|Turkestan Military District|
Staff building of the Turkestan Military District, Tashkent, 1977
|Country|| Russian Empire (1867-1917)|
Soviet Union (1945-1992)
|Headquarters||100 Maxim Gorky Avenue, Tashkent|
|Decorations||Order of the Red Banner|
|Ivan Yefimovich Petrov|
The Turkestan Military District (Russian: ? ? (), 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 Dmitry Milyutin 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.
The Turkmen Horse was a cavalry force forming part of the Imperial Russian Army prior to the Revolution of 1917. Numbering two squadrons in peacetime, it was recruited from the Moslem Tekin tribesmen of the Turkestan Military District. Recruitment was on a voluntary basis with the men providing their own horses and equipment, and the Czarist government paying an allowance and issuing weapons. The Half-Regiment was derived from various Turkmen mounted militias first raised in the 1880s. Its uniform was modeled on tribal dress and included a distinctive striped kaftan and shaggy fleeced hats.
With the outbreak of World War I the native Turcoman cavalry recruited from Moslem volunteers was increased to a full division in strength. Following the overthrow of the Czarist regime the Turkmen Horse formed the bodyguard of General Lavr Kornilov.
From 1918 to 1926 the District was referred to as the Turkestan Front as its forces were conducting active operations against the Basmachi Revolt throughout practically all the District's territory.
By USSR Order No. 304 of June 4, 1926, the Turkestan Front was renamed as the Central Asian Military District (?), which included the territories of the Turkmen and Uzbek SSRs and the Kirghiz and Tajik 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, Tajik, Turkmen, and Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republics and their respective autonomous areas.
This designation 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 districts were formed from the headquarters of the 1st and 4th Shock Armies respectively. In September-October 1945 it included the 1st Rifle Corps (Ashkabad), with the 306th, 344th, and 357th Rifle Divisions, and the 119th Rifle Corps (Stalinabad ((Dushanbe)) with the 201st, 360th, and 374th Rifle Divisions. 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 Turkmenistan-based 155th Motor Rifle Division (was the 16th Mech Div, then 15th Tank Division) and 78th Tank Division (was the 78th Rifle Division, then 19th ?ech Div. and 15th Tank Div), and the 203rd Motor Rifle Division (based in Karaganda from 1969).
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.
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.
From June 1, 1989, the Central Asian Military District was dissolved 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.
After the withdrawal from Afghanistan the 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.
In 1988-9, these forces included the: