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2RHPZ
06-02-2004, 06:34 AM
1943 Dnepr airborne operation: lessons and conclusions

Military Thought, July, 2003 by Nikolai Viktorovich Staskov

On routing, in summer 1943, 60 years ago, a German battle group near Kursk, the
Soviet forces pressed home an attack in the South-Western strategic sector in a
bid to reach the midstream Dnepr area and, without a halt, to seize a beachhead
on the river's western bank. They did cross the Dnepr without a pause in
operations and seize a number of beachheads, something that made it possible to
deploy there several major battle groups of the Voronezh Front (commander Army
General N.F. Vatutin) that had scored the most spectacular advances. The
objective was to perform a subsequent swoop in order to capture the Left-Bank
Ukraine. The enemy resistance flagged in early September: no longer hoping to
withhold the Soviet advance in the Kiev sector, the German command started
pulling back its forces to the right bank of the Dnepr, where it organized
defenses.

The rapid advance of the friendly forward units prepared the ground for a major
airborne assault landing with a view to capturing a beachhead on the western
bank of the Dnepr and aiding a crossing by the forward combined units of the
friendly forces. The command of the Voronezh Front had conceived a plan to use
an airborne assault force on the Dnepr as far back as summer. It was intended to
land troops in the Kiev area in order to prepare the ground for a rapid taking
of the Ukrainian capital. The Supreme High Command had approved the idea, but
the operational situation shaped differently, calling for an urgent airborne
landing in the environs of the Dnepr's Bukrin bend, where there was a promise of
bigger successes.

Three airborne brigades were assigned to conduct the operation. Since all three
were intended for a joint action in one area, the plan was to merge them in an
airborne corps under Deputy Commander of the Airborne Troops Maj. Gen. I.I.
Zatevakhin, with a number of Airborne Troops Staff officers selected to form the
staff of the corps. To assist the landing, Long-Range Aviation (LRA) set aside
180 Li-2 planes and 35 gliders. Air support was due to come from 150 I1-4 and B-25
(U.S.-made) planes. The forming-up place included the Bogodukhov and the Lebedin
airfield complexes (five airfields all in all). It was planned to complete
concentration of forces and assets assigned to the airborne assault two days
before the landing that was due to take place in the night of September 24.

Planning the operation was the Front's operations directorate, mostly an
Airborne Troops Staff command group, which joined the Voronezh Front Staff in
early September. Informed about the decision to use an airborne assault force on
the Dnepr, the AT Commander, Maj. Gen. A.G. Kapitokhin, ordered the brigades to
the forming-up place. Before September 17, the brigades were preparing, in their
permanent deployment locations (1st AB, Teikovo; 3rd AB, Shchyolkovo; 5th AB,
Kirzhach), for the forthcoming airdrop in the enemy rear area. Preparations
finished, they moved in by rail to the forming-up place.

A delay in material delivery and an extremely intense military rail traffic in
the Front's rear area were the reasons why the brigades massed at the airfields
three days later than the planned date. Thus, in the forming-up place they had
less than one day to prepare for the airdrop. In addition, at first only eight
transport planes had arrived. For that reason the landing was postponed by one
day. But even then all detailed airborne transport aircraft failed to appear.
LRA Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. N.S. Skripko, who was in charge of the air action,
was doing his best, if with little effect, to get the planes and prepare them
for the mission. The result was inadequate and that subsequently led to grave
pilot errors.

Forward units of the 40th Army and the 3rd Guards Tank Army, using means at
hand, crossed with some guns, in the evening of September 22, to the western
bank of the Dnepr and were fighting in the environs of Rzhishchev, Traktomirov
and Zarubentsy, holding a beachhead that was later called the Bukrin beachhead.
The main forces were not expected to come to the Dnepr before September 29.

Back in early September air reconnaissance had established that the enemy had
failed to create defenses in and bring considerable reserves to the territory
inside the bend on the river's western bank, where the friendly forward units
were operating. But the Germans, using their combat engineer units and the local
population had built a defensive zone two to three kilometers deep, consisting
mostly of trenches and separate earth-and-timber emplacements, which were yet to
be occupied by troops.

