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Soviet ground troops section tactics

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

In this article we will go over the tactics of the infantry section during both offensive and defensive operations. The Soviet ground tactics is dictated by the Battle Statute and by the series of "Tactics" books. All in all, the tactics of the Soviet Army were heavily based on the tactics of both Red Army and Wehrmacht used in the Second World War. On a higher level, political and military command were focused on mechanizing the army and the rest was left for the chance.

Soviet Army infantry section attack battle order

The motorized or mechanized infantry section advances on foot at the front of up to 50m. The order of battle is a line. The distance between infantrymen should be around 8-12 steps (5-7 meters)

Soviet infantry section battle order in the offensive
Soviet infantry section battle order in the offensive

The section leader is given the object of attack, which coincides with the object of attack of the platoon (usually to the depth of defense of an infantry platoon of the army of a potential enemy - approximately to 200-300m). The section commander controls the squad by voice commands or hand signals. Target designation is explained by voice or by firing tracer bullets in the direction of the target. Section commander would usually carry at least one full magazine loaded with tracer bullets.

In theory, section commanders were supposed to have R-147 radio sets and some soldiers within the section were supposed to have R-147P, which could only receive the signal. And even though these were produced in decent enough numbers so that they later got to the collectors market, they were never issued in the army in any meaningful numbers, nor were they used in Afghanistan.

R-147 soviet army radio set
R-147 radio set

The communication between the section commander and the platoon commander was usually visual or by voice. In the unlikely scenario of the section being too far away from the platoon leader, the communication would be done by the BMP radio station.

Soviet infantry dismounting from the BTRs during the offensive
Soviet infantry dismounting from the BTRs during the offensive

During the offensive, the infantry fighting vehicle or an armored personnel carrier moves 50-100 meters behind the squad. The majority of section ammunition supplies are stored in the vehicle, so soldiers will have to get back to it to resupply. The primary task of a BMP-1 or BMP-2 would be to hit enemy tanks and armored vehicles with ATGM and cannon fire. Secondary task is to destroy the fortifications and enemy infantry with cannon and machine gun fire. The unfortunate infantry sections armed with BTR instead of the BMP have to rely on 14.5 KPVT machine gun, which can only destroy lightly armored trucks and jeeps.

Soviet Army infantry section defense battle order

The motorized rifle section defends a position with a length of up to 100 meters along the front. As a rule, at the position of the squad, a section sized trench is made. It's lengths is up to 100 m long and 110 cm deep (half sized trench) or 150 cm (full sized trench). One third of the trench has to be covered with the improvised sealing - for camouflage and comfort purposes. The trench for the section can have attached or extended (up to 10 m forward) firing positions for the machine gun and grenade launcher.

Soviet Army infantry section defense battle order
Soviet Army infantry section defense battle order

The distance between two sections can be up to 50m. The positions of the sections are connected by a communication trench. The trench for the IFV or APC is made 50 meters behind the section position and is also connected with the communication trench. The field latrine is arranged in one of the branches of the main trench.

When the enemy has started the advance, the section is required to open fire from the main gun of the infantry fighting vehicle at a distance of 1.5 km and with a PKT machine gun at a distance of 1 km. Infantrymen in the trench are ordered to start firing a light machine gun at 800 m and rifles at 500 m. The RPG-7 grenade launcher effective range ends at around 400 m. As the enemy approaches, the intensity of fire has to be increased to its technical limit. If the enemy approaches closer than 30 meters, the defenders have to throw hand grenades at the enemy's position.

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