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JAPANESE SPIECi.AL STUDIES ON MANCHURIA

-

XIII

-VOLUME

STUDY OF. STRATEGICAL
AND TACTICAL PECULIARITIES
OF FA R EASTERN RUSSIA
AD SOVIET FAR EAST FORCES

:3PREPARED

:9MILITARY

HEADQUARTERS 3

DTIC

BY

HISTORY SECTIO14
ARMY FORCES FAR EAST

EET
U

318

DISTRIBUTED BYD
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF MILITARY HISTORY
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

Sz~

D,

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A~

-DISTRIBUTIONSTATEMENT

L7
?3Distribution
6

Approved for public roeeGS0
Unlimited

PREFACE

This work is essentially an hi.storical studyrather than a military history-of the Soviet Army
in the Far East from 1931 to 1945. Like all studies,
it contains a number of opinions and comments, and
clearly labels them as such. It was prepared by a
former colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army, Saburo
Hayashi, whose career consisted principally of assignments in intelligence work regarding the USSR.
(See biographical note, next page).
The original study was prepared in 1953 under
the .supervision of the Historical Records Division
of the First Demobilization Bureau, and was based
mainly on Colonel Hayashi's notes and recollections,
supplemented by the scant war records that were
preserved. It is part of a series of thirteen
studies on Itnchurie prepared by the Demobilization
Bureau.
The editor has had tne benefit of Colonel Hayashi's
advice in putting the study into its present form, an
has himself conducted extensive research. In addition
he has had invaluable research assistance from former
Colonel !Lraji Yano, a member of the staff of Japanese
consultants retained by 2Silitary History Section,
Headquarters, United States Army Forces Far East and
Eighth United States Army.

Accession For
January 1955
-- -Unannounced
- . ' :'. "W

NTIlS -GRA &I
DTIC TAB
(WOPY'

El

justi icatt o
Dustr ibution

-

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Dis t

an/or UNCva
•

Special

UNANNOUNCED -

Biographical Note on Author

Lieutenant Hayashi was graduated from Japan's milit&ry
acadezy in 1925.

After about six years of duty with troops,

he attended the three-year course at Japan's equivalent of the
U.S. Coomand and General Staff College.

Following graduation

from this school, he was gi7en a series of assignments that
kept him in close contact with Soviet matters throughout the
rest of his career:

from December 1935 until April 1938,

Captain Hayashi was with the .ussian (Fifth) Section of the
Intelligence (Second) Bureau of the Army General Staff; the
following year LYajor Hayashi was sent to the USSR and Poland
as a language officer; in

7Sarch

1939 he became Assistant

Mlitary Attache at the Japanese Embassy in Moscow.

Upon re-

turning to Japan in October 1940 he was again assigned to the
Fifth Section and was promoted to lic tenant colonel early the
following year.

He became chief of that section in October 1943,

and after promotion to colonel in March 1944 continued in that
post umtil June 194.

His next assignment was as chief of the

Third Section of the Operations Bureau of the Army General Staff.
Upon completing this assignment in April 1945,

Colonel Hayashi

becane Military Secretary to the War Minister, a post he held
at tle end of the War.
i

LAn£aOTF
i

S"

Study No. 13

TALE OF CONTENTS
1
3

Preface
Biographical lbte on Author
CHAF

I

Strategic Aspects of Far East Russia1Lanchuria

Primary Considerations in Far East Strategy
Relation of Geography and the Railroad to Offensive
Operations of the tied Army
Relation of Geography and the Railroad to Defensive
Operations of the Red A_-r
General Staff Requirements for Defeat of USZ?
in ",rldWar II
CHAFTER

71

13
l

17
18
20
23

Military Geographical Factors in Far Eastern
Russia

Lines of Coramunication
The Trans-Baikal Area and Outer Zngolia
Amur Area
The Ussuri Area
Ussuri Area Coastline
Conclusions
CHPTER III

10

Factors Handicapping Strategy

Sparse Foculation
Sh.ortage of z ecruits and ?.eservists
Lack of Economic SeLf-Sufficiency
Limited Transportation Capacity of Trans-Siberian
ailroad
CFAPTM III

9

29
30
34
36
37
33

Build-Up of Soviet Far Eastern Forces

Strategic Disposition
Build-Up Following the Manchuria Incident
New Soviet Defense Policy
The China Incident and FER's Improved Strategic
Position

hli
45
52
53

Build-Up Following Cbanokfeng Incident
Build-Up Following the Nbavhan Izident

58

Improvement in the Soviet Comand Structure

60

Westward Troop Iovement to Germa-Soviet Combat Zone

64

CHAP1E V

Efect on FER of Active Fighting Fronts

"Restoration" of Kwarjtung Army's Strength after
Japan's Initial Successes in Pacific
Soviet FE Reaction in 1942
Turning Point of German-Soviet War

67
68
69

US-USSR Collaboration
Reversal of boviet Attitude Towards Japan

70
71

CHAFM VI

Indirect !flitary Measures to Develop FM

!.easures to Fncourage Dnigration
Leasures to Offset AU, Shortages of Food and Shelter
leasures to Increase Railroad 7ransportation Capacity
Counter-Espionage Leasur es
Construction of Airfields in the Hinterlasnd
Soviet Coordination ith the Chinese Communist Army
CHMFM VII

73
75
77
79
79
80

Soviet Deployment in Far Eastern Russia

Role of Soviet Far Fast Forces to Red Army's
Over-all Strategy
Estimates of Red Army Divisional Strength
Shifts from Defensive to Offensive
The Trans-Baikal Versus the Ussuri

83
87
88
89

CHA?= VIII Study of Border Positions
Soviet Construction of Border Positions
Description of Border Positions
Soviet Border Grrison Forces

95
101
102

Fortified Regions or "Ms"

104

Discussion of Fortified Zones or l s

108

C'APT'R IX

Coments on Sigiica&t Aspects of Soviet

Operations in 'Y=ch=tnia in 1945
Comments on Soviet Policy Changes and Troop Concentration
ill
in FM
Comments on Soviet btives and Objectives in Entering
the ;7ar Against Japan
113

6

-Page

Timig of Soviet Entry into War Against Japan
Soviet Ground and Air Strength Used in Manchuria
Soviet Strategic Concepts Regarding Manchuria

36
118
121

Soviet Command System
Advancing Power of Soviet Forces
Lethod of Warfare

122
129
131

J EX

Maps
1b. 1
lb. 2
NO. 3

L8iitary Boundaries of Far East Russia
Reference Lap
. Location of Border Positions, Soviet
Army, 1945
b. Location of Soviet Border Positions in
Southern Ussuri Area, 1945

11
27
97
99

Charts
lb. 1

Arqy General Staff Estimate of Capacity of
Trans-Siberian Railroad (1945)
Nb. 2 Zones of Responsibility, Soviet Far East
Forces (1931-1945)
lb. 3 Estimate of Soviet Ground Forces Strength
!b. 4 a. Fortified Zones (L]Rs) in the Ussuri
b. Fortified Zones (1.s) in the Amr and
Trans-Baikal
lb. 5 Orgaizational Chart of !Major Command,
Soviet Far East Forces, 1944-1945

24
L2
Lj6-47
105
ILU6

12L

Sketches
lb. 1

!&ajor Border Incidents Between Japan and
the Soviet Union, 1935-1945
Nb. 2 Zones of Responsibility, 1938-1939
Nb. 3 Zones of Responsibiity, 1940-1944
Nb. 4 Zones of Responsibility, 1945

7

L3
6L
61
125

CBAP']M I
Strategic A-spects of Far East ?Bussia-!anchuria
Primary Considerations in Far East Stratta
As seen by the Japanese Army General1 Staff, Far Eastern Russia,1
lacking economic independence and isolated froma European Russix, wa~s
critically dependent upon the Trans-.Siberian2 Railroad.

