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Old 03-19-2011   #21
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Default Afgansty: The russians in afghanistan, 1979-89

A book review of 'AFGANSTY: THE RUSSIANS IN AFGHANISTAN, 1979-89' by Roderic Braithwaite, a former UK Ambassador in the USSR, who IIRC can take a decidedly unorthodox viewpoint on affairs:http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/676...ifferent.thtml

The review opens with
Quote:
There used to be two rules of successful imperialism. First, don’t invade Russia. Second, don’t invade Afghanistan. As Rodric Braithwaite points out, invading the latter country itself offers no real difficulties. The Afghans abandon their strongholds and take to the hills, allowing the invader to enjoy the illusion of power in Kabul, with a puppet leader installed in the Bala Hissar, the old palace fortress. The problems come later, as a long war of attrition achieves little and finally obliges the invader to cut his losses and run.
Ends with:
Quote:
His book has the great merit of treating the episode as a unique and horrific experience, while allowing the reader to draw his own parallels with the British involvement in Afghanistan in the 19th century, and indeed the present day.
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Old 05-01-2011   #22
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Default Afghansty: serialised

Part 1 about the early Soviet action, which I found quite interesting:http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russ...anistan-part-i
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Old 05-07-2011   #23
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Default Afghansty: serialised (2 0f 2)

Part 2:http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russ...nistan-part-ii

On a very different aspect of the war, the impact on the veterans and their families. Some echoes here of the USA and Vietnam.

Near the end is this:
Quote:
And indeed the failures were not military. Neither the Soviet army in Afghanistan nor the American army in Vietnam was defeated: they held the ground and eventually withdrew in good order. The failures in both cases were failures of intelligence, of judgement, and of assessment. Both the Americans and the Russians set themselves unattainable strategic goals. Neither were able to achieve their main political objective: a friendly, stable regime which would share their ideological and political goals.
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Old 05-08-2011   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Part 2:http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russ...nistan-part-ii

On a very different aspect of the war, the impact on the veterans and their families. Some echoes here of the USA and Vietnam.

Near the end is this:
David, that quote is far too soft on the politicians who were behind both those interventions from the beginning to the end. The impact on both the US and Russian militaries was huge while the politicians seem to have got off lightly. I just don't know how these (and other) politicians could sleep at night.
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Old 05-08-2011   #25
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JMA,

For the politicians in the USSR my limited understanding was that the Afghan War was one factor that enabled Gorbachev to push for reforms. Yes, the failing economy was a bigger factor. Hopefully further extracts from the cited book will cover the political impact.
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Old 05-08-2011   #26
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
JMA,

For the politicians in the USSR my limited understanding was that the Afghan War was one factor that enabled Gorbachev to push for reforms. Yes, the failing economy was a bigger factor. Hopefully further extracts from the cited book will cover the political impact.
David, the Soviets at least had the excuse that their Central Committee was increasingly geriatric, ailing and out of touch with reality while the US politicians had no such excuse then as they have none now.
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Old 07-12-2011   #27
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Default Soviet SOF veteran on the Muj

Thanks to Kings of War (KoW) for this:
Quote:
...He had quite a lot of such photos of fierce looking Mujahids because for the most part what his work had involved was walking around Afghanistan with a bag full of money and favours, living on his wits, and hiring one band of Mujahideen to go kill some other band one month and vice versa the next.
Link:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2011/07/eph...nd-desiderata/

There is a b&w photo of three tribesmen from a Russian website and this text which explains a lot about the locals: Using a Google translation
Quote:
Baluchi nomads who inhabited the southern provinces were mostly are friendly, but still had a warlike reputation and never parted with their weapons. Sometimes act as agents agreed, taking a service fee by the same weapon. Beluji Nomads, found in the southern Provinces, Were the Most Part for Friendly, BUT due to fierce warrior Their Reputation They Were Never met When Carrying Weapons.
Link:http://afgan.ru/39/mfoto20.htm
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Old 11-11-2011   #28
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Default Building Afghanistan’s Security Forces in wartime The Soviet Experience

A RAND report 'Building Afghanistan’s Security Forces in wartime The Soviet
Experience' that has appeared and not picked up before; hat tip to an Indian magazine.

