In 1989 a deputy minister of defense served as chief of Rear Services for the Soviet armed forces. The Rear Services supplied the armed forces with ammunition, fuel, spare parts, food, clothing, and other matÚriel. In 1989 the chief of the Rear Services had nine main and central directorates and four supporting services under his command. The deputy commanders in chief for rear services of the armed services, the deputy commanders for rear services of territorial commands, and nearly 1.5 million soldiers reported to him. Special Troops, sometimes called the Rear Services, include Railroad Troops, Road Troops, Pipeline Troops, Automotive Troops and Construction and Billeting Troops. The pipeline troops were part of the Rear Services, whose mission were to construct and maintain the Soviet Union's military transport infrastructure.
The Central Military Transportation Administration was the primary traffic management organization for the armed forces, coordinating and planning supply movements by all means of transport. The Central Food Supply Administration both procured food from civilian agricultural enterprises and operated a military state farm system to supply troops, particularly those serving in remote areas. Similarly, the Central Clothing Supply Administration had its own clothing factories to manufacture uniforms and specialized gear. The main and central directorates operated post exchange, health care, and recreational facilities for military personnel. The Rear Services also provided financial reports on armed forces activities to party and government organs.
The chief of the Rear Services commanded the Railroad Troops, Road Troops, Pipeline Troops, and Automotive Troops. The mission of these supporting service was to construct and maintain the Soviet Union's military transport infrastructure. The Automotive Troops, for example, provided the drivers and mechanics needed to maintain and drive cargo trucks loaded with supplies from railheads to operational units in the field. After the initial airlift of Soviet forces and equipment into Afghanistan in December 1979, these troops built permanent rail lines, roads, and pipelines between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan to resupply the Soviet forces in that country.
Formerly divided among independent maintenance, medical, and motor transport companies, the provision of rear services in Soviet regiments had become the responsibility of unified matÚriel support units. As in most armies, these matÚriel support units were subordinate to operational commanders, although they worked with the next highest chief of rear services on technical matters.
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