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A front (Russian: фронт, front) is a military formation. Appearing to originate with the Russian Empire, it has been used by the Polish Army, the Red Army and Soviet Army, and by Turkey. It is roughly equivalent to an army group in the military of most other countries. It varies in size but in general contains three to five armies.[1] It should not be confused with the more general usage of military front, describing a geographic area in wartime.

Russian Empire[edit | edit source]

After the outbreak of the First World War, the Russian General Headquarters set up two Fronts: Northwestern Front uniting forces deployed against German Empire and Southwestern Front, uniting forces deployed against Austria-Hungary.

In August 1915, Northwestern front was split into Northern Front and Western Front.

At the end of 1916 Romanian Front was established, which also included remnants of the Romanian army.

In April 1917, Caucasus Front was established by the reorganization of the Caucasus Army.

List of Soviet Fronts in the Russian Civil War[edit | edit source]

The Soviet fronts were first raised during the Russian Civil War. They were wartime organizations only, in the peacetime the fronts were normally disbanded and their armies organized back into military districts. Usually a single district formed a single front at the start of the hostilities, or when hostilities were anticipated. Some military districts could not form a front. The occasions when one or more fronts were activated were: the Russian Civil War, the Polish-Soviet War of 1920, the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939, the Invasion of Poland in 1939, and the Second World War.

The fronts created during the Russian Civil War were later known as the 1st formation fronts.

Poland[edit | edit source]

A number of fronts were created by the Second Polish Republic from 1918 to 1939, among them being the Polish Southern Front. See pl:Kategoria:Fronty polskie. In addition, the creation of a Polish Front was considered to group the First and Second Armies of the Polish Armed Forces in the East in 1944, and during the Warsaw Pact period, a Polish Front was created, seemingly as a mobilisation-only organisation.

List of Soviet fronts in World War II[edit | edit source]

An interesting and important distinction between army groups and fronts is that a Soviet front typically had its own army-sized tactical fixed-wing air organization.[2] This air army was directly subordinated to the front commander (typically a ground commander). The entire front might report either to the Stavka or to a theatre of military operations (TVD). During the Cold War, fronts and their staffs became groups of Soviet forces in the Warsaw Pact organisation.

The degree of change in the structure and performance of individual fronts can only be understood when seen in the context of the strategic operations of the Red Army in World War II.

Soviet fronts in the European Theatre during the Second World War from 1941 to 1945:

For constituent armies see List of Soviet armies.

Fronts After World War 2[edit | edit source]

Soviet Front 1980s

The Soviet Army maintained contingencies for establishing fronts in the event of war. The front was to be the highest operational command during wartime. Though there was no front ever established during peace time the basic building blocks were maintained the established Military Districts. A front generally comprised 3-4 Combined Arms Armies and 1-2 Tank Armies though there was no set organization.[5]

Citations and notes[edit | edit source]

  1. FM 100-2-3, The Soviet Army: Troops, Organizations, and Equipment, June 1991
  2. Viktor Suvarov, Inside the Soviet Army: Fronts, Hamish Hamilton, 198x
  3. Erickson 1975
  4. Glantz, 2005, p.495
  5. US Army FM 100-2-3 The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization, and Equipment

References[edit | edit source]

  • John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin's War with Germany, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1975
  • David Glantz, Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War 1941-43, University Press of Kansas, 2005

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