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Naval Infantry - Organization and Equipment

The naval infantry force employed normally would be a battalion, company, or platoon. The Naval Infantry can be expanded quickly in wartime by mobilizing trained reservists and reserve equipment. The Naval Infantry is organized into units which are subordinate operationally to fleet commanders. The organization of naval infantry units is similar to that of motorized rifle units.

The Navy's coastal rocket and artillery troops consist of regiments and independent battalions. They are equipped with both stationary and mobile rocket launchers and with artillery weapons. Their task is to cover the approaches to principal naval bases and ports.

Towards the endof the Cold War, each Fleet had Marine Infantry contingents, consisting of regiments and brigades. In their organisation, these regiments are similar to the motor-rifle regiments of the Land Forces. They differ from the latter in receiving special training for operating in varying conditions and also in being allocated personnel of a higher calibre. Generals from the Land Forces who watched exercises carried out by the marine infantry often said with some envy, that a regiment of marine infantry, with the same equipment as that issued to the Land Forces, was the equivalent in its operational potential of one of the latter's motor-rifle divisions.

The Soviet Navy had only one brigade of marine infantry. This belonged to the Pacific Fleet. It consisted of two tank and five motor-rifle battalions and is equipped with especially heavy artillery. This brigade was sometimes mistakenly taken for two independent regiments of marine infantry.

A Naval Infantry Regiment, equipped with the PT-76 and BRDM-2, consisted of 1 Tank Battalion and 3 Naval Infantry Battalions. A Naval Infantry Brigade, equipped with the PT-76 or T-80 and BRDM-2, consisted of 2 Tank Battalions, and 4 to 5 Naval Infantry Battalions. A Tank Battalion had 9 PT-76 or 6 PT-76 plus 3 MBT. A Naval Infantry Battalion had 9 BTR-60/706, 9 Infantry, 1 120mm Mortar w //truck, 1 AT-4 stand w //BTR. At least one infantry battalion was parachute trained, while all of the remaining infantry battalions were trained to be able to carry out air assault missions. In the 1990s Russian naval infantry no longer used PT-76 amphibious tanks, but had not yet received a large number of T-80s. A full-strength Naval Infantry Brigade may have up to 70-80 MBTs. APCs are BTR-80s (in Assault Landing Battalions) or MT-LBs (in Naval Infantry Battalions). While the Naval Infantry was supposed to receive BMP-3 IFVs, few had been delivered, and it was far from certain such re-arming will take place. BMP-3s may equip one company per battalion.

Naval Infantry / Coastal Defense Divisions. During the Conventional Forces in Europe [CFE] negotiations the Soviets converted three motorized rifle divisions into “coastal defense” units and claimed that equipment deployed with such naval infantry divisions was not covered by the CFE treaty. The Soviet Union gave in on the three "naval infantry" divisions, and the United States gave in on the armored personnel carriers associated with the Strategic Rocket Forces. As for the coastal defense, its armored personnel carriers were to be converted to Light Armored Vehicles and not counted against the CFE limits.

The Soviet High Command was insistent on the legitimacy of resubordinating the three motorized rifle divisions to the naval infantry and the coastal defense forces. This position alone meant that on February 14, 1991, the date when the Soviet Union submitted its updated data, the CFE Treaty was at an impasse. Some believed that the Soviet High Command wanted to stop the CFE Treaty ratification process cold and substitute for the treaty a "status-quo" military relationship of the Soviet Union with Central and Western European nations. If this were true, the Soviet military's vision proved to be shortsighted in view of subsequent events.

Then in late May 1991 a breakthrough occurred. President Gorbachev sent General Moiseyev to Washington for a two-day meeting with the president, senior military leaders, and treaty negotiators. He brought with him new proposals. General Moiseyev stated the Soviet Union's final position: all equipment in the Soviet naval infantry and coastal defense forces would remain in their units, but they would be counted against the USSR's overall CFE Treaty ceilings.

Specifically, the Soviets pledged to destroy or convert 933 tanks, 1,725 ACVs, and 1,080 artillery pieces. They would reduce one-half of the 933 tanks and 1,080 artillery pieces from forces within the ATTU and the other half from forces east of the Urals. The Soviets also stated that they would modify 753 of the 1,725 ACVs to become MTLB-AT types. These were "look-alikes" and thus, not limited by the treaty.

