the executive organs of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the armed forces of the USSR.
The missions of the political organs are to carry out political work among military servicemen, to rally the servicemen around the CPSU and the Soviet government, and to instill in military personnel a spirit of boundless devotion to the Soviet homeland and the cause of communism and a willingness to give all—if necessary, life itself—to defend the Soviet Union, the countries of the socialist community, the gains of the Revolution, and the cause of socialism. The organizational and ideological work done by the political organs is aimed at increasing the combat readiness of the troops, improving military training, and ensuring a high level of discipline and morale as well as political steadfastness among personnel.
Party political work and the activity of the political organs is directed by the Central Committee of the CPSU through the Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Navy (GLAVPU). The political organs, political directorates, and political sections are created by the minister of defense of the USSR and the GLAVPU in the armed services, military districts, groups of forces, fleets, large units, and military schools in accordance with the structure established by the Central Committee of the CPSU. The functionaries of the political organs are appointed, not elected. The chiefs of the political sections of military units are deputies in charge of political affairs for the corresponding commanders and have command and administrative authority. In all their activity the political organs are guided by the Program and Rules of the CPSU, the decisions of party congresses, the decrees of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and the Statute on Political Organs approved by the Central Committee of the CPSU.
The political organs are assigned to establish and direct party and Komsomol organizations in units and on ships, to ensure observance of the norms of party and Komsomol life in accordance with the Rules of the CPSU and the Rules of the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League, to select for membership in the party and Komsomol the best servicemen based on distinction in training and service and to provide them with an ideological and political education, and to organize political training for personnel. Political organs carry on their primary work among the masses of servicemen. Together with commanders, they organize socialist competition, support and develop patriotic initiative, and generalize and disseminate progressive methods and innovations in training and troop education. The political organs strengthen the principle of one-man command and instill personnel with a spirit that ensures unconditional performance of the commander’s orders. Attached to the political organs are the party commissions that review the decisions of party organizations with respect to admission to the CPSU and cases of misdeeds by Communists and Komsomol members. The party commissions are elected at division, military district, and fleet party conferences, which are held once every two or three years.
The political organs are not subordinate to local party committees, but they maintain close contact with them and inform them of the political work in the military units. The political directorates are accountable to the political directorates of the armed services and the GLAVPU and report to the military councils. The political sections of large units are accountable to higher-ranking political organs. They also account to the commanders of the large units on work related to the political and military education of servicemen.
The history of political organs is linked to the building of the Soviet armed forces. In early 1918 an agitation organization section was formed in the All-Russian Collegium on the Formation of the Red Army. In April 1918 direction of political work was assigned to military commissars. The All-Russian Bureau of Military Commissars organized in the same month was essentially the first central political organ in the Red Army. In mid-1918, political sections emerged among the field forces in the fronts, armies, and later divisions.
At first the political organs performed primarily political and administrative functions. In October 1918 the Central Committee of the party adopted a resolution according to which the political sections became executive party organs that formed party organizations and directed their Work. In December 1918 the Revolutionary Military Council (RMC) of the Republic issued the Statute on Political Organs. In April 1919 the Political Section of the RMC of the Republic was formed in place of the All-Russian Bureau of Military Commissars. On May 15 it was renamed the Political Directorate of the RMC of the Republic.
At the end of the Civil War of 1918–20, the political organs of numerous fronts were transformed into the political directorates of military districts, and a number of new political organs were established in the navy. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, the CPSU sent its best functionaries to the political organs of the army in the field. In the postwar years, the network of political organs in the armed forces has continued to grow, and its structure has been improved. In 1967, political directorates were created in the armed services, and political sections in a number of combat arms. This makes it possible to carry on political work with due regard to the specific features of the troops and fleets. In all stages of military building the political organizations have worked hard to implement the CPSU policy, and they continue to do so today.
A. A. EPISHEV and M. G. SOBOLEV