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Obscure NKVD units

By Skorzeny of 1JMA

Part 2 of Skorzenys NKVD articles.

After the dawn of "Barbarossa" and the disastrous outcome of the initial battles near the state frontier, the Soviet military leadership realized the necessity of specially trained units for behind-the-lines operations designated to destroy German manpower, thwart enemy advance by demolishing transport infrastructure, assassinate the personnel of the German-backed local anti-Communist self-government, etc. On the 22nd of June 1941 the Special Group appeared in the structure of NKVD, subordinated directly to People's Commissar of Interior, notorious sadist and maniac L.P.Berija; this thinktank, later reformed into 4th Department of NKVD, was expected to conduct recionnaissance operations and creating the underground network on the territories already occupied by Germans, and has headed by experienced spy, saboteur and assassin NKVD Lieutenant-General P.Sudoplatov(responsible for murdering Ukrainian nationalist leader Colonel Eugen Konovalets in Amsterdam in 1938). Among the troops at the disposal of the Special Group of NKVD was initially the Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade for Special Purposes, but this formation remained in the limelight while lesser-known NKVD special-operations units were neglected by post-war historians.
Regional NKVD institutions have also raised their fighting troops to be employed in the special operations, namely the Motorized Infantry Reconnaissance--Demolition Regiment of the Moscow region NKVD Board. This unit was raised in one day according to the order of the Head of NKVD Moscow region Board, Senior Major of State Security M.Zhuravliov, on October 17, 1941. The total number of personnel drafted amounted to 1914 men and women. Initially the core of the Regiment (1st and 2nd battalions) was composed of the weakened and decimated Demolition battalions of the Komintern and Krasnogvardejsk districts of Moscow, basically being similar to British Home Guard or the later German Volkssturm, numbering respectively 298 and 460 soldiers. Later on the 3rd battalion was raised, employing the manpower of the Moscow NKVD security officers and NCOs, and the 4th battalion based on the cadres of NKVD district departments of Moscow, including the criminal police officers and traffic-police sergeants, followed by the students of the Industrial Academy, Physical Training academy, workers and employees and eventually highscholl students. The main advantage of the latter was based on the assumption that they were never engaged in the service within NKVD and thus were less vulnerable, as by the time of formation it became evident that the civilian population eagerly handed over NKVD servicemen to SD or German auxilary units.

Regiment Commander--Border Guarding Troops Colonel A.Mahankov
Regiment Commissar--Major of State Security M.Zapevalin

NKVD Motorized Infantry Reconnaissance--Demolition Regiment was trained extensively during October and early November, prepared for combat in small groups comprising 15-20 men. A typical group would have 5-7 Mosin-Nagant rifles, usually of 1891|/1930 model, one rifle geared with optics, 3-5 automatic SVT Tokarev-1940 rifles, 2 light machine-guns DP(Degtjarov Pehotnyj) in 1927 modification, and 2-3 submachine guns--initially PPD, later replaced by PPSh. All weapon systems were using the 7,62mm bullet, and in order to ensure the uninterrupted supply of ammunion behind the enemy lines the NKVD commanders ordered the deployment of foreign weapons using ammunion idential to German. Thus the undisturbed weapon stocks captured after bloodless Red Army 1939-1940 campaigns in Poland and Baltic states were brought into play, including systems manufactured in poland, Czechoslovakia and Scandinavia, with curious exceptions, such as Japanese "Arisaka" rifles dating back to World war One. each soldier also received two splinter F-1 hand grenades, or two anti-tank RPG-40 grenades, accompanied by 1-2 Molotov-cocktails, 1 dinamite stick or a landmine. The main handicap of the otherwise well-supplied formation was the debilitating lack of radio equipment, the existing radio stations employed for communication between regimental and battalion headquarters, which seriously affected the fighting capabilities of the Regiment and limited the value of the reconnaissance information it supplied.
The atmosphere of importance which accompanied the formation of NKVD Motorized Infantry Reconnaissance--Demolition Regiment was confirmed at the military parade in Moscow on the 7th of November 1941, when the column of demolition and workers battalions was headed specifically by the NKVD regiment, possibly because of the position its commanders held in NKVD hierarchy.

The first engagement happened in November 1941, when the total of 31 mobile groups comprising 474 soldiers and officers were sent into the woods surrounding Moscow in order to infiltrate the enemy positions. But in reality the main military endeavours consisted of setting fire to the buildings, blowing up the bridges, planting mines on the roads, etc.--according to Zhukov's order of the day on the 30th of October 1941, authorizing the destruction of civilian property on the unprecedented scale--100 kms up to the frontline. Thease measures have definitely affected German advance, but consequtively hindered the Soviet counter-offensive in December-February, when the scorched earth exhibited its double-edged nature. And the civilian population of the Moscow region had a very harsh winter to live through, as a result.

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