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Stavka - Supreme High Command

The Supreme High Command is responsible for the preparation and conduct of military campaigns and strategic operations. It also resolves issues regarding the overall wartime situation of the State and the allocation of strategic resources. The Supreme High Command allocates forces to theaters and establishes general plans for the conduct of strategic operations in the theaters. The headquarters (stavka) of the Supreme High Command (Verkhovnoe glavnokomandovanie--VGK) of the armed forces controls military operations through the General Staff and subordinate commands.

In addition to the Supreme Commander in Chief (CINC), the primary strategic headquarters includes the Minister of Defense, the Chief of the General Staff, and the CINCs of the five services of the armed forces. The head of state is the Supreme CINC of the armed forces. He represents the unity of political and military leadership, and he alone has the authority to make final decisions about the use of the armed forces. The Supreme CINC relies heavily on his deputies to command the armed forces. The Minister of Defense is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the armed forces. He is also responsible for the readiness and overall development of the five services. The Chief of the General Staff has direct control over the five services of the armed forces, and through him, directives are issued to implement strategic plans. The CINC of each service has his own staff and is responsible for the administration, management, and training of his respective forces.

On June 23, 1941, the day after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, under the instruction of the Soviet of Peoples Commissars of USSR and the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks Central Committee was formed the extraordinary body of the higher military governing General Headquarters (Stavka) of the USSR Armed Forces. It was headed by Peoples Commissar for Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Timoshenko. Among Stavka members there were the members of Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks I. V. Stalin, V. M. Molotov, Marshal of the Soviet Union K. E. Voroshilov, Peoples Commissar for Defense assistant, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. M. Budyonny, Peoples Commissar of the Navy N. G. Kuznetsov and the General staff Head, Army-General G. K. Zhukov.

By the same instruction under Stavka was formed the Institution of permanent advisors which included Marshals of the Soviet Union B. M. Shaposhnikov and G. I. Kulik, Generals K. A. Meretskov, P. F. Zhigaryov, N. F. Vatutin, N. N. Voronov as well as A. I. Mikoyan, L. M. Kaganovich, L. P. Berya, N. A. Voznesensky, A. A. Zhdanov, G. M. Malenkov, L. Z. Mekhlis.

Legally, the Commissar of Defense was entrusted with the functions of the Commander-in-Chief. However, without Stalins sanction, he did not have the right to give orders to the acting army. Therefore, in fact, the Commander-in-Chief was Stalin. All this not only complicated the command and control of troops, but also led to late decisions in a rapidly changing situation at the front.

The rapidity of military operations, the dramatic changes in the situation on a vast front, required operational, decisive and strictly centralized leadership. On July 10, 1941 in order to ensure the centralized and efficient governing over the armed fighting, under the instruction of the State Committee for Defense of USSR N 10, the General Headquarters was reformed into the Supreme Command Headquarters - Stavka. It was headed by the State Committee for Defense [GKO] President I.V.Stalin. Under the same instruction Peoples Commissar for Defense assistant, Marshal of the Soviet Union B. M. Shaposhnikov was made a member of Stavka as well.

During the entire war Stavka was located in Moscow. On uly 22, enemy aircraft carried out the first raid on Moscow. An air-raid shelter was equipped in the basement of the General Staff building, but it turned out to be completely unsuitable for the work of the General Staff staff. Therefore, it was decided to move the General Staff to the premises of the Belorusskaya metro station for the night, where a command post and communications center were equipped on one half of the apron.

Soon, the staff of the General Staff moved into the building on Kirov Street, and then the Kirovskaya metro station was also placed at their disposal. Trains here have not stopped. The platform on which the staff of the General Staff settled down was fenced off from the tracks by a high plywood wall. In one corner there is a communications center, in the other there is Stalin's office, near the place for the Chief of the General Staff, and in the middle there is a line of tables for the General Staff employees.

On August 8, the Supreme Command Headquarters was renamed the Supreme Command Headquarters (Supreme Command), and Stalin was appointed Supreme Commander. From that time on, the order was established by which the Stavkas orders were signed by him and the Chief of the General Staff. From that time on Stavka was called the Supreme General Headquarters.

The Regulations on the General Staff were approved, approved by Commissar of Defense Stalin on 10 August. The provision stated: The General Headquarters of the Red Army is the central control body of the People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR for the preparation and use of the Armed Forces of the USSR for the defense of the country. The Chief of the General Staff, in accordance with the instructions and decisions of the Peoples Commissar of Defense, unites the activities of all departments of the Peoples Commissariat of Defense, gives them tasks and instructions.

At the final stage of the Great Patriotic War the Stavka membership changed for the last time. Under the instruction of the State Committee for Defense of USSR from February 17, 1945 the following Stavka composition was determined: Marshals of the Soviet Union I. V. Stalin (the President - Supreme Commander in Chief), G. K. Zhukov (Peoples Commissar for Defense assistant) and A. M. Vasilevsky (Peoples Commissar for Defense assistant), Army-Generals N. A. Bulganin (a member of the State Committee for Defense and Peoples Commissar for Defense assistant) and A. I. Antonov (General Staff Head), Navy Admiral N. G. Kuznetsov (Peoples Commissar of the Navy of USSR).

Stavka activities were large-scale and multi-aspect. Stavka made changes and introduced clarity to the structure and arrangement of the Armed Forces; planned campaigns and offensives; set up goals for the fronts and Fleets governing over their fighting activities; organized coordination between different strategic groups and formations of different types of the Armed Forces and partisans; distributed among fronts reserve formations and funds; controlled the course of fulfillment of the set up goals; supervised the study and general conclusions of the war experience.

The main working body of Stavka and of the Supreme Commander in Chief was the General Staff of the Workers and Peasants Red Army which operated in close connection with Peoples Commissariats for Defense and Navy Departments.





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