war in Afghanistan were not uniform and differed in terms of the intensity and types of military activities. Thus, the third and fourth stages were characterised by increased concentrations of rebel forces, and the creation of numerous military bases across Afghanistan with more active hostilities.
In terms of sheer personnel, the 108th MRD was the largest division in the Soviet Armed Forces during the invasion of Afghanistan. During this period. V.I. Feskov states the division had four motor rifle regiments, the 177th, 180th, and 181st with BTRs; and the 682nd with BMPs. Among the other regiments of the division was the 1415th Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment. The division was the only one of its kind in the Armed Forces because of its structure and quantity of its weapons and other military equipment.
On February 11, 1989, the Division acted as rearguard for the 40th Army as it was withdrawn from Afghanistan. The division was then based in Termez.
- Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 September 1941
- Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 December 1941
- Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 April 1942
- Feskov et al 2013, 357.
- Feskov et al 2013, 538.
- Holm, Michael. "108th Motorized Rifle Division". ww2.dk. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- Mohammed Yousaf and Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap: Afghanistan's Untold Story, 1992, 147-148.
- Yousaf and Adkin 1992, 70-72
- Knyazev, Nikolai. "Гибель 1-го батальона 682-го мотострелкового полка 30 апреля 1984 года, ущелье Хазара (Панджшер)(In Russian)". artofwar.ru. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
- 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, 63.
- V.I. Feskov, Golikov V.I., K.A. Kalashnikov, and S.A. Slugin, The Armed Forces of the USSR after World War II, from the Red Army to the Soviet (Part 1: Land Forces). (В.И. Слугин С.А. Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской (часть 1: Сухопутные войска)) Томск, 2013. Improved version of 2004 work with many inaccuracies corrected.