Also as seen

by the General Staff, Far Eastern Russia geograp*iical3

formed a

horseshoe around Manchuria.
These two statements sum up the factors of primary strategic
importance to the General Staff priJor to and during World War II in
estimating the capabilities of the Red Army in the Far East.

Other

factors., of secondary strategic importance,. were related to the existence of this railroad or to this fact of geography; these include,
for the railroad, such factors as capacity, seasonal effects, andi
rolling stock, and for geography, such factors as land, sea, and air,
plant and animal life, and man and his industries.

It will be seen

that all primary and secondary strat-,gic factors 'were closely'interrelated.

1. The Japanese Army General Staff t.JACGS) in referring to Far
Eastern tAussia meant generally the area east of Krasnoyarsk Province.
The boundaries of political and adinijstrative subdivisions of Far
Eastern Russia, subject as they were to change, were rnot relied upon
by the JAGS in military planning. Instead, to facilitate the collection of intelligence and the planning of operations, the JAGS
arbitrarily established "'military boundaries"- which tran'sected the

I!
Relation of Geography and the Railroad to Offensive Operations
of the Red PtOn the offensive, the Re

Army in the Far East was viewed quite

differently by the General Staff than when-on the defensive, although
in both cases its dependence on the railroad was critical.

On the

offensive, the Bed Army had as its principal asset the fact that
geography enabled it prior to hostilities to deploy in an encircling
position around Manchuria.

From such a starting position the attacker

could tighten the encirclement and be in a favorable position to
annihilate the opposing force.

(Had the Soviet Far Eastern Army

been sufficiently powerful in 1941 to capitalize on this geographic
advantage and carry out a strategic encirclement, its prize would
have been the Ewantung Arr

vhich at that time constituted the main

strength of the Japanese Army. )

But such a military campaign, to

be sustained, vould depend upon supplies shipped from the heart of
the Soviet Union via the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

The railroad,

however, did not have sufficient transportation capacity to provide
continuous supply support; nor were the resources of Far Eastern
Ilussia alone adequate to support such a campaign.

Thus, while

geography afforded advantages, the lack of an adequate rear supply
system constituted a decided disadvantage.

Furthermore , since the

railroad rn parallel rather than perpendicular to the frontier, the
"rear" supply system in addition to being inadequate was vulnerable.
administrative boundaries (See Map No. 1), and did not necessarily
conform to the boundaries of Soviet Army components. The regions
enclosed by these military boundaries will be referred to simply as
areas; the principal areas to which reference will be made in this
study will be the Ussuri area, the Amur area, and the Trans-Baikal
(See Map No. 1). References to SSRs, ASSRs, oblasts, krays,
area.
oL-ugs, and rayony will be made only when necessary, for example in
connection with population figures.
10

MAP NO. I

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*112

I

(

Relation of Geo_'raphy and the Railroad to Defensive Operations
of the Red k
-

Geography and the Trans-Siberian Railroad played as important
a role in the national strategy of the Soviet Union as in its.
Far Fast strategy.

In a situation in which the Red ArmW in the

Far East was on the defensive, Far Eastern Russia would have to be
iiewed as part of the Soviet Union as a whole.
.-

(Had the Kwantung

.hen it was at teak strength been able to occupy Far Eastern

1-ussia,

it would have meant only that the Far East wing of the

Sovi.et Army had been defeated, not its main body.)

The capture of

Far Eastern Russia would not prove fatal to the Soviet Union, if
the ra:i body of its arrT. rezained intact and the heart of the
Soviet Union remained unimpaired.
'Te Soviet Union had never maintained the main body of its
ar-y in the Far East.

Even had it ever desired to do so (which

'oil_.d perilously weaken its E:.zopear fI-ntler) it would not be able
to furnish adequate and continuous supply support so long as the
rear supply system and the resources of Far Eastern Iussia, separately
or in co-bination, remaired inadequate.
Under these circunstances it was inconceivable to the Japanese
:-eneral Staff that the Soviet Union would deploy the main body of
its Army in the Far LPast.

So long as the Soviet Union did not do

so, it followed that it i-as impossible to engage the main body of
the

Soviet Army, in a decisive battle in the far East.

13

From this

freasoning

the General Staff drew the conclusion that it was 1pos-

Able To defeat the Soviet Union b; operations on only the Far-"

Eastern front. 2

Those operations that could be undertaken in the

Far Fast would not be sufficient to defeat the Soviet Union, since
they would involve only one front, and only one segment of the Soviet
army.

Furthermore, one of the most vexing problems confronting the

Japanese Army General Staff in formulating operational plans against
the USSR was to determine at which line to terminate operations.

In

this connection, it was generally believed that even if the Japanese
advanced as far as the Trans-Baikal area the defeat of the USSR
could not be accomplished.
General Staff Requirements for Defeat of USSR in World War II
What then should have been done to defeat the USSR in World
War II? Theoretically, it was simple.

The first requirement was

to prevent a situation from developing whereby the Soviet Army would
be enabled to defeat its enemies in Europe and the Far East one by

2. German w.orld War II commanders reached the same conclusion
In a historical study enabout a one-sided assault from the West.
compiled by several
Campai=n
Russian
in
the
Factors
Terrain
titled
former C-=r=an generals and published on 26 July 1951 by the U.S.
Departent of the ArV in pamphlet from (DA Pamphlet 20-290), the
follo-;in-!statements respectively open and close the chapter called
"conclusions." "Never in history has a one-sided attack from the
The recent war (World War II)
);est s-cceeded in subjugating Rvssia."
has reaffirmed only one fact: In any one-sided assault from the West,
even the best of military forces will find it more than difficult to
bring about the collapse of .ussia." The use of the qualifying phrase
"from the :.est" by the German generals undoubtedly refers to the fact
that Russia was subjugated from the East (through the Caucasus) in 124.

111

one, as was actually the case in World War II,

or, stated offensively,

to attack the Soviet Union simultaneously in Europe and the Far East.
It can readily be seen that multi-front operations, undesired by the
army of any nation, would be particularly disa

rantageous to the

Soviet Union.
The second and third requiremeants were,

respectively, to neutralize

the heart of the Soviet Union, particularly the industriaJ Ural area,
and to cause internal disintegration by means of political strategems.
That great difficulty would be encountered in carrying out these prerequisites was fully recognized by the General Staff.
It

-us"Sia,

is safe to say that while geography favored Far Eastern
the inadequacy of its econcic developmzent and its excessive

dependence upon the Trans-Siberian

.allroad most seriously handicapped

the strategy of the Soviet Far Eastern Arz .

These and other weaknes-

ses will be described in subsequent chapters.

t15

II

.

.

l

mI

I

CHAPR II
Factors Handicapping Strategy

Sparse Population
The 1926 population of Far Eastern Russia (hereafter referred
to simply as FER) was 3,168,839.

During the twelve years between

December 1926 and January 1939 it increased to 5,326,439, azcording
to the 1939 national census of the USSR.

3

The average density in

FER was only 1.12 persons per square kilometer, considerably less
than the 8 )5 for the entire USSR.

4

One of the major effects of this small and dispersed population
was to delay the development of the economy and transportation.
This in turn placed a restraint on Soviet military activity in the
Far East.

For example, the sparse population meant an insufficient

rmber of homes for billeting soldiers and inadequately produced
local foodstuffs for feeding them. 5 These shortages,

it

should be

3.
Subsequent to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 the
Soviets made no anncuncements regarding population. In March 1945,
the Japanese Army General Staff estimated the population in FM to
be 6,050,000, including about 700,000 troops (11% of the total) and
about 300,000 forced laborers.
4. The density and dispersion of population in the four major
pre-war provinces of FER are indicated by the following figures taken
from the 1939 census: 4.39 persons per square kilometer in the Maritime
Province, 0.56 in the Khabarovsk Province, 1.61 i Chita Province, nd
I
1.39 in Irkutsk Province.
5. The practice of quartering soldiers in private homes is
perhaps least known in the US, where no wars have been fought since
the Civil and Indian Wars. Article II of the Bill of Rights which

17
" 'LS++'+
t" +
•

IL

t.

stated., would work to the detriment of an invader as much as they
restrained Soviet forces.
Both in F

.

and in the USSR as a

bole the city population was

less than the farm population at the beginning of World War II.
(In

M 2,348,163 people lived in cities, 2,978,276 on farms).