These were the circumstances behind the final decision to drop airborne troops
in the area. The plan of the airborne operation had been mostly drawn up by that
time, with the Supreme High Command representative, Army General G.K. Zhukov,
who was based at the staff of the Voronezh Front, approving it on September 19.
The plan assigned these responsibilities for the air and airborne action: the
long-range aviation command was supposed to suppress the enemy before the
operation and to perform the airdrop; the Front's air army commander, Lt. Gen.
S.A. Krasovsky, was due to provide cover for and support the force after the
drop; the Airborne Troops Commander was to prepare the force for its mission in
the forming-up place and to arrange all organizational matters.

On the whole the plan was a rather detailed affair, embracing almost everything
that had a relation to the preparation and execution of the airdrop operation
and subsequent combat actions. But it also had substantial flaws, failing to
take into account the real situation that had taken shape on the Voronezh front.
Specifically, the front aviation was unable to cope with its airdrop support
missions, because it did not have time enough to redeploy to new airfields and
lacked sufficient fuel and ammunition. In addition, the plan did not indicate
the procedure for cooperation between the airborne force and troops on the
ground; moreover, for secrecy considerations the forward units were to be
informed about the airdrop only after the force took defensive positions in the
enemy rear.

Many points in the plan were out of touch with the real situation and sooner
good wishes than strict obligations. For example, it was decided to mark out the
objective area by setting fire to four villages at its corners. But the plan
failed to specify who was to perform the task. Like in the Vyazma operation, it
was envisaged that each plane would perform two to three flights per night. As
is evident from experience, the type of organization of preparations for and
execution of an airborne operation, where planning the use of a large airborne
force was mostly left to the paratroops themselves, failed to work very well.
But the impact of these faults on the operation might have been minimized had
there been some thorough reconnaissance effort and analysis of possible changes
in the operational situation. Yet no one had done anything specifically for the
purpose. The AT command showed passivity, leaving this crucial issue to the
Front's staff.

The final phase of preparations for the airdrop was all haste. In the morning of
September 23, Army General N.F. Vatutin came to the command post of the 40th
Army to be told that no major enemy forces had been spotted in the Bukrin bend
area. In the meantime, the German command had divined the main axis of the
impending Soviet push and taken countermeasures by rushing three divisions to
the same area. Another two infantry divisions moved in later after crossing the
Dnepr. The front reconnaissance had failed to notice this dramatic change in the
situation in time.

While at the command post of the 40th Army (commander Gen. K.S. Moskalenko) the
Front commander specified, through AT commander Maj. Gen. A.G. Kapitokhin, the
combat tasks to be performed by the airborne force. The aim of the operation
remained the same: it was supposed to interdict the arrival of enemy reserves at
the Bukrin beachhead. For this purpose, the Front commander ordered to land two
airborne brigades: 3rd abn brig (Col. P.A. Goncharov) had the assignment to land
south-east of Rzhishchev, to capture the position between Lipovyi Rog, Makedony
and Kozarovka and to hold it pending the arrival of 40th Army units; 5th abn
brig (Lt. Col. P.M. Sidorchuk) was ordered to land west of Kanev so as to
capture the position between Gorkavshchina, Stepantsy and Kostyanets and to hold
it in cooperation with 3rd abn brig. 1st abn brig, which had failed to
concentrate in full in the forming-up area, was left in reserve and ready to be
dropped on a second or third night.

The line to be captured by the airborne force totaled almost 40 kilometers in
length, which was certainly in excess of the combat capabilities of two abn
brigs armed with small arms and mortars. Hence the conclusion that the Airborne
Troops command should have been more resolute in going into the plans for combat
employment of the brigades and at least obtained the assignments they could have
coped with.

On coming back to the forming-up area, the Airborne Troops commander handed down
the combat assignment to the brigade commanders. Battalion and company
commanders, however, had too little time either for decision-making or for
giving instructions to the personnel, because the same night they had to leave
for the drop area. While handing down combat missions, commanders confined
themselves to indicating the drop area, assembly areas (points), and the
positions to be captured and held.

As is common knowledge, communications with an airborne force, as well as combat
command and control of paratroops subunits due to perform combat missions in the
enemy rear are matters of immense importance. In the Dnepr airborne operation
these were handled in a hurry and without any firm direction. Formed during
preparations for the operation, the airborne corps staff took almost no part in
its planning, for that was the business of the Airborne Troops Staff's command
group. The corps staff, therefore, worked on no combat documents. It was planned
to provide it with signals equipment by taking from the brigade staffs some of
theirs.

