Turkestan Military District

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Turkestan Military District
Здание штаба ТуркВО.jpg
Staff building of the Turkestan Military District, Tashkent, 1977
Active 1874 - 1 January 1993
Country Russia Russian Empire (1874 - 1918)
 Soviet Union (1926 - 1992)
Type Military district
Headquarters Tashkent
Engagements World War II

The Turkestan Military District (Russian: Туркестанский военный округ (ТуркВО), Turkestansky voyenyi okrug (TurkVO)) was a military district of both the Imperial Russian Army and the Soviet Armed Forces, with its headquarters at Tashkent. The District was first created during the 1874 Russian military reform when by order of Minister D.A. Milyutinym the territory of Russia was divided into fourteen military districts. Its first commander was Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman, who was also Governor-General of Russian Turkestan at the time.

Central Asian Military District

From 1918 to 1926 the District was referred to as the Turkestani Front as its forces were conducting active operations, against the Basmachi Revolt, throughout practically all the District's territory.

In October 1919, Gleb Bokii was sent by Cheka head Felix Dzerzhinsky to Tashkent to head the operations of the Cheka in the Turkestan Front.[1]

By USSR Order No.304 of June, 4th, 1926 the Turkestani front was renamed as the Central Asian Military District (САВО), included territories Turkmen and Uzbek SSRs, Kirghiz and Tadjik ASSRs. In connection with changes of administrative-territorial division of republics and areas of Central Asia as of August, 1940 the district included the Kazakh, Kirghiz, Tadjik, Turkmen, and Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republics.


The District was re-created on 9 July 1945 after the division of the Central Asian Military District into the Turkestan and Steppe Military Districts. The new Turkestan and Steppe District were formed from the headquarters of the 1st and 4th Shock Armies respectively. In July 1946 the Steppe Military District was dissolved and its responsibilities transferred back to the Turkestan Military District.

In January 1958 from the abolished South Ural Military District the Turkestan District gained the territories of Aktyubinsk, Guryev and the West-Kazakhstan areas of the Kazakh SSR. In 1957 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division, the former 5th Guards Mechanised Corps that had ended the war in Germany with 4th Tank Army, moved to Kushka in the Turkmen SSR.

Initially it covered most of Soviet Central Asia, on June 24, 1969 the district was split to recreate the Central Asian Military District (SAVO) following difficulties between the USSR and the People's Republic of China, covering the Tajik SSR, the Kyrgyz SSR, and the Kazakh SSR with headquarters at Alma-Ata. SAVO eventually was merged back into the TurkVO. 73rd Air Army was reestablished to provide air support for the Central Asian Military District. 32nd Army's Second Formation was established at Semipalatinsk in 1981 on the basis of the 1st Army Corps, moved from Ashkabad, almost simultaneously with the creation of the Central Asian Military District as a result of the tensions with China. The 32nd Army initially combined a former Ukraine-based division, the Тurkmenistan-based 155th MRD (was the 16th Mech Div, then 15th Tank Division) and 78th Тank Division (was the 78th Rifle Division, then 19th Мech Div. and 15th Тank Div), being in east Kazakhstan 203rd MRD (was 203rd and 30th Rifle Division, then 102nd MRD).

To replace the 1st Army Corps which had been moved up to Semipalatinsk, the 36th Army Corps was created in Ashkabad. The corps was created in 1982. It comprised two divisions - the 88th (created after the transfer of the 5th Guards MRD to the 40th Army) and the 58th Motor Rifle Division.[2]

Thus the Turkestan Military District covered only the Uzbek SSR and the Turkmen SSR. In the 1980s the District became part of the Southern Strategic Direction alongside the North Caucasus and Transcaucasus Military Districts. General Igor Rodionov commanded the District in 1985-6. Within the District's territory and under its command was the 40th Army, in Afghanistan, the 36th Army Corps, and other forces, totalling one Soviet Airborne Troops airlanding (the 105th Guards Airborne Division at Fergana) and 8 motor rifle divisions. Aviation support for the district was provided by the 49th Air Army, and air defence by the 12th Army of the Air Defence Forces.