However, in comparison with the USSfl, FER's city population was
greater percentagewise (see table below).

This was interpreted as

possibly indicating that a greater eaphasis was being placed on
industrial develcpmen- in FM-.
Urban

Rural

USSR

33%

67%"

FE'

44%

56%

Shortage of Recruits and Reservists
The presence of a large percentage of FZ

population in cities

(as compared with the USSR as a whole) aggravated the manpower problem
created by sparse population.

Because of the emphasis on industrial

became effective in 1791 states: "'No soldier shall in time of peace
be quartered in any house, without the consent of the omer, nor il
time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." The reader
should bear in zind that the modernity and w'realth of the U.S. Army
is most clearly seen when co-mpared writh other armies, particularly
those that, while using modern weapons, continue to adher to such
ancient practices as living off the land, quartering troops, and
laking slaves (instead of 1071s). To the extent that an army feels
compelled to engage in such practices its organizational structure
will vary. For example, an army that plans to live off the land
will rt have the same type of logistical elements as one that plans
to supply itself.

F7

development, the farms were the main source of new personnel.

This

gave FER a smalIer manpower reservoir, percentagewise, than the USSR
as a whole, and resulted in a shortage of both recruits and reservists.
To remedy the shortage of recruits, youths were drawn from dini.tricts west of Lake Baikal.

During the annual enlistment period,

conducted during September and October, east-bound trains transporting young men were frequently observed.

Although this was also

the period for discharging soldiers who had completed their training,
west-bound trains transporting discharged soldiers were few.

Soviet

authorities in order to build up a manpower pool for mobilization in
FER forcibly required many discharged soldiers to settle there.
(Soviet attempts to encourage emigration to the Far East

ill

be

discussed in a later chapter.)
Since dependence on a large reserve that could be rapidly mobilized in the event of a surprise Japanese attack was a major factor
in Soviet strategy, the shortage of reservists caused special concern
to Soviet authorities, especially since it meant that reinforcements

would have to be obtained from European Russia.
USSR,

In view of this the

a few years before the war, authorized the Far Eastern Arm

to

maintain its infantry divisions on a wartime (larger) table of organization.

Although this level was never fully met, in 1940 the strength

of some divisions was as high as about 85 per cent in both personnel
and horses.

In this way the number of reservists that would be needed

in time of mobilization was kept at a minimum.
At any rate,

the sparse population rendered it difficult for the

19

ii

m m mlm m

iras

Soviet Far Eastern Arny to matain its strength, especially on a war-

time basis.

The Japanese Arz

General Staff ascertained that the only-

Soviet ndlitary bases in the Far East with enough reserves to nobilize.
new units were those at Vladivostok,

habarovsk, Chita, and Irkutsk.

Sach being the case, it concluded that the Soviets in order to be
able to carry out large-scale offensive operations in the Far East
oud have to transfer many divisions from the west. Since these
divisions would have to be transported by the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the railroad was indispersable to the Soviets from a military
viewpoint in tae Far Fast.
Lack of Economic Self-Sufficiency
Far Eastern Russia was sleeping during most of the first FiveYear Plan (1928-1932); it awakened following the Manchurian Incident
in 1931.

For the second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937) the Soviets allo-

cated large sums for the developmnt of FER, with emphasis on heavy
industries. The third Five-Year Plan (1938-1942) provided for continued development in the Far East.. Through it the USSR soaght to
achieve economic self-sufficiency for FER so that in case of war it
might be independent of Europe.
requirements.

Emphasis was placed on military

Great efforts rere made 4.o diminish reliance on the

Trans-Siberian Pailroad so that in wartime the railroad might be
used primarily for transporting military personnel and supplies,
and also so that shovud the operation of the railroad be disrupted
FE might be enabled to subsist independently. This plan was not
carried out successfully mainly because the population was too small

20

OMI

I

to carry out such an ambitious program in so vast an area.

At the

beginning of 1945, the Japanese Army General Staff made an estimate
of the degree of self-sufficiency attained.

This estimate is discus-

sed below.
Foodstuffs - Far Eastern Russia was short of grain every year
by hundreds of thousands of tons despite the fact that it included
the Ussuri and Amr regions, "the granaries of Far Pastern Russia."
This shortage had to be made up from other areas.

In 1937, for

ins'ance, 800,000 tons of grain had to be obtained from European
Russi'l.
The normal cy . of bread-making grain in FER was only about
1,130,000 tons, according to published statistics.

About 200,000

tont, of this, however, were required as seed for the following year,
leaving an actual supply of about 930,000 tons.

This represent'0d a

self-sufficiency ratio of 67 per cent against requirements computed
on the basis of population (5,350,000 civilian, 700,000 military),
and allowed a rate of 330 kilograms for each soldier per annum (900
grams daily) and 215 kilograms for each civilian per Ann= (j60 grams
daily).

The wartime stockpile of foodstuffs was estimated at about

800,000 tons.
Petroleum - Although there were petroleum-producing areas in
Ibrthern Sakhalin, Kamchatka,

and along the shores of Lake Baikal,

only the one in Northern SakhalirA was active.

The output there was

estimated at about 1,000,000 tons annually, giving FER 66 per cent
*

self-sufficiency in petroleum.

(Records show that about. 500,000 tons

J

t

21.

of petroleum had to be obtained from the west during 1937).

Apart

from this, the petroleum stockpile in FER was estimated at 1,300,000
tons.

(One ton equals approximately six barrels).
Iron and Steel - Although FER abounds in iron ore deposits,

there were only two large iron mills, namely the Fetrovsk-ZaBaikalskiy
iron ibrks an, the

mur Steel frill (Amur Stal).

The total annual

output of these and several smaller mills was only 2; ,000 tons rf
steel and 10,000 tons of pig iron.

The self-sufficiency percentage

of steel was estf'mated at 38 per cent.

(N1o stockpile figures were

available.)
Coal - Far Eastern Hussia abounds in ccal deposits also, and
its output had increased year by year.
about l4,400,000 tons.
the coal mines,
13,200,00 tons.

HoTever,

In 1945, it was estimated at

after deducting the amount used at

the actual output for outside consumption -was about
This amunt was barely sufficient to meet peace-

time needs.
1.unitions - The =uiniticns industry had not been firmly established
at the outbreiL of v';orld ';ar II,
the iron and steel industry,

due principally to the vw
ealaness of

but also to the lack of aluaintm pro-

duction and the sad state of the mac.ine-manufacturing industry.
Its wartime production capacity was small:

monthly production of

aircraft was about 400, of tarks about 150,

of armored cars about

30, and of various types of guns about 550.

Lost of the munitions

factories Yere located near the Lanchurian-Soviet border and hence

22

ere vulnerable.

To offset this disadvantre, Soviet autbrities

as early as 1940 attempted to develop the Komsomrlsk area into a
mnnitions manufacturing area.

In addition, up to the time the rar

ended, the Soviets made extensive efforts to turn the Trans-Baikal
area, especially near Irkutsk and Ulan Ude,

into another munitions

manufacturing area.
Failure to achieve a satisfactory degree of economic selfsufficiency constituted a strategfic weakness,
upon supplies from European Russia.

Hence,

and made FE

depindent

from an economic as well

as a military viewpoint the Trans-Siberian Railroad inevitably came
to assume a vital role in

the Far East.

Limited Transportation Capacity of Trans-Siberian Railroad
Military and economic reliance upon the railroad served to
emphasize the immense strategic importance of this life-line to
Far Eastern Russia; without it,

large-scale Soviet operations in the

Far East were impossible.
The railroad itself, however, was inherently handicapped.

