The Soviet Readiness System

 

The Soviets maintained their units at varying degrees of readiness in peacetime, and divided their ground units into two broad readiness categories:

These broad categories reflected readiness distinctions in terms of manning, equipment, training and mission. A unit was considered Ready, if it could conduct combat operations with little or no mobilisation.

The readiness management system was extremely flexible. A well-prepared force was maintained in Eastern Europe. In the western part of the Soviet Union, a mixed readiness posture was maintained, around a small nucleus of reduced-strength Ready units and a large number of cadre or Not Ready units, that were not prepared for immediate operations. In the interior of the Soviet Union, most units was maintained in low-strength Not Ready status.

The Soviet system was also evident within large units (divisions), in which some subunits were kept in a highly prepared and trained status, while others were kept in a cadre or reduced-strength Ready status. For example, a division might be composed of one or more Ready regiments, while all other regiments are in cadre status or Not Ready.

Each of the broad readiness cathegories was divided into various subgroups.

Ready Divisions

  1. Full Strength divisions (Дивизия полного состава) - also called first line divisions - do not require mobilisation with reservists and have all their authorised equipment (95% or above) - conducts a full training program, are equipped with modern weapons, and are ready for immediate combat operations. The "present for duty" strength of these divisions varies on a daily basis. If alerted, assigned personnel who are not present for duty within the division, would be recalled. All 30 tank and motorised rifle divisions in the group of forces, six airborne divisions, 3 motorised rifle divisions in Afghanistan and one tank division in Mongolia was maintained at this level during the 1980's.
  2. Reduced-Strength Ready divisions (Дивизия сокращенного состава) - also called 2nd line divisions - 42 divisions fell into this cathegory. There were two general manning variations within these divisions - some were manned at between 70-85% of wartime strength (Reduced Strength Ready I), and others from 55-70% of wartime strength (Reduced Strength Ready II). Internal manning patterns within these divisions also varied - some divisions maintained one or more regiments (motorised rifle or tank) and other selected units (especially the missile battalion) at or near wartime authorised strength, while other elements were manned at a much lower level. Other divisions had one battalion in each regiment manned at or near wartime strength, while the other battalions were manned at reduced or cadre strength. These divisions could be fully mobilised within 48 to 72 hours.

Reduced Strength I divisions (22 divisions) - do require mobilisation with reservists and have all their authorised equipment (95% or above) - conducts a modified full training program, are equipped with modern weapons, and parts are ready for immediate combat operations.

Reduced Strength II divisions (20 divisions) - do require mobilisation with reservists and have all their authorised equipment (95% or above) - conducts a modified full training program, are mostly equipped with modern weapons, and parts are ready for immediate combat operations.

Not Ready Divisions

  1. Cadre divisions (Дивизия кадрированная) - 103 divisions fell into this cathegory. Again there were two general manning variations - some were manned between 25-40% of wartime strength (Cadre High Strength), and others from 5-25% of wartime strength (Cadre Low Strength). All command positions at company level and above were filled, and sufficient enlisted personnel were available to maintain equipment in storage. Peacetime manning in cadre divisions generally limits training to the company level, or at best battalion level, unless reservists are mobilised. Many low strength cadre divisions would require up to 10000 reservists to be mobilised. Even in these divisions, the independent missile battalions were manned at 50 to 100%. Mobilisation of reservists would take up to six days, but additional time would be needed for training, before the divisons would be ready for combat operations. The specific training divisions were obviously manned at 100% and even sometimes over 100%, however, the effective fighting strength of these divisions were about 25 to 30%, and they are all classed as Cadre High Strength.

Cadre High Strength divisions (52 divisions) - do require mobilisation with large number of reservists - limited training, not above battalion level - older equipment - most major items are present, but some shortage in trucks and armoured personnel carriers.

Cadre Low Strength divisions (51 divisions) - do require mobilisation with large number of reservists - limited training, rarely above company level - older equipment - most major items are present, but some shortage in trucks and armoured personnel carriers. Mainly Motorised Rifle Divisions.