The Statement by the Government of the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics in Vienna, 14 June 1991, explained that "The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics shall hold within the area of application of the Treaty conventional armaments and equipment in the Treaty­limited categories not to exceed: in Coastal Defense forces ­ 813 battle tanks, 972 armored combat vehicles and 846 pieces of artillery; in Naval Infantry ­ 120 battle tanks, 753 armored combat vehicles and 234 pieces of artillery; in the Strategic Rocket Forces ­ 1,701 armored combat vehicles, each being an armored personnel carrier as that term is defined in the Treaty.

"The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics shall reduce, in addition to the reduction liability established for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics under the Treaty on the basis of information it supplied, its holdings of conventional armaments and equipment in the Treaty limited categories within the area of application of the Treaty by the number which it had as of the date of the signature of the Treaty in Coastal Defense forces and Naval Infantry, that is, by 933 battle tanks, 1,725 armored combat vehicles, and 1,080 pieces of artillery.

"Fifty percent of 933 battle tanks and 972 armored combat vehicles shall be destroyed or converted within the area of application of the Treaty and 50 percent of 1,080 pieces of artillery shall be destroyed within the area of application of the Treaty, within the time limits and in accordance with procedures established by the Treaty. The remainder of these conventional armaments and equipment shall be withdrawn from the area of application of the Treaty; an equivalent number of conventional armaments and equipment shall be destroyed or converted outside of the area of application of the Treaty within the time limits established by the Treaty ..."

Naval Infantry Regiment. The naval infantry regiment consists of three naval infantry battalions, a tank battalion, and several specialized support companies. It has a strength of about 2,000 men. Its organization is similar to the motorized rifle regiment except that the tank battalion has a mix of medium tanks and PT-76 amphibious light tanks. the naval infantry regiment does not have an organic artillery battalion, but does have a multiple rocket launcher battery. It also receives artillery support from the naval gunfire ships of the amphibious task force.

Naval Infantry Battalion. The basic unit of the naval infantry regiment is the naval infantry battalion. The battalion is made up of three naval infantry companies, a mortar platoon, an antitank platoon, and supporting supply and maintenance, medical, and communications units. In all, the battalion numbers about 400 men. This unit, reinforced, constitutes the basic amphibious attack force in the assault landing-the battalion assault force (BAF).

Naval Infantry Company. The naval infantry company is made up of a small company headquarters and three naval infantry platoons. The company headquarters consists of the company commander, political officer, technical officer. first sergeant, messenger/clerk, medic, three SA-7 gunners, and the driver and gunner of their BTR-60 armored personnel carrier. Each platoon consists of three squads of ten men each. Each squad consists of the squad leader, a machine gunner, an RPG gunner, an assistant RPG gunner/rifleman, four riflemen, the APC machine gunner, and the APC driver.

Tank Battalion. The naval infantry tank battalion has a mix of PT-76 light amphibious tanks and medium tanks. Each of the tank companies has three platoons of four tanks each with the company commander's tank bringing the total to 13 tanks. While the medium tanks are not amphibious, they can disembark in shallow water as a follow-on landing force behind the PT-76 and BTR-60 first or second wave. In task organizing a landing force, one platoon of tanks normally supports a naval infantry company.

Reconnaissance Company. The reconnaissance company may be task organized to provide a platoon of at least one PT-76 and three BRDMs to the battalion assault force for the amphibious landing. The Soviets consider this platoon to be one of their amphibious assault advance teams. These teams also include combat engineers and hydrographic personnel who report beach conditions. In certain instances, reconnaissance vehicles may swim to shore under their own power. Conditions permitting, they may he landed by air cushion vehicles. Some reconnaissance teams also may be air-landed by helicopter or dropped by parachute behind defended positions. The reconnaissance platoon has two objectives: To provide information to the main landing force about enemy defensive positions and enemy reinforcements on the march toward the beach. To screen forward and to the flank of the amphibious landing teams.

Multiple Rocket Launcher Battery. With the exception of the three mortars organic to each naval infantry battalion, the regiment's six BM-21 multiple rocket launchers constitute the sole organic artillery assets of the naval infantry regiment. BM-21s provide fire support for amphibious landings and also may be used by the naval infantry in a coastal defense role. Each launcher can deliver considerable firepower with its forty 122-mmhigh-explosive rockets.

