SOVIET VOROSHILOV ACADEMY LECTURES
COMBINED ARMS ARMY IN LONG DISTANCE MARCHES
The conduct of operational and strategic military operations in a theater of
strategic military action (TSMA) is directly connected with the requirements of
expanded efforts by first-echelon operational formations. The extremely
large dimensions of operations areas, the decisive nature and high speed of
modern operations, the widely-dispersed locations of forces organic to military
district commands, and the large distances between the units of most of the
military district commands and the USSR's international boundaries, necessitate
and require long marches by the troops and reserves to combat action areas.
Therefore, the main part of advancing forces must cover a distance of l,000 km
or more while marching to the front.
In modern conditions hiding and concealing the march is extremely difficult,
therefore, marches are conducted under the threat of enemy interference and
reaction (including the employment of nuclear weapons) in the initial phase of
war, within any distance from the front line. In such a situation the friendly
forces are required to be prepared for conducting long-distance marches under
the conditions of permanent threat of enemy nuclear weapons, air force action,
airborne operations, and reconnaissance and raiding groups, chemical,
biological, and radioactive contamination, and destruction in roads and passes
caused by enemy reaction.
The study of the organization and conduct of the march by operational
formations over long distances is particularly important in officer and staff
training and practical experience.
This lecture describes the principles and techniques of the organization and
conduct of marches by the combined arms army over long distances, particularly
in the Western theater of strategic military action (TSMA).
The following are discussed in this lecture:
----- - Aim and likely conditions of the army's long distance march;
----- - Types of movement;
----- - Organization of the combined arms army's march;
----- - Conduct of the army's march;
II. The aim and likely conditions of the army's march over long
The objective and marching conditions of the army's movement are dependent on
the following: the area of combat action; the military and political situation;
the operational and strategic situation in the theater of strategic military
action (TSMA); missions of the Front that the army is or will be subordinated
to; probable character of enemy actions; conditions of units' deployment
(permanent posts); composition, state of combat readiness, and training of the
army units and staff; psychological status and morale of personnel; state of
marching sectors (zones); and the army's logistic support capabilities and
The combined arms army marches in the theater of strategic military action
(TSMA) for the following purposes:
----- - Accomplishment of missions in support of developing the operation of
operational first-echelon forces, or the reinforcement of Front reserves in
strategic operations conducted in the theater of strategic military action;
----- - Establishment of new groupings of forces on new axes;
----- - Covering gaps created in the course of action, in operational
formations of front forces;
----- - Destroying individual enemy groupings;
----- - Establishment of the supreme command's reserve in the theater of
strategic military action (TSMA);
----- - Other purposes.
The army may operate in the first or second-echelon of the Front and can be
employed in the axis of main attack or the supporting attack axis.
The army may conduct the march prior to the outbreak of war, at the beginning
of war, or during the war. In all these cases the decisive and
determining factor is enemy action. A march prior to the outbreak of war
is conducted without enemy interference. There might be cases in which
the army may start marching before the commencement of war, under permanent
threat of the outbreak of hostilities, and accomplish it while the war has
newly begun. The march can be conducted from beginning to end in combat
situations without the employment of nuclear weapons. In such cases the
march columns will be exposed only to enemy conventional weapons and air
Marching under the condition of nuclear weapons' employment is very complicated
and difficult. In such situations army forces will come under enemy
nuclear strikes and will be forced to negotiate areas of destruction and fires
caused by nuclear attacks on the march axes, and pass through heavily
radioactive, contaminated areas. The targets of enemy nuclear strikes
will be military posts (permanent deployment areas of army units), assembly and
mobilization areas, embarkation areas of friendly forces, road junctions,
mountain passes, crossings over large rivers on the march routes of army units,
and the units themselves, particularly when they are crossing obstacles and
while they are in bivouac or halt areas.
The degrees of likely radioactive contamination of the army's march zone
(sector) caused by enemy nuclear attacks are shown by Table l. As the
table indicates the enemy may employ 25-60 nuclear weapons of various yields on
army units and rear service installations in their assembly areas, as well as
on the march zone, during his initial massive nuclear strikes. If 50% of
the weapons uses are ground burst, they can contaminate the entire assembly
area of the army and may create two to three radioactive contaminated zones in
the army's march sector, each having l00-200 km depth. In addition
important road junctions, crossings over large rivers, and vital mountain
passes in the army march zone will be partially or totally destroyed.
To delay the march and inflict damage on friendly forces during the march, the
enemy can employ chemical and biological weapons and may drop airborne units
and reconnaissance and sabotage groups on march routes. Therefore, march
columns must act vigorously to pass through the obstacles created by enemy
action and to retain their combat capabilities.
The degree of a march sector's preparation and improvement, as well as physical
and geographic conditions of the theater of strategic military actions (TSMA)
(primarily the presence of communications routes and natural obstacles),
seriously affects the marching of army units. When organizing and
conducting an army march in the western theater of strategic military action
(TSMA), the following should be considered:
----- - The existence of large-and medium-size rivers. Large rivers (such
as the Vistula, the Oder, and the Rhine) are confronted each l50-300 kilometers
and medium rivers, l00 meters in width, are encountered each 30-60 kilometers,
flowing from north to south.
----- - The presence of limited numbers of railroads and motor routes in the
eastern part of the theater. In an area l50-200 kilometers wide there are
only one to two railroads, three paved motor routes (with a capacity of
7,000-8,000 vehicles a day) and four to six inspected dirt roads.
----- - The marching distance (range) from the Dnepr River to the Rhine is
l,500-l,600 kilometers on average. The great length of this distance
requires much time for the accomplishment of the march, significant fuel,
transportation resources, and other substantial expenditures.
The larger the daily and total distances of the march are, the more time is to
be allotted for field maintenance and repair of tracked and wheeled vehicles in
their rest areas. Experience from field exercises indicates that more
than one to two days will have to be spent for first-echelon maintenance on
vehicles during conduct of the march in the Western European theater of
strategic military action (TSMA) to cover the total required distance.
The location of permanent military posts of units, composition and status of
army units, the state of their readiness, and the depth of march columns in
long marches largely affect the conduct of the march and movement.
In peacetime army units earmarked for marching at first priority, or units
located at the border areas of military district commands, are kept in the
higher state of readiness. Normally, rocket forces, air defense units,
and a specific number of infantry large units (divisions) are kept in constant
readiness (routine state of readiness), which means that they are maintained at
full combat strength in terms of personnel and combat vehicles and equipment,
or they are slightly under-strength (only in personnel). The remaining
units and large units are at reduced strength. Just prior to the outbreak
of war the latter are rapidly brought up to full strength by using mobilization
resources. Due to inadequate time for their preparation of march, such
units and large units will have will need to take additional action fully to
organize new units and subunits and to distribute and reallocate newly-received
There are also other factors affecting the conduct of the march by army forces,
such as the morale and political status of the population in the march zone,
meteorological conditions, and the time of the day specified for movement.
III. Types of army movement
In recent times more importance has been given to unit march movement.
Units and large units should have the following capabilities: conducting
marches over long distances at high speeds, passing from one type of movement
to another, promptly changing the axis of movement, rapidly deploying from
march column into combat formations and being committed in an organized fashion
into combat, and finally, they should easily be commanded and controlled during
the march and in course of combat actions. Ground forces should normally
cover distance of 300-400 kilometers a day by march.
The army can move over long distances by march independently or as part of the
Front. The combined arms army may move entirely by march or part of its
units may move by railroad, water, or air transportation or even by a
combination of some or all types of transportation means.
The study of different types of movements indicates that none of them
individually can meet requirements of troops movements over long distances,
especially under the conditions of nuclear weapons employment. Each type has
specific advantages and disadvantages.
In the modern period, the march is the basic type (form) of troop movement. The
march is the organized movement of units in march columns, on roads and column
routes, to reach a specified area or designated line (objective) on time and in
a state of complete combat readiness (effectiveness).
