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DOSAAF (Dobrovol'noe obshchestvo sodeistviia armii, aviatsii i flotu)

The Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Air Force, and Navy (DOSAAF = Dobrovol’noye obschchestvo sodeystviya armii, aviahtsii i flotu – the Voluntary Society for Supporting the Army, Air Force and Navy; now called ROSTO – the Russian Defence Sports & Technical Society.) was responsible for premilitary training of Soviet youth.

On January 23, 1927, at a co-joint session of the First Congress of the AVIAKHIM and the Second Plenary Session of the Central Council of the Society for Cooperation with the USSR Defense Forces (OSO), the Society for Cooperation with the Army, Air Forces and Chemical Engineering (OSOAVIAKHIM) of the USSR was founded. Founders and the first leaders of that unique by its historical scale public formation, including Alexei I. Rikov, Joseph S. Unshlikht, Robert P. Aidman, Pavel S. Gorshenin and Pavel P. Kobelev could scarcely imagine the footprint their organization could leave in the history of the state, hardly could they expect how viable and well demanded it would prove "during the days of national triumph and public disaster", how resonant would hearts of millions of people of different generations be with deeds of arms and feats of labor accomplished by alumnus of this the great achievements of Its pioneers, eminent scientists and designers.

The key directions of the OSOAVIAKHIM activity were:

  • a wide- scope agitation and publicity work among broad masses on explaining the peace policy of our state and mobilization of public opinion around the tasks associated with the existing military threat and a necessity to keep the broad masses ready for defending their country;
  • military training and retraining of the working classes for various disciplines, including a mass military training in military societies, organization of shooting sports events, military shooting, naval training, horse breeding, military working dog breeding, pigeon breeding and other types of public activity in support to the national defense;
  • elimination of aviation and chemical illiteracy among working classes and organization of air and chemical military defense of industrial objects;
  • spreading airspace knowledge, assistance to civil and military aviation, development of aircraft engineering and flying activity;
  • assistance to chemicalization of the country especially its agriculture, arrangement of a wide scope use of different types of fertilizes and organization of an effective pest control;

Over the long years of its existence the OSOAVIAKHIM was a good practical school for millions of people who were taught military art in pistol in air, automobile and motorcycle clubs, amateur radio engineering clubs and in various circle societies and sections.

In parallel the OSOAVIAKHIM proceeded with its active work on teaching the working classes aircraft engineering and flying business, developing mass parachute activity, glider flying and ballooning, the OSOAVIAKHIM was an organizer of an unprecedented conquest of the uppermost levels of the atmosphere by a stratosphere balloon crew made up of Pavel Fedoseenko, Andrew Vasenko and Elias Usinkin, who flew up to the altitude of 22 thousand meters, a record one for that time.

A significant contribution was done by this Defense Society to development of modern rocket engineering, model aeroplane, motor and naval activities, amateur radio engineering, training population for gas defense and anti-aircraft defense. By the beginning of the Second World War the Defense Society had already numbered more than 13 millions of its members. During the Second World War more than 9 million people were taught military professions in the DSOAVIAKHIM organizations.

During the difficult years of public disaster the OSOAVIAKHIM was rightly referred to as "the fighting organization". Just within the first several months of the War the Defense Society had sent to the front as much as 7 million 200 thousand people, more than a half of its membership. Besides the acting army, alumnus of the OSOAVIAKHIM also took part in the guerrilla movement, militia, anti-aircraft defense and gas defense, in fighting against enemy s parachute assaults, demining liberated territories, assembling means for technical equipment of the army and navy.

On the territories being liberated it was the OSOAVIAKHIM alumnus who disarmed more than 70 million mines and shells, demined and cleared against ammunition more than 1 million 600 thousand square kilometers of the liberated territories and approximately 150 thousand villages and towns. More than 272 million Rubles were raised and transferred by the OSOAVIAKHIM to the acting army for re-equipment. A significant input to strengthening the combat potential of the army was made by the OSOAVIAKHIM lottery.

For courage and valor shown during the years of the Second World War hundreds of thousands of the OSOAVIAKHIM alumnus were awarded with orders and medals, with many of them being granted with the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union. They are Alexander Pokrishkin, Ivan Kozhedub, Alexei Meresiyev, Boris Saphonov, Musa Gareev, Sregey Kharlamov, Marina Chechneva, sharpshooters Vladimir Pchelintsev, Natalia Kovshova and Maria Polivanova, Yakov Pavlov, the hero of the Defense of Leningrad, and many others. The Defense Society boasts the fact that out of the 2785 military pilots granted with the title of The Hero of the Soviet Union 950 ones took their elementary aircraft flying training in the OSOAVIAKHIM air clubs, with 65 of them being two time Heroes of the Soviet Union.

