The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military


Zampolit

In 1942, after the immediate threat of defeat had been liquidated, the regime returned to the principle of edinonachalie (unity of command) in the armed forces. Positions of political leaders in the army were finally liquidated on October 9, 1942. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted a decree on the establishment of complete unity of command and the abolition of the institution of military commissars in the Red Army. October 13, 1942, one-man management was introduced in the Navy. At the same time, in guerrilla formations, the posts of commissars remained until the complete liberation of Soviet territory from occupation. The zampolits again replaced the commissars. The acute sensitivity surrounding the question of edinonachalie is thus reflected in the history of its ups and downs, which have coincided with periods of major crisis.

The Communist Party placed great importance in uniformed political apparatus, the Glavnove Politicheskoe Upravleniye (CPU or Main Political Administration). The GPU's prime actor within military units was the zampolit (political assistant), whose full title is zamestitel' komondira politicheskoi chasti (assistant commander for political affairs).

Changes in the Chief Political Directorate were of the utmost significance because of its responsibility for Party affairs and morale within the armed semlces and its direct control over the thousands of political officers within their ranks. The proper function of this whole organization has been a problem about which CoamPunist leaders have exhibited considerable vacillation over the years.

Political workers were 221 out of 11,603 people who were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War. According to the directive of the High Command of the Wehrmacht on June 6, 1941, captured by the political commissars of the Red Army, German servicemen were obliged to shoot.

L.I.Brezhnev rose through the Party ranks rather than the military ranks. The primary role of the zampolit was that of Party representative in his organization. As such, he is expected to serve as an example in all respects. His moral standards, motivation, willingness to work, bearing and valor must all be above reproach. Such attributes in a political officer were required in order to enhance his authority with the unit, inspire those qualities in others and perfect the Party's image in soldiers' eyes. Above all the political officer must display his concern for and solidarity with the troops.

Leonid I. Brezhnev emphasized this point in writing about his experience as a political officer during teh Great Patriotic War: "... it was important for people to know that at a difficult moment the one who was ordering them to hold fast would be standing there beside them would remain together with them, and, with weapons in hand, would march ahead of them. Consequently, our main weapon was the heartfelt Party word, reinforced by deed -- personal example in combat. "Do it the way I'm doing it" is the slogan of activists on the field of combat." By 1953 Brezhnev was head of the Navy's Political Directorate.

Political workers for the army and navy prepared military-political courses and schools. According to the civil specialty, graduates of higher military-political schools were awarded qualifications in the specialty "Teacher of the History of the USSR and Social Studies". By the end of the 1960s, 40% of military political workers had higher education. The functions of the methodical center were carried out by the Military-Political Academy named after. V.I.Lenin (now - the Military University of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in Moscow).

The Soviet armed forces enjoyed an almost immediate rise in status and prestige at the time of Stalin's death as a result of the de-emphasis of Stalin as supreme war lord and the shift in the .army-secret police balance of power. The bargaining position of the leaders of the armed forces was strengthened by the existence of a chronically divided political leadership, contending factions of which were obliged, if not to cater to the professional soldiers, at least to avoid provoking their enmity.

Marshal Zhukov, who in June 1957 became the first professional soldier to gain a seat in the Party Presidium, was the major beneficiary of the armed forces' rise in status and prestige after Stalin's death. His administration of the Defense Ministry was marked by renewed emphasis on the principle of edinonachalie, one-man or unified command, in the armed forces. Under this principle, cfficially in force since 1942, full control of all aspects of military life is vested in the commander, in contrast with the practice in some earlier periods when political officers (commissars or Zampolits) either shared full command with professional soldiers or retained control over political training.

During Zhukov's administration the influence of the Main Political Administration (MPA), which functioned as a department of the Party Central Committee for the armed forces, waned, and the time devoted to political training of military personnel appears to have been reduced. Although the Central Committee decision ousting Marshal Zhukov charged that he had "pursued a policy" of curtailing the work of Party and political organs in the armed forces and of abolishing Party and government leadership of the army and navy, it stopped short of accusing him of attempting to seize political power through his control of the armed forces.

The armed forces was the only major Soviet institution to have gained rather than lost a measure of freedom of action vis-avis the Party since Stalin's death. In the post-war period, the Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and the Navy of the USSR played a significant role in the adoption of strategic military and political decisions.

The Zampolit hierarchy answered ultimately to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. At the same time that the political hierarchy was represented on the military command level by the Zampolit, there was attached to each unit, from division upward, detachments of the security police (00 Section) which come under the Committee on State Security [KGB]. This body was, in its turn, subordinated to the Council of Ministers, These security sections worked, unlike the Zampolit, under cover and had the negative role of counter-action against subversives. By way of contrast, the Zampolit had a positive role performed in the full light, namely, the furtherance of political education and the indoctrination of Communist principles into all members of the armed forces.

The Soviet military differed from its western counterparts in that there were no civlian [ie, Party] functionaries actually running military positions or directorates. But in other ways surveillance, if not control, follows the familiar pattern. To begin with, virtually all officers of field rank (major or equivalent) and above were members of the Communist Party, with a significant number holding elective positions in the government and the Party. This put them under Party discipline and gave them Party obligations that could dilute their interests and obligations.

As in the civilian sector, there was a separate Party organization following the military structure down to company level. This constituted a separate chain of command. The man at the top, Gen-Army Yepishev, was accountable directly to the Politburo although he was administratively subordinate to the Minister of Defense and reported to him on the status of troop morale, discipline, and political work.

There was always the possibility, of course, that the Party watchdogs might develop a cozy, overly sympathetic relationship with the objects of their scrutiny. To avoid this, the Party built almost baffling layers of redundancy into its surveillance: the Komsomols, the local Party organizations, and the military councils back up the military Party chain. The Procuracy and the Party Control Committees had their own direct lines to the Politburo and keeping book on how well all of them are performing are the ubiquitous agents of the KGB (Committee for State Security). If anyone anywhere in the military was doing or thinking something heretical, someone would be informing the Party leadership.

The GPU had an organizational structure that had been subject to change as the political environment has changed, and its duties have also undergone gradual, and sometimes not so gradual, alterations. Because it has both political and military responsibilities, the GPU's duties are widely diversified. The headquarters of the GPU was organized into five directorates, one each for Party and organizational work, agitation and propaganda, mass cultural work, personnel, and the military press. The heads of the directorates comprise the core of the GPU's decision making bureau In 1990, political organs in the Armed Forces ceased to be the structures of the CPSU. August 29, 1991, President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev signed a decree "On the abolition of military and political bodies in the USSR Armed Forces, KGB troops, Interior Ministry troops and railway troops," by November 1991 they were completely disbanded. By order of the Minister of Defense of the USSR, Dmitry Yazov, the Committee of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR on work with personnel and subordinate bodies in the troops were established.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the directive of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of September 3, 1992, the committee was reorganized into the Main Directorate for Work with the Personnel of the Defense Ministry (in 1994 - the Department for Work with the Personnel of the Defense Ministry, in 1994-1997 - MO RF, 1997-2010 - State Educational Work of the RF Armed Forces). In 2010, the structure was named the General Directorate for Work with the Armed Forces of the RF Armed Forces. Since 2017, it is headed by Colonel Mikhail Baryshev - former commander of the 154th separate commandant's Transfiguration Regiment and the head of the Central Army Sports Club (CSKA).




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list



 
Page last modified: 02-08-2018 13:45:32 ZULU