The 1st Guards Tank Army is a divisions-sized formation tank army of the Russian Ground Forces. The 1st Tank Army was first formed within the Stalingrad Front from 38th Army in July 1942, under the command of Major General Kirill Moskalenko. The army was encircled and partially destroyed, and was disbanded as a result in August 1942, its headquarters becoming the Southeastern Front headquarters. The 1st Tank Army fought as part of the Red Army on the Eastern Front during World War II. It fought in the early defense during the Battle of Stalingrad, and Operation Uranus, also participated at the Battle of Kursk, Proskurov-Chernovtsy Operation, Lvov-Sandomierz Operation, Vistula-Oder Offensive and the Battle of Berlin. At the tip of this Russian spear was the First Guards Tank Army.
The 1st Guards Tank Army was awarded the Order of the Red Banner postwar, and became part of the Soviet occupation force in Germany, known as Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, with its headquarters in Dresden. In 1968, it, along with the 11th Guards Tank and 20th Guards Motor Rifle Divisions, took part in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, but then immediately returned to their respective garrisons. In the late 1980s the Army included the 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division, 9th Tank Division, and 11th Guards Tank Division. The headquarters was withdrawn to Smolensk, in the Moscow Military District in the early 1990s, and lost the ‘Tank’ from its title in 1995. In its last period within the Russian Army it comprised the 4th Guards ‘Kantemir’ Tank Division and the 144th Motor Rifle Division (which had been withdrawn from Tallinn in Estonia). It was disbanded in 1998.
After a 15-year break, the 1st Guards Tank Army was reconstituted in November 2014, seemingly on 13 November 2014. The 1st Guards Tank Army was formed as the main ground forces manoeuvre and reserve operational formation of the Western Military District in addition to the 6th Combined Arms Army (headquartered in Saint Petersburg) and the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army (headquartered in Voronezh). The 1st Guards Tank Army carries on the traditions of the chronologically first army of the Soviet Union to reach ‘Guards’ status. Due to their proximity to the capitol their personnel was put to extra scrutiny, they were considered a very prestigious posting, received the latest hardware and thus known as the ‘household’ divisions of the Soviet Army. Their loyalty to the regime was demonstrated by their involvement in the 1991 Soviet coup d’état attempt. The divisions retained their elite status within the Russian Army.
The First Guards Tank Army, made up mainly of forces transferred from other units, including elite motorized and tank divisions near Moscow, has an extensive pedigree. Today the 1st Guards Tank Army is composed of, Army Headquarters, 60th Command Brigade, 2nd Guards Motor Rifle ‘Tamanskaya’ Division, 4th Guards Tank ‘Kantemirovskaya’ Division, 6th Separate Tank ‘Częstochowa’ Brigade, 27th Separate Guards Motor Rifle ‘Sevastopol’ Brigade, 112th Guards Missile ‘Novorossiysk’ Brigade (9K720 Iskander), 288th Artillery ‘Warsaw’ Brigade, 49th Missile Air Defence Brigade (Buk-M2), 96th Separate ISTAR Brigade, Combat Engineer Regiment, 20th Separate NBC Defence Regiment and 69th Separate Logistics Brigade. While the exact strength of the First Guard Tanks Army is still undetermined, the offensive capabilities of the Russian forces remain clear.