By results of The Second World War for successful work on strengthening military defense of the country on the eve of its 20the anniversary the Defense Society itself was awarded with the order of the Red Banner.

On January 16, 1948, the OSOAVIAKHIM was divided into three individual Societies, namely: The All-Union Voluntary Society for Cooperation with Air Forces (DOSAV), The All-Union Voluntary Society for Cooperation with Army (DOSARM) and The All-Union Voluntary Society for Cooperation with Navy (DOSFLOT).

That structure of The Defense Society existed until August 20, 1951, when the DOSAV, DOSARM and DOSFLOT were united into The All-Union Voluntary Society for Cooperation with Army, Air Forces and Navy (DOSAAF) of the USSR. The organizational structure of the DOSAAF was finalized by calling the First All-Union Conference of the Society in December 1953.

The DOSAAF was assigned to focus its efforts on spreading mass defense activity among working classes. In different times the DOSAAF was led by famous military commanders, including Heroes of the Soviet Union Vasili Ivanovitch Kuznetsov, Nikolai Fedorovitch Gritchin, Pavel Alexeevitch Belov, Dmitri Danilovitch Lelushenko, Andrew Lavrentievtch Getman, Georgi Mikhailovitch Ygorov and Nikolai Nikiforovitch Kotlovtsev. Each of them left his remarkable footprint in the history of the Defense Society, the most outstanding stage of which fell on 1972-1981 when the DOSAAF was headed by three time Heroes of the Soviet Union the USSR Air Marshal Alexander Ivanvitch Pokrishkin, whose monument was erected and opened on January 18 by the Main Board of the ROSTO (DOSAAF).

All in all, it should be noted that the main tasks set by Soviet people and the Government for the DOSAAF were successfully accomplished. For its significant contribution to development of mass defense activity in the country and training of working classes for defense of the Motherland DOSAAF was awarded with the order of Lenin. In 1961 a graduate of the Defense Society Yuri Alexeevitch Gagarin made the first in the world manned space flight. He was taken to the Earth's orbit by a launch rocket designed by another genius alumnus of the OSOAVIAKHIM Sergey Pavlovich Korolev, whose hundredth anniversary was recently marked.

Military and physical fitness training began at the age of ten in the Pioneers. Their activities emphasized military-patriotic indoctrination, marching, and discipline. The Pioneers also guarded Soviet war monuments and participated in military sports games held every summer since 1967. In the games, children were divided into commanders, staff, and troops for maneuvers that simulated partisan warfare behind enemy lines. Teenagers, age fourteen and older, participated in more sophisticated military games.

When the terms of service for soldiers and sailors were reduced by one year in 1967, the government introduced general preconscription military training. The institution of preconscription training was designed to compensate for the reduced length of military service by providing basic military training prior to induction.

DOSAAF organized and conducted premilitary training for young men and women between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. In principle, every secondary or vocational-technical school, factory, and collective farm in the Soviet Union had a DOSAAF organization. Millions of Soviet teenagers received 140 hours of instruction in military regulations, small arms, grenade throwing, vehicle operation and maintenance, first aid, civil defense, and chemical defense. This training enabled them to learn advanced military skills more quickly after conscription. The Soviet press has claimed that each year 75 million people are involved in over 300,000 DOSAAF programs nationwide. DOSAAF also had its own publishing house and monthly journal.

Each union republic had a DOSAAF organization headed by a chairman and a central committee. DOSAAF worked closely with the ministries of education and the state committees for physical culture and sports in the union republics; it also maintained close relations with the deputy commanders for premilitary training in the military districts. The Premilitary Training Directorate within the Ministry of Defense supervised DOSAAF, yet the DOSAAF budget was separate from that of the Ministry of Defense.

The best DOSAAF clubs were found in the Russian Republic, which includes 51 percent of the people and 75 percent of the territory. The clubs offered specialist training, such as skiing, parachute jumping, scuba diving, motorcycle driving, seamanship, flying, and radio and electronics maintenance, which were not available in other republics. Yet many DOSAAF organizations throughout the country lacked qualified or full-time military instructors. Providing time and facilities for DOSAAF training was an added burden on schools and factories. In 1989 the southern Soviet republics were often criticized in the military press for having poor premilitary training programs and sending unprepared recruits to the armed forces. One Western observer estimated that only half of Soviet troops actually received prescribed DOSAAF instruction prior to induction. Approximately one-third of all inductees, however, possessed a technical military specialty that they had learned in a DOSAAF club.

It was the period when the DOSAAF air clubs started mastering new air sports events, including helicopter flying, while strengthening their Air Force component. In 1980s new Air Force Academies were opened in the town of Voltchansk and in the city of Kaluga. Specialized boarding schools with elementary flying training started to be opened all across the country, with the best of them in the town of Yeisk and in the city of Barnaul.

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Page last modified: 25-06-2013 18:57:47 ZULU