Military Organization > Russia > Russian Self-Propelled Howitzer Battery (152mm)

Russian Self-Propelled Howitzer Battery (152mm)

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following is the modern organization of the Self-Propelled Howitzer Artillery Battery (Гаубичная Самоходно-Артиллерийская Батарея) of the Russian Ground Forces. These batteries are defined by their use of the 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled howitzers.

 

Gun artillery is 1 of 3 types of artillery organic to Russian maneuver Brigades and Divisions (the others being anti-tank artillery and truckborne rocket artillery). 

 

The next level up is the battalion-sized Self-Propelled Howitzer Artillery Division, which consists of a Division Section (commanders), Division Headquarters (staff), Division Control Platoon (command post, FDC and artillery recon), Material Support Platoon (sustainment), and 3 Self-Propelled Howitzer Artillery Batteries (this). There are usually 2 Self-Propelled Howitzer Divisions per maneuver brigade.

Help Battle Order Grow! Consider Supporting Us on Patreon

Contents:

  1. Organization

    • 1 Battery Headquarters

    • 2 Self-Propelled Howitzer Batteries

  2. Discussion

  3. Sources

Modern Russian 152mm SPG Battery smol-01
 

      Organization      ​​

  • Type: Self-Propelled Artillery Battery

  • Origin: Russian Ground Forces (Russian Federation)

  • Time Frame: Post-2008

  • Personnel: 4 Officers, 45 Other Ranks

Battery Headquarters

→ Battery Management (Управление Батареи)

  • 1× Battery Commander (Командир батареи)*, Captain

  • 1× Battery Chief (Старшина батареи), Praporschik or Starshina

  • 1× Battery Technician (Техник батареи), Praporschik

  • 1× Medical Instructor (Cанитарный инструктор), Sergeant

* Rides in Battery Control Platoon's 1V14M Artillery Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle in combat.

Battery Control Platoon (Взвод Управления Батареи)

  • 1× Platoon Commander (Командир взвода), Lieutenant

 

→ Battery Commander's Management Section (Отделение Управления КБ)*

  • 1× Section Commander (Командир отделения управления КБ) / Surveyor-Operator (оператор-топогеодезист), Sergeant

  • 1× Radiotelephone Operator (Радиотелефонист), Private

  • 1× Rangefinder Scout (Разведчик-дальномерщик), Private

  • 1× Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель), Private

* Mounted in 1V14M Artillery Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle. Houses the Battery Commander during combat to conduct forward observation.

→ Management Section (Отделение Управления)*

  • 1× Section Commander (Командир отделения управления), Sergeant

  • 1× Fire Direction Calculator (Вычислитель), Private

  • 1× Radiotelephone Operator (Радиотелефонист), Private

  • 1× Driver-Grenadier (Водитель-гранатометчик), Private

* Mounted in Ural 4320 or possibly the newer KamAZ-4350 truck. Carries an RPG-7V2 rocket launcher for local defense.

1st Self-Propelled Howitzer Platoon (Гаубичный Самоходно-Артиллерийский Взвод)

→ Platoon Management*

  • 1× Platoon Commander (Командир взвода) / Battery Senior Officer (старший офицер батареи)**, Senior Lieutenant

  • 1× Driver-Radiotelephone Operator (Водитель-радиотелефонист), Private

* Mounted in Ural 4320 or possibly the newer KamAZ-4350 truck.

* Rides in the Battery Control Section's (Senior Battery Officer) 1V13M Artillery Command and Recon Vehicle in combat.

→ Battery Control Section—Senior Battery Officer (Отделение Управления Батареи СОБ)*

  • 1× Section Commander (Командир отделения управления СОБ) / Fire Direction Calculator (Вычислитель), Sergeant

  • 1× Senior Radiotelephone Operator (Старший радиотелефонист), Yefreytor

  • 1× Surveyor-Operator (Оператор-топогеодезист), Private

  • 1× Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель), Private

* Mounted in 1V13M Artillery Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle. Houses the Senior Battery Officer during combat acting as a battery fire direction center.

→ 2S19 SPG Crew (Расчет САУ)*

  • 1× SPG Commander (Командир САУ) / Deputy Platoon Commander (заместитель командира взвода), Senior Sergeant

  • 1× SPG Gunner (Наводчик САУ), Yefreytor

  • 1× SPG Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель САУ), Private

  • 1× Loader (Заряжающий) / Grenadier (гранатометчик), Private

  • 1× Loader (Заряжающий), Private

* Mounted in 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled gun. Carries an RPG-7V2 rocket launcher on board for local defense.