The airborne assault force took off from four airfields: two airfields of the
Lebedin and two of the Bogodukhov airfield complexes; the weather conditions
were relatively favorable. First planes carrying 3rd brigade paratroops took off
from the Lebedin airfield at 18:30 on September 24. 5th brigade personnel took
off from the Bogodukhov airfield two hours later.

Fuel scarcity was the reason why the first-flight planes were cleared at 10-minute
intervals and in the order other than that designated by the air unit
commanders. Waiting to be refueled, 10 first-flight planes had to leave only
with the second flight. The delay and the extension of the takeoff rates of
transport planes carrying paratroops and airborne force equipment disrupted the
flight schedule and airdrop procedure. First-flight planes came back in a
sequence differing from the original one, a sign that some aircraft had failed
to sustain the flight configuration and the route. Back to base after the first
flight, the planes waited long to be refueled, so much so that paratroops had to
scurry around the airfield in search of planes that were ready to fly and to hop
from one plane to another.

In the night of September 25, 1943, the total number of sorties from all
airfields involved added up to 298 (not 500 as planned), with 4,575 paratroops
and 660 NRSDC (non-rigid supply dropping container) dropped. Not a single plane
was ready to take off on that night from Smorodino airfield, whence 45-mm guns
were due to follow after the landing force. There was no aircraft fuel, for
which reason the 5th brig had to discontinue its departure from Bogodukhov
airfield complex before one hour in the morning on September 25. The 3rd brigade
was flown in full (without 45-mm guns) from Lebedin airfield complex by dawn on
September 25. As a result, 30% of paratroops and 590 non-rigid containers, which
had been assigned to be dropped on the first night, remained stranded on
airfields.

Airdrop is a crucial stage in any airborne operation and its success depends
solely on how organized and well-trained aircrews are. Not accidentally, the
main reasons for the low level of September 1943 airdrop organization were
inadequate navigation support, which failed to use ground-based flight aids and
aiming assets, and poor pilot training.

In the Dnepr operation, navigation support envisaged positioning of compass
locators and radio beacons both on the airfields and at the start of combat run
(SCR) and in the drop zone. Though present on the airfields, these never made it
to the latter two locations. The SCR compass locator, Pchela (Bee), which was in
a railcar, reached its destination (village of Kapustintsy) late at night on
September 25, when the airdrop was over. For that reason the majority of
aircrews could not spot guidance illumination in the drop zone.

Where it concerns the marking of the landing sites, the negative experience of a
previous assault landing operation that had occurred in January and February
1942 was practically left unheeded either. The marking, with the help of series
of illumination flares, was the business of a forward element of paratroopers,
which had landed on the designated sites. But it failed to do anything. In
addition, the enemy, on sighting the assault force, started firing numerous
flares from different directions to illuminate the landing paratroopers, whereby
it totally confused both the aircrews and the assault force members.

The lack of a compass locator was compounded by difficult orientation conditions
in the night of September 25: 10/10ths clouds at 600-800 meters and a drizzle
reduced visibility to 1-3 kilometers. The drizzle stopped after 21:00, but it
left a haze, with visibility not exceeding 2-4 kilometers. Only separate crews
saw guidance illumination. A compass locator could save the situation, but it
was elsewhere. The Dnepr was the sole reliable landmark throughout the night. So
it was the river all without exception crews used as the main landmark. As it
transpires from crew reports, none of them aimed at ground marks or any other
landmark. On the whole, with the drop zone located within 15-20 kilometers of
the Dnepr and given its reliable identification on the basis of flight direction
and time in the air, the assault force could have been dropped with an error not
exceeding 5-7 kilometers.

But the crews had not been trained to use flight time as calculated from a
reference landmark in capacity of an aiming method. Each crew calculated the
time from the point on the right bank of the Dnepr, which it had reached. In so
doing, many identified their location wrongly. Yet, as is evident from analysis,
even if crews made a correct estimation of the Dnepr passage point, they chose
the course and time to the drop point totally at random. For example, while
choosing as their aiming point one and the same locality (Potaptsy) and having
the same flight speeds, the crews kept a drop zone approach course ranging from
175 to 250 degrees and the time from the Dnepr, from 1.5 to 7 minutes. This kind
of random choosing of aiming parameters could have been avoided had the
navigation service prepared the crews to use a reserve orientation mode. The
error in identifying Dnepr passage point could reach 40 kilometers (!), whereas
satisfactorily trained crews had a duty to hit a 20-kilometer zone.

