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I. Introduction

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 distances

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 other factors.

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 strikes.

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 transport vehicles.

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 meteorological conditions.

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 depth.

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 l.8:l,000=l,800 kilometers;
----- - 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 undesirable).

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 nuclear attacks.

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 water transport.

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 by march.


IV.  Organization (planning) of the combined arms army's march

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 as well.

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 situation.

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 peacetime;
----- - 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 kilometers.

Prior to the commencement of combat actions, the length of march columns might be decreased.

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 contaminated terrain.

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 prepared.

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, are specified:
----- - 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 post.

Divisional antiaircraft artillery regiments march in the march columns of division units.

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 army units.

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 signals.

Support measures

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 the army).


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 combat.

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 combat.

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 enemy;
----- - 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 enemy;
----- - 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 proper concealment;
----- - Establishing strict control over observance of march discipline and concealment in embarkation, debarkation, and rest and assembly areas by the units themselves;
----- - 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 radio-electronic reconnaissance.

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 examples.

Engineer support

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 limited.

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 replenished immediately.

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 the march.

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 areas.

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

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 importance.

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 command post.

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 subordinate units.

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 march.

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 organizations.

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 such areas;
----- - 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 attached to
----- - 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 situation;

- 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 echelons.

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 employed.

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 advance.

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 units. 

VI. Conclusions

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 (sector).

5. The march formation of the army in long-distance marches should provide the following:

- Most effective employment march capabilities of troops and combat vehicles;

- Possibility of repelling enemy air attacks;

- Destruction of enemy air assault landing units and sabotage groups in the march zone;

- 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 into combat.

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.


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

track life

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)

Day Night

Motor Column:

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

Motor Column:

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