Party Organizations of the Soviet Armed Forces

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Party Organizations of the Soviet Armed Forces


organizations that unite in their ranks the servicemen and manual and office workers of the armed forces who are Communist Party members.

The chief mission of the military party organizations is to implement the Program of the CPSU so that “the Soviet armed forces are a well-knit and smoothly operating organism and that they have a high standard of organization and discipline; carry out in exemplary fashion the tasks assigned to them by the party, the government, and the people; and are prepared at any moment to administer a crushing rebuff to imperialist aggressors.” (Programma KPSS, 1974, p. 111). The military party organizations rally the personnel around the CPSU and educate fighting men in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism and of boundless devotion to the Soviet homeland. They also mobilize fighting men to fulfill the tasks of combat and political training and master the use of weapons and equipment, as well as promote the unity of the army and the people.

Party work in the armed forces is directed by the Central Committee of the CPSU through the Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Navy, which has the status of a department of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The primary party organizations are directed by the corresponding political organs. The unit commander in his work relies on the party organization and directs its activity in order to successfully fulfill assigned missions. The deputy commander for political affairs and the party bureau organize the implementation of party decisions and the missions assigned the party organization.

The primary party organizations are set up by the political sections in regiments; in detached units (battalions, companies, batteries, and squadrons); on ships of the first, second, and third rank; in units of small ships; and in headquarters, directorates (sections), and institutions. In each there must be at least three party members. Party organizations with the status of shop organizations may be set up within primary organizations in battalions, squadrons, and ship combat units. Units, headquarters, departments of higher military schools, and institutions that have more than 100 Communists and regiments with more than 75 may, when necessary and with the authorization of the political directorate of a military district, group of forces, or fleet (political section of a detached army or flotilla), establish party committees. This gives the party organizations of the units, directorates (sections), and training schools the status of a primary party organization. With the authorization of the political section, party groups may be established within the party organizations of subunits and within the primary party organizations. These party groups may be set up in companies, batteries, aviation flights (detachments), small ships, platoons, training squads, and subdepartments of institutions. Party organizations are guided in their activities by the Program and Party Rules of the CPSU, the decisions of party congresses, and the resolutions of the Central Committee of the CPSU. They function on the basis of instructions endorsed by the Central Committee.

When the Red Army was first formed, the influence of the party was brought to bear on the life of military personnel by Communists who were in military service but were initially listed in civilian party organizations. As a result of the party mobilizations of Communists for the fronts of the Civil War of 1918–20 and through admission to the party of the best fighting men in the units of the active army, party cells grew rapidly. In October 1918 there were about 800 of them; by July 1920 there were more than 6,000. They united up to 300,000 Communists. In mid-1918, direction of the party cells passed to the army party committees, and in late 1918 to the political sections. On Jan. 10, 1919, the Central Committee of the CPSU endorsed the first instruction to the party organizations of the Red Army. As experience in party work accumulated, the instruction was made more specific in 1920 and 1921 and later in 1924, 1928, and 1931. In 1925 the Fourteenth Party Congress added the section “Party Organizations of the Red Army” to the Party Rules. During the prewar five-year plans, party cells increased both in quality and in number. In early March 1934 they were called primary party organizations.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, Communists set examples of courage, steadfastness, and heroism on the fields of battle. In the first six months of the war, more than 1.1 million Communists—one-third of the composition of the territorial organizations—poured into the party organizations of the armed forces. The great majority of Communists fit for military service joined the army and navy. Between July 1, 1941, and July 1, 1945, 3,788,000 fighting men became candidate-members, and 2,376,000 became party members. They all joined the primary party organizations of units, battalions, and ships. The organizations all directed the efforts of Communists toward a single goal —the complete defeat of the enemy.

With the further development and structural improvement of the armed forces during the postwar years, there was continued development of the content and methods of party work. In 1957 the Central Committee of the CPSU endorsed an instruction for army party organizations. In 1958 and 1963 amendments were introduced, and in February 1973 a new instruction for party organizations of the Soviet Army and Navy was endorsed.

The military party organizations structure their work on the basis of extensive democracy within the party. At party meetings, Communists have the right to criticize any member or candidate-member regardless of the position he holds. Criticism of the orders and instructions of commanders and chiefs is not permitted. Party bureaus, party committees, and secretaries of party organizations report to the Communists on their work and are elected for terms established by the Party Rules of the CPSU. Questions of admission to the party are discussed at meetings of the party organization of the subunit, are considered by the bureau, and are resolved by a general meeting of the primary party organization. The decision of the primary party organization goes into force after ratification by the party commission of the appropriate political organ. The army and navy party organizations maintain close contact with local party committees. To increase the role of primary party organizations in the army and navy and to discuss basic problems of party work, meetings of the secretaries of party organizations from the entire army are held periodically. They are an important form of the work of the Central Committee of the CPSU with the most active party members in the army.


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