The Red Army on a Peace Footing

Speeches, Articles, Reports

Care for the Army

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Three or four months ago, the War Department raised the question of a Week of care for the Red Army man’s kit. This question has now been posed in a broader way: the 9th Congress of Soviets has opened an entire epoch of care for the Red Army in all respects. But the Week has not been made superfluous by this development. It merely enters as a component part into a wider campaign.

The speeches, declarations and resolutions of the 9th Congress devoted to the needs of the army made, of course, a big impression inside the walls of our Red barracks. Everyone looked up with a start, and is now expecting steps and actions to be taken which will correspond to the words and intentions of the Congress of Soviets. Some are waiting too impatiently. Thus, at meetings held since then, I have more than once been handed notes with the question: why have such-and-such improvements not been carried out up to now? Why have such-and-such deficiencies not been made up? And so on.

Naturally, the resolution of the Congress of Soviets has, by itself, brought about no material change, and could not do so. What it means is, first and foremost, a big moral gain for the Red Army. The Congress of Soviets took note of the fact that the Red Army has been reduced in size, and ordered that ensuring 100 per cent satisfaction of the Red Army’s supply needs be given priority. However, the Congress resolution will not be implemented automatically. What is required here is broad initiative and tireless persistence on the part of all Soviet organs and institutions and, first and foremost, of the Red Army itself.

It is not possible to improve the situation of the Red Army by some single miraculous act. What is needed is systematic, stubborn, day-to-day work. Resolutions, declaration, decisions must be re-minted into the small change of everyday care for the Red barracks and its residents. In this sphere, loudly proclaimed programmes are least of all capable of bringing results: what is wanted is laborious, hard work at cleaning, tidying, heating and lighting – work which calls for large forces, great attention, much dedication, before truly human conditions of existence can be created for all units of the Red Army.

A condition for serious, protracted and solid success in this direction is the putting in order and improvement of the supply organs of the army itself, from top to bottom. It must be frankly said that this is our Achilles’ heel. While, during these years, we have taken a big step forward where the commanders are concerned, in the sphere of army supply we are extremely behindhand. In this sphere too, of course, a certain number of naturally-talented, vigorous workers interested in supply questions have emerged. There are also supply officers of the old school who are bringing their knowledge and experience to bear with varying success, in the new conditions of the Red Army and the Soviet economy. But a considerable mass of supply workers at the centre, in the districts and in the units are in need of sound schooling and serious refreshment. Mindless routine, and also amateurism without either vision or experience, are still too much in evidence in the army’s supply organs.

Yet the new economic conditions not only place the purely distributive work wholly on the shoulders of the army supply organs, but also require that the latter show great persistence, initiative and enterprise in establishing proper relations with the productive organs, establishments and institutions. And yet, up to now, our supply officers have not, as a general rule, learnt how to take stock accurately and to distribute quickly and properly. Today, when army units are living in settled conditions, attached to definite places and areas, the task of supply has been considerably simplified. But our supply workers need to learn the art of providing everything with as short a delay as possible and by the shortest route, so that boots and bread and shirts may arrive where they are needed, and in good time. He who masters well the art of today’s ‘positional’ strategy of supply will subsequently cope more easily, in time of war, with the much more difficult task of ‘manoeuvring’ supply.

The Week of the Red Army Man’s Kit signifies, above all, focusing general attention on the barracks and the military school. The means for doing this are agitation, meetings, articles and resolutions. There can be no doubt that the Moscow proletariat, led by its Soviet, will do all that it should do and is able to do. But this agitational aspect must not distract from organisational work. The result of the Week will depend, after all, not only on those who help and co-operate but, first and foremost, on those who are at the receiving end of this cooperation. Kit Week must become a Week for internal bracing of economic supply activity within the War Department itself.

In particular, so that the goodwill of the working people may produce the maximum result during the Week of the Red Army Man’s Kit, our supply personnel must show the greatest possible initiative and resourcefulness in directing this goodwill into the right channels. They must think out properly, and suggest at the right moment, where and how a local garrison can best be helped at the present time. In the way it has been conceived by the Congress of Soviets, the Week, as has been said, opens up a whole epoch of intense work and struggle to raise the level of material and spiritual well-being in the army.

Addressing the workers and peasants and their Soviets, the Week says: ‘Let everyone help to put the words of the 9th Congress into practice.’ Addressing the Red Army, the Week invites it to learn, as it should, how to look after itself.

Finally, turning to the army’s supply apparatus, the Week orders: ‘Comrade supply workers, be so good as to pull yourselves together and brace yourselves up!’0

January 13, 1922
Izvestiya V.Ts.I.K., No.10

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Last updated on: 28.12.2006