861.20/370: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

25. At last night’s meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R, Tukhachevski, Assistant Commissar of Defense, described progress of Red Army during 1935. Notes of his remarks made by Kuniholm who was present are: We are prepared to fight on Far Eastern and Western frontiers simultaneously. 1935 [budget?] of Red Army increases percentage of divisions which will be maintained at war strength and decreases percentage of skeleton divisions. Red Army at present 77% cadre and 23% territorial.14 Reorganization based on principle of greater preparedness and faster mobilization [Page 287] in case of sudden attack. Production of airplanes has increased tremendously.

Naval policy is now based upon submarine flotilla. Coast defenses have been considerably increased. Construction of hydroplanes has received particular attention during the past year and the number of planes produced increased by several times.

At the beginning of 1936 the total strength of the Red Army has reached 1,300,000 men actually under arms. Red Army has now 13 military academies as well as 6 military faculties in civil schools. Total number of students in war academies over 16,000.

Pay of members of the Red Army was increased during 1935 by 57%. Direct mention made of only three countries:: Germany, Japan and Finland. Germany and Japan labelled as positive future opponents of Red Army. German attack expected through Poland and Baltic countries. Japanese railroad network in Manchuria purely strategic and not economic commercial. Japanese air force increased by over 5 times in last 4 years, heavy artillery by 3 times and field artillery by 10 times. System of landing fields in Finland stated as being far greater than necessary for Finnish aviation.

Profuse excuses offered to the country for tremendous increases in military budget.

The account of speech in today’s Pravda agrees with above.

  1. Marshal Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhaehevsky explained further in his speech that prior to 1935 there had been a proportion of 26% cadre (regular) divisions to 74% territorial divisions in the army. This was now being reversed. Increasing regular divisions and “creating cadres faithful to the cause of the Party and highly skilled in military-technique” was a very expensive development, but this system would be “most perfect from the point of view of both mobilization and military preparedness.” (861.20/372)