Baltic Military District


Baltic Military District

The Baltic Military District 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.

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. On the eve of the Second World War the District (which became North-Western Front on the outbreak of war) consisted of the:
* 8th Army
* 11th Army
* 27th Army
* 5th Airborne Corps
* and other smaller formations and units. [Orbat.com/Niehorster, [http://orbat.com/site/ww2/drleo/012_ussr/41_oob/baltic/_baltic.html Baltic Special Military District Order of Battle June 22, 1941] ]
3rd Mechanised Corps was also located within the district at Vilnius.

Postwar the District was created on 9 July, 1945 at Riga on the basis of a Group of Forces formed from the former First Baltic Front. 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.

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 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). Subsequently the army's composition changed little, and for the entire postwar period it comprised the 40th Guards Tank Division (former 2nd Guards Cavalry Corps, then 28th Guards MD) 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. 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

* 1940 General Colonel Aleksandr Loktionov
* 1940-1941 General Colonel Fyodor Kuznetsov
* 1945-1954: General of the Army Hovhannes Bagramyan
* 1954-1958: General of the Army Aleksandr Gorbatov
* 1958-1959: General of the Army Pavel Batov
* 1959-63: General of the Army Iosif Gusakovsky
* 1963-71: General of the Army Georgy Khetagurov
* 1971-72: General Colonel Vladimir Govorov
* 1972-80: General Colonel Aleksandr Mayorov
* 1980-1984: General Colonel Stanisla Postnikov
* 1984-1987: General Colonel А. V. Bekhtenin
* 1987: General Colonel Viktor Grishin
* 1987-91: General Lieutenant Fyodor Kuzmin
* 1991: General Lieutenant Valery Mironov

Forces at the end of the 1980s

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

* 3rd Guards Motor Rifle Division, Klaipeda (which transferred to the Baltic Fleet as a coastal defence division in 1989)
* 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division (arrived from Czechoslovakia 1990-91)
* 24th Tank Training Division (which became 54th District Training Centre)
* 107th Motor Rifle Division, Vilnius
* 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division, Tallinn (the former 29th Guards Rifle Division)
* 11th Guards Army
** 1st Guards Tank Division (Kaliningrad)
** 1st Guards Motor Rifle Division
** 40th Guards Tank Division (Sovietsk)

The Soviet Air Force's presence within the District in the 1980s consisted of the 15th Air Army and the 2nd Army of the PVO.

During September 1991 the District was reorganised into the North Western Group of Forces, which ended its existence on 1 September 1994 with all Soviet forces withdrawn from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. 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

* [http://www8.brinkster.com/vad777/sssr-89-91/districts/pribvo.htm]
* V.I. Feskov, K.A. Kalashnikov, V.I. Golikov, The Soviet Army in the Years of the Cold War 1945-91, Tomsk University Publishing House, Tomsk, 2004 (inc district commanders 1972-)
* Andrew Duncan, Russian Forces in Decline - Part 2, Jane's Intelligence Review, October 1996
* Scott and Scott, The Armed Forces of the USSR, 1979, Westview Press, Boulder, CO (for district commanders to 1972)

Further reading

*Petersen, P. and Petersen, S. (1993) "The Kaliningrad garrison state," Jane's Intelligence Review, 5:2, 1993


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