Ogarkov, Nikolai Vasilevich

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(19171994), marshal, chief of the Soviet General Staff, Hero of the Soviet Union, (19171944).

Nikolai Ogarkov was one of the outstanding military leaders of the Soviet General Staff, who combined technical knowledge with a mastery of combined arms operations. He was born on October 30, 1917, in the village of Molokovo in Tver oblast and graduated from an engineering night school in 1937. In 1938 he joined the Red Army and graduated from the Kuybyshev Military Engineering Academy in 1941. Ogarkov served as combat engineer with a wide range of units on various fronts throughout World War II. After the war he completed the advanced military engineering course at the Kuybyshev Military Engineering Academy. Ogarkov advanced rapidly in command and staff assignments and graduated in 1959 from the Voroshilov Academy of the General Staff. Thereafter he commanded a motorized rifle division in East Germany and held command and staff postings in various military districts. In 1968 he assumed the post of deputy chief of the General Staff and head of the Operations Directorate, where he was involved in planning the military intervention in Czechoslovakia. In 1974 he assumed the post of first deputy chief of the General Staff, and then chief of the General Staff in 1977. Ogarkov held that post until 1984. During his tenure he over-saw the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and was the voice of the Soviet government in the aftermath of the shooting down of the Korean airliner, KAL007. He was an articulate advocate of the Revolution in Military Affairs, which he believed was about to transform military art. He stressed the impact of new technologies associated with automated command and control, electronic warfare, precision strike, and weapons based on new physical principles upon the conduct of war. His advocacy of increased defense spending contributed to his removal from office in 1984. Ogarkov died on January 23, 1994.

See also: afghanistan, relations with; military, soviet and post-soviet


Kokoshin, Andrei A. (1998). Soviet Strategic Thought, 191791. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Odom, William E. (1998). The Collapse of the Soviet Military. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Zisk, Kimberly Marten. (1993). Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation, 19551991. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Jacob W. Kipp