RAND's summary:
Quote:
Security force assistance, specifically the development of Afghanistan's security forces, is a central pillar of the counterinsurgency campaign being waged by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The outcome of the campaign hinges, in large measure, on the effectiveness of the assistance provided to the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and other security forces. This report provides an overview of Soviet efforts to improve and facilitate the training and development of Afghan security forces, specifically, the Afghan military, police, and intelligence services. It covers the time period from 1920–1989, with specific focus on the period of the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan, from 1979–1989. To do so, it draws on Western, Soviet, and Russian historical sources and interviews in Kabul and Moscow with individuals involved on the Soviet side and on the Afghan side. It concludes with comparisons with and lessons for ongoing security force assistance in Afghanistan.
Link:http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1078.html

For those who have little time maybe the final chapter is what you seek:
Quote:
Conclusion: Parallels, Disconnects, and What the International Security Assistance Force Can Learn from the Soviet Experience
Or the Indian magazine's review, pg.17:
Quote:
She concludes that the ISAF could learn some lessons from the Soviet experience in terms of a greater Soviet willingness to deploy large numbers of police advisors, well-matched in rank and age to Afghan counterparts, better retention in volunteer Sarandoy force as well as the dangers of relying on militia
Link:http://zenpundit.com/wp-content/uplo...ommunityed.pdf
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Old 11-13-2011   #29
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Default SWJ book reviews

Follow the link:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/sov...-review-twofer
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Old 01-07-2012   #30
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Default Parallel frontlines: ten years of Soviet and American occupation compared

Cross refer Post 4, entitled 'Parallel frontlines: ten years of Soviet and American occupation compared' on the Ten myths about Afghanistan thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14262
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Old 04-11-2012   #31
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Default RAF learning lessons paper

Came across this short article whilst looking for something else: 'What are the enduring lessons of the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan 1979-1988 and what can the RAF learn from the Soviet experience?' by a RAF officer, Squadron Leader Fowler on a course and published in the UK Defence Academy Yearbook 2009.

Link and go to Pg.190:www.da.mod.uk/.../424148-Defence-Academy-Yearbook-2009.pdf
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Old 06-18-2012   #32
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Default KGB veteran: a small glimpse into his ways

An intriguing semi-obituary of a Soviet era KGB senior officer who committed suicide in March 2012, added here as the comments on the Soviet role in Afghanistan fit better:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article..._spy?page=full

Quote:
Shebarshin's Afghan years convinced him of the futility of any occupation of that unruly, martial land and revealed the depth of the cooked intelligence that launched the Red Army's intervention and doggedly supported the failed military adventure for nine long years.
Even better is the tale of the crashed SU-25, which has a quirky end:
Quote:
The Pakistanis, on America's behalf, made the colonel the usual offer: a condo in Phoenix, a Ford F-150 pickup truck, a good dog, and a good life.
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Old 10-30-2012   #33
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Default Leaving Afghanistan: is the USA following the USSR strategy?

A fascinating Parameters article, hat tip to SWJ Blog, entitled 'Leaving the Graveyard: The Soviet Union’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan':http://www.carlisle.army.mil/USAWC/P...r/Fivecoat.pdf

Quote:
The Soviet military strategy combined control of the cities and population, security of the major roads, an aggressive train and equip program for the Afghan military, and focused military operations to eliminate insurgent strongholds. From 1985 to 1989, the Soviet Union helped the DRA forces grow from 252,900 troops to 329,000 troops in a joint force comprised of KhAD,
ministry of interior, and army forces
Quote:
The United States’ military strategy in Afghanistan in 2012 is similar to the 40th Army’s: control the population, secure the roads, fight the insurgency in the south and east, and train and equip the Afghan forces. Like the Soviet Union, the United States has struggled to secure the population (an estimated 36 percent of key terrain districts were under government control in September 2010) with significantly less combat power—11.2 security forces per 1,000 citizens. With a projected decline in coalition and Afghan combat power, the United States and its Afghan allies are at a security high watermark. As the number of forces decline, tough decisions will have to be made
The author is optimistic that a political strategy, with deadlines that are kept, with a stronger air force and intelligence service (for intell and para-military arm) will be enough for a Kabul regime to fulfil Western and Afghan needs.

I wonder if the ANSF realise that after 2014, if they fight, their chances of being KIA / wounded will greatly increase. With less air support, logistic support (inc. medical treatment) and more.

Worth a read, although the information ops aspect will need a lot of work in Afghanistan.
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Old 10-31-2012   #34
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David,

This article is a great find, thanks for posting.