The

most important problem from the viewpo. nt of Par East strategy ms3
its limnited capacity:

it

meant that even if the Soviet Union could

mobilize several hndred divisions it

could not efficiently and

promptly transport thea to the Far East, nor suppo-t
capacity pro~lem vas of such importance,

them.

This

in fact, that the Japanese

Aruj General Staff made a continuing investigation and study of it.
(Por a 1945 estimate of the track capacity of the railroad see Chart

23

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No. 1.)
The General Staff estimated the maximum wartime transportation
6
capacity of the Trans-Siberian Railroad to be 13,000,000 tons per year,

of which approximately 9,300,000 tons could be alloted to military
transportation.

On the basis of this capacity, plus stockpiles in

FER (about 800,000 tons of foodstuffs and about 1,300,000 tons of
liquid fuel), the General Staff estimated the number of divisions
that the Soviets could support in FE

to be between 55 arid 60.

To the great reliance on the railroad and to the railroad's
limited capacity must be added its vulnerability; the Soviet Armin the Far East would be doomed if the railroad were disrupted.
The railroad had many vulnerable points.

Aside from the fact that

it ran quite close to and along the Soviet-l-anchuria border, several
key points uere close to Japanese installations; for example, the
iron bridge at iman was located within four kilometers of Japanese
heavy guns emplaced at the border fortifications neaj7 Hutou.

This

mas evidently a matter of Freat concern to Soviet army authorities.

6. Based on follo ing assu:tion: '.a-ximum number of trains
operating east of Karymskoe is 51 in sumer and 51 in winter; loading
capacity of one train is 750 tons in su.-er and 600 tons in vninter;
one year consists of a summer and V:inter of equal duration. (General
John R Deane in The Strange Al!iance, pp 263-64, states that U.S.
planners calculated that the Trans-Siberian rould fall short of the
capacity needed to maintain Soviet Far East forces by about 200,000
tons a month. This was based on figures furnished by Stalin at the
time of the Churchill conferences in October 1944.)

..

.

-

~~Q

,.-

25

-

_

."

To offset this strategic weaess the Soviets begun the consB.

tuK

of the B

Railroad. 7

The rout. ot

is prely strategic

'
.T

railroad, 'with a length of 4,000 kilometers, followed the Tram-.
Siberian until it reached Taishet, khere it

branched off and ran

through the trackless highlands north of Lake Baikal to Xomsomolsk
and continued on to the coastal city of Sovetskaya Gavan, opposite
southern Sakhalin.

(See M~ap No. 2)

The construction of th.is railroad was by no means an easy task
so far as technical skill and the supply of labor were concerned.
The Japanese ArzV General Staff interpreted the attempt to construct

it in the face of great difficulties as a manifestation of the Soviet's
firm determination to secure the eastern part of Far Eastern Russia
at all costs and as evidence of deep concern over the possiblc dis-.
ruption of the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

'1
V

7. In 1939 the Japanese Army General Staff, after a special
investigation, estimated that the Bam Railroad would be completed
about 1945. Due to the outbreak of the German-Soviet War, the
construction of the railroad was suspended until the termination
of the war.

j

26

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RAP NO. 2

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7

CHAPTER III

Military Geographical Factors in Far Eastern Russia
Lines of Communication
The regions of Far Eastern Russia that lie Adjacent to Manchuria
have been identified at different times either geographically as provinces or territories, or as politico-administrative subdivisions
(oblasts, krays, etc.) of the USSR.

In this study they will be re-

ferred to as 1) the Ussuri area embracing all Soviet territory east
of the Ussuri-Amur River line including the Maritime Province, 2) the
Amur area to the north of UManchuria, and 3) the Trans-Baikal area
(including Chita and the Buryat 1ongol ASSR) to the northwest.

These

three areas, together with Outer Mongolia-a Soviet satellite since
1921-formed the horseshoe around Mnchuria.

8

Only in the Trans-Baikal area could it be said that the line
of communication (Trans-Siberian Railroad) ran perpendicular to the
front; hence, this was the only area that actually had a "rear"
supply line.

In the Amur and Ussuri areas the railroad ran parallel

to the frontier.

Considering the railroad's route through these

latter areas the Soviets could not regard the ralroad as a "rear
line of communication" but more properly as a line of communication
8. A comparison of '.brld Tiar II maps of the USSR prepared by the
N'ational Geographic Society with and postvar maps of the USSR
prepared by the Ar-y Map Service from British sources, clearly shows
the changes in geographical and politico-administrative boundaries,
U.S.

~PHECEDiLG

29-

PAGiE b.4~iQ

1X.UND

running La front of the ene'..
The Japanese, o the other hand, had extensive supply lines mot
only to Manchuria but also within Manchuria.

Regular sea routes 0on-

nocted the Japanese islands with north and south Krea as wel. as
with .he 1ort Arthur and Dairen areas. Furthermore, the railroad
network in Ilkncburia was comparatively well-developed and was Unked
with those of Korea and China.

The Soviet Special Far Eastern Army, which until 1935 had
jurisdiction over all of Far Ea-tern Russia, that is to say the
area east of Krasnoyarsk, was deeply concerned about lines of commmication. Not only was it fearful of possible disruption of its
own lines, but -it was intent on severing the supply lines 'of the

XWantung Arz.
The Trans-Baikal Area and Outer Mongolia
Of the several vulnerable segments of the Trans-Siberian
Railroad, the one that gave the Special Far Eastern Arnm

most cause

for concern was that in the Trans-Baikal, "the throat of Far Eastern
Russia."

As can be seen from a map, once the Trans-Baikal segment

is severed and the adjacent area seized by an enem;y, the Amur and

Ussuri regions to the east become completely isolated. (See Iap No. 2)
In view of this apprehension, the Soviets took continuing steps
to forestall a disruption of its line of communication in the TransBaikal.

In 1931, after the Manchurian Incident, they began fortifying

the area along the banks of the Borzya River, and reinforced tank

30

strength along the Outer ?-ngolia-n-Yamchurian border and in the aa
adjacent to the Karymskoe-!anchou.i railroad.

In

1936,

the USSR

made public a mutual assistance pact with Outer Mongolia,

the poll

purpose of which was to warn the Japanese to stay out of Outer ion
and the military purpose of which w-as to acquire the right to stat
troops in

Outer Ibngolia.

Thereafter measures to flank M.nchuria

the west and to complete the encirclement of M-anchuria were pushed
In 1938,

the 36th

!otorized Division, then at Chita, was sent to

Outer lbngolia and stationed in

the vicinity of Ude,

a key point

near Inner ibngolia, on the road between Ulan Bator and Kalgan.
(Kalgan is

only about 100 m4les from Peiping).

Sending this division to Ude had as its

obvious purpose the

disruption in an emergency of the transportation of Japanese forces.
from China Froper to reinforce Ianchuria.
(That a plan with such an objective existed during
.Vbrld 'War II was corroborated by Major General John
R. Deane of the United States in testimony given
before the International 3.itary
Tribunal for the
Far East on 5 June 1947.
General Deane stated:
"In the Soviet-American Jorint Operational Conference
against Japan, held in October 1944, Stalin proposed
a plan to attack Peiping and Tientsin from the TransBaikal through Outer Abngolia and Kalgan with highly
mobile groups, thile bringing pressure to bear on the
northeastern border of Lanchuria.")
Another measure undertaken by the USSR to improve. its strategic
position in

the Trans-Baikal and to extend its encirclement of

Mnchuria was the. construction of a railroad connecting the TransBaikal with Outer lIngolia.

This line was the ffrst railroad .to be

31
S

strength along the Outer 1ngolian-M!achurian border and in the a
In 1936, the USSR

adjacent to the Karymskoe-Manchouli railroad.

made public a mutual assistance pact with Outer M.ongolia, the poll
purpose of which was to warn the Jaanese to stay out of Outer Mon
and the military purpose of which w-s to acquire the right to stat
troops in

Outer lngolia.