Antitank Battery. The naval infantry regiment's six BRDMs of its antitank battery are formidable antitank weapon systems. These weapons augment the man-pack antitank guided missiles (ATGMs) and SPG-9 recoilless guns employed at battalion level and generally constitute the regimental antitank reserve. The ATGM / BRDMs normally are employed to protect the flanks of the landing force from counter attacking tanks and against enemy weapons emplacements.

Air Defense Battery. Besides the three SA-7s at infantry battalion headquarters, air defense is provided to regimental units by the four ZSU-23-4 self-propelled antiaircraft guns and four amphibious SA-9 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) of the air defense battery. Supporting naval ships provide air defense throughout all phases of the landing operation.

Engineer Company. The engineer company contains three combat engineer platoons. Normally, a combat engineer platoon is provided to support each battalion assault force. It clears obstacles and mine-fields along the approaches to the shore, on the beaches, and on routes leading inland from the beaches.

Signal Company. The signal company of the naval infantry regiment consists of a headquarters and service section, a radio platoon, and a wire/telephone platoon. The headquarters and service section provides courier service and limited signal and vehicle maintenance support for the company The radio platoon provides vehicles, radios, and operators for the regimental commander and staff. The wire/telephone platoon installs and operates switchboards for command posts and the message center, and lays wire when directed.

Chemical Defense Company. The regimental chemical defense company consists of a company headquarters, a decontamination platoon, and a chemical and radiological reconnaissance platoon. The decontamination platoon is organized into three squads with one ARS decontamination vehicle each. The chemical and radiological reconnaissance platoon consists of three squads with one BRDM in each squad. The chemical defense company of the regiment normally provides one reconnaissance squad to the battalion assault force to determine and report levels and types of contamination in the landing area and to mark cleared lanes for advance of the main force. If the regiment is not conducting similar landings elsewhere, the remaining two reconnaissance squads also can be employed to check alternate advance routes. Decontamination vehicles normally set up on the far side of the contaminated areas to spray the advancing naval infantry vehicles on the march. One or more squads can be employed, depending on regimental requirements.

Rear Service Units. Rear service units (transportation, supply, maintenance, and medical) are small in keeping with the limited scope and duration of mission assigned to naval infantry. Principal supply is from the ships offshore. Service units may provide platoon-sized units to support battalion assault forces. Casualties are evacuated in returning empty supply trucks and other service vehicles.


  • Naval Infantry Regiment1: (1 recon PT-76, 1 recon BRDM-2): 1 Tank Battalion, 3 Naval Infantry Battalions, Naval Infantry AT Coy
  • Naval Infantry Brigade: (1 recon PT-76, 1 recon BRDM-2, ): 2 Tank Battalions, 4 to 5 Naval Infantry Battalions, Naval Infantry AT Coy



  • Naval Infantry Artillery Battalion2: 3 Batteries, each 1 2S1 122mm SP HOW
  • Naval Infantry AA Battery3: 1 ZSU-23-4; 1 SA-9/13



  • Tank Battalion4: 9 PT-76 or 6 PT-76 + 3 MBT
  • Naval Infantry Battalion5: 9 BTR-60/706, 9 Infantry, 1 120mm Mortar w //truck, 1 AT-4 stand w //BTR
  • Naval Infantry AT Coy: 2 BRDM-2 w / /AT-5

1 A Naval Infantry Regiment is very similar to a BTR Regiment of a Motorized Rifle Division, while a Naval Infantry Brigade has two additional infantry battalions, one additional tank battalion, and Rocket Launcher Battalion.

2 A Naval Infantry Regiment has 1 Artillery Battalion. A Naval Infantry Brigade also has a Battalion of BM-21Rocket Launchers (3 Batteries, each 1 BM-21)

3 There is only one AA Battery per Naval Infantry Regt or Brigade

4 In the Tank Battalion, the MBT Company is either a T-55 or a T-72. If the T-55 company is present, one tank is equipped as a flamethrower.

5 At least one infantry battalion is parachute trained, while all of the remaining infantry battalions are trained to be able to carry out air assault missions.

6 The Soviet Naval Infantry had not yet been equipped with the BTR-80.

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