Soviet Order of Battle and Doctrine in the Cold War

From the mid 1950s the Arab nations were equipped by the Soviet Union. In the absence of good data on the Arabs themselves here’s a description of the Soviets. As my main interest is company level infantry actions I will focus on motorised infantry battalions and below. Most details are taken from Isby (1981).


Thanks to Mures Arad who sent through information on Soviet, Arab and Israel doctrine.


The Regiment is seen as the smallest independent unit, as smaller units lack the necessary headquarters and support elements. None-the-less a Soviet battalion is expected to operate independently 20-30 km away from its regiment for 5-15 hours.

Frontages and distances

Each level of unit has deployment frontages and depths. These distances apply regardless of the formation the unit has adopted, e.g. a defending company must cover 1-1.5km of frontage regardless of whether it is in line, wedge, or “V”.

Distance Platoon (m) Company (m) Battalion (km)
Defence frontage 400-500 1,000-1,500 4-7
Defence depth 150-600 500-1,000 1-3
Operational attack frontage 750 1-2
Attack frontage 1,000 2-3
Depth of attack (immediate objective) N/A N/A 2-4
Depth of attack (subsequent objective) N/A N/A 8-15

The Defence frontage combined with the defence depth define the area the unit is responsible for defending.

The Attack frontage is the distance the unit is responsible for when attacking, although the troops only operate within the Operational attack frontage. That means there will be gaps in the attack.

Depth of attack only applies to battalions and above. It is the distance to the unit’s immediate objective and the subsequent objective.

Battalion formations

Formations above battalions will attack in echelons; battalions have the option of doing so, but can also adopt line, wedge or “V” formation. A battalion can have 1, 2 or even 3 echelons, although 1 and 2 are most common. The same formations are used in defence, although line and “V” are most common.

Although I focus on battalion formations, it is worth mentioning that a company will typically attack and defend in line, but can also adopt wedge or “V” formations especially in defence.

One echelon / Line

The most common Soviet small unit formation is the line; for a battalion this means one echelon and a reserve. A battalion in line has all three companies in line 400-800m apart in attack, and 1,000-1,500 in defence. The headquarters, reserve and support weapons follow the central company; 1,000m behind the front when in defence. The reserve will only be one motorised rifle platoon. When defending in line the battalion may also have a one platoon battle outpost 1,000m in front of their main positions.

A one echelon attack will be chosen if any of the following conditions apply:

  • If the battalion:
    • Must cover a wide frontage.
    • Must deliver a concentrated attack with two companies.
    • Has limited time to reach objectives.
    • Has objectives that are close at hand.
  • If the enemy is
    • Surprised.
    • Outmanoeuvred.
    • Unable to defend a broad front.

Two echelon / “V”

Echelon attacks are mandatory for regiment and above, but optional for battalions. Normally a battalion using an echeloned attack will have two echelons and a reserve. It may also have a separate anti-tank reserve.

The first echelon will contain two reinforced companies advancing in line abreast 400-800m apart.

The battalion will have a platoon in reserve. The reserve is the counter-attack force and has no specific role in an attack. It will normally be with the battalion commander behind the second echelon.

Some battalions will also have a separate mobile anti-tank reserve behind the first echelon. Not surprisingly its role in both attack and defence is to counter armoured threats. In larger units the anti-tank reserve includes tanks, engineers, and field artillery as well as standard anti-tank weapons; this may well be true of battalion reserves as well.

The second echelon will have the remaining troops – typically a weak company as at least one platoon will form the reserve. It follows the first echelon by 300-1,000m, and is spread across the same frontage. The purpose of the second echelon:

  • Take over the offensive if the first echelon can’t continue – allowing the first echelon to rest and resupply.
  • Exploit successes of the first echelon, i.e. if the first echelon takes the battalion’s immediate objective, the second echelon will be committed to the attack on the subsequent objective.
  • Mop up bypassed strong-points.
  • Defeat counter-attacks.
  • Attack in a different sector or direction.

A “V” formation is pretty similar to a two echelon formation. The main differences are, in a “V” formation the lead companies are 600-800m apart, and the rifle company of the second echelon is centred behind the lead companies.