Thereafter measures to flank Manchuria

the west and to complete the encirclement of Manchuria were pushed
In 1938,

the 36th Motorized Division, then at Chita, was sent to

Outer 1bngolia and stationed in

the vicinity of Ude,

a key point

near Inner longolia, on the road between Ulan Bator and Kalgan.
(Kalgan is

only about 100 miles from Peiping).

Sending this division to Ude had as its

obvious purpose the

disruption in an emergency of the transportation of Japanese forces
roper to reinforce I-nchuria.

from China

(That a plan with such an objective existed during
'.brld '.lar II was corroborated by 1ajor General John
R. Deane of the United States in testimony given
before the Internaticnal M.itary Tribunal for the
Ceneral Deane stated:
Far East on 5 June 1947.
"In the Soviet-American Joint Operational Conference
against Japan, held in October 1944, Stalin proposed
a plan to attack Peiping and Tientsin from the TransBaikal through Outer lbngolia and Ealgan with highly
mobile groups, v.ile bringi-ng pressure to bear on the
northeastern border of K*nchuria.")
Another measure undertaken by the USSR to improve its strategic
position in

the Trans-Baikal and to extend its encirclement of

L-nchuria was the. construction of a railroad connecting the TransBaikal with Outer Lbngolia.

This line was the flist

31

railroad .to be

constructed in the-eastern part of Outer Ibngolia.
awtem 'at the city of

the frans-Siberia

lorzya (in

It branched off
the Trans-

Baikal), ran south, crossing the Siberian-Outer Mongolia border, to
Choibalsan and then eastward to Tamsag, which lies within thirty

miles of the Manchurian border.

(This railroad, begun in 1936,was

completed about 1939 and was called the Mlotovska7a Railroad; it

gave the USSR a distinct strategic advantage during the Nomonhan
Incident in 1939.)

(See Map No. 2)

The route of the railroad was generally parallel to and within
about forty miles of the periphery of the Manchurian geographical
salient into Outer Mongolia.

Its importance lay not so ach in its

proximity to the frontier, however, as in the fact that it gave the
USSR a more southerly approach to Manchuria through the geographical
counter-salient (the Tamsag salient) which Outer Mongolia makes
into Manchuria.

Hence, the Borzya-Tamsag railroad would enable

Soviet forces to consolidate for a major operational thrust against
the central part of Manchuria, including the capital of Hsinking,
instead of laboring along the more northerly Manchouli-Harbin route,
where open stretches on both the approach and rear side of the
mountains as well as the longer distance and greater obstacles
(mountains, Hailar fortifications) posed greater handicaps.
(That this southerly operational direction enables
a more rapid military advance into the central plains
of Manchuria than the routes from the Amur or Ussuri
areas, was proved by the Red Army in August 1945.)

32

The greatest obstacle to operations in the these areas, which
are mostly desert, was the difficulty in maintaining a rear supply
system, especially as regards water and fuel.
(The importance of water and fuel in this area
was also shown in August 1945 when the USSR
entered the war against Japan.
The Soviet
mechanized group that advanced through the Tamsag
salient into the central part of Manchuria was
forced to halt temporarily due to the shortage of
fuel only two or three days after it started
operations.
!.breover, of the Soviet and !.bngolian
forces that advanced southward along the Ulan SatorKalgarn road in the direction of Peiping, only one
Soviet motorized infantry battalion and one Outer
ibngolian cavalry unit got as far as Kalgan.
It

should be said, therefore, that although these flatlars

facilitate the passage of ground troops, they constitute a strateg
obstacle zone where military operations would be extremely difficu
unless a railroad or other adequate transportation facilities were
available.
From the standpoint of offensive operations launched from
t anchuria, it

may be said that the Trans-Baikal area constitutes

the "throat of Far Eastern Russia," and that the complete seizure
thereof is

the quickest way to control Far Eastern Russia.

be recognized,

It

mus,

however, because of the numerous attendant difficult

that an advance into this area is

by no means an easy task, its wic

expanse of wasteland imposing as it

does a heavy burden upon the

supply effort of an invading force.

On the other hand, (as was sh(

in 1945) the same supply difficulties would confront Soviet forces

33

-I

I

advancing from the Trans-Baikal area into Manchuria or northern Chloa.
In short, transportation facilities determine the volume of supply
support possible for operations in the area west of Manchuria and
therefore play a vital role.

Am= AreaFast of the Trans-Baikal area and connecting it with the Ussuri
(maritime) area was the Amur area generally north of Manchuria.
Three geographical features must be considered in connection with
this northern border:

1) the

muar River, which provides a natural

boundary, 2) the Greater Hsingan Ibuntain Range which extends to the
border and is separated from Siberian mountains by the Amur River
and 3) the "bulge" *which Manchuria makes into Siberia in the western
sector of the frontier.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad ran quite close to the frontier
"bulge" in the western sector of this northern front, and was "seemingly
vulnerable.

However large-scale operations in this sector were not

considered possible because on the Manchurian side of the Amur the
The Soviets did

area besides being mountainous was densely forested.

not fortify their side of the river in this protruding section, and
the only Japanese fortifications in this region were considerably
farther south, along the railroad.
From a strategic viewpoint the Greater Hsingan 1buntain Range
divided the Far Fast into tvo potential battlefields.

The Soviets

nust have realized that should the area east of the range become

3L

'~'

OEM,

the principal battlefield, the Janam- s

Ar

would attempt to cross

the Amur and advance to seize control of the Anur plains in order to
sever the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

The most likely place for such

a crossing 'would be in the central sector of the northern front,
specifically in the vicinity of Heiho.

The Soviets in this vicinity

considered the protection of the railroad in their area to be a most
important mission.

They fortified their side of the river with a

series of pillbox positions, and in the rear areas maintained powerful air units in readiness.

These positions, however, were not so

well developed as those in the Ussuri area, presumably because of the
security afforded by the natural obstacle of the Amur River.
The Amur Fiver constituted a formidable barrier.

It was dif-

ficult to cross except during the freezing season when, however,
cold would be an obstacle.

Aside from the task of negotiating the

river it would be difficult to continue operations on the opposite
bank.

These obstacles would hinder operations launched by either

side.

krom the Soviet viewtoint, an invasion through the Heilho area

would provide a short cut into Manchuria,

but would require crossing

not only the Amur River but also the trackless lesser Fsingan Ibuntain
Range, and would involve an aggravated supply problem.

It was there-

fore believed that the Soviets, should they invade Manchuria, would
not send the main body of their army along this route.
At the eastern extremity of the northern front, where the Sungari

T

River flows into the Amur, the Soviets prepared not only for ground
3

~35

operations but a33o for river operations, planning to push operations
up the Sungari simultaneouslv with a land offensive.

The Amur Patrol

Boat Division based at Khabarovsk had the mission of patroling the
Amur River and was slated to carry out operations along the Sungari.
The Ussuri Area
The. strategic value of the Ussuri area was immeasureable.
Lying at the eastern and southeastern segment of the Soviet "horseshoe" confinement of Ianchuria, this maritime area possessed several
submarine bases and many air bases, with a potential for completing
the encirclement.
sub-arines,

These bases constituted a direct threat:

the

vhich yearly increased in number, were capable of dis-

rupting surface transportation in the Sea of Japan; the aircraft,
which likewise increased in number each year, were capable, in addition, of bombing the Japanese homeland.
As in the Amur area,

the route of the Trans-Siberian Railroad

in the Ussuri area closely paralleled the frontier.. The most progeographical feature of the Ussuri area, aside from the
rnnced
M
fact that it touched the sea, was the completely mountainous region
iediately east of the narrow valley through which the railroad
ran.

These mountains stretched to the sea and had very few roads.

,ere the Soviet forces to be pushed back into these mountains by the
Japanese Army, they would have no room for withdrawing or for regrouping.