But, pinning their hopes on Pchela and guidance illumination, many pilots were
so careless about location control that they failed to hit even a 40-kilometer
zone and approached the Dnepr in an unknown locality. Without taking their
bearings, they dropped the assault force within 3-5 minutes of the river. On top
of that, avoiding AA fire, they did so at high altitudes and at increased
speeds. The paratroopers failed to keep the right jump intervals. Asked to
clarify this point, the crews claimed these could have reached 4 minutes,
something that led to paratroopers landing 8 to 15 kilometers from each other, a
circumstance that made their reassembling, even in daylight drop conditions, let
alone at night, practically impossible. There were many young soldiers lacking
any combat experience in airborne subunits, because experienced paratroopers had
formed several airborne divisions sent, in early summer 1943, to the Kursk area,
where they fought as rifle units.

The poor navigation support and inadequate crew training were behind the
scattering of the assault force over an area of 25 X 70 kilometers. Only 5% of
the crews hit the designated area; 23% dropped the force within 10 kilometers of
its borders; 58%, 15 kilometers; and the remaining 14% even farther afield.
About 400 paratroopers landed in the Cherkassy woods (70 kilometers from the
designated area), and 230 in the friendly territory.

The assault force started combat operations in an extremely unfavorable setting.
According to calculations, both brigades, under favorable circumstances, should
have landed in an area measuring 14 X 10 kilometers within 25 kilometers of the
frontline (the river Dnepr). In actual fact, the landing was between Rzhishchev
and Cherkassy. The majority of paratroopers from either airborne brigade were
dropped inside the Dnepr bend right upon the enemy force dispositions and in
localities, where the enemy kept his reserves. A considerable portion landed
outside of the designated area.

2RHPZ
06-02-2004, 06:36 AM
Continued from page 2.

Given the disarray during the airdrop, paratroopers from different units and
subunits got mixed on the ground and engaged the enemy as part of mixed teams
under officers they did not know rather than as part of TO combat elements. That
was the worst-case scenario for the assault force. A big number of many-colored
flares, both friendly and enemy, that were fired from the ground, as well as
fires in drop areas, confused the assembly signals. The enemy met descending
paratroopers with heavy small arms and machinegun fire. Under these difficult
circumstances, the 3rd and the 5th airborne brigades personnel displayed courage
and dedication in combat. While still in the air, paratroopers fired at the
enemy and pelted him with hand grenades. But the unfavorable situation disrupted
the assembly of paratroopers and performance of their combat mission in a way
envisaged by the plan. Scattered over a wide territory, the men had to fight,
during the night and in the day of September 25, in small isolated groups
without links with each other or control from their higher-ups. Like everyone
else, brigade commanders and their staff officers were scattered over a wide
area and for a long time operated in small fighting groups. Commander of the 5th
brigade, for one, Lt. Col. P.M. Sidorchuk, landed in the Kanev wood area and two
hours later ran into a serviceman from the 3rd brigade; by morning he had found
five men and for the next eight days looked for and rallied small groups of
paratroopers. He met officers and men, with whom he had jumped from the same
plane, only on the ninth day after his landing.

As a result of nighttime and daytime assembly efforts that took place amid an
exceptionally difficult ground situation 35 groups numbering a total of 2,300
officers and men from among those who had been dropped in the night of September
25 were assembled by the end of the day in different places of a wide territory
in absolute isolation from each other and without signals equipment or heavy
weapons. This number did not include the paratroopers, who had withdrawn far
into the enemy rear territory in order to operate as an element of guerilla
detachments or in the individual capacity, as well as 230 persons dropped above
the friendly territory, who had reached the friendly force disposition shortly
after landing.

The biggest groups of paratroopers were formed and operated independently: in
the Kanev and Cherkassy woodland areas, about 600 persons; in the Chernyshi
area, about 200 persons; in the Romashki area, four groups totaling nearly 300
persons.

All these groups and detachments launched combat operations over a wide area in
the enemy rear, simultaneously continuing their attempts to find each other and
merge. Their fast merger was impeded by the fact that neither brigade commanders
nor their representatives could be found at the prearranged assembly points and
command posts. The obtaining situation and the open terrain were factors that
did not let paratroopers linger for long in those areas. As a rule, groups
coming to an assembly point or command post left behind no one to establish
links with other groups and detachments and headed elsewhere. This, of course,
was not conducive to a rapid unification of the assault force.

