The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost
Publisher: University Press of Kansas | ISBN: 0700611851 | edition 2002 | PDF | 392 pages | 3,95 mb
The war in Afghanistan (1979-1989) has been called "the Soviet Union's Vietnam War", a conflict that pitted Soviet regulars against a relentless, elusive and ultimately unbeatable Afghan guerilla force (the mujahideen). The hit-and-run bloodletting across the war's decade tallied more than 25,000 dead Soviet soldiers plus a great many more casualties and further demoralized a USSR on the verge of disintegration. In this work, the Russian general staff takes a close critical look at the Soviet military's disappointing performance in that war in an effort to better understand what happened and why and what lessons should be taken from it. Lester Grau and Michael Gress's expert English translation of the general staff's study offers the first publication in any language of this illuminating work. Surprisingly, this was a study the general staff never intended to write, initially viewing the war in Afghanistan as a dismal abberation in Russian military history. The history of the 1990s has, of course, completely demolished that belief, as evidenced by the Russian Army's subsequent engagements with guerilla forces in Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan, and elsewhere. As a result, Russian officers decided to take a much closer look at the Red Army's experiences in the Afghan war. Their study presents the Russian view of how the war started, how it progressed, and how it ended; shows how a modern mechanized army organized and conducted a counter-guerilla war; chronicles the major battles and operations; and provides insights into Soviet tactics, strategy, doctrine and organization across a wide array of military branches. The editors' preface and commentary help contextualize the Russian view and alert the reader to blind spots in the general staff's thinking about the war. This document provides a case study on how yet another modern mechanized army imprudently relied upon the false promise of technology to defeat a determined guerilla foe. The Red Army had fought their war to a military draw but that was not enough to stave off political defeat at home.