Formations of the Soviet Army

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Formations are those military organisations which are formed from different speciality Arms and Services troop units to create a balanced, combined combat force. The formations only differ in their ability to achieve different scales of application of force to achieve different strategic, operational and tactical goals and mission objectives.

Types of formations in the military organization of the Soviet Armed Forces of 1917-1991 included:

  • Theatre of Military Operations or theatre of war[1] (TV)
  • Theatre of military operations (ru:Театр военных действий, TVD, teatr voennykh deistvii) — Strategic Directions were created and maintained at the beginning and at the end of World War II (the Great Patriotic War), and are considered[by whom?] a part of the TVD for the purpose of determining operational directions.[2] During World War II, six strategic direction commands existed as part of the Stavka:[3]
    • Chief command of the troops of the Western Direction (1941–42), replaced by Stavka representative role
    • Chief command of the troops of the North Western Direction (1941), replaced by Stavka representative role
    • Chief command of the troops of the North Caucasus Direction (1941–42), replaced by Stavka representative role
    • Chief command of the troops of the South Western Direction (1941–42), replaced by Stavka representative role
    • Central Staff of the partisan movement (1942–45)
    • Chief command of the Soviet troops in the Far East (1945)

In their most modern form, TVDs were established in February 1979 (the Far Eastern) and September 1984 (Western (HQ Legnica), South-Western (HQ Kishinev), Southern (HQ Baku) TVD).[4] Viktor Suvorov gave the above formations the name 'High Commands in the Strategic directions'.

Rifle Corps - formations that existed in the pre-Revolution Imperial Russian Army - were inherited by the Red Army. First suggestions for creation of large mechanised or tank formations in the Soviet Union were suggested based on development of doctrine for publication as PU-36, the field regulations largely authored by Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, and was created where "In the attack tanks must be employed in mass", envisaged as "Strategic cavalry".[5] Although the name of "mechanised" may seem to the modern reader as referring to the infantry components of the Corps, in 1936 they referred to armoured vehicles only[6] with the word "motorised" referring to the units equipped with trucks.


  1. ^ Fomin, GSE
  2. ^ p.711, Military Encyclopaedic dictionary, Voenizdat, Moscow, 1986
  3. ^ p.208, Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 encyclopaedic dictionary, Soviet Encyclopaedia (publisher), Moscow, 1985
  4. ^ See Michael Holm, High Commands (Theatre Commands), and Odom, Collapse of the Soviet Military.
  5. ^ Simpkin, p.179
  6. ^ Simpkin, p180.


  • The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization, and Equipment. FM 100-2-3, June 1991. Washington DC: United States Department of the Army.
  • Fomin, N.N., Great Soviet Encyclopaedia (Russian: Большая Советская Энциклопедия), Moscow, 1978
  • Simpkin, R., Deep battle: The brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, Brassey's, London, 1987

Further reading[edit]