The most difficult thing was picking up the NRSDC with weapons and cargoes and
using them for combat mission performance. The enemy did all he could to capture
the cargoes and paratroopers, detailing specialized teams and leaving ambushes
in places where cargoes had been found, which later attempted to take
paratroopers prisoner. Germans even offered the local population a prize worth
6,000 occupation marks or 10,000 karbovantsi for each captured paratrooper.

Operating in small groups, paratroopers on many occasions were unable to use the
cargoes, ammunition and heavy weapons they had found. Thus, the munitions they
had so much difficulty finding had to be destroyed or buried for them not to be
left to the enemy. This did an irreparable harm to stronger groups and
detachments, which felt an acute dearth of ammunition. The operational situation
for separate groups and detachments of the airborne force was compounded by
acute ammunition and food shortages resulting from their long stay in the enemy
rear. Despite that, they went on with the fight, displaying courage and
dedication in combat.

The entire area, where the airborne force pursued combat operations, could be
provisionally divided into a northern and a southern part. The northern area of
combat operations, in the vicinity of Rzhishchev, was not particularly wooded:
coppices, brushwood and ravines could afford temporary cover only for small
groups, but it was ill suited for big detachments, particularly in daytime. In
addition, the enemy possessed here a thick web of garrisons, which were directly
included in the tactical defense zone of the Dnepr line, and therefore enjoyed
favorable opportunities for fighting the airborne force. Despite that there were
around 20 groups totaling over 1,100 members operating in the northern area.
There were also four big detachments counting 100-150 fighters each.

The southern area was a rougher piece of terrain and had many major wooded
covers: Kanev, Taganchansk, Mikhailov and Cherkassy woods. A big number of
rivers, marshes and ravines and smaller population density created the most
favorable conditions for actions by groups and detachments of the airborne
force.

Combat operations pursued by the northern groups and detachments were fully
influenced by the enemy superiority and the limited chances for a maneuver. For
this reason, most of them, lacking communications with each other and unaware of
the more or less favorable situation in the southern area, sought to leave the
northern area and cross the frontline in order to join units of the 40th Army
and the 3rd Guard Tank Army. Even though separate groups and detachments that
operated in the northern area could not give much help to the Front and cope
with the mission facing the entire assault force, their appearance in the enemy
rear and active operations held in position big enemy forces and inflicted on
the enemy considerable manpower and equipment losses.

The biggest successes were scored by groups and detachments that operated in the
southern area. These numbered a total of 1,200 officers and men, the biggest of
them being the detachments under Senior Lt. Tkachyov, Capt. Krotov, Maj.
Fofanov, Senior Lt. Akhromovich, and others.

Military archives contain one very interesting document. Its perusal helps one
feel the drama of the fight. In order No. 4969/43s dated October 7, 1943, the
staff of the 8th Army (German) said this by way of evaluation of operations by
the 3rd and the 5th brigades: "The ways and methods of the fight conducted by
detachments of paratroopers, even after several days of deprivations, showed
good training, which every now and then was intertwined with the enemy's cunning
and insidiousness. An inseparable trait of the paratroopers was the hunting
dexterity of each particular fighter. Their behavior in most exceptional
circumstances was exceptional. Wounded men showed themselves particularly hardy
and dedicated in combat, going on with the fight despite their wounds. Wounded
several times, they blew themselves up with grenades in order to escape
captivity. It was particularly difficult to find places where detachments had
found cover. It had been repeatedly established that the enemy was proficient at
camouflaging himself in ravines ... If our reconnaissance teams managed to find
such a shelter, the enemy sought to get rid of the tiresome observers without a
shot fired, hurray shouts or noise. As soon as alerted main forces of
detachments were assembled, they put up a dogged, desperate resistance, using
the smallest possible amounts of ammunition. But even when the enemy had no
ammunition, he defended himself with savage fanaticism. Each paratrooper was
armed with a dagger, of which he made a skillful use."

Thus, in a most difficult situation the paratroopers demonstrated the capacity
to find the best of combat solutions in almost hopeless situations, correcting,
by their skill, courage and blood, the mistakes committed at the planning and
airdrop stage.

While on the subject of the operation's lessons, one cannot help recollecting
the Vyazma airborne operation of the year 1942, when the Airborne Troops
commander was charged to control the airdrop. * Considering the experience of
the 8th airborne brigade, which had been dropped with an error running into 15-20
kilometers, the Airborne Troops command took relevant steps and strictly warned
the pilots about their responsibility for the precise landing of each group of
paratroopers. Therefore, when in doubt about correctness of their bearings,
planes came back with the paratroopers on board and made new runs. Subsequent
analysis showed that these runs added up to about 25%.

