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DECREE #00116 OF THE CENTRAL FRONT'S MILITARY COUNCIL

April 4, 1943

The 70th Armys unsuccessful offensive operations to seize and hold the Svetlyi Luch, Novaia Yalta, Rzhavchik, Muravchik, and height marker 260.2 region and the suffering of huge losses amounting to 8,849 men and material in this operation is explained by: the unsatisfactory preparations for this operation on the part of the Military Council and, first and foremost, by Major-General Comrade Tarasov, the army commander; the weak organizational role and unsatisfactory control on the part of the staff; and the perfunctory attitude of the formation and unit commanders to the organization of combat.

The personnel displayed a high degree of courage and heroism and, on the whole, showed fearlessness in the fulfillment of their combat missions. However, they could not compensate for the serious shortcomings in the organization of combat and command and control. Thus:

1. The necessary careful reconnaissance of enemy forces and weaponry and his defense system was not conducted.

2. At the beginning of the armys combat operations (8 through 12 March 1943) the Military Council did not undertake energetic measures to bring artillery, mortars, and ammunition forward to the front lines and did not organize artillery support for the armys offensive.

3. After the armys units gave up the population points of Novaia Ialta, Strelitsa, Svetlyi Luch, Rzhavchik,Muravchik, and height marker 260.2 and had suffered heavy losses in the process, they failed to reach the appropriate conclusions. As a result, they once again repeated a series of serious mistakes in the local operations conducted from 18 through 28 March to seize height markers 260 and 260.2 and the village of Muravchik, which entailed an unsuccessful outcome and new large losses. (These mistakes included- Glantz):

a) The working out of missions with the commanders on the ground. The organization of cooperation with artillery and tanks was conducted superficially and without the direct participation of the army commander and his control. As a result, the infantry sub-units attacks were not supported in timely fashion by the reserves and by neighboring units. Artillery accompaniment of the infantry and artillery direct fire support was poorly organized, and, as a result, the sub-units, which were advancing to capture heights 260.2 and Muravchik, were subjected to heavy enemy fire and enemy infantry counterattacks. They perished heroically almost to a man, and hundreds withdrew back and abandoning the captured positions.

b) The command and control of combat on 28 March 1943 in the 162d Rifle Division was extremely unsatisfactory. Remaining at his CP, the divisions chief of staff was in fact eliminated from participation in the organization of combat and from control over the fulfillment of the mission. As a result, both the information concerning the enemy and also about the situation of his own forces that was sent to the staff from the division commanders CP turned out to be implausible and disoriented.

3. The armys Military Council and the commanders of the rifle divisions did not conduct a struggle for the fulfillment of NKO USSRs Order #456 and permitted huge losses in command-political personnel and at the battalion and company level.

4. Thus, Colonel Sedlovsky, the former commander of the 175th Rifle Divisions 278th Rifle Regiment, ordered all of his command cadre to go directly to the forward lines (including the regimental chief of staff). As a result, all of the battalion commanders, their political deputies, the majority of the company and platoon commanders, and all of their commissars were put out of action in the course of a single battle. In view of such intolerable practices and the flagrant violation of NKO USSRs Order #306, 224 commanders and political workers were put out of action as killed or wounded during the final days of battle.

5. The Military Council and the formation commanders did not undertake proper measures to collect weapons on the field of battle, carry the wounded to the PMP (Medical assistance point - Glantz), care for them on the march, and organize their careful registration. As a result, on 30 March 1943, the army was missing (in addition to the combat losses) 7,802 rifles, 2,145 heavy machine guns, 326 submachine guns, 556 PPSh, 20 45-mm guns, 44 82-mm mortars, 93 50-mm mortars, and 240 antitank rifles.

6. The Military Council did not ensure the fulfillment of the front Military Councils order about the preparation of the army and front roads for spring (operations) and their maintenance in a trafficable state. From 29 March 1943, the army road in the Iasenok-Studenok-Bobrovo sector proved to be unfit for auto-transport and the military roads were out of trafficable state. Thus, the reserves of supplies and ammunition envisioned by the Central Fronts Military Councils Order #0100 of 21 March 1943 were not created.

All of this placed the forces in an extraordinarily serious situation regarding their feeding. As a result, exhaustion appeared and even instances of mortality for this reason (112 instances according to a report by Military Doctor 2d Rank Lebedev of the 102d Rifle Division and 2 in the 175th Rifle Division, and others). All of this provides evidence of the fact that the Army Military Council (Comrades Tarasov, Savkov, and Vasev) did not display the required organizational skill and persistence in overcoming a series of difficulties facing the army and did not manage to obtain high discipline and precision work from their command and control apparatus.

THE MILITARY COUNCIL DECREES:

1. Asks the USSR NKO to relieve Comrade Tarasov from command of the army as unfit for command on the basis of his insufficient practical experience.

2. Reprimand the members of the Military Council Comrades Savkov and Vasin for the insufficiency of their measures for struggling to ensure successful combat operations of the armys units, the unsatisfactory condition of the army and force roads and for tolerating the disruption of supplies of provisions and ammunition.

3. The Central Fronts Military Procurator, Major General of Law Comrade Iachenin, will conduct an urgent investigation of the guilty parties regarding:

a) The withdrawal without order cited above;
b) The disruption in feeding the soldiers and the toleration of mortality from exhaustion;
c) The disruption of measures for preparing the roads for the spring rasputitsa (thaw- Glantz);
d) The toleration of losses - the unwarranted combat losses of weaponry.

Hand the judgement over to a Military Tribunal.

4. Demand that the Military Councils and the army chiefs of staff:

a) Carefully work out the lessons of these conducted battles with all command personnel...
b) ...

5. The armies Military Councils will derive the necessary conclusions from the lessons of the 70th Army and undertake energetic measures to prevent the repetition of these grossest deficiencies in leadership.

Rokossovsky
Ponomarenko
Stakhursky
Telegin




Notes:
Published here courtesy of David M. Glantz
Sources:
Postanovlenie Voennogo Soveta Tsentral'nogo fronta No. 00116, 4 aprelia 1943g. Deistvuiuschaia Armiia [Decree No. 00116 of the Central Front's Military Council, 4 April 1943. Field Army]. [ll. 142-144]

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