Three echelon

The Soviets will opt for a three echelons when attempting break-through attacks on prepared defences.


One company leads the rest of the battalion by 300-1,000m. The support weapons follow the lead company, with the other two companies 400-800m to either side.

Types of Attack

The Soviets recognise three basic forms of offensive action:

  • The meeting engagement where both sides are on the move.
  • The breakthrough attack against enemy defending in place.
  • The pursuit of enemy attempting to move away.

Meeting engagement

The Soviets see the meeting engagement as the most likely form of combat in the modern era.

Although capable of cross-country travel, Soviet units will normally travel by road. A battalion will follow a single track. The average speed in is 30-40 km/h; 2/3 of that at night or in bad weather. Vehicle spacing is 15-50 m on roads and 50-100 m cross-country. The battalion will be lead by an advance guard of about 1/3 of its full strength. The flanks will be defended by squads.

The point of the advance is the a combat reconnaissance patrol. It will be 5-10 km (10-30 min) ahead of the main body of the advance guard, and its main purpose is to locate enemy positions, and routes to outflank or envelop the enemy. It includes:

  • A motorised rifle platoon.
  • 2 tanks.
  • A a squad of engineers.

The main body of advance guard is also a combined arms force and is 5-10 km (20-30 min) ahead of the battalion. It includes:

  • Battalion headquarters.
  • 2 motorised rifle platoons
  • remainder of tanks (usually 2)
  • remainder of engineer squads.
  • 1/2 the battalion 120mm mortars.
  • Attachments from regiment including heavy weapons and additional engineers.

The battalion commander may form a second combat reconnaissance patrol from the advance guard to operate 1 km ahead of the rest of the advance guard. It will have the same composition as the first patrol.

If the advance guard encounters enemy it will attack immediately. The aim is to eliminate opposition that might block the advance of the main body. If the advance guard can break through then the main body will not deploy. If more serious opposition is encountered, the advance guard will attempt to pin the enemy to allow the main body to deploy and/or outflank the enemy. Failing that the advance guard will will fight until reinforced by the main body, where upon both groups will assault together.

If information on the enemy is scarce, the advance guard may launch a probing attack. The aim is to either infiltrate the enemy, or to launch a hasty company assault. One platoon, along with the artillery and mortars will be on over-watch. The remainder of the company will attack on a 400m frontage making maximum use of cover. The tanks will lead the APCs/BMPs by 100m; the latter will advance in pairs. If opposition is too strong the company will retire.

If the advance guard and main body launch an assault this can be either a hasty attack from march or an attack from march. In a hasty attack from march the companies are fed into the attack as they arrive. In this situation fire support is provided by over-watching tanks or artillery that can fire direct and by mortars using indirect fire.

In an attack from march the troops are deployed along the line of departure before assaulting. It takes 25-60 min from the moment of contact for a battalion to prepare an attack. This can be supported by a 10-20 min artillery offensive.

If the combine attack of the advance guard and main body fails, the battalion will call upon the second echelon to resume the offensive. Failing that, the regiment will take over, etc.

The breakthrough attack

The aim of a breakthrough attack is to defeat enemy in prepared defences and penetrate their positions. Often they are launched from contact under cover of darkness. They will usually be supported by 10-40 min artillery offensives, and can involve air strikes, parachute drops and helicopter insertions.

The pursuit

First echelon troops will typing frontally pursue the troops they dislodged, while second echelon troops are committed to parallel pursuit – trying to cut the enemy off.

The combined arms assault

Advance in Company Columns: A Soviet battalion column will deploy into company columns 4-6 km from the enemy. It is at this point that the attack formation is adopted, for example, if a company is to form the second echelon then it will take up the proper spacing at this point.

The companies will advance at 12-15 km/h depending on whether the tanks fire at the short halt (for accurate fire) or on the move (for suppressive fire).

