Wednesday 1 April 2015

NKVD on Tank Use in the Winter War. Part 3: Organization

Part 2.

"The control of armoured forces during the period of war had a separation between the commanders of the units and their technical possessions, formation, organization, supplies, and support from the rear. All of these elements were scattered around various departments and directorates. UABTB controlled the combat units, the Directorate of Military Technical Supplies (UVTS) controlled supplies and technical support, the 4th HQ Department was tasked with organization, OKNS did the delivery, the 5th and 6th departments controlled the rear, the 1st Department and OABTV controlled the operations, OABTV also dealt with training. There was no unified system of control and supply for armoured forces, and as a result, no one person had the responsibility for the entire armoured force.

The inventory of human resources among the soldiers and officers was done poorly. Armoured forces' rubrics cover a spectrum of specialities which are not differentiated, which resulted in BT specialists being sent to work on T-26, T-38 tanks, etc. There was a deficiency in the population of the junior commanders and privates as a result of this. Up to 50% of the reinforcements sent to the armoured forces consisted of poorly educated Red Armymen which did not satisfy the forces' requirements.

Inter-departmental confusion resulted in negative consequences. The chief of the North-Western Frotn UABTV and the chief of the 5th Department of the Front HQ, contrary to the UVTS, issued a proposal, approved by the Front council (#0043, February 24th, 1940). According to this proposal, medium repairs of all vehicles was to be conducted at army level evacuation bases, for which all army repair services were to be concentrated at these bases, and all supplies would be delivered there. In practice, this meant that tank units lost all of their evacuation and repair ability, their commanders lost the responsibility of medium repairs, and created large bases on the front, which is unacceptable from the points of view of security, air defense, and combat repair ability. This also meant the introduction of needless and difficult trips in the absence of sufficient transport, which would overload the roads and increase the length of time for repairing a vehicle. In the end, the result was an unavoidable failure to perform medium repairs and disarmament of all tank brigades in a very short term.

This decree was met with confusion by all army units, and was not followed.

The above dispersion of tactical, operational, organizational, and technical functions between various departments and directorates can be explained by the fact that the armoured forces are considered a partial and secondary component in the RKKA system. Currently, armoured forces, alongside aviation and artillery, are the most notable type of forces in the Red Army, both in number and importance, and is one of the decisive components of a battle or operation. Experience at Khalkin-Gol, Poland, and especially in Finland confirms this. Practice demands that the control and supply of armoured forces needs to be collected in the hands of one chief, RKKA ABTU, similar to the VVS directorate, as an HQ and a supply directorate. The district HQ should have an armoured force HQ, which has its own HQ, a supply department, an HR department, etc.

This way, a strong and precise system is created to control armoured forces, without any of the drawbacks of the current system.

Chief of the Special Department of the NKVD of the Leningrad Military District
Major of State Security, Sidnev"

Via slon-76.

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