→ 2S19 SPG Crew (Расчет САУ)*

  • 1× SPG Commander (Командир САУ), Sergeant

  • 1× SPG Gunner (Наводчик САУ), Yefreytor

  • 1× SPG Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель САУ), Private

  • 2× Loaders (Заряжающий), Private

* Mounted in 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled gun. 

→ 2S19 SPG Crew (Расчет САУ)*

  • 1× SPG Commander (Командир САУ), Sergeant

  • 1× SPG Gunner (Наводчик САУ), Yefreytor

  • 1× SPG Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель САУ), Private

  • 2× Loaders (Заряжающий), Private

* Mounted in 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled gun. 

2nd Self-Propelled Howitzer Platoon (Гаубичный Самоходно-Артиллерийский Взвод)

→ Platoon Management*

  • 1× Platoon Commander (Командир взвода), Lieutenant

→ 2S19 SPG Crew (Расчет САУ)*

  • 1× SPG Commander (Командир САУ) / Deputy Platoon Commander (заместитель командира взвода), Senior Sergeant

  • 1× SPG Gunner (Наводчик САУ), Yefreytor

  • 1× SPG Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель САУ), Private

  • 1× Loader (Заряжающий) / Grenadier (гранатометчик), Private

  • 1× Loader (Заряжающий), Private

* Mounted in 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled gun. Carries an RPG-7V2 rocket launcher on board for local defense.

→ 2S19 SPG Crew (Расчет САУ)*

  • 1× SPG Commander (Командир САУ), Sergeant

  • 1× SPG Gunner (Наводчик САУ), Yefreytor

  • 1× SPG Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель САУ), Private

  • 2× Loaders (Заряжающий), Private

* Mounted in 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled gun. 

→ 2S19 SPG Crew (Расчет САУ)*

  • 1× SPG Commander (Командир САУ), Sergeant

  • 1× SPG Gunner (Наводчик САУ), Yefreytor

  • 1× SPG Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель САУ), Private

  • 2× Loaders (Заряжающий), Private

* Mounted in 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled gun. 

 

      Discussion      ​​

The Self-Propelled Howitzer Artillery Battery is the Russian Ground Forces' principle division- and brigade-level gun artillery firing unit. Most, particularly in high threat regions, are equipped with the 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled gun, although some in lower threat regions may be equipped with the less capable 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm (traditionally a regimental artillery piece). Each Russian maneuver brigade has 4 artillery battalions (referred to literally as divisions in Russian, but called battalions throughout the rest of this article for clarity), 2 of which are 152mm gun artillery. Each Self-Propelled Howitzer Artillery Battalion consists of battalion staff, artillery reconnaissance and fire control elements; a Material Support Platoon for sustainment; and 3 of these batteries.

The batteries themselves consist of Battery Management, a Battery Control Platoon, and 2 Self-Propelled Howitzer Artillery Platoons (each with 3 guns). It comes under the overall command of a Captain. Although technically under the "Battery Management" umbrella, in combat they actually ride in a 1V14M artillery reconnaissance and command vehicle based on the MT-LBu. This vehicle is staffed by a Survey-Operator/Section Commander, RTO, Rangefinder, and Driver-Mechanic. In this vehicle, the Battery Commander acts as a forward observer (equivalent to a Commonwealth FOO) co-located at a maneuver company command post. From there, they observe targets and order fire from the battery's fire direction center, to be described momentarily. This is in addition to the Artillery Battalion Commander doing something similar from the maneuver Battalion CP, a battalion-level armored artillery reconnaissance squad in a PRP-4M arty recon vehicle, brigade-level artillery reconnaissance which includes more ground surveillance radars (which can detect where their shells land), counter-battery radars, brigade-level surveyors, and drones suited for battalion- and company-level artillery reconnaissance.

The Battery Management further consists of a Battery Chief/Battery Starshina (ranking Praporschik, a Warrant Officer), a Battery Technician (also ranking Praporschik), and a Battery Medical Instructor (ranking Sergeant). Although carrying the title of "Starshina", Battery and Company Starshinas are rarely actually of the rank Starshina nowadays. This is because the Senior NCO ranks are considered undesirable when compared to pathways offered by Warrant Officer and Officer academies. Thus, Praporschik usually fill Company or Battery Sergeant Major-type billets, as well as senior technician and Material Support Platoon Commander roles.

