|108th Motor Rifle Division|
Second World War |
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
The 108th Nevelskaya Twice Red Banner Motor Rifle Division (108 MRD) was a unit of the Soviet Ground Forces. The predecessor to the 108th MRD was the 360th Rifle Division Nevelskaya Order of the Red Banner, which was formed during the Second World War. The division was created on 1 September 1941 by decree of the State Defence Committee (on 13 August 1941) and an order from the Volga Military District Commander, Lt. Gen. VF Gerasimenko, on 14 August 1941. The division was formed in the Volga Military District, possibly at Chkalov. By 1 December 1941 the division had become part of 60th Army. On 1 April 1942 the division was part of the 4th Shock Army, Kalinin Front. Up until August 1943 the division was operating with both the 3rd and 4th Shock Armies. On 1 December 1944 the division was part of 83rd Rifle Corps, 4th Shock Army, 1st Baltic Front.
From then until October 1945 the division was posted on the Leningrad Front and the Baltic Military District. In October, the division was relocated by railway to the Turkestan Military District in the city of Termez. Arriving there at the start of November 1945, the whole division was housed in military camps for combat and political training until the end of the year. In November and December, new units were created.[vague]
Between World War II and late 1979 the division provided security for the Soviet Union along its borders.
Combat History of the Division in Afghanistan
In December 1979, during the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, the division was part of the invasion force. On 13 December 1979 on the orders of the General Staff the whole division was brought to full combat preparedness. On 24 December, the Minister of Defense signed a directive for the entry of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The 781st Independent Reconnaissance Battalion became the first unit of the Soviet Army to cross into Afghanistan. At the same time, military transport planes carrying the 103rd Guards Airborne Division also crossed the border. On 27 December advanced units of 108 MRD entered Kabul to strengthen the protection of military administrative buildings. By mid-January 1980 the entry of the main forces of the 40th Army into Afghanistan was largely complete. The 108 MRD division headquarters was established at Khair Khana camp to the northwest of Kabul, on the road to Bagram airfield.
From 1980 to 1989 the division carried out tasks to ensure the safety of convoys along the Doshi-Kabul and Kabul-Jalalabad routes, and the protection of key facilities (grain elevators, fuel and lubricant supply depots, a power station in Kabul, a dam and hydroelectric power station site in Surubi, Bagram airfield, etc.)
The division's operations in Afghanistan can be divided into four stages.
From December 1979 - February 1980 the division entered Afghanistan and established bases.
From March 1980 - April 1985 the division participated in active hostilities including large-scale operations, work to strengthen the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.The division participated in the Panjsher VII offensive of April–May 1984, and the commander of the Afghan Bureau of the ISI at the time, Brigadier Mohammed Yousaf, says it was likely that Major-General Saratov, commander of the 108 MRD, commanded the operation. During one battle, on April 30 in the Hazara Valley, the 1st Battalion of the 682nd Motor Rifle Regiment was decimated: the losses of Soviet troops were estimated at 60 killed.
From April 1985 to January 1987, there was a transition from active operations to a role supporting Afghan troops using artillery and demolition units. The division assisting in the development of the armed forces of the DRA, and participated in the partial withdrawal of Soviet troops.
From January 1987 to February 1989, the division assisted the Afghan leadership in carrying out the policy of national reconciliation, continued support of Afghan forces, training of units and divisions to complete withdrawal from DRA.
The stages of the war in Afghanistan were not uniform and differed in terms of the intensity and types of military activities. Thus, the third and fourth stages were characterised by increased concentrations of rebel forces, and the creation of numerous military bases across Afghanistan with more active hostilities.
In terms of numbers of personnel, the 108th MRD was the largest division in the Soviet Armed Forces in that period. V.I. Feskov et al. say the division had four motor rifle regiments, the 177th, 180th, and 181st with BTRs, and the 682nd with BMPs. Among the other regiments of the division was the 1415th Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment (ru:1415-й зенитный ракетный полк). The division was the only one of its kind in the Armed Forces because of its structure, and the quality and quantity of its weapons and other military equipment.
On February 11, 1989, the Division acted as rearguard for the 40th Army as it was withdrawn from Afghanistan. The division was then based in Termez.
- tashv.nm.ru, Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 September 1941, accessed October 2011
- tashv.nm.ru, BSSA 1 December 1941
- tashv.nm.ru, BSSA 1 April 1942
- Mohammed Yousaf and Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap: Afghanistan's Untold Story, 1992, 147-148.
- Yousaf and Adkin 1992, 70-72
- Knyazev, Nikolai. "Гибель 1-го батальона 682-го мотострелкового полка 30 апреля 1984 года, ущелье Хазара (Панджшер)(In Russian)". http://artofwar.ru/. http://artofwar.ru/k/knjazew_n_n/text_0010.shtml. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
- V.I. Feskov et al., 2004, 63.
- Feskov, V.I.; K.A. Kalashnikov, V.I. Golikov. (2004). The Soviet Army in the Years of the 'Cold War' (1945-1991). Tomsk: Tomsk University Press. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7.
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