It is one of the key formations of the Western Military District, subordinated to the 20th Guards Army under Lt. General Andrey Tretyak. It is one of the Russian Army's 'constant readiness' divisions, with at least 80% manpower and 100% equipment holdings at all times. All of its units, as well as headquarters, are based in the town of Naro-Fominsk, 70 km south-west of Moscow.
The direct ascendant of the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division was the 17th Tank Corps, initially formed in 1942, which commenced its combat history on 26 June 1942 just prior to the Battle of Voronezh (1942), deployed to the west of the city. For distinction in combat in the Middle Don Operation (17-30 December 1942), the Corps was renumbered as the 4th Guards Tank Corps in January 1943. It received the honorific Kantemirovsky after Kantemirovka, the village which was liberated by tank subunits as their baptism of fire.
In the August 1943 formation endured continuous combat on the Belgorod-Kharkiv direction of The Kursk Bulge. For the courage and heroism shown during the liberation of cities on the right-bank Ukraine: Zbarazh, Ternopil, and Shepetovka in April 1944 the Corps was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, and seventeen regiments and separate battalions were awarded honorifics of: Shepetovsky, Zhitomirsky, Yampolsky, and Tarnopolsky.
For clearing Krakow the Corps was awarded the Order of Lenin.
The 4th Guards Tank Corps was among the first to reach the river Elbe, and participated in the capture of Dresden; having made a sudden redeployment to Czechoslovakia, the Corps finished the fighting during the Second World War in the suburbs of Prague. For the courage shown by soldiers and officers of the Corps, during wartime military units were awarded 23 awards, the staff of the Corps was thanked officially by the Supreme commander in chief 18 times, 32 of its members were awarded the Hero of Soviet Union (5 of which are forever enlisted in the unit rolls), more than 20 thousand received awards and medals, five becoming full chevaliers of the Order of Glory.
On 14 June 1945 the 4th Guards Tank Corps became the 4th Guards "Kantemirovskaya" Tank Division and on 13 September 1945 it was assigned to the armies of Moscow Military District with a re-deployment to Naro-Fominsk in the Moscow Region.
In the autumn of 1946 it participated in the Day of the Tankmen's parade on the Red Square in Moscow. On 23 May 1953, the division's 3rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment became the 119th Guards Mechanized Regiment. The 275th Guards Artillery Battalion was formed from the 264th Guards Mortar Regiment and the howitzer artillery battalion.The 76th Separate Motorcycle Battalion was converted into a reconnaissance battalion. The 120th Guards Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment became the 538th Guards Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment in April 1955. The 14th Guards Tank Regiment was disbanded in June 1957. At the same time, the 43rd Guards Heavy Tank Self-Propelled Regiment became the 43rd Guards Heavy Tank Regiment and the 119th Guards Mechanized Regiment was redesignated the 423rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment.
In 1960, the division's tank training battalion was disbanded. In 1962, the 43rd Guards Heavy Tank Regiment became a regular tank regiment. On 19 February of that year, the 196th Separate Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion and the 339th Separate Missile Battalion were activated. The 106th Separate Sapper Battalion became the 330th Separate Engineer-Sapper Battalion in 1968. In 1972, the separate Chemical Defence Company became the 616th Separate Chemical Defence Battalion. The motor transport battalion was renamed the 1088th Separate Material Supply Battalion in 1980.
On 23 February 1984 the division received the honorific name "in the name of Yuri Andropov". In 1989, the 43rd Guards Tank Regiment was replaced by the 14th Guards Tank Regiment. During the Cold War, the division was maintained at 80% strength.
The division was one of the two major Ground Forces divisions deployed in Moscow in August 1991 as part of the attempted hardline coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The coup's failure strengthened Boris Yeltsin's position in the Russian SFSR, and soon afterwards in the Russian Federation, of which he became President.
During the most serious crisis of Yeltsin's premiership, the 1993 constitutional crisis, the Kantemir Division was one of several key divisions that had given their reluctant support to Yeltsin by October 4, the decisive point in the crisis.
Units of the division took part in the First Chechen War. In the early 1990s, the division came under the command of the famous 1st Guards Tank Army, along with the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division. The 1st GTA had relocated from the former East Germany to Smolensk when Soviet troops left Germany at the beginning of the 90s; it was disbanded in 1998, as was the 144th MRD. Thereafter the Kantemirovskaya Division came under the command of the 20th Guards Army.
Division personnel took part in peace-keeping operations in South Ossetia during 1997, and in Kosovo in 1998-2002, later participating in the Second Chechen War.
On 9 May 2005, eight T-80BV tanks from the division took part in the parade in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of VE Day. On 27 December 2005, the division was visited by Sergei Ivanov, the Russian Defence Minister. Most recently, in early 2006, the division's 13th Tank Regiment participated, along with other 20th Guards Army units, in the joint Russian-Belorussian "Shield of Union" military exercises.
The Kantemirovsky street in Moscow is named in the honour of the division.
According to the Novosti news agency the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya, in 2009, was on the road of being disbanded by the Russian Defense Ministry. According to the Russian government, the division will be converted into two brigades. The high command of the Russian armed forces has said the newly established brigades would retain their honorary names and banners.
As of June 2015, within 2 years after the division was reconstituted, the Russian Armed Forces are planning to rebuild the famous Soviet era 1st Guard’s Red Banner Tank Army by including both the 4th Guards Tank Division and the 2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division as well as one tank and rifle brigade (from the 1990s up to its 1998 disbandment the 4th Guards TD formed part of the army). The decree providing for the reformation of the force was enacted in the winter of 2014, and the reborn army is today now a part of the Western Military District, with HQ in Odintsovo. The Division's barracks are in Naro-Fominsk, Moscow Oblast.
2013 Guards Division consists of:Division HQ
137th Reconnaissance "SF" Battalion
413th Signals Battalion
330th Engineer Battalion
1088th Support Battalion
165th Medical Battalion
12th Guards Tank Regiment
13th Guards Tank Regiment
275th Guards Self-propelled artillery Regiment
538 Guards Air defense missile Regiment
The 4th Guards Tank Division currently has approximately 12,000 personnel in active service.
The division's principal vehicles are the T-80U main battle tank and the BMP-2 and BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle; it also makes limited use of the BTR-80 and MT-LB armoured personnel carriers, as well as the 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled artillery system and BM-21 Grad MLRS.