The march can largely provide, as opposed to other types of movement, the
possibility of secret (concealed) preparation of units for movement, the
retention of units' and large units' full organizational integrity and combat
readiness to accomplish combat missions in all phases of the movement, the
reduction of the effects of enemy strikes on friendly forces, and the
capability of conducting maneuver to bypass contaminated areas, destruction,
and inundation. The march also ensures high speed of unit movement.
Practical experiences of actual marches by tank and motorized rifle divisions
indicate that such units can conduct the march to a distance of l,000-l,500 km
with a daily march to of 330-350 km over difficult march routes.
In organizing and planning the march, the different characteristics and
capabilities of combat and transport vehicles, affecting the average rate of
speed in march columns and requiring detailed organization of maintenance and
repair support and fuel (POL) supply, must be fully considered. The great
physical stress on personnel during the conduct of long marches, especially on
drivers, requires the allocation of sufficient time for rest and hot
meals. The necessity to maintain the operational range of heavy-tracked
vehicles requires the employment and allocation of a large number of trailers,
which in turn require the presence or construction of bridges with a capacity
of 80-l00 tons. Finally, the effectively accomplishing of missions on the
march by the units depends on the state of routes, crossing sites, passes, and
When movement is conducted by the march method relying on organic vehicles, the
march capabilities of the army are determined by the daily distances covered by
units and large units employing organic combat and transport vehicles to the
extent of their normal endurance, as well as by norms for personnel endurance
for conducting the desired distance of march in a day. This capability
depends on troop experience and practical abilities, the technical and
performance state of vehicles, the preparedness of march axes and routes, the
season of the year, and day and night conditions. During World War II some of
the army corps covered 600 kilometers in two-and-a-half days, with an average
daily march to of 250-300 kilometers.
Today, the technical performance and maneuverability of armored and motor
vehicles are much improved over the last war, and army units, when marching
with their organic vehicles, should cover longer distances at higher
speeds. Therefore, they will march as much as 300- 350 kilometers or more
in a day. It is assumed that by covering such distances in a day, the
combat capabilities of the units can be preserved when they are committed into
significant combat from the march to carry out offensive operations in great
In order successfully to accomplish missions in long-distance marches in the
Western European theater of strategic military action (l,000-l,500 km), and
achieve the aims of subsequent offensive operations of the army in that
theater, it is recommended that tanks should always be kept in combat parks in
a state that would allow up to 3,600 kilometers of (operable) range. This means
that at any time tanks should be able to march up to l,000-l,500 km, followed
by their commitment into offensive operations which will be extended further up
to l,000 kilometers. This calculation can be elaborated as follows:
----- - March distance l,000-l,500 km, with a maneuvering (in the course of a
march) coefficient of l.2:l,000-l,500=l,200-l,800 km;
----- - Depth of offensive operation after the march: l,000 kilometers,
with a maneuvering (in course of offensive operation) coefficient of
----- - Total l,200 to l,800 km + l,800 km=3,000-3,600 km.
If the performance range of the tanks is less than the above-mentioned figures,
changing of tank and trailer tracks will become necessary in the course of
offensive operations, or sometimes in course of the march (which is absolutely
The experience of World War II and recent field exercises indicates that the
average speed of motorized columns on paved highways can be 30-40 km per hour,
on dry dirt roads 20-25 km per hour, and on muddy and mountain roads l0-l5
kilometers per hour. At night and in fog the average speed of march is
reduced to 25-30 percent of the daytime speed. Mixed columns of tanks can
move at an average speed of 20-30 km per hour on paved highways, l5-20 km per
hour, on dirt roads and 10-12 km per hour on muddy and mountain roads.
Thus, the practical experience of troop exercises indicates that the mixed
columns of motorized and tank units can move at an average speed of 20-30 km
per hour, and motorized columns 30-40 km per hour; therefore, divisions can
march successfully up to 250-300 kilometers or more in a day. In this
case the troops spend l3-l6 hours in marching (including three to four hours in
halts). Moreover, one to one-and-a-half hours are required for march
columns to reach the start line from their assembly areas, and another one to
one-and-a-half hours is required to deploy in daily (nightly) rest areas and
for proper emplacement of vehicles and their concealment in such areas. An
additional five hours are allocated for the rest of personnel, hot meals,
technical maintenance of vehicles, and the replenishment of vehicles with POL.
In mountains, deserts, northern (arctic) regions, marshy areas, and jungles, as
well as in wintertime and muddy areas, the average speed and daily range of the
march decreases considerably. The march should always be conducted at the
maximum rate of speed.
When planning long distance marches, it must be noted that in most march
columns each vehicle is operated by only one trained and specified
driver. But the physical capabilities of all drivers are not the
same. Therefore, attempts must be made in peacetime to train the most
capable members of squads and crews (detachment, teams) as auxiliary
drivers. The importance of technical maintenance of conserved vehicles
and their preparation for long distance marches is growing rapidly.
All of these factors require that the march capabilities of the units should be
greatly increased by further insuring the preparations for march, preparation
of units and large units for conducting long distance marches, with a daily
range of 300 kilometers and more per day, at high speed without vehicle
exhaustion, and finally with retention of constant capability of the units to
enter combat action effectively.
Movement of forces by railroad transport
The movement of forces by railroad has been vitally important. From l94l
to l944 55 combined arms armies and l6 tank armies were moved by railroad in
the Soviet Union. In modern times railroad transportation will be widely
employed for the movement of land forces from the interior to areas of combat
actions. This type of movement will preserve the physical strength of
personnel and the technical performance (capabilities) of vehicles, will
economize POL consumption, and will insure the desired rate of speed regardless
of the impact of meteorological, seasonal, or day and night conditions during
the movement. But railroads are vulnerable to nuclear attacks, strikes,
and the action of enemy diversionary (sabotage) groups. Railroad
transportation of units requires the organization of air defense, the
allocation of larger units and means to repair and restore the destroyed areas,
as well as the establishment and preparation of temporary embarkation and
loading areas. Another problem in railroad transportation of land forces
is the hindrance of and difficulties in unit command and control.
When planning land forces' movements by rail in the Western Theater of
Strategic Military Actions (TSMA), it must be noted that in the movement
(advance) zone (sector) of the combined arms army, l50-200 kilometers wide,
there will be one or two railroad axes available for the army, with a total
capacity of 50-60 pairs of trains in a day. At the time of emergency,
70-80 percent of railroad transportation capacity can be employed for military
transportation purposes, which will be 35-50 pairs of trains in a day. By
employing such numbers of trains, the heavy combat vehicles and equipment of
two motorized divisions can be transported in a day.
Practice and experience indicate that the transportation of large units at full
strength by railroad is advisable to be conducted only for l000 kilometers and
longer distances. In this case the transportation of a combined arms
army, comprising four motorized divisions and one tank division, by railroad
into the Western (TSMA) requires 400-450 trains. The requirement for a
motorized rifle division is 50-60 trains; and for a tank division, 48 trains
(see table 4). The technical equipment of modern railroad systems
facilitates troop movements at the following rates of speed: in USSR territory
600 km per day and, on some axes up to l,000 km per day. The average
speed of movement for a division along one axis is l0-l8 trains per day; for
the army on four axes it is 40-60 trains per day.
Movement of land forces by water and sea transportation
Water and sea transportation play a vital role during land forces operations in
coastal areas. Transportation is conducted by assault ships and transport
vessels. The embarkation of personnel and loading and unloading of
vehicles and technical equipment are usually conducted at naval bases, outside
of permanent naval ports, in small, protected gulfs, as well as by the
employment of ships with their own loading and unloading capabilities.
All these measures facilitate the dispersion of the units in case of enemy
Movement of land forces by water (river) and sea transportation is conducted
over long distances, which requires less time, especially when land
transportation routes are destroyed.