Furthermore, because of the narrowness of the area between

the border and the mountains, the Japanese Army would not have to
pursue them very far.

36

.1

It was indeed the fear of bei-ng boxed up in an area with no
room for maneuvering that compelled the Soriet Army in the Far East
to construct its strongest border positions in the Ussuri area, to
connect them with the fortress of '71adivostok, to fortify the coast
of the Suchan Plain (east of Vladivostok), and in general to develop
the entire Ussuri area into one great fortified zone.

These defense

measures did not mean, however, that the Soviet Army had any intention
of assuming a defensive role in this fortified zone.

Rather,

since

the zone left no room for retreat, the Soviet Army was expected to
assume the offensive on this as well as other fronts at the beginning
of hostilities and, while containin

th-, main body of the Japanese

Army in Ussuri area, to advance its own main body from the TransBaikal area into western Manchuria.
Ussuri Area Coastline
The Soviet Army in the Ussuri area was -well protected on its
southern and eastern flank by the Sea of Japan.

The coast from Peter

the Great Bay to Olga Bay was notched by numerous small bays.

Farther

north the coast was almost straight, and the_ e were no harbors suitable
for anchorages until Sovetskya Gavan and De .stri Bay were reached.
The Sikhote Alin Range ran morth and south along the coast and
inland to a considerable depth.

Although its western slope (facing

the railroad) was comparatively gentle, the eastern (seaward)

side

was steep and in some places upon reaching the coast ended in a
sheer cliff.

This range had practically no vehicular roads across it.

Coastal defense measures were rigidly enforced by Soviet troops

1:

37

i'.

16

V~

I

along the coast, particularly from Vladivostok to the Suchan Plain.
North of this plain there were two places that might be considered
suitable for landing operations:

at Sovetskaya Gavan, the eastern

terminas of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from which an advance to
Eomsomolsk along the railroad was possible, and near Nikolaevsk at
the estuary of the Amur, from which-a push southward along the river
banks could be made.

All things considered, however, the Ussuri area

was regarded as comparatively well protected by ratural terrain
features.
Conclusions
Yearly estimates made by the Japanese Army General Staff as to
the strength which the tied Army was capable of concentrating in the
Far East in the event of var repeatedly showed that the Soviet
potential was far greater than that of the Japanese Army.

In 1934,

the General Staff estimated that the Soviet potential was 40 divisions
(against Japan's 31 division); in 1937, 50 divisions (against Japan's
22); and in 1938, 60 divisions (against Japan's 50).
mates were based on a Japanese offensive.

All these esti-

There was no doubt'of the

greater Soviet potential; at the same time, however, it was recognized
that this potential would be handicapped by the factors already mentioned,
and particularly by the limited capacity of the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
Aside from the rartime potential, the peacetime deployment of
the Soviet Army in the Far East vas greater than that of the Japanese

38

I

~

-o

-

irny2 as shon by the following figures of divisional srength for
a five-year period:

,
-oviet

-

.

.Ar

Japanes

1937"

20

6"

1938

24

1939
1940
1941

30
30
23

8
9

-

12
14

As regards the type of operations the Soviets

ould undertake

at the outbreak of war, the Japanese Ceneral Staff felt that Soviet
.forces iould ta/ke advantage of their initially favorable strategic
positions encircling Hanchuria by assuming the offensive from all
directions similtanecusly to close the encirclement.

It

expected,

furthermore, that the Soviets would push operations particularly
along railroad routes and along the Sungari River in order to assure
an uninterruoted supyly line.
Although this study does mot concern itself with the geography
of Manchuria, one thing vhich must be mentioned in
a Soviet advance into Manchuria is

connection with

the influence the Greater Hsingan

ibuntain Range would have on operations, to which brief reference
has already been made.

From a topographical viewpoint, this is the

paramount terrain feature in Mianchuria and, as already pointed out,
divides the anticipated battlefield.

Tm factors,

it

was believed,

vould determine the course of operations in the early stages of the
war:

the time required by Soviet forces to reach the central plains

39

of .anchuria,

and the time required by the Japanese Army to destroy
The Ceneral Staff felt that the

Soviet forces in the Ussuri area.

proper course of action for the Soviet Army would be to advance to
central Manchuria from the Trans-Baikal area as quickly and with as
superior a force as possible, instead of dividing its strength in
two on the eastern and western sides of the mountain range for extended operations.

The execution of such operations would be in-

fluenced largely by 1) the transportation capacity of the TransSiberian Railroad, and 2) by the stockpile of war supplies,

especial-

.3"petroleum.
Accordingly, the main objectives of Japanese strategy against
the Soviet Army in the Far East were to disrupt transportation and
to destroy war stockpiles, especially petroleum.

The conduct of

operations to achieve these objectives would have to be based largely
on military geography, and it would be necessary to choose battlegrounds within Soviet territory.

In such a case operations would

obviously be handicapped by the vast terrain, poor traffic networks,
and during some months by severe cold.

Therefore, it would be es-

sential, in carrying out aggressive operations inside Soviet territory,
to have excellent cold-proof equipment, vast logistical organ#ations,
and superior maneuvering power.

Finally, it should again be pointed

out that the attacker would have to bear in mind that a strategic
victory over Soviet Far Eastern forces would not necessarily mean
the conclusion of the war against the USSR.

ho

-I

GHMPM IV
Bild-Up of Soiee Far Eastern Forces
Strategic Disposition

.

Until 1935, all Soviet forces east of Krasnoyarsk were under
the Special Far Eastern Any, and were deployed in a more or less
-round the periphery of Ianchuria the main

standard pattern.

strength of the army was deployed; in other areas, such as the
-mchatk
Peninsula and northern Sphalin, one infantry division
vas deployed.

The Soviet Facific Fleet, based at Vaadivostok and

consisting largely of submarines, patrolled the Sea of Japan to
protect the coastal flank of the aray.

(See Chart No.. 2)

Aside from routine modifications made within this basic
franework, major modifications both in disrosition and strength
were made periodically.

'hese

usually followed the outbreak of

major border disputes (so-called "incidents")

9

which may be regarded

as "boosters" mard.ng the successive stages in the Soviet build-up

9. The tern "incident" should not be taken literally. As
often as not it might indicate the existence of a .state of war precipitated without the formality of a declaration. Furthermore, it
is the translation of two different Japanese mwrds: "Jiken" was the
Japanese word for almost all incidents except the Manchurian and
China incidents which the Japanese called "Jihen." Although the
Jamanese Foreign Office translated both terms as "incident," military
usage gave them different meanings. The closest meanings the editor
can arrive at are "Jiken," a dispute; "Jihen," an undeclared war.
Frior to a "Jihen," troops mere given regular wartime orders. (See
Sketch 3b. I for major border incidents between Japan and the Soviet
Union, 1935-1945)

411

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2

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to

SKETCH NO.
MAJOR BORDER INCIDENTS
BETWEEN JAPAN AND THE SOVIET UNION
(19 35 -1945)

S.

F,
CHI-,A

(.4Jg

j,~.-'N
(t-t~

.-

~~-.

-

9

/

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~
~2!

0

X~.-NOMN

ANCHATZU
BLAGOVESHCH-ENSK*?

1

Jfl

~-

97
KUANGFENGA

TA

HAILAR

*f

HAN
1939)

\(Oy-Sept

X-*

IOTE

KHA9AROS
DS

-ANOLHUTOU(HULIN)
(Dec 1944)
xJ-KANHSIAT UN
//

H~ARBIN

)

M
MAN b

H U R I A

I

CHINGCHANGKOU
(June 1936)

N
R--N6MULINTUN
IN~
0
MOGLA.HSINKING

I!'ER/

1945)

#(AU9

(june 1935)

-.. WOGLIGTZJ

MUKDEN~

(mar

9s

(July 1944)

-

HASAN (CHANG KUFENG)

I

1938)

A(July-Aug

N

FROM THE FOUNDING OF MANCHUKUO IN 1932 UNTIL
AUGUST 1945, THE NUMBER OF BORDER DISPUTES BETWEEN
JAPAN (INCLUDING MANCHUKUO) AND THE USSR (INCLUDING
OUTER MONGOLIA) TOTALED- WELL OVER 1,000. (SEE VOLUME
SOF MILITARY STUDIES ON MANCHURIA)

-*

-

,

~

l~

___43____

4f its Far East military strength.
my be so regarded.

