Soviet and American Military Operations During the War in Afghanistan Term Paper

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Soviet-Afghanistan War that took place between 1979 and 1988. The writer explores the tactics used by the Soviet Small Unit operations and discusses why the attempts were not successful. There were six sources used to complete this paper.

Many people refer to the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan as the Russian Viet Nam. The reason that this nickname has been attached to this war is because it was in many ways similar to the Viet Nam conflict with the United States. In that situation the United States was a monstrous force to be reckoned with compared to the armed service abilities of Viet Nam. In the Soviet Afghanistan war it was similar in that Russia was a monster in size when compared to Afghanistan. In each case the smaller nation dug in their heels and refused to be intimidated by the larger nation. In the Afghanistan war with the Soviet Union there was a focus on small unit operations. Those operations, for the most part were not successful and it only served to strengthen the resolve of the Afghanistan Taliban members. There are several reasons the strength and power of the Soviet Union failed to unseat and destroy the Taliban but the most significant factor was the rough terrain and the fact that the home team was familiar with it while the "visiting team" was not. In addition the Soviet Forces were more concerned with the political ramifications that would follow the invasion, unlike the American efforts in the same area. America went in with one mission, seek and destroy the Taliban organization and take out the members. In contrast to the Soviet's seeming half hearted attempt America went in with a single minded mission and used that to accomplish the objectives in short order.

Might Meets Heart

Experts have likened the Soviet -- Afghanistan conflict to "power meeting warrior society" in that the heart and soul of the Afghanistan rebels went into fighting the large and powerful efforts of the Soviet Union in that war.

"The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a repeat of their invasion of Czechoslovakia. For months after the invasion, hardly a political or military expert in the world doubted that Afghanistan was now forever incorporated as a part of the Soviet Empire and that nothing short of a large-scale global war could alter the status quo. And global war was most unlikely as both super powers intended to avoid it. Some Westerners recalled the British experiences in Afghanistan and waited for a Soviet "Vietnam" to emerge, but most Westerners believed that the Soviets would ultimately prevail. Some even projected their European fears to southern Asia and envisioned a bold Soviet strategic thrust from southern Afghanistan to the shores of the Persian Gulf, to challenge Western strategic interests and disrupt Western access to critical Middle Eastern oil (THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HISTORY AND HARBINGER OF FUTURE WAR?

byGeneral (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan & LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army http://www.bdg.minsk.by/cegi/N2/Afg/Waraf.htm)."

The early stages of the war saw Afghanistan military resistance to small units of Soviet soldiers storming chosen locations for take over attempts. One of the mistakes made on the part of the Soviet Union was the false belief that the smaller nation would be intimidated by the Soviet Union's advances and they would give in. Because the Soviet Union believed this it sent small units in to do the work. The response by the Afghanistan civilians and military alike was a surprising problem for the Soviet Union and it gave Afghanistan resistance time to regroup and bury into the hills of the nation that they knew and loved (THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HISTORY AND HARBINGER OF FUTURE WAR?

byGeneral (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan & LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army http://www.bdg.minsk.by/cegi/N2/Afg/Waraf.htm).

" In defiance of the wisdom of conventional warfare, the citizens armed themselves, gathered into loose formations and began to attack and sabotage the superior occupying force's personnel, installations, depots and transport with any available weapons (to include flintlock muskets). Open resistance flared so quickly that only two months after the invasion, (on the night of 23 February 1980) almost the entire population of Kabul climbed on their rooftops and chanted with one voice "God is Great." This open defiance of the Russian generals who could physically destroy their city was matched throughout the countryside. The Afghan warrior society sent thousands of warriors against their northern invader (THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HISTORY AND HARBINGER OF FUTURE WAR?

byGeneral (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan & LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army http://www.bdg.minsk.by/cegi/N2/Afg/Waraf.htm)."

The communist mentality was founded in the fact that it took power through the use of a military coup in 1978. When this move was successful the Soviet Union seemed to relax and believed that small unit operations would take care of any localized resistance attempts by the local residents. The residents however knew the hillsides and geography like the back of their hands and they used this knowledge to their advantage by burrowing in and daring and taunting the Soviet small unit operations to come and get them (THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HISTORY AND HARBINGER OF FUTURE WAR?

byGeneral (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan & LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army http://www.bdg.minsk.by/cegi/N2/Afg/Waraf.htm).

"The initial strategic concept, operations plans and tactical methods used by the Soviet military in Afghanistan did not markedly differ from what they-or any strong, modern army-would have undertaken anywhere else in the world. The mujahideen did a better job of reconnaissance than the Soviets. Their country-wide net of observers and messengers maintained constant observation of Soviet forces. The Soviets relied primarily on aerial reconnaissance, radio intercept, and agent reconnaissance for their intelligence production. Quite often, these reconnaissance sources failed to produce usable tactical intelligence. However, since the ground forces were always critically short of combat elements, reconnaissance forces were used for active combat. Why the Soviets failed to bring in more combat troops to free their reconnaissance troops for their primary mission remains a mystery. Consequently, the Soviets often failed to find the mujahideen unless the mujahideen wanted them to (THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HISTORY AND HARBINGER OF FUTURE WAR?

byGeneral (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan & LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army http://www.bdg.minsk.by/cegi/N2/Afg/Waraf.htm)."

The Americans learned from watching what happened with the Soviet troops and when America decided to step in and level the field it was done with a sledge hammer strength that refused to let up until the job was complete.

The lessons learned from the Soviet Union against the Afhganistan war are lessons that will be valuable in the future for world military experts. Guerrilla warfare often pits brute strength against brute emotions and hearts. The side that has the largest emotional commitment whether that commitment is from religious, patriotic or other reasons, usually comes out the victor. The Soviet Union failed to recognize that conventional tactics are ineffective for the most part during such wars.

"The most effective combatants are light infantry. Tanks have a limited utility for the counter-guerrilla force, but can serve as an effective reserve on the right terrain. Infantry fighting vehicles and helicopters can play an important role in mobility and fire support. Mechanized forces usually fight effectively only when dismounted and when using their carriers for support or as a maneuver reserve (THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HISTORY AND HARBINGER OF FUTURE WAR?

byGeneral (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan & LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army http://www.bdg.minsk.by/cegi/N2/Afg/Waraf.htm)."

The Afghanistans refused to give in (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7063-4.cfm

MOSCOW. Feb 15 (Interfax) - Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev expressed the opinion that the deployment of Soviet troops to Afghanistan was a mistake.). They used…[continue]

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