When planning movement of forces by river and sea transport, consideration must
be given to protective measures and strong air defense, on exposed open
seas. The following means are required for transportation of motorized
and tank divisions: 35-50 ships with a transport capacity of l,500-3,000
tons each, or l6-l8 ships with transport capacity of 4,000-5,000 tons each, or
7-l2 ships with a transport capacity of l2,000-l3,000 tons each.
Movement of land forces by air transport
The high maneuverability of air transport means insures the rapid and secret
movement of troops over great distances. In one field exercise a
motorized rifle division, without its heavy equipment, has been transported
l700 kilometers by air in only seven hours.
It should be noted that the employment of transport aircraft is connected with
the problem of necessary airfield facilities and meteorological
conditions. This also requires that a strong air defense system must be
organized, particularly at the landing areas. The relatively small transport
capacity of aircraft and helicopters has made air transportation very
expensive. For example, the air transport of a motorized division without
its heavy equipment requires up to 800 AN-l2 transport aircraft, in other
words, four military air transport divisions must fly twice in order to
transport one motorized division by air. Today, with the introduction of
more improved types of transport aircraft, the capability to transport land
forces by air over great distances is increased greatly.
Combined type of movement
Combined movement is the method of employing various types of transportation
means in the movement of land forces by march. In this case the form of
unit movement can be various and different. For example, the army's main forces
may move by march while part of its forces (tank, rocket and other units and
large units) will be transported by railroad and water (river, sea)
transport. The main forces of large units (without their heavy equipment)
can be air transported, while their heavy equipment is moved by railroad or
In such instances the combat capabilities of heavy equipment is preserved, and
the number of required transportation means decreases (for a motorized
division, in this case, 50-60 aircraft and up to 28 trains are required). In
this case, a considerable reduction in the material consumption of units during
the march can be achieved.
The disadvantage of combined movement is the disintegration and breaking up of
large units' organization and difficulties in command and control.
Combined movement, in modern conditions, meets the requirements of moving land
forces over great distances. When planning and organizing marches, the
time and place of a marching units' rendezvous with its rail-transported heavy
equipment must be specified, and special measures must be taken to ensure
command and control in favor of accomplishment of combat missions in different
phases of the movement.
At the same time it is necessary to consider the possibility of rapid changes
in the situation, especially in case of enemy reactions on the movement routes
of army units during conduct of troop movements. When operating without the
employment of nuclear weapons or when the army is passing over to the phase of
nuclear weapons employment, such a situation may arise, at the outset of troops
movement, that combined movement might become unreasonable and
undesirable. In case of severe destruction along the communications
lines, rail transportation capacity may decrease greatly or might be cut
completely for a while. Deep penetration (breakthrough) by enemy an strike
grouping, the landing of enemy operational airborne units at the rear of
friendly forces, newly-received combat and operational missions by the army,
and other similar instances may require that troop movement be conducted only
IV. Organization (planning) of the combined arms army's
The successful march and advance of the army's units to combat areas is closely
dependent on early planning and organization.
A large series of measures are taken, even as early as during peacetime, on the
basis of the army commander's instructions, in favor of the constant
preparedness of the units for rapid and organized march.
The plan of march is organized and constantly reviewed. In
addition, the following actions are taken: early preparation of future
marching areas (zones); replacement of material reserves in army units and
along the army's march routes; maintenance of combat and transport vehicles in
a state of permanent preparedness for march; detailed preparation of the army
in all aspects for movement; planning the march; continuous and reliable
command and control of the units; staff training; and cooperation with allied
armies' staffs, in territories through which the march of the army is planned.
The army staff prepares operation orders well in advance to be issued when
necessary to units and large units and also prepares necessary topographic maps
and the documents concerning the secret command/control process of the troops.
During peacetime necessary amounts of POL, food supplies, combat vehicle
reserves, and a system of medical treatment and evacuation are established in
the possible future marching area of the army, to an extent that can meet the
material (logistics) supply requirements of army units.
The march axes and engineering and hydrotechnical installations are
reconnoitered, evaluated and maintained in operating status. At the same
time necessary repair and maintenance means and materials are established on
the march axes, and when required, new (alternative) march axes are constructed
The development of communications systems is effected in close consideration of
future movements (march) of army units.
In the units the combat and transport vehicles are maintained in a state of
constant readiness for the march, and necessary measures are taken to enhance
the preparation of units for the march and to increase their ability and
responsiveness for a quick transition to the state of full combat readiness.
The commanders and staffs further increase their capabilities in commanding and
controlling the units and bringing them up to the state of full combat
readiness, as well as guiding and leading them in case of mobilization and when
the units are conducting long distance marches. This process is organized and
conducted on the basis of the actual plan, through a system of combat and
political training, command and staff exercises, staff exercises, and field
exercises with troops (FTX).
The initial bases for making decisions and planning the march are the
operational order or combat instructions of the military district commander or
the Front commander, the conclusions derived from the clarification of mission
(clarification of assigned combat task), and the conclusions of the estimate of
The military district (Front) commander will assign the following to the army
commander in his operation order: composition of the army; objective,
time, and methods of march; allocation of transportation means and the method
of their employment; and actions taken by the general staff, military district
(Front), in support of the march and troop command and control.
The army commander personally makes the decision for the march, following a
thorough clarification of assigned mission and a full estimate of the
situation. He specifies the following in his decision:
----- - Character of possible enemy action;
----- - Concept of future operations and, accordingly, the grouping of army
forces in the initial area, during the march, and in final assembly areas;
----- - Forms and axes of units' march, start line, march regulation lines,
length of daily and nightly march, army formation of march, and arrival time of
units in new locations;
----- - Missions of the army's large units, to include initial (start) areas,
axes of march (and when moving by combined methods, the embarkation areas,
loading and unloading stations, and allocated transport means), start lines,
regulating lines, timing of passing lines, and halt areas;
----- - Organization of air defense.
In addition, the army commander specifies the organization of reconnaissance;
the protection of troops from mass destruction weapons; engineer, technical,
and logistics support; radio-electronic warfare; operational concealment;
measures to facilitate the continuation of unit movement by march, once
debarked from rail transport means; coordination and interaction with Front
forces and allied armies operating in forward areas and supporting the army's
march; and the organization of command and control.
When determining the army's march formation, the army commander should fully
consider the following:
----- - Composition of army forces (units);
----- - Operational mission and likely form of deployment and commitment of
large units (divisions) into combat;
----- - The state of combat and mobilization readiness of the troops and the
nature of their disposition (garrisoning) at permanent military posts in
----- - The width of the march zone (sector) and the number of axes within the
march zone and their status;
----- - Availability of transport and the requirements of high speed march and
of command and control;
----- - Character of possible enemy actions on the communications' lines and
against army forces during the march.
When the army comprises four to five division, it will usually march in two
formations. Field exercise experience indicates, that five to seven march
routes are required for an army's march.
Most importantly the army's march formation must be such that at the time of
the army's commitment into combat, the first march formation should constitute
the army's first echelon, while its second formation constitutes the
second-echelon. The composition of the first-echelon depends on the
conditions of march, the numbers of routes, and the character of future
operations. When seven march routes are available within the army's march
zone (sector), three divisions will march in the army's first-echelon (each on
two routes), with the army's supporting units marching on one route. When
there are five march axes (routes) within the army march zone, it is
recommended that only two divisions should march in the army's first-echelon.
In the army's first formation also march the rocket brigade; the artillery
brigade; the SAM and antiaircraft artillery regiments; the antitank regiment;
engineer, chemical; and radio-technical units; and command posts and signal
units. The army's engineer units are employed for supporting the units'
march in accordance with a separate plan.
The first-echelon should be capable of conducting combat operations
independently until the concentration and arrival of the rest of the army's
forces and means.
The army's second formation includes one or two divisions and logistics support
units and installations. In specific cases the rocket technical bases can
directly follow rocket and SAM units and large units.
During the march the distance interval between the army's first and
second-echelons can be 80-100 kilometers, space sufficient for second-echelon
maneuver, troop dispersion, and then timely commitment into combat.
