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Red Army's Afghanistan War
Secrets of the Red Army’s Afghanistan War
The Red Army in Afghanistan
© 2008
76 pages; 3 chapters and 1 appendix
Many of the western critiques of the Red Army’s performance during its
war in Afghanista
n were nothing new. Red Army officers wrote many
reports right after they returned home from Afghanistan
that described
mistakes and achievements of the Red Army in Afghanistan far
better than any half-assed western observer. Translated material from those
reports affords the reader glimpses of the
war in Afghanistan through
soviet eyes
. Although America’s current operations in Afghanistan have
so far avoided the stalemate and defeat of the Red Army’s campaign
the lessons learned that are discussed in this book, such as the importance of
intelligence in anti-terrorist warfare, remain valid. It is an eternal verity that
most reports on wars by American officers, and other so-called military experts,
are frequently shallow and repeat monotonous drivel that any subaltern
already knows. The purpose of
Secrets of the Red Army’s Afghanistan
is to provide information for the reader slanted from the Russian
perspective. It is surprising that although
the Red Army that invaded
Afghanistan in the 1980s was poorly led
, it also possessed a higher than
average number of military intellectuals within the officer ranks.
“Each Red Army division and regiment, as well as any battalion deployed as a separate garrison, was assigned
“zone of responsibility”, i.e. an area in which it tackled missions with its own forces. The zone of responsibility
of the “Kunduz” (201st Motor Rifle [MR]) Division, “Bagram” (108 MR) Division and “Shindand” (5 Gds MR) Division
had frontages of 400 kilometers, 420 kilometers and 640 kilometers respectively, while the frontage for a regiment
was up to 120 kilometers and for a battalion up to 40 kilometers. The nature of the situation arising from the
factors outlined above produced a number of problems with respect to combat activity by troops that needed
prompt resolution.
One of these
problems was organizing combat training in an operational environment. The task was
complicated by the continuous replacement of personnel in the LCSF, occurring every 18 months to two years. A
solution was found by taking a differentiated approach to the training of troops.
It began to be accomplished by
training officers, junior specialist personnel and new recruits at training centers in the USSR, followed by
seven or twelve-day advanced training programs run as part of scheduled combat training in units and sub-
units in Afghanistan itself.
Another acute problem was the need to optimize force structure in line with the tasks and local conditions
actually encountered.
To this end, in order to ensure more effective use of flame/incendiary assets, in 1985 a
flamethrower company was established in each division and a flamethrower platoon in each brigade and
independent regiment instead of the flamethrower sections in each mountain battalion.”
Excerpt from Secrets of the Red Army’s Afghanistan War

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Red Army's Afghanistan War