Hygiene, Military

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hygiene, Military


the branch of hygiene that studies the influences of various environmental factors on the health of servicemen, develops measures to control the negative effects of these environmental factors on the fighting efficiency of troops, and works out scientifically grounded standards of sanitary provision for troops. In wartime, military hygiene includes maintenance of the fighting efficiency of troops by means of sanitary surveillance of their quartering in the field, in populated places, and around defensive works; supervision of fulfillment of requirements of personal and collective hygiene; daily medical checkup of the quality of the diet of soldiers and officers; and supervision of the provision of sufficient quantities of high-quality water to servicemen for drinking, cooking food, and meeting sanitary and domestic needs.

The direct relationship between the sanitary conditions of troops and their morbidity was established in a number of armies in the 16th century; the first works on problems of military hygiene were published at that time. The obligations of military physicians gradually also came to include such hygiene tasks as ensuring sanitarily well-constructed camps and purification of water for drinking. In Russia important contributions to the development of military hygiene were made by the navy physician A. G. Bakherakht, E. Be-lopol’skii (chief doctor of A. V. Suvorov’s army), M. Ia. Mudrov, I. Enegol’m, R. Chetverkin, and A. Charukovskii, among others. The foundations of military hygiene, which are still valid today, were set forth by A. P. Dobroslavin in a two-volume course of medical hygiene (1885-87). The first sanitary-hygiene and sanitary-disinfectant detachments, which were assigned to the practical solution of sanitary problems, appeared in the Russian army during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).

Hygiene measures were conducted on a broader scale during World War I (1914-18). During the Civil War and military intervention (1918-20), the attention of Red Army hygienists was directed principally toward controlling and preventing epidemics, raising the level of sanitary conditions among the troops, and other such tasks. After the Civil War, military hygienists studied problems of military labor among various types of troops; they scientifically substantiated the food rations for soldiers, taking into account the work and living conditions of servicemen; they worked out hygienic requirements for quartering troops in barracks, in camps, and in the field; and they did research on the various types of military uniforms and field kits. Instructions and manuals were compiled on hygiene provisions for troops in peacetime and wartime. Also published were the basic manuals by N. A. Ivanov and F. G. Krotkov on military hygiene.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), in the Main Military-Sanitation Directorate of the Red Army, a center was created that supervised hygiene provisions for troops. The posts of front and army food and water-supply inspectors for troops were instituted in the armed forces.

The experience of the Great Patriotic War showed that the chief tasks of hygiene provision for troops are timely organization of sanitary reconnaissance of new places for quartering troops; sanitary surveillance of disposition of troops in populated places and defensive works; daily checkup on fulfillment of requirements of personal hygiene (especially prevention of friction abrasions, freezing, and pediculosis); inspection of linens, uniforms, and footwear; medical control of the quality of the food; laboratory control of water quality and provision to the troops of the means for disinfecting carried water reserves; and participation in sanitary clearing of battlefields.

A new period in the development of military hygiene began in connection with the appearance of nuclear weapons in the 1940’s. Hygiene problems of dugouts and shelters, prevention of burns, and prophylaxis against radiation effects began to be worked out.

In the USSR scientific problems of military hygiene are investigated at the S. M. Kirov Academy of Military Medicine and in hygiene institutes; there are institutes of military medicine in many foreign European countries and in the USA.

In the USSR problems of military hygiene are treated in the Voenno-meditsinskii zhurnal (Journal of Military Medicine; 1823—) and in other military and medical journals and anthologies; abroad (in France, Switzerland, Austria, the USA, and elsewhere) they are treated in journals of military medicine.


Naval hygiene. Naval hygiene studies the effects of conditions of combat work and everyday life on the health and efficiency of personnel on ships and in shore units for the purpose of working out and substantiating the basis for measures, standards, and requirements creating the necessary optimal conditions.

Development of naval hygiene is closely connected with the development of the technology of shipbuilding and arming of the navy. During modernization and construction of the Soviet Navy, great attention was given to installation of rational ventilation, and means were sought for introducing conditioned air and removing unfavorable environmental factors (such as high temperature, harmful chemical impurities, noises, and vibrations). Scientific bases were worked out for food rations and water supply on ships; sanitary-epidemio-logic conditions of naval bases were improved.

Equipping of surface and submarine vessels with powerful nuclear-rocket arms after World War II, construction of atomic submarines, saturation of vessels with technological devices, hermetic sealing of premises, and regeneration and conditioning of air added to the science of naval hygiene the problems of standards for physical and chemical properties of air, noise, vibrations, and radiation energy. Alongside these problems remained such significant hygiene problems as nutrition, water supply, and apparel.

In the USSR military hygiene is a subject of instruction in naval medical learning institutions and also in a number of medical institutes. Scientific work on naval hygiene is conducted in the departments of naval hygiene and in scientific research institutes by navy physicians.


Krotkov, F. G. Voennaia gigiena. Moscow, 1959.
Krotkov, F. G. Uchebnik voennoi gigieny. Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.