The length of a march column of a division, moving on two routes, can be 80-100
kilometers. Therefore, the length of the army's first-echelon columns may
be 100-130 kilometers. The total length of the army's march formation,
when marching on seven routes, can be 300 kilometers or more, and when the army
is moving on five routes, its total length may increase up to 500-600
Prior to the commencement of combat actions, the length of march columns might
When part of the army's forces cannot accomplish its mobilization by the time
the march begins, it constitutes the army's second-echelon and follows the
army's first-echelon after accomplishing its mobilization, which normally takes
24 hours. Therefore, the second-echelon will begin its march 24 hours
later than the first-echelon. In such cases the total depth of army
marching formation may reach 600-800 kilometers. Sometimes a portion of
the Front's units or the supreme command's (central) reserves march in the
intervals between the army's first and second-echelons.
According to the manuals, the length of a motorized rifle division's march
column, when it marches on three routes, can reach, 70-80 kilometers (without
security elements). The interval between vehicles marching in the column is 25
meters, between regimental columns following each other, 10 kilometers, and
between battalions, five.
When contact with the enemy on land is not anticipated, it is recommended that
march columns should be formed by grouping vehicles similar in terms of speed
and cross-country maneuverability in the same columns. Tracked vehicles
are grouped together in separate columns and march on a separate route.
This insures the desired speed of the march columns and economizes POL
consumption. When contact with the enemy is anticipated, it is
recommended that march columns should be formed with attention to troop
preparedness for rapid deployment into combat (large combat) and independent
execution of combat actions.
V. Planning the march of army forces
Planning the march of army forces is normally done in peacetime at the general
staff headquarters, where the army commander, the chief of staff, and a limited
number of the army's general staff officers participate.
The aim of the planning is to insure organized movement of the troops in
secrecy and their timely arrival in specific areas fully ready to accomplish
combat missions in different situations and conditions.
Rapid changes in the situation at the beginning of war require that a number of
additional considerations should be incorporated into the planning
process. When determining the time and speed of the units' march the most
difficult conditions of the situation are kept in mind. The most
favorable conditions must be provided for the march of rocket units, air
defense troops, the army's first- echelon large units, and command and control
means. Measures must be taken to insure the maximum independence and self
sufficiency of units and large units, their constant preparedness to deploy
from the march into combat, and effective combat action of troops should the
use of chemical or nuclear weapons result in large areas of devastated and
In the process of better and effective planning of the march clear
understanding and evaluation of the following are of prime importance: starting
areas, march routes, railroads, embarkation and debarkation areas, temporary
reembarkation areas, crossing sites at water obstacles (rivers), mountain
passes and crossings, rest areas, areas for the establishment of depots
(stockpiles), and the possibilities of using permanent signal communication
lines and local facilities within the march zone of the combined arms army.
The plan of march anticipates the type (method) of march by organic
transportation vehicles depending on the distance of units from specific areas
to be moved to, combined forms of march, and movement of troops by different
types of transportation means.
The plan of march should conform to and meet the real conditions of the
situation. Therefore, the plan is constantly reviewed and updated.
It should be flexible to insure rapid changes and alterations of the method of
march, time of march, and supporting measures, etc. The plan is usually
prepared and depicted on a 1:500,000 or 1:200,000 map with written details and
calculations (legend). In addition, a political preparation plan, traffic
control plan, air defense plan, and plans for the employment of the army's
supporting arms and services, based on the army's general plan, are also
The following are depicted on the map:
----- - Enemy groupings of forces and likely areas of contact with the enemy;
----- - Grouping and disposition of friendly (own) forces in starting (initial)
areas, final assembly areas, and their possible future missions;
----- - March formation and routes of divisions, the rocket brigade, and
independent army units;
----- - Sequence and times for beginning the march, passing the start and
regulatory lines, arrival time in resting areas, and in final assembly areas;
----- - Air defense organization;
----- - Measures concerning reconnaissance, protection of troops from mass
destruction weapons, engineer, logistics and other types of support;
----- - Command and control organization.
Units that are moving by railroad, water transportation, and air transport are
assigned the following: assembly areas prior to embarkation; debarkation
places and assembly areas; the number of allocated transportation means, the
sequence, methods and timings of embarkation, travel, and debarkation; special
requirements to insure command and control of the troops during their
embarkation, during travel and debarkation, and at the end of movement.
In the written part of the plan the following are specified: the aim,
concept, length and duration of the march; the width the march zone, the
average distance (range) of daily march, average rate of speed, calculations
concerning the army's march and the allocation of different transport vehicles,
support measures, traffic control and regulatory service, command and control,
and other matters not depicted on the map.
When planning the march in a nuclear environment (when the employment of
nuclear weapons is anticipated by the opposing forces), consideration must be
made of necessary delays caused by the need to eliminate the impact and
consequences of possible enemy nuclear attacks during the conduct of the
march. For this reason, allotting extra time for march during the
planning stage is recommended.
When planning a combined method march (simultaneous use of organic vehicles and
other means of transportation), the army staff must pay special attention to
coordinating the transportation of heavy equipment by railroad with the
movement of units riding organic vehicles in march formation. This will
insure the rapid assembly of units, particularly at the final stage of daily
march, will enable them to reestablish unit form, and will insure their
organized deployment and commitment into combat. Officers in charge of
railroad transportation must have a thorough knowledge of the timing and
movement routes of units and large units by railroad, their rest areas,
locations of POL depots, and other matters concerning the movement of troops up
to their final destination and final assembly areas. The march routes of
units riding organic vehicles in march columns should be close to the
railroads, when their heavy equipment are transported by trains. Railroad
transportation should be planned to allow shorter intervals between
transportation of first and following echelons.
Based on the army commander's decision, the army staff drafts and prepares a
plan of march, operational order (combat instructions), and instructions for
supporting actions supporting measures. It also issues these documents to
the units, exercises control and extends assistance to the troops to carry out
the issued instructions, organizes traffic control services, and reconnaissance
and command and control. The army staff supervises the timely movement of
the units and their timely arrival at the march start line.
On receiving the order to bring the units to a higher state of combat
readiness, the army takes a series of measures in accord with previously
specified plans. The army staff reviews and adjusts the plan of march and
the missions of the units. Material supply and technical support of the
troops are effected. Reconnaissance of the march zone (sector) and, if
required, an additional check of engineer constructions within the march sector
are organized. Moreover, command posts deploy, signal communications and
traffic control services are established, and finally measures are taken to
improve the operational situation of units and large units. All these
actions are initiated only by permission of the army commander.
On receiving the mission (order) to march, the army forces are brought up to
the state of full combat readiness, and the mobilization process is
effected. The units and large units move to start areas, the march plan
is reviewed and adjusted, and the units and large units are assigned missions
(or their already assigned tasks are confirmed and adjusted.) In addition the
headquarters staffs move to command posts; command and control and all types of
support are organized in support of the oncoming march; actions are taken to
embark the troops on railroad (water, air) transportation means; traffic
control is established in the start area; and strict control is exercised to
ensure the accomplishment of tasks in terms of their timing and contents.
The air defense of army forces on long marches is organized to protect the
firing and striking capabilities of the units and large units, and to
facilitate their arrival in specified areas and the effective accomplishment of
their combat actions.
Air defense of moving formations is provided by air defense units and means in
close coordination with the country's air defense forces and front and allied
air defense means deployed in the march zone (sector) of the army.
In the decision of the army commander the following, concerning air defense,
----- - Which groupings of the army forces at what stages (times) must be
covered in first priority;
----- - Composition and groupings of the army's air defense units and the
method of their cooperation with national air defense forces (PVOS); command
and control of army's air defense units and means in the start areas, during
the march, and while repelling enemy air attacks;
----- - March routes of army air defense units, their position in march
columns, and the method of their deployment for repelling enemy air attacks;
The air defense plan is prepared on the map, with written details and
calculations, depicting the following:
----- - Conclusions of the assessment, (estimate of the situation) of the
enemy's air force;
----- - March sectors of army units, the timing, start areas, embarkation and
debarkation areas, rest areas, assembly areas and unit concentrations; the most
vital and critical objectives requiring effective air defense (units, rear
service installations, crossing sites, mountain passes and accesses,
communications centers, etc.).