I have been making the same argument for months, all you have to do is read the first paragraph since it challenges our historical narrative. Unfortunately that would create cognitive dissonance with many of our readers who have bought into a very inaccurate historical narrative our media with state support spun.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 10-31-2012 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 10-31-2012   #35
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Quote:
Unable to obtain a military solution, Gorbachev described the war in Afghanistan as a “bleeding wound.”14 He called for Soviet forces to return home quickly and switched to a strategy that utilized military and diplomatic instruments.15 His decision was a de facto acknowledgement of Afghanistan’s unsuitability for communism, the Soviet Union’s unwillingness to make a long-term commitment, and his aversion to widening the war to stop the flow of arms, money, and fighters from Pakistan.
Sound familiar? Replace communism with democracy and the USSR with the US it looks pretty darn close to the same conclusion we came to.

Quote:
The Soviet Union began to “Afghanize” the war by turning most of the responsibility for combat operations over to the DRA. It continued to support operations with aviation, artillery, and engineers; worked to bring units up to full strength; and focused on professionalizing the DRA staffs.
Sort of kind of where we're at now.

Quote:
Afghanistan has taught harsh lessons on the limits of power to a series of powerful nations. The Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, however, was not one of these lessons. As author Lester Grau stated, the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in a “coordinated, deliberate, professional manner . . . . The withdrawal was based on a coordinated diplomatic, economic, and military plan, permitting Soviet forces to withdraw in good order and the Afghan government to survive.”
The decent interval argument in play.
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Old 02-27-2013   #36
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A flyer from the publishers, Hurst landed today for 'Aiding Afghanistan: A History of Soviet Assistance to a Developing Country' by Paul Robinson and Jay Dixon:http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/aiding-afghanistan/

From the flyer:
Quote:
For close to sixty years Afghanistan was one of the largest recipients of foreign development aid and yet it remains one of the poorest countries on the planet. The Soviet Union provided Afghanistan with large-scale economic and technical assistance for nearly twenty-five years before invading in 1979, only to increase the volume of assistance even further during the 1980s. None of this aid made any lasting difference to Afghan poverty.

Using unexplored Russian sources, this book describes and analyses the economic and technical assistance programs run by the Soviet Union from the mid-1950s through to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and places them in the context of both Soviet-era development theories and more recent ideas about the role of institutions in fostering economic growth. In some respects Soviet development theorists were actually ahead of their contemporary Western counterparts in realising the centrality of institution-building, but they proved unable to translate their theories into practical solutions. The reasons why their assistance programs failed so completely in Afghanistan remain compellingly relevant today.
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Old 04-03-2013   #37
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Default Will the USA & allies learn from the Soviets?

Ryan Evans, an analyst with field experience in Helmand and a Ph.D. student @ Kings Wars Studies has written a FP review of three books on the Soviet experience:
Quote:
Diego Cordovez and Selig S. Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Roderic Braithwaite, Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 (London: Profile Books, 2011) and Artemy M. Kalinovsky, A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011)
Many here I suspect will agree with this passage, with my emphasis:
Quote:
There are many aspects of the Soviet experience relevant to the current U.S.-led campaign, but none are more relevant to the present day than the Soviet efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement and withdraw their military forces. On these aspects of the war before the war, these three books have a great deal to say, primarily by way of three key lessons: Even a "reconciliation" that promises substantial government concessions may not succeed. Timing is everything. Pakistan is not to be trusted.
Link:http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts...in_afghanistan
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Old 04-05-2013   #38
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Does anyone happen to know what the level of indigenous Afghan government revenue was around 1989-1992 with and without direct Soviet aid?

My personal experience in Afghanistan is limited to only 3 months so far in two trips.

Based on the current environment and likely future environment here in Afghanistan I have can't help but narrow down the Soviet experience here to the event approximately 3 months before the fall of the Afghan regime in April 1992.....which was the cut in aid with the fall of the Soviet Union.

The recent publishing of the book Black April:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-April-So.../dp/1594035725

It covers the South Vietnamese regime between 73-75 and has me focused on the point where the US Congress slashed aid in a couple tranches and South Vietnam fell approximately 6 months after.

I'm sure there are heaps of other factors that contributed to the fall of both respective regimes, but I can't help but wonder how current Afghanistan will survive in a recognizable form when approximately $16 billion is being spent annually, but only about 10% of that total spend is legitimate government revenue.

With ISAF quickly heading for the exit, international funding levels likely to shrivel quickly from short public attention spans and increasing pressure from the next couple of waves of the perpetual global financial crisis, I reckon it's a near guarantee the Afghan economy could suffer a significant contraction in total spending in the order of 30-50%(my amateur guess), possibly more.

I wonder if anyone has done any open source Afghan economic modeling for 2014-17 with and without foreign aid?

It would be interesting to compare 2014-17 Afghan economic modeling with historical data from 1989-92.
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