Some comments and explanations on the organization of the NKVD troops in 1941:
NKVD military forces were controlled by a deputy chief of the NKVD (by June 1941 – general Maslennikov). The deputy chief had a small secretariat to handle correspondence but didn’t posses a dedicated staff of headquarter. Matters relating to operations, organization, mobilization, personnel and training were delegated to branches of the NKVD forces which possessed considerable autonomy. As of 06.41 there were the following NKVD’s directorates which controlled military branches:
- Main Directorate for Border Forces
- Main Directorate for Railroad and Industry Security Forces
- Directorate for Operative Forces (included NKVD’s military schools)
- Directorate for Convoy Forces
also NKVD’s subdivisions dealing with all branches of the NKVD military forces:
- Military Supply Directorate
- Directorate for Political Propaganda
- Military Construction Department
Border troops: basic organization was a border detachment. Several detachments and other elements were combined into border districts. In June 1941 - 18 border districts, 94 border detachments (incl. 5 coastal), 8 coastal guard ships detachments, 11 aviation squadrons, 4 river cutters detachments. OOB and personnel strength are given in an earlier topic:
Organization of the NKVD border detachment:
- HQ with a commandant (HQ) platoon and an engineer platoon
- 3-5 “komedendatura” (battalion): each of HQ, 4 line “zastava” (platoon) (42-64 men, 1-2 medium machine gun, 3-4 light machine guns each), and a reserve platoon (42 men, 2 medium machine guns, 4 light machine guns)
- Maneuver group: 3-5 platoons of 50 men
- NCO school
- motor transport company and other service elements
Total in the detachment: 1400-2000 men, 20-30 50-mm mortars, 48-60 Maxim machine guns, 80-122 light machine guns, 1200-1800 rifles, 25-30 automobiles, 200-300 horses, 120-160 dogs.
Some reinforced detachments had as many as 3000 men.
Border forces maintained 11 air squadrons for patrolling border areas. As of 1.06.41 the NKVD border troops had 48 MBR-2 flying boats, 94 R-5 and R-10 recon airplanes, 35 SB bombers/recon planes, 16 U-2 and 6 UTI-4 training airplanes.
After mobilization border forces formed several reserve (replacement) regiments (as far as I can indentify - 37, 38, 41, 42, 43, and 44 Reserve Regiments), and several reserve battalions with numbers in the 180s series. NKVD coastal guard was absorbed by the Soviet Navy. In other respects organization apparently remained mostly the same.
Railroad security troops - the task was to secure vulnerable objects of railroad infrastructure - bridges, tunnels etc. An elementary unit was a garrison. There were 5 types of garrisons (from 16 to 50 men). Several garrisons were combined into a company, companies made up battalions and regiments. There were no fixed organization tables of the regiment/separate battalion. Each of them had a unique organization which depended on the number of garrisons it fielded. In addition to garrisons the regiments had a reserve company (100-150 men) and could also include an armor train or an armored railcar company (3 armored cars). By June 1941 the NKVD troops had 18 armored trains and 36 armored railcars.
Total strength on 1.6.41 – 61 682 men in 10 divisions and 8 brigades. Divisions and brigades were administrative units with elements spread over a large territory. Total 1486 garrisons that secured 1697 objects (bridges, tunnels, depots). After mobilization – 2664 garrisons which secured 3120 objects – 2 227 railroad bridges and tunnels, 459 water pump stations, 420 road bridges, 14 military depots).
OOB before and after mobilization described here:
Industry security troops guarded 153 objects (factories, electric power stations, radio stations). As with railroad security troops each unit had its unique organization dependent on the number of size of objects it secured. Peacetime and wartime OOB and authorized strength given in another topic:
After mobilization they secured 403 objects of industry.
NKVD convoy troops escorted convicts to penitentiary systems and arrested from prisons to courts and between prisons, provided external security for prisons. In wartime they escorted POWs from the frontline zone and guarded POWs camps. Contrary to what Glantz erroneously claimed they didn’t secure GULag camps. As of 1.1.40 convoy troops guarded 113 prisons, 23 POW camps, and serviced 156 courts. Units by June 41: 2 divisions, 7 brigades consisting of 17 regiments, 27 separate battalions and 5 NCO schools. Total 38 311 men (actual strength) in February 1941. There were 5 different TO&Es for the convoy regiment (1136-2054 men), and 3 TO&Es for a separate battalion (407-735 men). In addition to light weapons they possessed machine guns and 50-mm mortars. On 1 July 1941 after mobilization 44 432 men which secured 110 objects (54 prisons, 13 NKVD depots, 8 POW camps, 26 POW reception points, 9 special objects), provided convoy service to 109 courts.
According to a document from August 1945 total strength (not specified actual or authorized) of the NKVD forces prior to the war was 342 059 men. By components:
Border forces - 168 135
Operative forces - 27 385
Convoy forces - 38 280
Railroad security forces - ?
Industry security forces - 29 352
Military schools - ?
Supply depots - 1851
Kovyrshin (2010) gives slightly different numbers:
Border forces - 168 000 (incl. 4400 in air component)
Operative forces - 27 800
Convoy forces - 38 311
Railroad security forces - 61 157
Industry security forces - 29 944
which with schools and supply elements must add up to about the same sum (340 thousand).
Three years earlier in 1938 the authorized strength of NKVD forces was 280 thousand men, so there was a 25% increase. Which is rather small considering that the number of men in the Red Army increased almost threefold during the same period.