----- - Composition and grouping of the Bloc country's air defense forces,
front and allied air defense mean deployed within the march zone, and the
method of cooperation with them;
----- - Composition, capabilities, and grouping of army air defense units and
their method of relocation in the entire depth (length) of the march;
----- - Organization of SAM and antiaircraft artillery actions, covering
operations by fighter aircraft, the method of reconnaissance radar operation,
and the method of their command and control;
----- - Method of designating air targets by number when army formations are
passing through PVOS large units and Front and allied air defense forces;
----- - Method of warning of marching units;
----- - Availability, supply, and distribution of air defense missiles and
antiaircraft artillery rounds.
The army's air defense grouping is established on the basis of the commander's
decision regarding the army's march formations. Air defense should cover
the army's main grouping (first-echelon forces, the rocket brigade, the rocket
technical base, command posts, and important rear service installations)
against enemy air attacks.
The distribution of air defense units and large units among march axes and
march columns should insure reliable cover of army units during their march and
favor their deployment of air defense combat formations in the shortest
possible time. It should also provide favorable conditions for the
establishment of proper reconnaissance and fire systems in halts, in rest
areas, and in the final assembly areas.
The army's SAM regiment usually marches on a number of routes following the
advance guards or at the head of the main body of the army's march
columns. The antiaircraft artillery regiment covers the army's command
Divisional antiaircraft artillery regiments march in the march columns of
Regimental antiaircraft batteries (organic to motorized and tank regiments)
normally move in platoons (or pairs) in the advance guard column and the main
body of the regiments.
Some SAM and antiaircraft artillery units and subunits may deploy in advance at
communications centers, river crossings and mountain passes and accesses to
cover the march column as it passes through such areas.
At daily rest areas and during halts, SAM and antiaircraft artillery regiments
deploy in combat formation and take up positions close to the march routes of
Basic radar reconnaissance (surveillance) of enemy aircraft and the warning
system for enemy aircraft flights in the army's march zone is provided by radar
units of PVOS national air defense forces and allied nations, as well as by the
radar units of forces operating in front of the army.
The air defense radio-technical battalion usually moves on the army's march
route following the army command post. At the daily rest areas, as well
as in assembly areas, one or two radio-technical companies deploy as concealed
air reconnaissance or surveillance posts and are kept in constant readiness to
detect enemy aircraft.
In order to receive information about enemy aircraft, special radio receiver
sets in the divisional air defense control center and air defense unit's
command posts operate in the radio warning nets of PVOS forces, Front, and
allied nations. In large units, units, subunits, and march columns the
enemy aircraft warning system is established by visual, sound, and light
Supporting measures of the march include: reconnaissance; protection of
units from mass destruction weapons; operational concealment; radio electronic
warfare; engineer, chemical, topogeodesic, hydro-meteorology and rear services
support. The principle measures concerning the support of army's march
are taken by the general staff, military district commands (Fronts), and allied
armies. Only in exceptional cases are the forces and means of the army
employed for such purposes, since the actual use of army elements is
anticipated when they are deploying for combat, where they carry out their
principal tasks. However, the army commander should always be ready to
support the march of army forces by means directly at his disposal (organic to
Reconnaissance is conducted in order to provide timely information about the
enemy, the radiological, chemical, and biological situation, the status and
conditions of march axes and routes, river crossing, mountain passes, and
routes by-passing such obstacles.
The reconnaissance must disclose in a timely manner the areas and composition
of enemy airborne and (sabotage) assault landings and should provide friendly
forces with detailed information about the enemy when they are deploying for
The reconnaissance of routes, river crossings mountain passes, and rest and
assembly areas is conducted by units organic to units and large units by the
detachment of multipurpose reconnaissance groups.
In order to get reconnaissance information from units operating in forward
areas, it is recommended that liaison officers be detached from army
headquarters to the headquarters of forward forces.
Protection of troops from weapons of mass destruction and burning substances
(incendiary and flame throwing means) is organized to maintain the combat
capabilities of units during the march and to ensure their safe deployment into
Such protection is provided by the following:
----- - Strict observation of specified distances between march elements and
troop dispersion during the march, as well as in rest and assembly areas;
----- - Maximum use of protection capabilities of combat and transport vehicles
and terrain features;
----- - Detailed organization and forecast of the radioactive situation and
timely warning of the troops;
----- - Continuous radiation, chemical, and biological reconnaissance;
----- - Expedient and proper use of protective equipment and selection of the
best methods for passage through contaminated areas;
----- - Organization of control over the radioactive dose of personnel and
combat vehicles and equipment;
----- - Eliminating the consequences of the employment of mass destruction
weapons by the enemy.
Army chemical units are usually centrally employed. They move in march
columns in formations that allow them to be constantly prepared for actions to
restore the combat capabilities of units and to eliminate the consequences of
enemy nuclear attack.
In halts, as well as in (nightly) rest areas , covered positions and shelters
are constructed for personnel and combat vehicles and equipment.
Operational concealment is conducted on the basis of the general staff plan to
conceal the march and deceive the enemy about the real aim of the march, as
well as the composition, axis, specification, and the scale of the marches.
March concealment of army forces is insured by the following:
----- - Concealing embarkation, debarkation, rest, and assembly areas from the
----- - Deceptive disposition of units and command posts and other important
objectives in former assembly areas (areas the units have already left) and
constituting deceptive areas of unit concentration;
----- - Conduct of (use of) deceptive marches on deceptive axes to confuse the
----- - Assignment of as many marching routes and railroads as possible to
large units and operational formations;
----- - Keeping the secrecy of the aim and axes of march by isolating personnel
of the units from the local population; active counter-intelligence and
counter- reconnaissance in the march zone; issuing of orders for only one day
at a time to a limited number of persons; marching at night; selection of rest
areas outside built-up areas.
----- - Dispersion of units in halts, in rest and assembly areas, and their
----- - Establishing strict control over observance of march discipline and
concealment in embarkation, debarkation, and rest and assembly areas by the
----- - Radar deceptive measures (creation of deceptive radio- technical
situation); transmitting of news on different channels to the enemy; wide
employment of radio and radar concealment; and preventing enemy
A number of the army's special units can be detached to take measures in accord
with the general staff operational reconnaissance plan.
There are many positive examples of concealed movement of forces over long
distances, conducted by operational formation (army, Front) during the Second
World War. The actions that led to concentration of offensive groupings
in Stalingrad, and offensive operation in Belorussia may be mentioned as such
Engineer support of the march includes: route and terrain reconnaissance
in the zone of march; preparation of routes and passages through obstacles,
barriers, and mountain passes; preparation of engineer works in start areas,
embarkation areas, rest areas, and assembly areas; and effecting concealment
measures and actions.
Rear service support
Logistics support of army forces (units) on long-distance marches is conducted
under difficult constraints characterized by the following:
Sometimes, at the beginning of the march, all of the army's rear service units
and installations are unable to deploy at once, and those that actually can
deploy (mobilized rear services units) do not possess sufficient supplies and
stores and are not specifically prepared.
----- - There are large material supply requirements to support the march;
----- - As a result of enemy actions, primarily the employment of nuclear
weapons against friendly forces and objectives in march sectors, the
capabilities of rapid replenishment and transportation of stores become more
Rear services support of army elements on the march, requires combined actions
of rear services organizations at the national level, military district (Front)
logistical units and installations, as well as the marching army's rear
services. Therefore, the army's logistics means should be used only in
exceptional situations, and its exhausted stores and supplies must be
The army's rear services elements, along with logistics reserves and stores,
are usually spread over a number of routes following the army's second-echelon
forces. They must be constantly prepared to support the deployment of
army units and their commitment into large combat. A part of the rear
services units and stores must follow the army's first-echelon columns or move
in the march columns of first-echelon units.