Three incidents in particular
The first of these began at Makden (1931), the

Fcond occurred at Changkufeng (Hasan) (1938),
(1939).

and third at Nomonban

The effect each of these incidents had on the Soviet Far

East build-up will be discussed separately.
Baild-Uo Following the Manchurian Incident
At the outbreak of the Mkden Incident on 18 September 1931
the Special Far Eastern Arw,

deployed in the area east of Krasnoyarsk,

consisted of only six infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades.
(See Chart lb. 2 for estimates of Soviet strength in the Far East
from 1931 through 1944.)

Those were the days of the First Five-Year

Plan and the Soviet Government was maintaining a policy of cooperation with foreign countries.

In fact' during December 1931, while

the LMkden Incident was spreading into the )anchurian

Incident, the

Soviet Government maintained a conciliatory attitude toward Japan
and even went so far as to propose a non-aggression pact.

(The

Japanese Government rejected this proposal about a year later.)
Meanwhile, the Incident continued to spread, and Japanese forces
extended their operations to all parts of Hanchuria.

Subsequently,

in March 1932, the independence of the "three northeastern provinces"
(of China) was proclaimed, and two weeks later these provinces were
designated "Manchukuo."

10.

In September Japan, by concluding the

See also footnote No. 12 (p. 32)

b1,X1O pIPE
ME r

Estimate of Soviet (-ound Forces Strength
(See 1&Lp b. I for Boundaries of Areas)
Year

Ussuri

Amur

(runs

Baoika

irds

(Outer ikrngolia)

_________

Chrt No.
Total

6 inf divs
193_2

cay brigs

5 inf divs

2 inf divs

2 inf divs

1933

9 inf divs
1 cay div, 1 cay brig
planes: 350

__tanks

1934 /1

.__ divs
i
cav div
tank brig

2 inf divs

2 imf divs
. tank brig

: 350

11 inf divs
1 cav div
2 tank brigs
planes:
500 (inclue,
TB-5 Hv Bombers: 120)
uanks: 650
submarines: 14
14 inI' divs
3 cay divs
planes: 950

193#

800 -. 900

____tanks:

16
3

_

-

20 ini' divs

4 cay divs
planes: 1,200
tanks : 1,200
70

__Isubmarines:

20 inf divs
193

I

I_____

planes: 1,500
ta-nks : 1, 500
submarines: 70

I

24

0!3-,I

inf divs

planes: 2,000
tanks : 1,900
submarines: 75

(There breakdown is nt given, it is unrkorn)
1. :canchurian Incident: on 18 Serte:ber 1931.
:anchu kaoa-n Lndependence: on I).:arch
1932.
2. U.S.S.R. sold the :brth
_cn-i-an ia.-.ay to Japan on 23 !Larch 1935.
3. Soviet and Outer ..bngolia .'rotocol of Lutual r.ssistance: on
7 April 1936.
Japan and Germany Ati-Co-intern Fact: on 25 November 1936.
4. I-anchatzu border incideri-: June 1937.
Czi'na Incident: on 7 July 1937.
Soviet and China 1'on-kgz-essicn Fact: on 29 August 1937.
5. HEasan border incident: July-August 1938.

I

Estimate of Soviet Ground Forces Strength
Year

Ussuri

Amur.

Trans Baika

Chart Nb. 3 (Cont'd)
Total

(Outer Mongolia)
II inf divs
1939

6

8 inf divs

8 inf divs
(3 Mzd inf divs)
(1 cav brig)
(6 tank brigs)

8 inf divs
22 inf divs 8 inf divs
4 tank brigs
2 cav brigs (other 2)
4 tank brigs 2 tank brigs
(3 inf 1.tzd divs)
19407
(1 cav brig)
(6 tank brigs)

30 inf divs
planes: 2,500
tanks : 2,500
submarine: 70
30 inf divs (other 2)
3 cav brigs
16 tank brigs
planes: 2,800
tanks : 2,700
submarine: 103
strength : 700,000

23 inf divs
planes: 1,000
tanks : 1,000
submarines: 105
strength: 800,000

1941

20 inf divs
planes: 1I,100
tanks :,800 - 1,000
submarines: 105

194,2

strength: 750,000

--

20 inf divs
planes: 1,100

tanks : 800 - 1,000
submarines: 108

1943

strength: 700,000

20 inf divs
15 - 20 inf brigs
24 air divs (1,500
planes)
submarines: 108

1944

strength: 700,000

Nomnhan border incident: July-September 1939.
France surrendered to Germany: June 1940
Transfer of units for Europian front begun in March 1941.
Japan and Soviet Neutrality Pact: 13 April 1941.
Germany declared war against Soviet: 22 June 1941.
Kantung Army Special Maneuvers: June 1941.'
9. '.estward transfer of units ceased in 1944.

6.
7.
8.

..47

Japan-nct4Ulmo protocol, assumed responsibility for the national"

defense of the -sw state. Although the limited 1hkden Incident did not draw any pro_--

-

nounceJ. Soviet reaction, its enlargement into the Manchurian Incident
drf-d several responses.

On 4 March 19.2,

zvestia, official organ

of the Soviet Government, denounced Japan. For the first time, it
used the exDiession "Japan's challenge," and quoted Stalin:

"We

neither want even a clod of foreign territory nor will we yield even
a single inch of our land."

At the same time Izvestia called for-

increased military strength in the Far East.
Shortl. thereafter the-build-up of the Far East became noticeable.
To strengthen its frontier positions, the Soviet Army, after the thaw
of ice in the spring of 1932, began to construct concrete pillbox
positions at key points.

In the Ussuri area these points included

the vicinity of Grodekrcvo and Poltavka (opposite the SuifenhoTungning fortifications).

In the -ur area, they were principally

in the vicinity of Blagoveshchensk (opposite the Heiho-Sun;vu fortifications), and in the Trans-Baik1-l area, mainly along the Borzya
111ver.

(A detailed description of border positions will be found

in Chapter VIII).
Units in charge of garrisoning the border were supplemented
by NKVD elements which tare not under the Red Army chain of *command,
but rather under the direct control of the Peoples' Comiissariat
for Home Affairs in 1bscow.

MM,

These NVD elements continually sent

MW

F.

on n.

espionage agents into Manchuria to

es

of the
-g Japanese.

Toward the end of 1932 the build-up took the farm of a ,harp
increase in troop reinforcements -via the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
This continued without interruption int6 the following year, and
by the end of 1933 at least nine infantry divisions, one cavalry
division, one cavalry brigade, as well as 350 tanks and an equal
number of planes were in the Far East.

The most conspicuous build-

up during this period took place in the Ussuri area. Of the infantry divisions, five were in the Ussuri aa'ea, two in the Amur area,
and two in the Trans-Baikal area.
During 1934 the reinforcement continued, particularly in the
Ussuri area, with emphasis on the air build-up.

The construction of

roads, bridges, airfields, and other installations was stepped up.

M

A'Te increase in the number of planes, especially bombers, became
conspicuous.!pParticularly distressing to the Japanese Army was the
fact that a great number of T1-5 type long-range bombers, said to be
capable of bombing Japan proper, were newly based in the vicinity of
Voroshilov City.

At the same time disassembled submarines, trans-

orted over the Trans-Siberian Railroad, began to arrive at Iadivostok for re-assembly, and the number of submarines in this naval
port increased little by little.
By the end of the year, ground force strength in the Ussuri area
alone had swelled to seven infantry divisions, one cavalry division,

49

I6ig

and one rechaxized brigade.

