Front (military formation)

Front (military formation)

Type of military formation originating in Russia

A front (Russian: фронт, front) is a type of military formation that originated in the Russian Empire, and has been used by the Polish Army, the Red Army, the Soviet Army, and Turkey. It is roughly equivalent to an army group in the military of most other countries. It varies in size but in general contains three to five armies.[2] It should not be confused with the more general usage of military front, describing a geographic area in wartime.

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Russian Empire

After the outbreak of the First World War, the Russian General Headquarters set up two Fronts: Northwestern Front, uniting forces deployed against German Empire, and Southwestern Front, uniting forces deployed against Austria-Hungary.

In August 1915, Northwestern Front was split into Northern Front and Western Front.

At the end of 1916 Romanian Front was established, which also included remnants of the Romanian army.

In April 1917, Caucasus Front was established by the reorganization of the Caucasus Army.

Soviet fronts in the Russian Civil War

The Soviet fronts were first raised during the Russian Civil War. They were wartime organizations only, in the peacetime the fronts were normally disbanded and their armies organized back into military districts. Usually a single district formed a single front at the start of the hostilities, or when hostilities were anticipated. Some military districts could not form a front. Fronts were also formed during the Polish-Soviet War of 1920.[citation needed]

The main fronts during the Russian Civil War and Polish-Soviet War were :

Soviet fronts in World War II

Army groups differ from fronts in that a Soviet front typically had its own army-sized tactical fixed-wing aviation organization.[3] According to Soviet military doctrine, the air army was directly subordinated to the front commander (typically a ground commander). The reform of 1935 established that in case of a war the peacetime military districts on the border would split upon mobilisation each into a Front Command (taking control of the district's peacetime military formations) and a Military District Command (which stayed behind with the mission of mobilising the reserve formations and putting them at the disposal of the Fronts as replacement troops).[citation needed] In that sense the Air Armies were under Air Force command in peacetime, but under the command of the Front HQs in wartime; and the Fronts were commanded by ground-forces generals. An entire Front might report either to the Stavka or to a theatre of military operations (TVD). A Front was mobilised for a specific operation, after which it could be reformed and tasked with another operation (including a change of the Front's designation) or it could be disbanded - with its formations dispersed among the other active Fronts and its HQ reintegrated into its original Military District HQ.

Soviet and Russian military doctrine calls the different levels in the command chain (including the Fronts) "Organs of Military Control" (Russian: Органы военного управления).

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The degree of change in the structure and performance of individual fronts can only be understood when seen in the context of the strategic operations of the Red Army in World War II.

Soviet fronts in the European Theatre during the Second World War from 1941 to 1945:

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For constituent armies see List of Soviet armies.

Soviet fronts after World War II

Soviet Front 1980s

The Soviet Army maintained contingencies for establishing fronts in the event of war. During the Cold War, fronts and their staffs became groups of Soviet forces in the Warsaw Pact organization.[citation needed] The front was to be the highest operational command during wartime. Though there was no front ever established during peacetime the basic building blocks were maintained the established Military Districts. A front generally comprised 3–4 Combined Arms Armies and 1–2 Tank Armies though there was no set organization.[6]


A number of fronts were created by the Second Polish Republic from 1918 to 1939, among them being the Polish Southern Front. See pl:Kategoria:Fronty polskie. In addition, the creation of a Polish Front was considered to group the First and Second Armies of the Polish Armed Forces in the East in 1944, and during the Warsaw Pact period, a Polish Front was created, seemingly as a mobilization-only organization.

Citations and notes

  1. APP-6C Joint Military Symbology (PDF). NATO. May 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2015.
  2. FM 100-2-3, The Soviet Army: Troops, Organizations, and Equipment, June 1991
  3. Erickson 1975
  4. Glantz, 2005, p.495
  5. US Army FM 100-2-3 The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization, and Equipment


  • John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin's War with Germany, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1975
  • David Glantz, Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War 1941–43, University Press of Kansas, 2005

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