Advance in Platoon Columns: The companies will form platoon columns at 1,500-4,000m from the enemy depending on the intensity of the enemy’s indirect fire. Obstacles and minefields will be cleared by specialised tanks or engineers; troops pass through gaps in platoon column. The motorised rifle platoons within a company will normally form line abreast about 500m apart; echelon, “V” or wedge formations are also possible. The tank platoon assigned to each company will normally lead the motorised rifle platoons by 150-200m; the order is reversed In rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Platoon lines: Against weak opposition the platoons will stay in platoon columns, however, normally the platoons will deploy into line at about 1,500m from the enemy. All platoons – rifle and tank – will form line with BMPs or APCs 50-100 apart, and tanks about 100-150m apart. The riflemen are still mounted at this point.

Artillery offensive: In Soviet thinking the primary purpose of artillery is the suppression of enemy anti-tank weapons before and during the attack. Battalion artillery assets will be 500-1,000m behind the combat line, and regimental assets will be 500-4,000m behind the line, however, both will advance to support the advancing attackers. The artillery offensive is divided into three phases: the preparation, fires in support, and fires through the depths of the defence.

Preparatory fire: If there is time, supporting artillery, and possibly artillery from higher levels, will be used for preparatory fire. Preparatory fire is at a sustained rate but starts and ends with a burst of rapid fire at maximum rate. Preparatory fire lifts when the attacking force leaves the departure line, or when the tanks enter direct fire range of the enemy.

Fires in support: From the point preparatory fire lifts attached artillery (possibily including regimental assets) is used to support the attack. Where possible artillery will use direct fire to shoot through the gaps between advancing companies. Supporting fire will continue to shoot until they endanger their own tanks; for indirect fire this is when the tanks are 100-200m from the enemy, but it is closer for direct fire.

Fires through the depths of the defence: Once supporting artillery fire has lifted from the enemy front line positions the supporting artillery fire through the depth of the enemy positions, in other words, it will target enemy rear positions to support the breakthrough.

Tank assault: Normally the tanks lead the assault. They have to enter the enemy positions as soon after the artillery fire lifts as possible. The Soviets believe the tanks have about 3 min to do this before the enemy mans their weapons. Once in the enemy positions the tanks use suppressive fire to cover the advance of the infantry. The tanks will let the infantry lead the assault when in rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Dismounted infantry assault: Normally the infantry will dismount 300-400m from the enemy. However, the infantry will dismount 500-1,000m from the enemy if the enemy is unsuppressed, well entrenched, strong in anti-tank weapons, or in terrain unsuitable for vehicles. Once dismounted the riflemen form skirmish lines and continue to advance, about 200m behind the tanks. Dismounted squads, platoons, and companies all attack in a single skirmish line. The Soviet infantry will attempt to advance as fast as possible, partly to keep the momentum of the attack, and partly to support the advancing tanks. If the skirmish lines are forced to ground, they will alternate fire and short rushes; entire companies will either move or fire, not combine the two Once at 25-30m from the enemy the Russians will charge. The APCs or BMPs follow 300-400m behind the dismounted infantry using direct fire through the gaps between rifle squads (from the short halt).

Mounted infantry assault: BMP equipped infantry are expected to to stay mounted in combat, and to fight from their vehicle. Similarly if APC equipped infantry are facing suppressed enemy the regimental commander has the option to keep the riflemen mounted throughout the attack.

Objectives: The aim of the assault is to overrun the position and keep going, leaving the second echelon to mop up. The Soviets assume there will be sufficient suppressing fire from the tanks, APCs or BMPs, artillery, and the infantry’s own marching fire to make this relatively bold attack feasible. Of course, they might be wrong.

Order of Battle

I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion in 1979, and what I know about earlier organisations. I’ve also listed the Soviet support equipment used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation for any particular period.

Motorised Rifle Battalion

I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion and its usual supports. I have ignored the numbers of men, and also assumed that all men are equipped with the appropriate small arms. Battalions are either BMP or APC equipped. The organisation described is that of the late 1970s, although I’ve mentioned earlier variations where I know them. Subsequent sections describe the equipment used post WWII, including years the weapons were introduced, so you can make you own conclusions about earlier TO&E. .