The situation was different during the Dnepr operation: the operation was being
prepared in strict secrecy and transport planes arrived at the last moment; many
pilots had no airdrop experience, a circumstance requiring that they be
subjected to flying drills. But this never happened and the consequences were
quick in coming. By the way, the airborne brigades never went through joint
drills either, both for reason of time shortage and extreme secrecy, although,
undoubtedly, an exercise was absolutely necessary for welding together the
would-be assault force and its command and control elements.

It should be recognized that the combat assignment was handed down to the
assault force without consideration for the emerging operational situation. The
combat assignment, or, to be more precise, the operation's aim, was defined at
the very start of the planning stage and consisted in giving assistance to a
forced crossing of the river by capturing a beachhead and in interdicting the
arrival of enemy reserves. But the beachhead had been captured before the
operation started and this assignment became irrelevant. In all evidence, the
assault force should have been dropped (if the operation could not be canceled)
directly in localities occupied by the friendly forces, thereby reinforcing the
friendly units there. But organizers of the Dnepr airborne operation lacked
flexibility and fore-sight in matters of planning and this was not to happen.

The main flaws of the Vyazma operation were allowed to occur again with even
graver consequences for the paratroopers. The nighttime airdrop near Vyazma
(though spread over several days) was on the whole a successful one owing to the
great depth of the drop, considerable snow cover and a wooded terrain, all of
which made it difficult for the Germans to combat the assault force. In all
evidence, this circumstance was mostly behind the decision to undertake a
nighttime airdrop on the Dnepr. But conditions were different this time, with
the enemy starting to oppose the assault force right within the first few hours
of the airdrop, the more so that in a number of cases paratroops were dropped
directly above German dispositions or in their vicinity. And yet, despite the
unfavorable circumstances, the assault force was not destroyed in full. Fighting
for survival, separate groups of paratroopers led by enterprising and strong-willed
officers managed to hold out and find a way to merge into bigger groups and
subsequently into a single detachment. The detachment later formed, in the enemy
rear, a brigade, which, led by the commander of the 5th abn brig, Lt. Col. P.M.
Sidorchuk, proved its worth and accomplished a new mission assisting the Dnepr's
crossing by 2nd Ukrainian Front units in the Cherkassy sector. The combat
situation confirmed that the decisive factors for the assault force were its
moral and psychological preparation, its unquestioning obedience to its
commanders, and faith in their skills and experience. Where the prevalent
feelings in mixed groups were wavering and fear of revealing their presence, the
paratroopers looked for ways leading to the Dnepr and the friendly forces rather
than how to merge with other groups.

The 60-year-old Dnepr operation was the last major airborne operation that
occurred during the Great Patriotic War. It confirmed that the multi-run
dropping of big units by single planes held out no prospects for the future. But
the results of the Dnepr airdrop were not useless. In the postwar period the
USSR launched development and construction of huge military transport planes,
something that made it possible to create military transport aviation. In turn,
this afforded an opportunity to equip airborne units with heavier modern
weapons.

* During preparations for the Dnepr operation the airborne brigades were
formally merged to form a corps, whose staff was hastily formed from Airborne
Troops staff officers shortly before the airdrop. The whole of the staff
(actually, a task force) was not dropped; specifically, Maj. Gen. I.I.
Zatevakhin, who had been appointed airborne corps commander, stayed back in the
forming-up area. The brigades were left without centralized control. It proved
impossible to create a firm, unified command for the aircraft fleet, which was
due to perform the airdrop and provide air cover for the brigades.

Lt. Gen. N.V. STASKOV

Chief of Staff of Airborne Troops

Candidate of Military Sciences

Nikolai Viktorovich STASKOV was born in the village of Buda, Krasninsky
District, Smolensk Region, on August 28, 1951. Graduated from Ryazan Higher
Airborne Troops Command School (1973), M.V. Frunze Military Academy (1983), and
RF General Staff Academy (1993). Held the whole range of positions from airborne
platoon commander to airborne division commander; was also commander of a
training airborne division and head of the Airborne Troops training center.

From September 1998, Deputy Commander of the Airborne Troops (for the
Peacekeeping Forces); from October, Chief of Staff--First Deputy Commander of
the Airborne Troops. Took part in combat operations in Ethiopia and Chechnya.