(In the Amr area, ground .strength

"-

remained at two divisions; in the Trans-Baikal area, the two infantry division were augmented by a mechanized brigade.)

A corn-

parison of the forces in the three Far Eastern areas showed that
there were definitely wore troops in the Ussuri area, and that this'
area was gradually becoming a powerful .ilitary base in the true
sense of the mord.

At the end of 1934, mreover, the Special Far

Eastern Army was believed by the Japanese Army General Staff to have
about 500 plapes, including 170 TB-5 type heavy bombers, and about
650 tanks, and 14 submarines in the Ussuri area.
In I&rch 1935 the USSR'sold its share of the North J~inchurian
Railway to Manchukuo. l

This rail-ray I-ad been the major surce of

Soviet influence in Mnchuria since 1924, and with the removal of
this influence, Japanese and Soviet forces came face to face at the
frontier.

Since many sections of the border line were not clearly

defined,

it was inevitable that disputes or "incidents" would arise.

To cope with this situation, the Special Far Eastern Army began to
increase the strength of its border garrisons.
Soviet strength in the Far East almost trinled during the period
of this first build-up (1931-1935), rising, according to estimates
of the Japanese General Staff, to about fourteen infantry divisions,

2.1. Formerly called the Chinese Eastern Railway. After World
'Nar II it nas given a third name, the Chinese Changchun Railway, but
this included the line to Dairen.

1o

three cavalry diviAons, 950 planes and 900. tanlc.

Although stricti9

speaking new Soviet build-ups during this period came on the heealI
of etch fresh incident,22 generally speaking, -all stemmed from the
Manchurian Incident.
Aside from tripling its troop strength during this period, the
USSR during the latter mniths of 1935 made a major adjustment in. the
comnd structure in the Far East.

Up to this time the army comand

that had jurisdiction over the entire area from Krasnoyarsk eastward
(including Kamcbatka and northern Sakhalin) was the Special Far
Eastern Army. Toward the end of 1935, Soviet authorities divided
this territory roughly at the Greater Hsingan lkuntain Range:

the

area east of the range was retained by the Special Far Eastern Army;
the area west of the range was assigned to the newly-formed TransBaikal District Army, whose headquarters was established at Chita.
36th armies were under the direct control of loscow.

12. Not mentioned in this Japanese study, but perhaps of major
ioortance was the Buir-Nor incident between Japan and Outer .bngo'i beginning in January 1935. This incident may have been what
provoked the USSR into making public the satellite nature of Outer
bngolia. Negotiations to settle this dispute began on 3 June 1935
and lasted five months during which the USSR publicly supported the
Lbngolian People's Republic. In February 1936 Stalin told American
ne?.spaperman Roy Howard, "In case Japan should attack the Ibngolian
people's Pepublic and endanger her independence we will have to
help the lbngolian People's Republic." Quoted from Izvestia of 31
January 1936 by D. J. Dallin in Soviet Russia and the Far East, p. 27.
it was after this incident that the USSR adopted a new national
defense policy. (See page 33-34)

51(

New Soviet Defense Poli.Cy
Even wnre far-reaching than the strength tkiild-up and the re-_organization of major com~mands, was the change in the Soviet's~
national defense policy, 'which stemmed from international developlate in 1935, the Soviet Government, after gaining fore-

merits.

kniowledge of the proprosed Anti-Comintern Pact betw~een Japan and
Germaxn,-113 announced thb inauguration of a new policy which embodied
According to the an-

concept of national strategy.

-a. chanse iits

nounce-aent, the pur-pose of the new policy -mas to establish a militir
structuire that would enable the U1SR to carry out independent operations
1against

Japan and Gerany simultaneously.

This plan would require

the stati1oning of major mi1 itary forces both in Europe and :Ln the
Far East.
ies" --'an
tD~

It was a radical denarture froM th%'.e earlier llintezior
hot

.w-.ch the USEc',

&ge aehically ThetwVeenr

oD-tent',al enez.Ies, . hd jiOLed to defCeL4;-de
or te6efea-z o'f tre second Luoo)-n the
1"r~

It

its

one at a time,, re-

edeploN7,ent of troops

goes vithout. sa-:,-Lg th-at the annou-ncement of the new national

defrerue 0 r.licy was £~o:dby adiinlzilitary)

preparations in

13 *~alcriivis~-,chif o So-.ie-; intelligence in Europe
leanedof he ngt.s
flJuly
1.936 lie acquired copies of
*.rvisy
Tedoewments ea:chanlred_ bct;:eeen vlapan and ernan'l.
Livinov, on 29 hovember
ThSai'sSecr t Zer"!ice: p-. 2-5 et se,-.
19346, E-fter the signing of the pact in Berlin on 25 ]Nover.iber, dec 6a:'e
dLarig an ~:~odnySession of-: th-e Congress of the Soviets
that th-e pact vias 710n13 a cover for another agreement." D. J. Dallin,
op cit, p. 30.

52

the Far Fast, particu)aa4y 3.nheTrass-Baflo
se pp. 16-19).
On 12 Maich 1936 the signing of the Soviet-bngolian
mutual assistance pact (earlier referred to in connection
with Soviet ipprehension
over the vulnerability of the Trans-Siberian
Railroad) was announced. 1 4
This pact marked a turning point in Soviet-Japanese
relations.

It

acknowledged the USSR's control over Outer
Ibngolia, thereby partly
offsetting Japanese control of Inner Mbngolia.
The threat implied
by the pact caused tension to mount.
Although the exact strength of Soviet forces
in the Far East
at the end of 1936 was not known, the Japanese
Army General Staff
estimated that it had quadrupled since the
M.inchurian Incident and
that it consisted of between 16 and 20 infantry
divisions, four
cavalry divisions, 1,200 planes, 1,200 tanks,
and seventy submarines.
The China Incident and FM's Improved Strategic
Position.
During 1936 the USSR made new conciliatory
gestures toward
Japan. For example, in the face of the
Anti-Comintern Pact, the
USSR renewed, albeit after extended negotiations,
the North Sakhalin
Petroleum Company's lease as well as the
fishing agreement. The year
1937, however, was to see a reversal
of this conciliation; in addition it ias to become one of the most
eventful years in recent

14. In agreement similar to this had actually
been reached
in 1934, but vas not published at that time
because of China's
sovereinty over Outer h.bngolia.

53

_
__

_

_

_

_

_

_

_

_

__77-_l

i

Far Fast history.

-

The N~ear opened with no mwre than the usual number of border
dispates.,

In late June, bowever, Japanese and Soviet troops clashed

inY a relatively large-scale incident over the question Iof title to
Kanchatzu., a small river island in the Amiur River, not far from
'where that river is joined by the Sungari.

This incident, despite

itvs scale, was settled by diplomatic negotiations in 1&bscow, and
the area quieted down.

(The Soviet's Amur River Flotilla, as a

result of its participation in this clash, vas awarded "red banner"s
designation.)
Unquestionably the mnst~ significant event in the Far Fast during
1937 was the China Irnci-dent. v.-hich began on 7 July.

From a Soviet

viewpoirst tLhe iediate result was the diversion of large Japanese
fIorces from the Siberian border, long one of the goals of the USSR.
In turning her g-uns on China, Jap-n lifted the pressure on the Soviets,
vith the result that the USSR's strategic position in the Far East
vas greatly improved.
On 21 August 1937, zithin six -weeks of the outbreak of the
China Incident, the USSR enhanced its position still further by
signing a non-aggression zact iw.ith China.

Irnediately after signing

this pact the Soviets sec-:etly bega-n supplying armas to China.
hence~ Japan. interpreted it not as a non-aggression pact but as a
rnilitary aliance.

Fza-:6a. on 13 February 19,38,

showied its ex-

hil'-arat-ion over the diversion of Ja-zanese strength to China:

MAOR


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