Order of Battle – Motorised Rifle Battalion

  • 1 x Battalion Headquarters (Major, Captain or Lt-Colonel)
    • 1 x Commanders Vehicle = APC or Scout Car or BMP (possibly a command version)
    • 1 x Reconnaissance Vehicle = APC or BMP (or Jeep or Scout car)3
    • 1 x Truck
    • 1 x Tank Company Headquarters (Snr Lt or Capt)1
      • 1 x Headquarters Tank
      • 1 x Truck
  • 3 x Motorised Rifle Companies (Snr Lt)
    • 1 x Company Headquarters
      • 1 x BMP or APC
      • 2 x light machine guns2
    • 2 x AGS-17 grenade launchers to be fired from tripod or vehicle mounts
    • 1 x Tank Platoon (Jnr Lt, Warrant Officer or Sergeant)1
      • 4 x Tanks
    • 3 x Motorised Rifle Platoons (Jnr Lt or Sergeant)
      • 1 x Platoon commander
      • 1 x SA-7 gunner – actually part of the Company HQ but always assigned down to the platoons, and presumably from there to one of the squads.
      • 1 x Sniper in one of the squads
      • 3 x Motorised Rifle Squads (Sergeant)
        • 1 or 2 x light machine guns2
        • 1 x RPG-74
        • 1 x BMP or APC3
  • 1 x Anti-tank platoon – not in the BMP-equipped battalions.
    • 2 x Suitcase Saggers
    • 2 x SPG-9 73mm recoilless anti-tank gun
    • 2-4 x RPG-7s
    • 2 x APCs
  • 1 x Mortar Battery5
    • 1 x Battery Headquarters
      • 1 x Jeep
      • 1 x Truck (or APC)
      • 1 x FO/reconnaissance section
      • 1 x Communications section
    • 3 x Mortar Platoons
      • 2 x Mortar Squads
        • 1 x 120mm Mortar
        • 1 x RPG-7
        • 1 x Truck (or APC)
  • 1 x Communications platoon
    • 1 x Command Vehicle
    • 1 x Motorcycle
    • 1 x Truck or Jeep
  • 1 x Airdefence sub-unit
    • 3 x SA-7 sections
  • 1 x Supply section
  • 1 x Medical aid section
  • 1 x Repair workshop

(1) A tank company from the motorised rifle regiment’s tank battalion was attached to each rifle battalion within the regiment. Similarly one tank platoon from the tank company was assigned to each motorised rifle company. Tank platoons integral to a motorised rifle regiment had 4 tanks; in contrast tank regiments had only 3 tanks per platoon.

(2) Pre-1979 squads had 1 x RPK light machine gunner. After that BMP-equipped squads had 2 x PKM gunners, and BTR-60PB-mounted squads had 1 x RPK and 1 x PKM gunners. All squad weapons are bipod mounted.

(3) The Soviets phased out the older half-platoon APC organinisation in the 1970s, although it was used by Warsaw Pact countries at least into the 1980s so might have been used by the Arabs. Under this organisation all APCs belonged to a central APC platoon, but were attached to companies as needed. Each motorised rifle platoon had only 2 APCs with half the platoon (1.5 squads) in each. The battalion HQ had a jeep or scout car instead of the APC. Units organised in half-platoons were expected to dismount to attack.

(4) In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad.

(5) Isby (1981) provided contradictory evidence for the composition of the Mortar battery. He says three platoons of two squads of two mortars, but this would give 12 mortars and 12 tows. As the whole battery only has 6 mortars and 6 tows I have assumed each squad has one weapon and tow. The other thing that confuses me is that he gives artillery batteries two platoons of three weapons; I’m not sure why mortar battery has the numbers reversed, in fact in one place he mentions that “two platoons” of the mortar battery.

