July 31st, 1943
The experience of the tank forces of the South-West Front demonstrates that their success largely depends on the correct organization of marches, repairs, and supplies of lubricant and fuel.
Many corps travelled significant distances between their railroad station and final destination with no losses. Most corps travelled 500-600 kilometers with battles, and counted an insignificant amount of tanks that fell behind or were unable to participate in combat, while several tank units and marching companies had up to 30% of the tanks fall behind.
The issue of repair bases in proximity to the main forces was, for the most part, resolved correctly. Moving through the axis of the tank corps, front line repair units managed to restore almost 70% of all broken down and knocked out tanks in time for battle.
Despite the largely effective efforts by repair units of corps, armies, and the Front, several of them worked ineffectively at certain times.
Tanks that required major repairs were not evacuated and delivered to the railroad station in time, and were instead stripped for parts and left in a condition useless for repairs. Crews allowed components to be removed without the permission of their commander. These tanks were also not immediately recorded as scrapped and were not removed from the unit's inventory. When the battle was over and the unit left the army or Front, it left behind tanks that were not written off and could still be restored.
Tank unit commanders did not transfer crews in a timely manner from tanks that needed to be sent for repairs. Experienced crews were left with their tanks with no documents and supplies. In some cases, the crews, complete with their commanders, spent their time idle in villages.
In order to improve the organization of repairs and evacuations and increase the speed of preparing tanks for combat, and in order to combat repeated instances of tanks falling behind, I order:
- Do not allow repair units to fall behind the tank forces. Technical companies and platoons (of brigades, regiments, and battalions) must only be used to restore tanks that require minor repairs in battle and preventative maintenance outside of battle. Keep them no more than 25-30 km away during offensives and 5-10 km during defense.
- Use the Corps field repair base for medium repairs. If the technical companies and platoons are occupied, instruct the corps repairs to perform minor repairs as well. Keep them 35-40 km away during offensives and 20 km away during defense. Tanks that need medium repairs that cannot be repaired at field repair bases must be transferred to army or Front level bases or to damaged vehicle storage yards. The evacuation means of the corps must be used to transfer tanks from brigade level storage yards to army level yards, or railroad stations.
- Field repair bases, evacuation companies, and storage yards should be kept 40-50 km away from the front when attacking and 30 km when defending. They should be used as means of reinforcing the corps. Form storage yards in the paths of tank columns. Tanks that are discovered which are in need of minor or medium repairs should be immediately transferred to army or Front level repair bases. When tanks are repaired, send them to their unit.
- Front field repair bases and army repair battalions should be moved out to specific directions for reinforcement of army repair means, kept 80-100 km away during offensives. Tanks that are repaired by Front field repair bases should be sent back to their units. If the tank's unit has moved more than 50 km away or has left the vehicle for more than 3 days, consider the tank abandoned and send it to the Front's reserve after repairs, informing the unit's commander of its status. Dedicate repair trucks to tank units.
- The field tank factory is a reinforcement of the Front, and should be used to perform major repairs. It should be positioned up to 150 km away from the front line. In order to accelerate repairs of tanks, it is only acceptable to remove a component from another tank under the condition that it is replaced with a nonfunctional component. Those that are guilty of stripping down tanks for parts will be severely punished.