Meanwhile, the Battery Control Platoon is headed by a Lieutenant Platoon Commander. The Battery Control Platoon administratively holds the Battery Commander's armored vehicle as well as a Ural 4320 or newer KamAZ-4350 truck. The truck (which we assume also carries the Battery Control Platoon Commander) is manned by a Section Commander, RTO, Fire Computer (manning a 1V520 fire direction computer), and a Driver. The Driver is also a Grenadier who can man an RPG-7V2 for local anti-vehicle defense. This truck creates a secondary dismounted forward observation post in addition to the Battery Commander.

The Russian battery combines the roles of the 1st Platoon Commander and Senior Battery Officer. Unlike the Battery Commander, the Senior Battery Officer is located with the battery during combat. Ranking Senior Lieutenant typically, they are the battery's secondmost senior officer and are in charge of controlling the guns fire during combat. They are also more generally responsible for the battery's organization, training and readiness. The 1st howitzer platoon has a 1V13M artillery reconnaissance and command vehicle for this purpose with a fire direction computer on board. It's manned by a Fire Direction Calculator, Surveyor-Operator, RTO and Mechanic-Driver, and the Senior Battery Officer controls the battery's guns from this vehicle in combat. The 1st platoon also has a truck driven by an RTO. We're unsure what it carries, but we've been told that it carries a share of the battery's immediate artillery ammo resupply. However, the more full-on ammo carrying capacity is typically held at battalion and brigade level.

The 2nd howitzer platoon meanwhile is led by a Lieutenant, who appears to be one of the more junior members of the battery's officer cadre. Given that they don't have their own vehicle in the platoon, it's likely they ride in one of the battery's trucks on the march. The 2nd platoon doesn't have an independent FDC from the battery, so this Platoon Commander is likely limited to the more administrative aspects of platoon leadership. Their status as an intermediary between howitzer commanders and battery leadership would aid in the control of the guns during movement, which would happen frequently as it is Russian practice to displace after fire missions. With advances in fire direction capabilities, Russian artillery batteries are capable of split-battery fires, but these are still coordinated through the Battery's FDC rather than at platoon-level, although the 2nd platoon commander still supervises their platoon's independent firing. The 2nd platoon commander can also be employed as another forward observer.

Each howitzer platoon has 3x 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled howitzers, each crewed by 5 men: an SPG Commander (also Deputy Platoon Commander in the first SPG), SPG Gunner, SPG Mechanic-Driver, and 2 Loaders. In the first SPG of each platoon, one Loader also acts as a Grenadier for an RPG-7V2 rocket launcher for local anti-vehicle defense. The unit of fire for the 152mm is 60 rounds, equivalent to the number of rounds stored on board the Msta. Brigades typically carry 6 units of fire for all its howitzers. That means theoretically, assuming all batteries were equally supplied, the howitzer battery would have 360 rounds on hand with an additional 1,800 rounds available to it via battalion and brigade sustainment.

In terms of use, an artillery battery like this could either act directly under the artillery battalion (usually attached from brigade as the main fires element of a Battalion Tactical Group) or be directly attached to a specific maneuver company. This would be particularly relevant for BTG forward security elements on the march, which can for example consist of a motorized rifle company with an attached tank platoon, artillery battery, and other attached fires, air defense, and engineering. Russian practice is typically for an artillery unit to support a maneuver unit of its own size. An artillery battery could also be attached to a bronegruppa (infantry fighting vehicles without their dismounts) in assaults. But in a brigade defense, the artillery batteries would be more likely to operate within a specific artillery battalion area. They'd be positioned astride expected avenues of enemy armor attack, as per the traditional Russian/Soviet doctrine of incorporating their indirect artillery into a direct-fire anti-tank defense. Generally speaking, howitzer artillery would be placed closer to the front compared to the rocket artillery, which would be further back (given that the rocket artillery are based on an unarmored cargo truck chassis and require more downtime to reload). The Brigade Artillery Group (including howitzer battalions and the rocket artillery battalion) would be positioned between positioned between the first echelon and second echelon battalions, about 2 to 4 kilometers behind the main line of resistance with a "frontage" of 3-5 kilometers and depth of 1-2 kilometers.

 

      Sources      ​​

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

      - Marcus Aurelius

Social

© 2019 Battle Order