Soviet APCs and Infantry Combat Vehicles

Here’s a quick summary of the APCs and BMP used by Soviet Motorised Riflemen post WWII. I’ve ignored command versions, and vehicles used by artillery, etc. Unless specified as “Open topped” all vehicles are enclosed. I believe they are all amphibious except the BTR-152 series.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now
BTR-152, BTR-152V1, BTR-152V2, BTR-152V3 Open topped wheeled APC 1950 Basically an armoured truck. Started as half-platoon APC, but by late 1970s only used in certain support roles. Used by the Arabs in 1956, 1967 and 1973. Israeli Border Police used captured vehicles from 1967.
BTR-50P Open topped, tracked APC 1957 Half-platoon APC.
BTR-152K Wheeled APC 1961 Enclosed BTR-152V3; half-platoon APC. Used by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973, but less than the open topped versions.
BTR-50PK Tracked APC Pre-1967 Squad APC that saw service with Egypt in 1967 and 1973 , and with Israel after 1967. Still in use by motorised rifle regiments within Soviet tank divisions in 1979.
OT-62 TOPAS Tracked APC Pre-1967 A Czech version of the BTR-50 that saw service along side the BTR-50PK in the middle east (1967-73) and was still in use by Warsaw Pact armies in 1979.
BTR-60P Wheeled APC 1961 Wheeled half-platoon APC. Either BTR-60P or BTR60-PK saw limited service with Arabs in 1967.
BTR60-PK (BTR-60PA) Wheeled APC 1963
BMP Tracked Infantry Combat Vehicle 1967 Squad Infantry Combat Vehicle. Used by Syrians in 1973.
BTR60-PB Wheeled APC 1966 Squad APC. Standard Arab APC in 1973, and was still standard APC in front line Soviet units in 1979.
MT-LB APC and artillery tractor 1970 Only assigned to cold climates.
BTR70 Wheeled APC 1978 Improved BTR60-PB; squad APC.

Soviet Scout Cars

I’ve listed the Soviet scout cars used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now
BTR-40 1951 Has various versions. Used by Arabs in 1965 (Egypt) and 1967. Many captured by the Israelis and used by their Border Police after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.
BRDM-1 1959 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Many captured and used by the Israelis after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.
BRDM-2 Pre-1967 Main scout car of Soviets in 1979. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.

Soviet Anti-tank weapons

I’ve listed the Soviet anti-tank weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now
BS-3 M-1944 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1944 Used in WWII and by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.
D-44 85mm anti-tank gun 1953 WWII vintage weapon with some upgrades. Could be used in direct fire artillery role. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; possibly still in use in 1979. Used in south Lebanon in 1979 by Israeli supplied Christian militia. In Soviet service the D-44 was replaced by recoilless weapons (presumably B-10 and B-11), ATGM (presumably AT-1 Snapper) and 100mm weapons (presumably M-1944 or M-1955) although two Soviet low readiness regiments still had D-44 in early 1970s.
B-10 Tripod mounted 82mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank platoon of rifle battalion. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; still in use in 1979. Not considered a success due poor performance in 1967.
B-11 Tripod mounted 107mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank company of rifle regiment. Used by Arabs in 1973; still in use in 1979.
SD-44 Mobiile 85mm anti-tank gun 1954 Has probably never been used in action, but was still used in some Soviet airborne units in 1979.
BS-3 M-1955 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1955 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.
AT-1 Snapper Anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). Late 1950s Small numbers used by Egypt in 1967.
RPG-7 Man portable rocket propelled grenade launcher 1962 Assigned to squads. Used in by Arabs in 1967 and 1973 and still used extensively today. In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad. In 1973 Egyptian front line units were lavishly equipped with RPG-7s – at the expense of rear units.
T-12 100mm smoothbore anti-tank gun 1965 Assigned to a rifle division’s anti-tank reserve.
SPG-9 Tripod mounted 73mm recoilless rifle 1969 Assigned to anti-tank units of rifle battalion and regiment. Replaced B-10 and B-11 in these roles. Reportedly supplied to Syria but possibly never used.
AT-3 Sagger ATGM Pre-1969 Used extensively by Arabs in 1973.

Soviet Artillery

I’ve listed the Soviet artillery weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

The normal use of artillery was described in the combine arms assault section, however, it is also worth noting that the Soviets will use artillery as direct fire anti-tank weapons, and will use even heavy artillery at close range (200-300m) against enemy positions in urban settings. They have found that direct fire is about 8 times for effective in demolishing buildings that indirect fire.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now
A-19 122mm towed field gun 1931, 1937 WWII vintage gun, it was a corps level long range counter-battery weapon. Used by Arabs throughout Middle Eastern wars. Replaced by M-46 and D-74 in Soviet service, but likely to see continue service elsewhere.
M-30 122mm towed howitzer 1938 WWII vintage gun still in use by Soviets in 1979, although being replaced by D-30. A regimental and divisional asset. Standard Egyptian howitzer in 1967. Subsequently the Israelis fielded their own battalions of captured M-30s.
ML-20 152mm gun-howitzer 1937 WWII vintage long range weapon. Used in the Middle East. Replaced in Soviet service by D-20.
82mm mortar 1937, 1941, 1942 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Used by Soviet airborne and naval battalions. Towed.
120mm mortar 1938, 1943 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Standard Soviet mortar assigned to motorised rifle battalions. Towed.
D-1 152mm towed heavy howitzer 1943 One of the last WWII vintage weapons still in use. Used in considerable numbers by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.
SU-100 100mm Self-propelled guns Early 1940s WWII vintage self-propelled guns used by Egypt in the 1956 war.
240mm mortar 1952 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but has seen combat in Lebanon. May have been used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Towed.
160mm mortar 1943, 1953 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but was used by Arabs since 1967 war including Lebanese Civil War. Towed.
M-46, M1954 130mm towed field gun 1954 A divisional level asset that is excellent for both in counter-battery or direct fire anti-tank roles. Used by Egyptians in an army level counter-battery role in 1973 war. Subsequently the Israelis formed their own M-46 battalions.
D-74 122mm towed gun 1955 Used at divisional level in place of the D-30 when long range is necessary.
D-20 152mm towed gun-howitzer 1955 Standard Soviet heavy howitzer. Used at divisional level in place of the D1 when long range is necessary. Used by Egyptians in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.
S-23 180mm towed heavy gun-howitzer Mid 1950s A divisional and front asset. Used by Egyptians in 1973.
D-30 122mm towed gun-howitzers 1967 The standard Soviet divisional and regimental howitzer in 1979. One of the mainstays of the Arab field-artillery in 1973. Sometimes used in a direct fire anti-tank role. Being replaced by SAU-122 self-propelled howitzers in all Soviet BMP and half the BTR-60 equipped motorised rifle regiments.
76.2mm mountain gun 1938, 1969 Used as regimental artillery for mountain units in place of the 122mm howitzers.
BM-14 140mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1959 Replaced by BM-21.
BM-24 240mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). Pre-1967 Standard Arab MRL in 1967 war. In 1973 the Israelis fielded an upgrade version. Now withdrawn from Soviet front-line service.
BM-21 122mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1964 Standard Arab MRL in 1973 war.
SAU-122 122mm self-propelled howitzer 1974 .
SAU-152 152mm self-propelled howitzer 1973 .

Soviet Tanks

I’ve listed the Soviet tanks used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now
T-34/85 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in the 1956 war.
IS-3 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in very small numbers during the 1956 war.
T-54 1947 The T-54/55 was standard Arab main battle tank in both 1967 and 1973. Some original T-54s supplied to Syria and used successfully against Jordan in 1970. T-55A was most common of the T-55s. Still used by Soviets in 1979, in category II and III tank units and Naval infantry.
T-54A 1955
T-54B 1957
T-55 1961
T-55A 1963
PT-76 1955 Amphibious reconnaissance light tank. Egypt used PT-76s in 1967 without much success. Israel used captured versions after that. Arabs used them again in 1973, including with the Egyptian 130th Mechanised Infantry Brigade.
T-62 1961 Dominated Soviet armoured units during 1970s, and saw action with the Arabs in 1973.
T-62A 1970
T-62M Late 1970s
T-67 1967 T-54/55s captured in 1967 by Israelis, modified and used in 1973.
T-64 1973
T-72 1975
T-80 1980 ??

