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Naval Infantry - Cold War History

In 1956, parts of the Marine Corps were disbanded. However, the objective processes of fleet development and the tasks to be accomplished required the re-establishment of the marines at a new qualitative level. The experience of world powers has shown that modern naval forces must solve combat missions in the most remote corners of the planet. With the help of amphibious forces, it is possible to exert military and political influence on an international scale. To this end, the Navy of the USSR was to have units and units capable of carrying out long-range campaigns prepared for conducting combat operations under extreme conditions in different climatic zones.

Soviet military strategy eventually recognized the importance and complexity of amphibious operations. The new generation of marines was not a direct heir to the Marine Corps during the Great Patriotic War: not a single part of the war period was left, and their battle banners were surrendered to museums. New parts were created on the basis of the best units of the Ground Forces. In July 1963, from the composition of the Belorussian military district, the 336th Guards Bialystok Order of Suvorov and Alexander Nevsky regiment was transferred to the Baltic Fleet, which was reorganized into the Marine Corps regiment of the same name. In 1979, on the basis of the regiment was formed the 336th separate Guards Bialystok Order of Suvorov and Alexander Nevsky Brigade of Marine Corps. In December 1963, the Pacific Fleet included the 390th Separate Marine Regiment, on the basis of which in 1967-1968 the 55th Marine Division of the Pacific Fleet was formed.

By the end of the Khrushchev period, the Soviet Union had commenced to break out of her continental shell and began to assert influence and interests worldwide. However, Khrushchev never succeeded in fully reshaping Soviet military power to support a political strategy of global dimenuions. The succeeding government saw this as one of their basic tasks. The Soviets re-evaluated their position in the early 1960s and re-activated the Soviet Naval Infantry in 1964, when Naval Infantry became a combat arm of the Soviet Naval Forces.

In 1966, the Northern Fleet formed the 61st separate Kirkenes Red Banner Marine Regiment, which in May 1980 was transformed into a brigade. In the 80's and 90's, the SF consisted of two more units: the 175th Separate Marine Brigade and the 163nd Guards Moscow-Chernigov Order of Lenin, Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov, a separate brigade of marines. In November 1966, the 309th Separate Marine Battalion was established on the Black Sea Fleet. On its base in December 1967, the 810th Independent Marine Regiment was formed, in November 1979 the brigade, and in the late 90s, after the reform, the 264th and then again the 810th Independent Marine Regiment was created. In 1964 Soviet fleet responsibilities encompassed the protection of fleet areas, the expanded merchant fleet, fishing fleet, and oceanic research ships. By 1967 this responsibility clearly extended to the protection of Soviet interests ashore. Since then, the Soviet Navy has been used in various ways for political and diplomatic purposes. Traditionally, the Soviet Union did not rely on her navy for the external projection of power. But the Soviet Union began relying more and more on her navy for such projection as the reactivation of naval infantry, the deployment of the Kiev class carrier, and the construction of ocean-going landing ships clearly indicate.

A key problem for the Soviet Navy would be assuring naval passage to thc open oceans from the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and Sea of Japan, and denying to enemy forces thc strategic straits into these seas and the land areas near the Fleet bases. The Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies maintained amphibious forces in the Barents Sea area, in the Baltic and Black Seas, and in the Sea of Japan. The effectiveness of operations of these forces would probably vary widely. Amphibious raids or counter-offensives would probably be conducted to outflank NATO forces in coastal theaters. Amphibious forces would be limited to regimental size in the Northern Fleet, to two regiments in tlte Pacific and Black Sea areas, and to about three regiments in thc Baltic. Amphibious operations in thc Baltic would probably include Polish amphibious troops and would be coordinated with airborne assaults and with major ground offensives.

The North Cape of Norway could probably be taken fairly readily if the Norwegian brigade normally deployed there were not reinforced. In the Baltic, Soviet and other Warsaw Pact forces could probably capture thc Danish islands, if the Danish air and ground forces on Zealand were not reinforced, and link up with land forces attacking Jutland. In the Black Sea area, strong Turkish defenses and difficult terrain would make a coordinated land and sea assault on the Turkish straits more difficult. The Soviets probably could not seize these Straits quickly. Soviet Naval Infantry capabilities in the Pacific were insufficient for conducting amphibious assaults on the Japanese home islands to secure exits from thc Sea of Japan.

Since 1966, during the period of the bloc confrontation, the marines, carrying out international duty, constantly carried out combat service in the open spaces of the ocean theaters of military operations. With their presence in the hot spots of the world, the Marines prevented escalation of tension, took part in joint exercises with the armies of the Warsaw Pact, Egypt, Syria, Ethiopia, Vietnam, etc., made friendly visits to Angola, Guinea, Yemen, Cuba, Seychelles and Maldives , rendered military-technical and material assistance to many developing countries. In the time of peace, hundreds of marines performing the assigned tasks were awarded with military decorations.

Exercise 0kean in April-May 1970, was one of the largest peacetime naval maneuvers conducted by the Soviet Union. These manetivers included several amphibious assaults. In the Northeim Fleet area at least two battalions of naxval infantry from the Baltic Fleet conducted an amphibious assault on the northern portion of Rybachiy Peninsula. The tasks assigned the naval infantry force were familiar ones: conduct an amphibious landing, seize a beachhead, and hold it until the arrival of follow-on ground forces. "Alligator" and "Polnocny" landing ships approached the beach preceded by Soviet minesweepers. Surface vessels and shore-based air support provided the necessary cover.

