|“||Be careful, Joe; You don't want to tango with the Russians' heavy infantry.
- Andrew Campbell, The Grande Finale!
The Gvardiya (Guards) is the elite Soviet infantry, powerful yet easy to produce en masse, however they cost a whopping $50 for research.
They are one of the strongest main infantry within the game (along with the French Foreign Legion), able to stand up the heavy infantry and paratroopers of all other factions, but their AT weapons are easily outclassed by the German Sturmgrenadier's Panzerschreck.
Note that in USSR, any unit could receive Guard status for exceptional combat performance. For example, a division with veterancy and experience in the war would be dubbed "Guards Division", so if the said division is an artillery division, it would be dubbed "Guards Artillery Division". They would not die without a fight and are very experienced melee and small arms fighters.
The first Russian Guards units were formed 1680s in the face of Peter's "toy army" of his servants and close friends. They grew from playing war to real military exercises, and formed into two combat-capable regiments that played an important role in the XVIII-th century: the support of the Guards was crucial to succeeding to throne. Eventually they grew into six divisions, plus separate units, including the Railway Guard. Obviously, they were not happy with the Revolution of 1917. Most of them perished in the Civil War. Some emigrated, and some of them cooperated with Nazi Germany and Japan (to name one, general Krasnov).
The second guard was the Red Guard, a semi-underground Bolshevik (radical communist) militia. They came out of hiding after stopping the Kornilov "rebellion" in August 1917, when the commander-in-chief tried to put the chaos under control with a military coup. They were disbanded some time later, but were welcomed in the forming Workers' and Peasants' Red Army.
On September 18th, 1941, 100th, 127th, 153rd and 161st rifle divisions of the Peoples Commisariat of the Interior (NKVD, the much stronger grandfather of KGB) became first, second, third and fourth Guards NKVD rifle divisions "for merit in combat, organization, discipline and exemplary order". July 19, 1942 saw the the establishment of Navy Guard. In total, USSR had 11 joint and 6 tank Guard armies; 40 rifle, 7 cavalry (yeah, the horse-riding cavalry), 12 tank, 9 mechanized and 14 air Guards corps, 215 Guard divisions, 18 Guard ships and one Guard fortified area.
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