Military Reform of 1924-25

Military Reform of 1924-25


in the USSR. After the end of the Civil War and military intervention of 1918-20, the Communist Party and the Soviet government, amid the temporary stabilization of the international situation, concluded that the size of the Red Army could be reduced to a minimum and that it could be shifted completely to a peacetime table of organization. In the conditions of the restoration of the war-ravaged national economy it was considered expedient to have an army built on the principle of a mixed regular and territorial army. This made it possible, on the one hand, to maintain with a minimum of expenditures a small regular army nucleus that could in peacetime ensure the inviolability of the state borders of the USSR and in wartime rapidly mobilize sufficiently large military forces; on the other hand, the country could, without taking working people away from production, gain by military training a large number of reservists. The military reform was based on a comprehensive program for reorganizing the Soviet armed forces adopted by the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). The preparation and direct implementation of the reform were entrusted to a special commission headed by M. V. Frunze. The military reform was carried out during the bitter struggle against L. D. Trotsky and his followers, who after V. I. Lenin’s death tried to isolate the Central Committee of the Party from the army, to sow mistrust toward the Central Committee, to strengthen their own monopolistic leadership of the war department, and to thwart the implementation of the proposed transformations. In January 1925, Trotsky was removed from the post of people’s commissar of military and naval affairs and chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR, and M. V. Frunze was appointed in his stead. The military reform gave the Red Army a firm authorized strength of 562,000 men. The regular part of the Red Army had 26 rifle divisions, almost the whole cavalry, technological units, and the navy. The territorial troops included 36 rifle divisions, one cavalry division, one armored train regiment, three national regiments, and artillery units and subunits. The mixed system remained in effect until the middle of the 1930’s when, in view of the growing threat of fascist aggression and the increased economic might of the USSR, the whole Red Army was put on a unified regular basis.

The military reform created a firm and stable troop organization, brought about the transition to a normal system of recruitment (having established only one draft of men subject to military service in the fall of each year), did away with the high turnover of Red Army personnel, improved the economic and living conditions of the units and of all categories of servicemen, and upgraded the quality of the command cadres and the whole personnel of the army and navy. The reform expanded the network of newly activated national units, provided a basis for a planned system of combat training, increased the authority and strengthened the one-man command of the leadership, increased the effectiveness of Party and political work, and established closer ties between the army and the national economy.

All the links in the military administration bodies were thoroughly reorganized and reduced. The quality of the personnel of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR was significantly upgraded, and the post of commander in chief was abolished. The Political Directorate of the Revolutionary Military Council was transformed into the Political Directorate of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (RKKA), headed by a member of the Central Committee of the Party. The staff of the RKKA was freed from all other functions. It was charged with working out operational plans for the defense of the country and the development, preparation, and training of the army. The administrative functions were entrusted to the Main Directorate of the RKKA, which was in charge of the registration and draft of citizens subject to military service, the organization and building up of military units, troop service, and the transfer of command personnel. Army supply was concentrated in one single body, the Directorate of the Chief of Supplies of the RKKA. Cor-responding directorates were established for the control of the technical armed services (the air force and the navy). In the place of provincial military commissariats territorial districts (provincial, corps, and division) were set up. The provincial districts were charged with building up the newly activated regular and territorial units, and the corps and division districts were mainly responsible for building up territorial units. The territorial districts combined the functions of military and local administration, as well as the functions of the military department of the provincial executive committee. By the end of the implementation of the military reform the firepower of the large ground force units had been increased, a mobilization plan had been worked out in detail, and the technological troops had become more important.

During the implementation of the military reform the proportion of Party and Komsomol members had increased to 26 percent. By the end of 1925 there were in the Red Army 74,800 Communists and 73,838 Komsomol members, or twice as many as in 1924. The proportion of workers in the Army Party organizations reached 40 percent. This was brought about in part by the institution of a two-year program of political education and instruction of Red Army men, the institution of Party Commissions, and the adoption by the Fourteenth Party Congress of a new section of the Statute on Party Organizations in the Red Army. The territorial units became a new type of link between the Soviet government and Party and the peasantry and opened new avenues for Party work in the countryside and for strengthening Soviet influence there.

The military reform was completed by the adoption on Sept. 18, 1925, of the law on compulsory military service for working people between the ages of 19 and 40. The law stated that the defense of the interests of the USSR is the sacred duty of all the working people. The law stipulated that universal compulsory military service included two years of predraft training, active military service, and reserve status until the age of 40. Active service consisted in the regular troops of uninterrupted service of from two to four years and in the territorial troops of annual training meetings of a total duration of from eight to 12 months during five years; active service also included civilian training—that is, periodic studies at training centers for six months for a term of service of the same length of time.


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