Soviet Trucks, Tractors, Jeeps and Motorcycles

I’ve listed the Soviet trucks, tractors, jeeps and motorcycles used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period. Tractors are fully tracked vehicles usually intended for towing artillery; they could also haul cargo and some had specialised roles, e.g. ferries. Trucks are also often used for towing artillery.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now
M-72 Motorcycle Early .
GAZ-69A Jeep 1950s First generation of post-WWII tractors. Not too successful, the ZIL-151 in particular (replaced by ZIL-157). ZIL-157 was the standard Soviet truck until replaced by the URAL-375D. ZIL-157 and ZIL-151 were still being used by Soviets in 1979.
GAZ-63A Truck
ZIL-164 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-151 Truck
ZIL-157 Truck and Tractor versions
BAV Amphibious truck
MAV (GAZ-46) Amphibious jeep
AT-P Tractor
AT-S Medium artillery tractor
AT-L Light tractor
AT-T Heavy artillery tractor
UAZ-469 Jeep Early 1960s Second generation of trucks and tractors. GAZ-66 and URAL-375 were particularly successful. ZIL-130, ZIL-131, KrAZ-255B, and MAZ-543 were less successful. URAL-375D series was the standard Soviet truck in 1979.
GAZ-66 Light truck
URAL-375 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-130 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-131 Truck and Tractor versions
KrAZ-255B Truck
ZIL-135 Truck
MAZ-543 Truck
ATS-59 Medium artillery tractor
K-61 Amphibious tractor ferry
PTS-M Amphibious tractor ferry
MAZ-500 Tank transporter Late 1960s
MAZ-535 Tank transporter
MAZ-537 Truck used as heavy artillery tow
GT-T Amphibious tractor 1970s ??
GT-SM Amphibious tractor
KrAZ-214 Truck ?? Used by Egyptians as a gun tow.
GT-S Amphibious tractor ??

Other comments on Soviet versus Arab tactical doctrine

Andrew Tippman on AIW-Wargaming forum

In case you’re interested, the accepted wisdom of the mid 1980s (when I was an instructor) was that, although the Middle Eastern conflicts may produce evidence of equipment capabilities, the armies involved were too divorced from the European standard to offer many lessons in the NATO vs WP theatre at a low level. Israeli armies were regarded as too highly motivated to represent NATO troops, Arab armies as lacking the discipline required to make sense of Soviet tactical doctrine. I must admit I was never entirely convinced of the latter part of that argument. I believed that we, in NATO, tended to stereotype WP soldiery as suicidal automatons and Arabs as cowardly incompetents – broad generalisations with little evidence in their support.

Soviet tactics relied heavily on speed, firepower and discipline and heavy losses were expected and taken into account. They only make sense if you consider that a Soviet commander would deploy the highest possible concentration of fighting power in the smallest area during the smallest time to achieve overwhelming superiority and that “conservation of effort” is a NATO principle of war, not a Soviet one.

Was Arab doctrine the same during the AIWs? Opinions, please!

Mures Arad in personal communication on “Soviet Doctrine Arab Armies”

No Arab army has ever utilized Soviet Tactical Military Doctrine. The reason being that Soviet “Military Advisors” never taught doctrine or tactics. When one hears the phrase “Military Advisor,” one generally thinks of US Special Forces or British SAS. Soviet “Military Advisors” were not Spetnatz, in fact, many were non-military. The Soviets were Technical Advisors, many being civilians employed by the contractor who built the weapons system, much in the same way that Martin-Marietta provided civilian advisors to the US Army for the Lance and Pershing I, IA and II missile systems. Soviet Technical Advisors provided advice on training and maintenance to the host nation, not tactics.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the 1973 Arab-Israeli war was the genesis for the creation of the US Army’s AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. It had always been assumed that the Arabs used Soviet tactics and the Israelis used Western tactics. A captain at one of the war colleges wrote a paper identifying the Arab armies as using classic Western Style warfare and the Israelis using a modified version of standard Wehrmacht tactics. A review of all Arab-Israeli conflicts confirmed this and led to the question: What exactly is Soviet Tactical Doctrine?

The US began collecting books written in the Soviet Union about WWII and interviewing surviving German officers in the east and west and Warsaw Pact military defectors. To their horror, the US realized that it had completely misunderstood Soviet tactical warfare and began reviewing and rewriting their own doctrine, leading to the AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. The Israelis were discovered to be using a combination of Wehrmacht and Soviet doctrine.

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