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in the USSR, a territorial combined arms command of units of various sizes, military educational institutions, and various local military institutions. The chief of a military district is the commander of the troops of the district, who is subordinate to the minister of defense. The division of the territory of a state into military districts ensures efficiency in the control of troops, in operational, combat, and political training, and in the implementation of measures toward the preparation of the country for defense. Military districts were instituted in Russia in 1862-64.
In the USSR the first six military districts (Yaroslavl, Moscow, Orel, Beloe Sea, Ural, and Volga) were formed in March 1918 during the Civil War (1918-20) in connection with the need for training large unit reserves for the active fronts. The number of military districts has been changing in accordance with the defense missions of the Soviet Union and with the development of the USSR armed forces. For instance, before the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) there were 16 military districts and one front; after the war (after 1945) there were 33 military districts; by October 1946 their number was reduced to 21. The commander of the troops implements military measures within his military district with the help of the district headquarters, the political directorate, and other district directorates and sections. Military districts exist also in several other socialist countries, such as the German Democratic Republic and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, and in several capitalist countries, such as the USA, France, Argentina, and Belgium.