Rocket (missile) technical support is planned and conducted in such a way as to
meet the requirements of providing the army rocket forces (units) with the
highest state of combat readiness. When the rocket carriers are in combat
readiness status No. 6 and the combat units (rocket units) are in status No. 4,
five hours are required, on average, for the rocket technical base to prepare a
rocket for each launching pad. (ed. Technical readiness categories are
different from operational readiness categories. The six technical categories
generally are steps facilitating the movement, technical preparation of the
rocket, mounting the rocket on the launcher, and elevating the launcher, etc.)
Depending on specific conditions of the situation, transportation (supply) of
rockets (missiles) to rocket units is effected prior to the march, during the
march, or by the time the army arrives in final assembly areas at the end of
Supply of the units with POL during the long-distance march is one of the most
important and more difficult tasks in logistics support. For instance, in
a march of l,500-l,700 kilometers the army requires 5.5-6.0 refills of gasoline
and 8.5-9.5 refills of diesel fuel (the total weight of one army refill is
3,500-5,000 tons) or a total of 26,000-37,000 tons of POL.
Since the total capacity of the army's supply transportation units is about
6,000-7,000 tons of POL, fuel consumption requirements during the march must be
met by additional mobile POL stores (that is above established norms) by the
establishment of POL depots in the march zone prior to the commencement of
march by the army. For this purpose, on the basis of general staff
headquarters order, a certain POL depot is constituted in each stage of daily
march so that, during the march, army transportation means and those of army
units can supply/replenish army elements with POL, in their daily rest areas
from such POL depots.
To provide rapid replenishment of marching vehicles with POL during the march,
the army transportation units carrying POL reserves move immediately behind the
divisions' march columns once the march is begun. At the same time it is
recommended that transportation units of large units (divisions) and units
(regiments) carrying POL reserves should be divided into separate elements
moving in the march columns of regiments, and in the case of tank units, moving
in march columns of tank battalions.
This method makes it possible to replenish regiments vehicles in four to six
hours and to replenish divisions vehicles in six to eight hours. After
replenishing vehicles with POL, the emptied POL transport vehicles move to the
POL depots established by higher echelons in each stage of daily march to
replenish themselves again and transport POL to the units at their daily rest
By employing such methods, the time spent to supply or replenish vehicles with
POL is dependent on the effective organization of the process and the degrees
of mechanization of the employment and replenishment process.
Technical support of the march is to maintain tracked and wheeled vehicles in
the highest state of readiness during the march, during the deployment of army
units into large combat, as well as in course of all stages of the army's
succeeding offensive operation (which may follow the march).
The most important task of technical support is the recovery and repair of
damaged vehicles. The experience of field exercises indicates that during
the march one to two percent of tracked and wheeled vehicles or more are
damaged (disabled) in each day. A number of such vehicles can be repaired
by divisional and regimental repair elements (generally routine repair) in
halts and daily rest areas, but vehicles requiring more time to repair are
evacuated to the damaged vehicle collection point and then transferred to the
repair center of military district (Front).
In order to maintain the established coefficient of high technical preparation,
timely technical preventive maintenance in halts and rest areas is of prime
Repair and evacuation columns (groups) are established and detached to march
columns to provide assistance to drivers and crews in repairing damaged
vehicles, their recovery and evacuation, their replenishment with POL, and also
to provide medical aid to personnel. Such repair and evacuation columns
(groups) are composed of repair elements, repair and evacuation vehicles,
medical personnel, vehicles loaded with spare parts for tracked and wheeled
vehicles, and tools and POL reserves. The inclusion of reserve drivers in
such groups is recommended.
Command and support
The basic task of command and control is to insure the planned and organized
movement of the troops in order to concentrate them on time in specified areas,
at full combat readiness.
Command and control of army forces is organized and exercised on the basis of
general principles, from the following points: main command post, forward
command post, and rear command post (rear services command post).
In the phase of alerting units by combat alarm and moving them to assembly
(mobilization) areas, as well as in march jump-off areas, the army commander
exercises command and control from the permanent garrisons of the units
(military post). As signal communications are established in the new
command post, in assembly areas, the army commander moves to that place and
resumes command and control of the units until the commencement of march.
In course of the march, depending on the situation, the army commander may be
in the command post or the forward command post.
By the commencement of the march, the army's forward command post moves at the
head of marching column and may move ahead of the column up to one day's march
distance (interval), while the army's main command post remains in the march
assembly area. Once the main command post moves to the area which the
forward command post had reached earlier and assumed the command and control
function from its new location, the forward command post leapfrogs forward a
distance of one day's march.
An alternate method for command post location during the march is as follows:
the army's forward command post moves at the head of the first-echelon column
throughout the march, while the army's main command post moves in the army's
second-echelon, always maintaining one-day's march distance from the forward
The experience of field exercises shows that the best method of moving the
command post is as follows: The army's main command post moves
simultaneously with other troops, on a separate route, in alignment with the
army's first-echelon columns while the army's forward command post is
established in this phase, in the army's next daily rest area, and its
communications means are deployed there. When the army's main command post
reaches that rest area and assumes command and control, the forward command
post moves to the army's next daily rest area.
The advantage of this method lies in the fact that one of the command posts is
always deployed and exercises command and control of army units, while its
entire communications net and means are deployed and operating.
The army's rear command post, under all conditions, follows the army's
second-echelon columns and deploys in successive specified areas.
All the army's command and control elements--main command post, forward command
post, and rear command--are deployed in the march assembly area (FVP).
At the beginning of the march, when the units are passing the start line, army
and divisional forward command posts deploy in planned areas specified for the
units' daily rests.
When the army forces are deploying into large combat, as well as when the units
are passing the march start line of the final resting area, army and
first-echelon divisional command posts should deploy on the line where the
units are committed into large combat, under cover of forward detachments, and
should assume command and control of the units from there. In this case
the command posts of second-echelon divisions move at the heads of their
divisional main body columns.
In order to insure reliable command and control, auxiliary command posts or
additional forward command posts or control groups can be deployed in the
army's march zone by the decision of the general staff.
For timely dislocation (movement) of command posts, it is recommended that in
addition to the allocation of separate (routes) for the movement of command
posts (axes with less traffic), helicopters should be widely employed for
moving command posts and for establishing airborne command posts. This
will enable army (divisions') commanders to rapidly move with a group of staff
officers from one place to another and to control the troops' movement, as well
as to actively collect information about the situation and assign missions to
In order to insure continuous command and control during the march, it is ideal
to establish a wide signal communications system by employing public
(government) communications channels and mobile communications means. What is
important is that transmission by short-wave radios is not allowed during the
Only in exceptional cases can the ultra-shortwave radio sets be employed for
transmitting (receiving) warning signals, command and control of air defense
units, and transmitting short command signals.
Communication and contact with troops transported by railroads is made through
general staff and Front (military district) military communications
When marching in the territories of friendly (allied) countries, the army
command and staff establish and organize coordination with armies of such
countries. Ideally, coordination of important matters concerning
interaction with allied armies should be done well in advance as well as the
adjustment of the coordination arrangements with the most up-to-date ground
reconnaissance and terrain studies. This process of ground reconnaissance
review and allied march route coordination should be finished by the time the
signal to commence the march is received. In this context the following
matters should be coordinated by the beginning of march by the army's staff.
----- - Main and alternative march routes; routes bypassing major cities and
industrial areas (or methods of passing units through them); methods of
crossing rivers and mountain passes, and organization of traffic control in
----- - Organization of air defense;
----- - Supporting of movement; the method of collecting information about
enemy nuclear attacks and removing the obstacles and destruction on the march
routes; POL, food, and other stores supply areas and the method of supplying
the units from such areas; the method of evacuating wounded and the sick to
local medical institutions; the possibilities of taking advantage of local
repair facilities; recovery and repair of damaged vehicles;
----- - The method of exploiting local signal communications means and
facilities in favor of organizing command and control of army units during the
march; the specifications of signals, call signs, on duty details indents in
signal communications centers; insuring the operation of mobile communications
means, particularly helicopter and signal aircraft.
