Central Group of Forces

The Central Group of Forces was a Soviet military formation used to control Soviet troops in Central Europe on two occasions: in Austria and Hungary from 1945-55 and troops stationed in Czechoslovakia after the Prague Spring of 1968.

After the end of the Second World War, the Soviet High Command reorganized its troops on the territories it liberated from the Nazi occupation and now occupied. Directive Nr 11097 on 10 June 1945 created several new formations, known as Groups of Forces, equivalent to military districts but located outside the Soviet Union. Such groups were stationed in Germany (Western Group of Forces), Poland (Northern Group of Forces), and the Balkan region (Southern Group of Forces in Romania and Hungary).

The Central Group of Forces was created around that time to control troops in Austria and Hungary, and did so from 1945 until 1955, when Soviet troops were withdrawn from Austria after the Austrian State Treaty was agreed. Army General Vladimir Kurasov commanded the Group from 1946-49. On its creation it consisted of the 4th, 5th, and 7th Guards Armies though many formations were quickly withdrawn.

The Central Group of Forces was reinstituted as a legacy of the 1968 Prague Spring events. Till that time, no Soviet troops were permanently garrisoned within Czechoslovakian territory. The Central Group of forces had a total strength of about 85,000 and comprised two tank divisions, three mechanized infantry divisions, three missile brigades, an artillery brigade, and an airborne assault brigade. Four of the five Soviet ground divisions in Czechoslovakia were stationed in the Czech lands (15th Guards Tank Division at Milovice, 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division at Mladá Boleslav, 48th MRD at Vysoké Mýto, and 31st Tank Division at Bruntál), while one was headquartered in Slovakia (the 30th Guards Motor Rifle Division at Zvolen). Group headquarters was located in Milovice (38 km northeast of Prague). Also at Milovice was the 131st Mixed Aviation Division, which arrived from Ivano-Frankovsk in the Ukrainian SSR in August 1968.

Following the end of the Cold War, the divisions were withdrawn as follows:

  • 15th Guards Tank Division to Chebakul, Volga-Ural Military District
  • 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division to Kaliningrad, Baltic Military District
  • 30th Guards Motor Rifle Division to the 5th Guards Tank Army/5th Guards Army Corps, Belarus, and reduced to a storage base
  • 31st Tank Division to the Moscow Military District and later amalgamated with 47th Tank Division as 3rd Motor Rifle Division
  • 48th Motor Rifle Division - it remain in Czechoslovakia until 1990 when it was the first Division to depart (between February and May 1990). 1996 Jane's Intelligence Review information indicated the Division had been moved to Smolensk in the Moscow Military District where it was later disbanded. Russian forum information ( and following) indicates that it was actually withdrawn to Chuguev in Ukraine using the same garrison as the disbanded 75th Guards Tank Division. It appears that there wasn’t enough space for the entire Division, so the 210th MRR was attached to the 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division. The remained of the Division departed for Ukraine, with the last arriving by May 1991. By then, it had been decided that in order to avoid the restrictions on the CFE Treaty, certain elements of the Soviet Army would be transferred to other non-MOD armed forces. Whole units were transferred to the KGB. When the last of the 48th arrived in Chuguev, the entire Division was transferred to the Directorate of Instruction for Special Purposes KGB by June 1991. Regiments included the 265 гв., 1335 мсп, 353 оучб, 31 орб, 813 обс, 88 орвб, 409 обмо, 34 омедб, 99 оиср, 348 орхз. To replace the loss of the 210th MRR, the 255th Guards MRR was formed for the Division, probably from what was left of the 75th GTD. From 1992 the government of Ukraine took command of the Division, and they later redesignated it the 6th Division of the National Guard of Ukraine. It was eventually in the 1990s reorganised as a brigade.

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