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Marshal Chuikov’s Leadership in the Kiev Military District: Part 2

Pictured: Marshal V. I. Chuikov reviewing the troops during his time as the Commander of the Kiev Military District, 8 May 1955 (right); cover the Kiev Red Banner Military District book, 1919 - 1972.

A previous blog entry featured Marshal Chuikov’s service in the Kiev Military District focusing on the social aspects of his tenure, including his work with the Supreme Soviet and local party activities. During his leadership in this military post, he also spent much time training troops with new technology and preparing them for the possibility of a nuclear war—a very real threat during the height of the Cold War. An excerpt from the Kiev Red Banner Military District historical resource provides an overview of various military exercises during Chuikov’s time of leadership, giving the reader a broad understanding of the various tasks he had to oversee:

“The soldiers of the district had to master new equipment in a short time—to study atomic weapons and methods of combat operations in the conditions of their use. On 18 March 1954. […] Commander of the District Troops Twice Hero of the Soviet Union, General of the Army V. I. Chuikov, a member of the Military Council Lieutenant General N. M. Aleksandrov, and other [leaders] spoke at [a] conference analyz[ing] the course of combat training, determining its improvement at a new stage in the development of the Soviet Armed Forces. […]

In the first half of 1954, the officer corps began to study atomic weapons. […] Unlike previous years, one day a week was allocated for command training with all categories of officers. […] Officers and generals thoroughly studied the results of a major military exercise held in September 1954, at which an atomic bomb was detonated, and got acquainted with the engineering equipment of combat positions of units in anti-nuclear respect. The officers were given assignments to prepare lectures and reports for reading in the troops. […] Consultations, exhibitions, showcases are organized in the houses of officers and officers' clubs, classes for military-technical training are equipped. Military-technical films were shown at least twice a month. […]

Results of the exercises [in 1954] were discussed in detail at the district military scientific conference. Speaking with a report, General of the Army V. I. Chuikov said that under the new conditions, the main way to break through the enemy defenses is an offensive on the move, and the preservation of the stability of defense against nuclear missile strikes should be sought, first of all, in a more decisive dispersal of combat order, the presence of forces reserves, [and] equipping positions with engineering shelters and structures. The use of nuclear missile weapons requires a sharp increase in the rate of advance and the rapid forcing of water barriers.

Particular attention was paid to conducting classes at night. In May 1955, an educational and methodological meeting of the leadership was held. […] Officers and generals were present at the exercise with live firing. The issues of breaking through the prepared enemy defenses to the entire depth of the mainline of defense at night with the use of artificial lighting and night vision devices in case of a threat of an atomic and chemical attack were worked out.

In July 1956, a demonstrative bilateral tactical exercise forcing a large water barrier on the move while developing an offensive in-depth under the conditions of the use of atomic weapons was organized. […] Within 12 minutes they had to fire over 400 shells. Each soldier had to lift up to 30 pounds of cargo. All projectiles hit the target. […] The year 1957 was especially fruitful in mastering the methods of combat operations of troops under the conditions of the use of nuclear missile weapons. […] Equipping the troops with modern military equipment and weapons made higher demands on the training of military personnel. They needed solid knowledge of nuclear physics, radio engineering, electronics, higher mathematics and other sciences, and the basics of modern combat.”



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