In 1988-9, these forces included the:[3]

Fighter Regiments of the 12th Army PVO in 1988[4]

Regiment Base Equipment Remarks
9th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment Chirchik Su-27
152nd Fighter Aviation Regiment Ak-Tepe MiG-23M Formed 1950
356th Fighter Aviation Regiment Zhaneysmey MiG-31 356 IAP 1945
179th Fighter Aviation Regiment Krasnovodsk MiG-23M 179 GvIAP 1945
712th Fighter Aviation Regiment Lugovoe (Dzhambul) MiG-23M

However, from June 1, 1989, the Central Asian Military District was disbanded and its territory again incorporated into the Turkestan Military District, as part of the unilateral reductions which Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had announced at the United Nations on 7 December 1988.[5]

After the withdrawal from Afghanistan 40th Army was disbanded. But in June 1991 it was reformed at Semipalatinsk from 32nd Army. Immediately prior to its dissolution, the 32nd Army consisted of the 78th Tank Division (Ayaguz); the 5202nd Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment (VKhVT) Semipalatinsk, (prior to 1989 - the 71st Motor Rifle Division); the 5203rd VKhVT Ust-Kamenogorsk (prior to 1989, the 155th Motor Rifle Division); and the 5204th Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment at Karaganda (prior to 1989 - the 203rd Zaporozhye Khingan Motor Rifle Division).

The District was finally dissolved on June 30, 1992 with the demise of the Soviet Union, when its forces were distributed between 5 new Central Asian countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The most powerful grouping went to become the core of the Military of Kazakhstan which acquired all the units of the 40th (the former 32nd) Army and part of the 17th Army Corps, including six land force divisions, storage bases, the 14th and 35th Guards Air Assault Brigades, two rocket brigades, 2 artillery regiments and a large amount of equipment which had been withdrawn from over the Urals after the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The Museum of history of The Turkestan Military District is on Gorki Avenue in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.[6]


  1. Leggett, The Cheka, pg. 225.
  2. The former 344th Rifle Division 'Roslavl Red Banner', seemingly renamed around 1957. Feskov et al 2004, 71. Michael Holm's research indicates the division comprised the 160 Motor Rifle Regiment (73806) - Kazandzhike (BMP-1), the 161 Motor Rifle Regiment (73884) - Kyzyl-Arvat (BTR-60), the 162 Motor Rifle Regiment (14142) - Nebit-Dag (trucks), and the 231 Tank Regiment (61631) - Kazandzhike (T-55), plus artillery and the other normal units of a motor rifle division. Carey Schofield's Inside the Soviet Army, Headline, 1991, p.117, says the division's regiments in 1989 were 254 strong (MRR BTR), 256 strong (MRR BMP) and 210 (tank regiment), and was under the command of Acting Commander Colonel Mishin.
  3. Feskov et al 2004, p.63-64
  4. Feskov et al 2004, p.152
  5. Odom, 1998, p.182, citing Izvestia, 3 June 1989
  6. Tel: 624-646, http://www.tashkent.org/uzland/museum.html, Aug 2007


  • David Glantz, Companion to Colossus Reborn, University Press of Kansas, 2005
  • William E Odom, The Collapse of the Soviet Military, Yale, 1998
  • A.G. Lenskiy & M.M. Tsybin, The Soviet Ground Forces in the last years of the USSR, St Petersburg, B&K, 2001
  • V.I. Feskov, K.A. Kalashnikov, V.I. Golikov, The Soviet Army in the Years of the Cold War 1945-91, Tomsk University Publishing House, Tomsk, 2004. [Феськов В. И., Калашников К. А., Голиков В. И. Советская Армия в годы «холодной войны» (1945-1991). — Томск: Изд-во Том. ун-та, 2004.]

Further reading

  • Коллектив авторов. Краснознамённый Туркестанский / Под общ. ред. генерала армии Н. И. Попова. — 2-е изд., испр. и доп. — М.: Воениздат, 1988. — 414 с. — 35 тыс, экз. — ISBN 5-203-00036-0