By 1977 the naval infantry force structure consisted of five naval infantry regiments with a total strength of 14,500 men. Soviet journals previously referred to these units as brigades. Since 1967, however, all references have been to regiments. This newer title suggests that a more uniform or perhaps fixed organization exists, probably as a result of the qualitative improvements and accompanying restructuring which had occurred in the past few years. Naval infantry strength grew from approximately 3,000 in 1964 to 12,000 in 1969 and to 17,000 in 1975. Available Western sources indicate that naval infantry strength was reduced to 14,500 in 1976.

By 1989 Naval Infantry consisted of 18,000 marine troops organized into one division and three brigades. Naval Infantry had its own amphibious versions of standard armored vehicles and tanks used by the Ground Forces. It has the capability to conduct tactical landings with highly mobile forces, air cushion vehicles, and landing ships.

Its primary wartime missions would be to seize and hold strategic straits or islands and to make seaborne tactical landings behind enemy lines. During the 1980s Soviet Naval Infantry exercises in the Kuril Islands north of Japan indicated that the intended target of Naval Infantry was the shores bordering various chokepoints. In a conflict, these troops would most likely be sent ashore to capture the Dardanelles or the Kattegat straits and then wait for rapid reinforcement.

Since the beginning of the re-establishment of the Marine Corps in 1963 for this kind of naval forces, the problem of training command personnel has been raised. The Marine Corps School in Vyborg, which was functioning since 1945, was disbanded together with the abolition of the Marine Corps. Officers for the Marine Corps began to prepare in the Far Eastern Vocou. Marshal of the Soviet Union K.K.Rokossovsky and in the Leningrad Vocou. SM Kirov, where the departments of tactics of the Marine Corps were opened. The training of the rank and file sergeant of the Marine Corps took place in the training centers of the Ground Forces. In addition, many officers came to the marines at the end of combined arms, tank, artillery and anti-aircraft training schools, in which they did not learn the tactics of the actions of the Marine Corps. There was a need to have a special unit for training the personnel of the Marine Corps. In 1971, the directive of the Navy's main headquarters in Sevastopol was formed 299th Marine Training Center (called "Saturn"). Thousands of sailors and sergeants, hundreds of officers and ensigns from all fleets were trained in training camps in the "Saturn".

On 18 November 1990, on the eve of the Paris Summit where the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs) were signed, Soviet data were presented under the so-called initial data exchange. This showed a rather sudden emergence of three so-called coastal defence divisions subordinate to the Soviet Navy, which had previously been unknown as such to the West. A lot of equipment, which was commonly understood to be treaty limited (TLE) was notified as part of the naval infantry. The Soviet argument was that the CFE excluded all naval forces, including its permanently land-based components. The Soviet Government eventually became convinced that its position could not be maintained. A statement by the Soviet Union (later adopted by its successor states) enacted on 14 June 1991 provided that all treaty-limited equipment (tanks, artillery, and armored combat vehicles) assigned to naval infantry or coastal defense forces count against the total treaty entitlement.

Things went from bad to worse in Abkhazia during the final weeks of 1993. Gamsakhurdia retumed to western Georgia from exile in Chechnya while Russian support enabled the Abkhaz separatists to eject the demoralized Georgian forces from all Abkhaz republican territory. Shevardnadze joined the battle at the end of the year and barely escaped with his life. When Sukhumi fell he ?ed southward to the airport and boarded a plane with Russian and Abkhaz troops in hot pursuit. They attempted to shoot his plane down as it ?ew away. Back in Mingrelia, he had to fight Gamsakhurdia's irregulars who were prevented from capturing the port of Poti by the landing of Russian marines. Gamsakhurdia was either killed or committed suicide while a shaken Shevardnadze returned to Tbilisi and soon had to agree to Russian pressure for Georgian membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In the development and combat formation of the modern marine infantry, it is without exaggeration general I.S. Skuratov who played a significant role. In fact, General Skuratov for the Marine Corps of the Navy was as deserved a personality as Hero of the Soviet Union, Army General V.F.Margelov for the Airborne.

General Skuratov, for the first time in the Navy, developed the theoretical foundations for the construction, preparation and use of coastal troops in general and their genera as a whole, scientifically valid theory that has not lost its relevance and significance. He embodied scientific developments in a concrete modern organizational structure of troops, real combat training, new methods and tactics of actions of the Marine Corps of the Navy, equipping it with modern weapons. Skuratov in support of and development of the famous conceptual views of Admirals of the Fleet of the Soviet Union of the People's Commissar, later the Minister of the Navy N.G.Kuznetsov and the commander-in-chief of the Navy S.G.Gorshkov once again proved the necessity and expediency of the redistribution of responsibility for the solution of operational combat missions in the coastal directions of the fronts between the Ground Forces and the Navy in favor of the latter. Skuratov also substantiated, developed and proposed the general structure of the new operational-strategic grouping of the forces of the fleets and troops in the form of defensive areas, the basis for their use in operations and combat operations on the coast.

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Page last modified: 02-12-2019 17:59:26 ZULU