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> 13. The Oposing Forces
Posted: January 07, 2004 07:03 pm
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by Ion Alexandrescu

On June 22,1941 the South Front commanded by General Tiulenev was made up, as provisioned by the General Military Council's Directive No.3, of the 9th and 18th Armies. The area on which the front forces were deployed went, on the right flank, a little beyond the Romanian northern border, while the south flank was on the Dniester. The two armies had 8 army corps in their structure of which two were mechanized (the XVI and the XVIII) and one was a Cavalry Corps (the II).

The South Front Command had organ-ised these forces into a two-echelon line, with powerful reserves: 8 divisions, out of which 2 mountain divisions, 5 infantry divisions and 1 cavalry division, in the first echelon, along the Romanian-Soviet demarcation line, from Seletin, along the Prut river, the maritime Danube, the Chilia branch and the Black Sea coastline up to the Dniester bank. The second echelon contained 8 divisions inside Bessarabia,between the Prut and Dniester rivers, out of which 4 armoured divisions, 1 cavalry division, 1 infantry division, 1 motorized infantry division and 1 mechanized division. The reserves, with multiple possibilities of intervention, consisted of 3 infantry divisions and 1 A.T. brigade, in the Kamenet-Podolsk fortified area, on the eastern bank of the Dniester river, in Podolsk-Jampol and at Usita Noua; they belonged to the XXXV Army Corps.

By July 2nd, when the Romanian and German forces launched their offensive, the Soviet command organization and deployment of troops were significantly changed only in the South Front central area. On June 29, according to the South Front Directive No.0016, the 9th and 18th Armies limit was moved northwards, which diminished the 18th Army's front with 40 km. The 9th Army command ordered a more concentrated group in the 176th Infantry Division's operational area, considered to be one main line of advance, to be strengthened by introducing in the respective area the 130th and 169th infantry divisions (belonging to the IV Army Corps, situated at Moghilev Podolsk, in the fortified area). Weakening of the 18th Army's left flank was thus avoided.

In the second echelon, the sole change made between June 22-July 2, in the Soviet troops line, was to move the II Mechanized Corps from the Orhei area, where it was on June 22, 1941, northward; thus, on July 2, its three divisions were in place in the Soroca country.

In spite of its delayed strategical deployment in other sectors of the future front, the Soviet Command succeeded in achieving, by the outbreak of the war, a strong force placed in Northern Bukovina and mainly in Bessarabia. The concentration of armoured forces in central and southern Bessarabia illustrated the Soviet military command's intention of carrying out the offensive or counteroffensive to the "Gates" of Focsani which could surprise the Romanian-German forces in Moldova and offered great opportunities for an offensive towards the oil fields area, the Romanian Plains and the Danube river However, the development of military operations, mainly north of the Romanian territory, prevented the Soviet intentions from being accomplished.
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Posted: January 18, 2004 03:29 pm
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When the Soviet command decided at a certain moment a general retreat for the areas they still hold in Bessarabia, one important reason was the advance of the German forces in the north. That advance was deep enough to make the Soviets afraid of being encircled in the South.

This happened later, anyway, when Hitler diverted to the south the tank corps pointing to Moskow and encircled around Kiew hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers.
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