Provost and traffic control service plays a vital role in actions to ensure the
organized march of the troops and to facilitate effective command and
control. The provost and traffic control service carries out the
following tasks: traffic control on the march routes; control of
observation of concealment regulations by the troops; providing security for
key objectives on the routes; actions against enemy subversive and
reconnaissance groups, etc. The provost and traffic control service is
organized centrally by general staff headquarters, even when the army conducts
the march independent of army headquarters. To provide provost and
traffic control service, special military police and highway control units, and
units from the marching forces (if necessary), are employed.
Depending on the availability of units and means, provost and traffic control
service is established prior to the beginning of the march and moves forward by
successive leap-frogging during the march by daily stages. The provost and
traffic control service is established on the routes developed by the army
units, in the march start area, on march axes, in rest and assembly areas
(FVP), and, in case of deployment into combat, on deployment routes of
divisions assuming combat formations.
A number of provost and traffic control zones are established in the march
sector of the combined arms army:
----- - On march routes by the Front (military district that the army is
----- - In the final assembly (deployment) area--by front troops operating in
forward areas, as well as by army troops
The whole length of the march sector is divided into provost and traffic
control zones on the basis of the daily march stages. Each zone is placed under
the command and supervision of a specified chief of provost and traffic control
service, and traffic (movement regulation) units are assigned under his command
to carry out the tasks regarding traffic and regulatory service within each of
the particular zones. Each zone is further divided into sections, each
l00 kilometers or more long. (One provost and traffic control zone may
conform with one daily stage of march; each zone may consist of a number of
provost and traffic control sections, each being l00 or more kilometers
long. The chiefs of all sections in a zone are subordinate to the chief
of provost and traffic control zone.)
VI. The army's conduct of march
The army may march under different conditions and circumstances. Therefore,
the methods of troop actions and proceedings, as well as command and staff
procedures, will be different in each case.
In marches conducted prior to the outbreak of war in the period of tension
(when commencement of hostilities is imminent), army forces, after being
brought up to the state of full combat readiness (brought up to the level of
full strength and mobilization)--will immediately move to specified assembly
areas (FVP), and then board the trains (ships, aircraft) at specified
times. In case of moving by march, the army establishes proper march
formations and moves to the start line on specified axes.
When marching under circumstances of a newly-initiated conventional war
(when military actions are conducted with the employment of non-nuclear
weapons), one of the primary tasks of the army commander and staff will be the
organization of timely air defense system and its constant activity in troop
starting areas, embarkation areas, in course of the march, in daily rest areas
and in debarkation areas. The most difficult conditions for the army's march
will be encountered when it is conducted under conditions of the initiation of
war with the employment of nuclear weapons. Under such circumstances army
forces will be under permanent threat of enemy nuclear and chemical attacks,
particularly when they are in the marshalling areas for march, or in assembly
areas (FVP) which they occupy on combat alarm, or when they are still stationed
in peacetime garrisons. In such cases enemy nuclear attacks may cause
such fundamental changes that a wide series of alterations and adjustments may
be required in the plans of march. The most important tasks of the army
command and staff under such circumstances will be:
- Rapid collection and analysis of all situational information;
- Getting the troops out of their permanent garrison in a rapid and timely
manner, bringing them up to full combat strength (mobilizing them), and
ensuring their preparation to march in a most complicated and difficult
- Adjustment of the plan of march in accord with the newly-created
situation and allocation of tasks to the subordinate units;
- Eliminating the impacts and consequences of enemy nuclear attacks;
- Reconnaissance of march axes, repairing and restoring routes,and
improvement and construction of march routes.
Special attention must be paid to the restoration of disrupted command and
control and the combat capabilities of rocket forces and first and
second-echelon divisions, so that these large units may begin marching on time.
Attempts must be made to overcome the consequences of enemy nuclear attacks
in the shortest possible time; primarily those consequences that have affected
army units that have been hit by enemy nuclear strikes. Complete medical
treatment and decontamination of the troops is normally done after they reach
assembly areas (FVP).
When adjusting/modifying the plan of march to meet the requirements of the
situation, the army commander considers the status of units and large units,
approaches to the assembly areas (FVP), the nature of the destruction caused by
enemy attacks, and the character of terrain contamination in the army's march
zone. On the basis of these factors and conditions, march formations,
rest and assembly areas (FVP), march routes and other tasks can be changed or
reoriented. Modified tasks (or new tasks) are assigned to those first priority
units that start the march prior to others.
On receiving the signal to march, the troops start marching in such a way
to ensure organized formation of march columns. They are guided to their
assigned routes and pass through the march start lines in a timely
manner. The army staff exercises control over the alignment of the troops
in march formation,their timely passage through the march start lines, and the
method of guiding the troops to their assigned axes of march. Such
control can be exercised in different ways: detachment of staff officers to the
start lines, observation from helicopters, and receiving reports from
subordinate commanders and their staffs.
During the march the troops may have to cross rivers or bypass destroyed
and contaminated areas, water obstacles, and mountain barriers. When
troop passage through contaminated areas becomes necessary, the troops
preferably pass through the areas where the contamination is the lowest.
Passage through destroyed and contaminated areas located along rivers
(crossings over water obstacles) is conducted from the march through crossing
areas established by allied countries (when marching in their territories) and
Front units, or through crossings established by the army itself, employing
bridge construction means on the river, stockpiled well in advance by higher
If crossing rivers is not feasible from the march, it is recommended that
the troops stop at a distance of 30-40 km from the river and, after necessary
preparation, move to the river. In this case river crossing equipment
should be moved in advance to the river, additional reconnaissance must be
conducted, fording sites and underwater crossings for tanks should be
established, and passages toward the river should be constructed to ensure
rapid crossing of the troops.
Serious difficulties in the course of the march are caused by mass
destruction of ground objectives on march routes, which may require drastic
changes in march methods and formations by army troops. In case of
serious disruption of the planned movement by railroad, the army commander and
staff, in accordance with the instruction of the Front commander, direct the
columns to bypass (detour) the destroyed areas, specify new embarkation or
debarkation areas, as part of modifications of planned rail movement, and
organize the march of debarked units to the final assembly area (FVP) by their
own transportation means.
The army's air defense units move so as constantly to protect the main
grouping of army forces against enemy air attacks. In the event of enemy
air attack on the march columns, the march columns normally continue their
march. In this case the air defense means of the units and larger units destroy
the enemy aircraft by fire from the march or from brief stops. The SAM
batteries usually deploy along the march axes and, after repelling enemy air
attacks, resume their march.
Enemy reconnaissance and sabotage (subversive) groups, as well as enemy air
assault landing units, are destroyed by reconnaissance and march security
units, provost and traffic control detachments, as well as by units and
subunits specifically assigned to such tasks. To destroy enemy large air
assault landing units, friendly units located close to their landing area are
Such a situation should also be expected when changes become necessary in
time and place of assembly (FVP), the lines of commitment of units into combat,
and the combat mission of the army. The army commander, during march
planning, anticipates such possibilities and the methods of action that may
become necessary. In such cases the final decision is made by the
commander during the march, based on the army's mission and the operational
situation. Therefore, in planning the army's march for long distances,
the final stage of daily marches must be specified in close consideration of
ensuring combat preparedness of army units to be deployed into combat directly
from marching columns. The length (distance) of the army's final stage of
daily march, as well the march formation must insure the following:
establishment of a strong strike grouping of army units; rapid deployment and
simultaneous commitment of army units and means strong enough to constitute
local superiority over the enemy along the specified axis of the army's main
attack; the possibility of the army participating in Front's initial nuclear
strike; and, favorable conditions for timely and effective employment of the
army's second-echelon and reserve forces.
To achieve the aforementioned purpose, tank divisions, tank regiments, and
motorized infantry regiments mounted on infantry fighting vehicles should move
as part of the main body in the first-echelon of army's march formation, while
rocket and artillery units should march with the advance guard and at the head
of the main forces' column, so that they may be able to immediately attack the
enemy prior to and during the deployment of the army's the main forces into
combat formation from march columns.
The length of the final (last) stage of the daily march and the depth of
the army's march formation also affect the organization and conduct of the
commitment of the army into large combat from the march. Therefore, the last
stage of daily march is planned in such a way as to allow the march of the
army's units, on their organic combat vehicles, on nine to ten directions each
l20-l50 km. in depth. Along these routes the depth of first-echelon forces'
columns should be up to 60 kilometers, and the depth of first-echelon
divisions' columns 40 to 50 kilometers. This can be achieved by
allocation of three to four marching axes (routes) to each first-echelon
division and two to three marching axes (routes) for independent army units, as
well as by deployment of the troops from march columns into pre-combat and
combat formations in the shortest possible time. In such a case the total
depth of the army's march formation will be l75-300 kilometers.
The army command and staff, on receiving instructions to march, concentrate
their efforts on carrying out tasks concerning the rapid and organized
accomplishment of all actions and measures planned to bring the troops up to
the state of full combat readiness and to prepare them for a long distance
march. In this phase the basic tasks of command and control are:
- Alerting the troops by combat (mobilization) alarm;
- Moving the troops to march starting areas or embarkation areas;
- Transportation of stores and supplies;
- Bringing units up to strength (mobilization) and their temporary
deployment until they are fully mobilized at specified times;
- Adjusting the army's march plan and issuing missions to units;
- Organization of direct practical-physical preparation of the troops for
long distance march and providing them with all types of support;
- Establishment of grouping in march start area;
- Control and inspection of troop preparedness, the formation of march
columns on each march route, and conduct of the passage of the troops through
the march start line.
During the march the army commander and staff continuously command and
control the units and in a timely manner readjust and update their assigned
missions in each successive the stage of daily march according to the
situation. Therefore, the army staff, at the end of each stage of the
daily march, must collect information about the situation and the status of
friendly forces, in the shortest possible time, and report it to the army
commander, to enable him to make a proper decision and to issue orders to units
for the continuation of the march on next day. The army staff must, on a
continuous basis, maintain previously planned coordination with allied
countries' headquarters about march support measures.
To insure timely deployment of army forces, at the final and preceding the
final stage of the daily march, reconnaissance means and units, air defense
means, traffic control detachments, command posts and means, rocket and
artillery units and, if the situation requires forward detachments comprising a
motorized infantry regiment from each first-echelon division, are detached in
As the army forces proceed to the specified assembly area (FVP), the army
commander will have to readjust (or make) the decision for future operation on
the basis of the army's assigned mission.
The army staff, at this phase, organizes the collection of information
about the situation, from Front headquarters and unit headquarters operating in
forward areas. The army staff also takes necessary actions to replenish
the reserves of supplies consumed and to store and reestablish exhausted
material reserves. It also takes actions to insure that first-echelon
divisions have sufficient time for personnel preparation, replenishment of
combat vehicles with POL, maintenance of vehicles, and organization of future
operations. The army staff, along with the chief of the army's political
affairs, conduct a series of regulatory and organizational actions in the
In the preceding pages only the main principles concerning the preparation
and conduct of army long-distance march have been discussed. The
following conclusions can be derived from that discussion:
l. An army march, over long distances, to the combat action area, may
be conducted in various situations, under different conditions. The most
challenging of these will be the march and its planning when the enemy
preemptively initiates hostilities by conducting nuclear strikes.
2. The combined arms army can move independently over great distances
by employing different types of movement and transportation means.
3. The selection of forms (method) of movement is dependent upon movement
conditions, likely enemy actions, status of and traffic flow on communications
lines (routes), and availability and capacity of transportation means. In
a nuclear war one of the important methods of movement of troops is the march.
4. The march formation of the army is dependent on the form of
movement, composition of army forces, and preparation of the march zone
5. The march formation of the army in long-distance marches should provide
- Most effective employment march capabilities of troops and combat
- Possibility of repelling enemy air attacks;
- Destruction of enemy air assault landing units and sabotage groups in the
- Passing (crossing) natural barriers, contaminated areas and destruction
on the march axis (route);
- Deployment into combat from the march and moving columns.
6. The army's march formation is usually in two echelons. The first-echelon
comprises the main part of the army's forces and means and is strong enough to
constitute the army's striking force (main attack) when the army is committed
7. The army's air defense during the march is organized and conducted
through coordination with the country's air defense system, Front, and allied
countries air defense means on the territory through which the march is
conducted. The air defense system should provide protection of the troops
against enemy air attacks, in all phases of army's movement, and help maintain
the combat readiness of army units.
8. Regardless of the forms of movement, the combined arms army in
modern times should be constantly prepared in any phase of movement to conduct
movement by march, relying on its organic combat vehicles, and be prepared, at
any moment, to deploy into combat from the march. Therefore, in planning the
march, in combined forms, it is necessary that troops' debarkation and rallying
areas for units moving by different types of transportation means, along with
further continuing of the movement from such areas in the form of march columns
(by units organic combat vehicles), should be anticipated.
9. Command and control of army forces in the course of the march must ensure
planned and organized movement of the troops in order to get them assembled in
specified areas, in full combat readiness, is a timely fashion,and in complete
preparation to deploy into combat.
10. Successful accomplishment of army long-distance march, under
modern circumstances, requires not only proper selection of the method of
movement and all types of supporting measures, but also necessitates
organization on the part of commanders, staffs, and political organizations, as
well as firm and continuous command and control.
Long-distance marches require physical and moral strength (endurance) of
the troops, great preparation, and strong discipline.
Therefore, in the system of combat preparation and combat and political
training of the troops, generals, and officers, operational training and staff
exercises, considerable attention must be paid to the study of topics
concerning movement and marches of the troops over long distances.
Only those units that are provided with practical knowledge and experience
of marches, and are highly prepared to conduct marches over long distances, can
successfully conduct marches under the most difficult conditions and can
constantly maintain their combat readiness, during the march, to deploy into
combat from march columns.
THE PRINCIPAL NORMS ON MOVEMENT OF TROOPS BY MARCH
1.) The capabilities of the use and maneuver of principal
tracked and wheeled vehicles.
Type of vehicle Speed of movement (km/h) Range on roads
Average (in terms of fuel)
Maximum Roads Dirt
Medium Tank 50 33 27 440-500
Light Tank 44 35 25 260
BMP 70-85 50 25 500-600
APC 80 50 25 500-600
Trailer 40-55 25-30 15-20 250-300
Truck 60-90 50 25 500-650
Type of vehicle Range (km)
Engine life In terms of
Medium Tank 6000-9000 3000
Light Tank 4500-7500 3000
BMP --- 2000
APC --- ---
Trailer --- 1500-2000
Truck --- ---
2.) Speed of March Column and Daily Range.
Condition of Movement Speed (km/h)
On roads 30-40 25-30
Dry dirt roads 20-25 18-20
Muddy dirt roads and in cities 10-15 8-10
Tanks and Assorted Column:
On roads 20-30 15-20
Dry dirt roads 15-20 12-15
Muddy dirt roads and in cities 10-12 8-12
Condition of Movement Daily Range (Covered Distance)
Number of March Hours KM
On roads 10-12 250-350
Dry dirt roads 10-12 180-300
Muddy dirt roads and in cities 10-12 80-180
Tanks and Assorted Column:
On roads 10-12 200-350
Dry dirt roads 10-12 120-240
Muddy dirt roads and in cities 10-12 80-140
Note: Remaining 12-14 hours are spent for the following:
1 - tech maintenance 3-4 hours
2 - serving hot meal 1-1.5 hours
3 - forming column and concealment 1-1.5 hours
4 - move to start line 1-1.5 hours
5 - rest 4-8 hours