Mobilisation Divisions

Division configured equipment sets maintained in storage. Unmanned in peacetime, except for pre-assigned officers serving in active divisions. No regular training program - substantial equipment shortfalls (tanks, artillery and engineering equipment predominating) - often co-located with active divisions. Would take at least a month to be ready for action, including a shortened training program. Also called 2nd level divisions. Most probably existed since the 1960's, initially as unnumbered equipment sets, before being assigned numbers in the 1970's and 1980's. Few were converted to active divisions. US intelligence had discovered 25 of these divisions by 1982, but by 1987 there were around 90 divisions in existence.

Non division readiness

Artillery Divisions and Artillery Brigades were manned at cadre level (10 - 20%), except for those in the group of forces.

Reaktive Artillery (MRL) and Heavy Artillery Brigades were manned at cadre level (20 - 50%).

Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigades and Missile Brigades were manned at near or at full strength.

Army and Military District communications brigades/regiments and radio relay battalions were manned as Ready units, but at reduced strength - all other communications units were manned at cadre level.

Pontoon Bridge Regiments, Engineering Brigades/Regiments and Chemical Defence Units were manned at cadre level (15 - 40%).

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US intelligence used the following readiness cathegories for the Soviet divivions:

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Division readiness per Military District in the 1980's

Training divisions are marked with blue.

Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 7 gv., 9, 10 gv., 11 gv., 12 gv., 16 gv., 25, 32 gv., 47 gv., 79 gv., 90 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 20 gv., 21, 27 gv., 35, 39 gv., 57 gv., 94 gv., 207
Northern Group of Forces
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 20
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 6 gv
Central Group of Forces
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 15 gv., 31
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 18 gv., 30 gv., 48
Southern Group of Forces
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 13 gv., 19 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 93 gv., 254
Leningrad Military District
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Airborne Divisions 76 gv.
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 45 gv., 54, 131
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 63 gv., 69
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 64 gv., 77 gv., 111
Baltic Military District
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Airborne Divisions 7 gv.
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 1, 40 gv.
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 1 gv.
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Airborne Divisions 44
    Tank Divisions 24
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 3 gv., 26 gv., 107, 144 gv.
Belorussian Military District
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 6 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 120 gv.
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 3 gv., 8 gv., 28, 29, 34, 37 gv., 45 gv., 193
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 50 gv.
Carpathian Military District
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 23
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 24, 128 gv.
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 30 gv., 117 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 66 gv.
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 17 gv., 51 gv., 70 gv., 97 gv., 161
Kiev Military District
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 17 gv.
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 22 gv., 48 gv., 75 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 72 gv.
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 41 gv., 42 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 25 gv., 36, 46, 47
Odessa Military District
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Airborne Divisions 98 gv.
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 28 gv., 92 gv.
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 59 gv., 86 gv., 126., 157, 180
Moscow Military District
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Airborne Divisions 106 gv.
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 4 gv.
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 2 gv.
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 26 gv.
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 60
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 32 gv., 89
Volga Military District
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 43, 96, 213
Ural Military District
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 44
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 34, 78
North Caucasus Military District
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 14
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 19, 42 gv.
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 9, 82
Transcaucasus Military District
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Airborne Divisions 104 gv.
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 10 gv., 60, 127, 164
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 100 gv., 147
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 15, 23 gv., 75, 145, 295
Turkestan Military District
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 4 gv., 61, 88
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 58
Afghanistan
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Airborne Divisions 103 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 5 gv., 108, 201
Central Asian Military District
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 78
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 68, 155
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 8 gv., 80 gv.
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 71, 134, 203
Siberian Military District
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 13, 56, 62, 85, 242
Transbaykal Military District
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 5 gv.
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 11 gv.
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 122 gv.
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 49
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 38 gv.
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 52, 198, 245
Mongolia
  Full Strength Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 2 gv.
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 41
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 51
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 12, 91
Far Eastern Military District
  Reduced Strength I Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 29, 67, 81 gv., 123 gv., 192, 270
  Reduced Strength II Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Divisions 40, 135, 199, 265, 266, 277
  Cadre High Strength Not Ready Divisions Tank Divisions 21 gv., 27
    Motorised Rifle Divisions 121, 129, 272
    Machine-Gun Artillery Divisions 18
  Cadre Low Strength Not Ready Divisions Motorised Rifle Division 22, 33, 73, 79, 99