Revolutionary Military Councils

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Revolutionary Military Councils


(Russian acronyms, revvoensovety and RVS), the highest collective organs of military authority and political leadership at the fronts and in the armies, fleets, and flotillas of Soviet Russia from 1918 to 1921 (in the Far East to November 1922, in Siberia to January 1923, on the Western Front to April 1924, and in Middle Asia to June 1926).

The first revolutionary military council was set up on the Eastern Front by a decree of June 13, 1918, of the Council of People’s Commissars and was composed of the commander of the front and two commissars. Subsequent revolutionary military councils were created in view of the increasing scale of the Civil War, the shift to universal military obligation as the basis for building up the Red Army, and the development of military operational commands. In July and August 1918 revolutionary military councils were formed in the five armies of the Eastern Front and were approved by the People’s Commissariat for War on Sept. 1, 1918. Subsequently, revolutionary military councils were set up in all newly formed armies and on all newly formed fronts.

A revolutionary military council was composed of the commander and from two to four members chosen from among the military commissars. The commander had the right to decide independently on all operational and personnel questions, but his orders and directives had to be signed by another member of the revolutionary military council. The revolutionary military councils had the rights of organs of state power in the area of disposition of the particular operational command. The councils could create revolutionary committees in areas liberated from the enemy and had the right to interfere, if necessary, with the directives of the commander and even relieve him of his post by issuing an immediate report to the higher revolutionary military council. The revolutionary military councils of fronts approved the appointment of the army chiefs of staff. The revolutionary military council was immediately superior to the staff headquarters, the revolutionary military tribunal, the political department, the military control, the chief of supply, the chief of the health service, and the directorates of the inspectors of the combat arms.


Slavin, M. M. Revvoensovety v 1918–1919 gg.: Istoriko-iuridicheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1974.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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