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They were the first (not Grand thoughts about the Afghan war)
Material posted: Publication date: 17-02-2018
The country celebrated the anniversary of withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. In this regard, I want to focus on one of the Afghan lessons. No, I'm not going to write about geopolitics or about the problem of global Islamic terrorism, which Russia started this war. Want to talk about purely military aspect, the willingness of the army to conduct combat operations.

The uniqueness of Afghanistan was in December 1979, this country was part of the army that before... fought for 35 years! The position was even worse than on the eve of the great Patriotic war — then in the 41st year, the army still had a lot of soldiers and commanders who had real combat experience gained in Spain, the far East, in Finland, it was something to share with untried companions. But in the late 70's, these experienced fighters did not exist!

After the great Patriotic army took part only in the short-term conflict — Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, border clashes with the Chinese in the 60s. But these were only transient operation, with a very small number of participants who have had no influence on the tactics and strategy of the Armed forces of the Soviet Union.

In the end, lined up the entire career, when people "grow up" from Lieutenant to General, with no real combat experience! Moreover, as he writes in his book "Afghan break" the Lieutenant Colonel of airborne troops Valery G. Marchenko, "has grown a whole galaxy of colonels, generals, who during the services had no lessons, no teaching." There were generals, who even in serious combat exercises never was!

All this of course could not affect the combat readiness of the Soviet army.

From the memoirs of Marchenko:

"The Soviet army had no shortage of quality arms, military equipment — it was a reliable shield, protecting the peaceful life of Soviet citizens. The staffs at all levels had worked out the plans for combat readiness, training, and schedules for conducting drills, firing from the platoon to the military district. The documentary part of the planning process of military training in the Soviet army's claims could not be there, it was all in good order. That's the only real combat training was carried out from case to case. The number of hours actually devoted to the study of military discipline, did not meet the requirements of time and quality of training has deteriorated. The army has focused on the economic and construction work to the detriment of military training (emphasis mine — V. A.).

Officers in the link "platoon-battalion" had lost the skills to effectively conduct classes, which led to the reduction in training a team of staff involved in direct training of unit personnel. Commanders are less practiced in the exercises, firing weapons, combat vehicles, driving military equipment. Instructor and instructional classes were held "for show", and reports about them did not reflect the true state of Affairs in the units and in the units."

In General, the army, alas, lived more of a show than a real combat operation. It backfired in Afghanistan.

"The personnel of our troops did not take the war Seriez"

The very first combat operation in Afghanistan — the capture of Amin's Palace in December 1979 was a shock to her immediate supervisors. The Palace, as is known, took a special unit of GRU and the KGB, the guys are very prepared. But even for them (before it never smelled of gunpowder), the fact of the assault, with a massive fire, with many wounded and dead, as the remembered major General of the KGB Yuri Drozdov was a real shock. But Drozdov was the combat of these leaders, he participated in the great Patriotic war, which was a gunner. But the great war was already far behind, and the peaceful years have taken their toll...

From the memoirs Drozdova:

"Upon returning from Kabul to Moscow on 31 December 1979, we adopted Yuri Andropov.

Was it hard? he asked.

Yes, 35 years later to remember the youth hard...".

So this vet was shocked at not less than their younger colleagues...

Again, the participants of the storming of the Palace were the trained fighters of all personnel of the Soviet army and special units. So you can imagine what had to be less trained soldiers of the 40th army, which entered Afghanistan!

The situation was aggravated by the fact that at the beginning our Executive team did not anticipate the involvement of the army in actual combat. According to the plan, the army was supposed to be a deterrent to the Muslim opposition, which challenged the ruling in the Kabul Communist regime — say, the fact of the presence of our troops will force the opposition to lay down their weapons, and the regime only strengthened.

However, the army had to fight for real, and fight with a powerful guerrilla insurgency — we can say, almost from scratch, acquiring the necessary experience with his own blood! Because by that time was completely forgotten and invaluable experience of the red Army on the elimination of the Basmachi movement in Central Asia 20-30-ies, and experience of the NKVD for the elimination of political banditry in the Baltic States and Western Ukraine after the war, All that unwillingness affected the morale of personnel, which in this respect was not fully prepared for war.

From memoirs the General-the Colonel Victor Murinskogo:

"For the first time in Afghanistan, the personnel of our troops did not take seriously that he went to war and could not transform from peacetime to war footing. He did not believe that this is a serious test of man, that any slip in their action may lead to death. What a battle should be very carefully prepared and always be ready for a possible battle with the enemy, as here, it is everywhere. All this created serious difficulties for staff, particularly as it affected his psychological unwillingness to fight."

Particularly difficult impressed first loss — it became clear that before us not just the enemy, but the enemy is very devious and cruel! So, in January 1980, while entering into Afghanistan 860-th separate motorized rifle regiment, the spooks were captured scout of the regiment, private Sergeev.

From the diary of Nikolai Belashov (at that time senior Lieutenant, regimental propagandist):

"As it became known later, spooks stunned ordinary Sergeeva with a stick from behind the rocks when he was fighting, and unconscious dragged into the gang. The gang tortured him terribly, trying to get certain information, but, more importantly, abused. The burning at the stake ramrod from the rifle spooks Alimamat Khudadat pierced his chest. It was a medieval, hellish torture. When he lost consciousness, it was doused with water, and the torture continued. And so a few times. On top of torture dushman stabbed him in the head. Later spooks of Alimamat Hugedata delay. He will machine Sergeeva. Spooks shot of our team, is also the harsh reality of war"...

"The warlord was in a mental stupor"

With no less terrible things had to face our Marines during the first major combat operations of the 40th army, which was held in March 1980 in Kunar province. It to me in his letter described the veteran of Afghanistan Valery Silyanov, major-General, airborne forces reserves:

"Our 103rd airborne division were deployed to Afghanistan from Belarus in December 1979. Most of the personnel did not know about the upcoming transfer. However, the commander of our 317 regiment and battalion commanders flew on reconnaissance in Afghanistan a few months before the invasion. But the only person who knew them.

25 December 1979, the regiment landed at the airport of Kabul, and in the evening the headquarters of the forces composed of the 3rd battalion and other units were relocated to the Palace Delkus (the local equivalent of the Kremlin), located in the city centre. We were placed at a local club (in our "Grand Kremlin Palace", the club was a one-story building, where he held different kinds of conferences, plenums, party congresses). Remember that the officers are housed and sleep together soldiers and sergeants of his unit...

At the end of February 1980 the regiment had to participate in military operations to suppress resistance squad "commando" Afghan mountain division, raised in Kunar province a rebellion against the Pro-Soviet government of Babrak Karmal. "Commandos" in full force defected to the rebels and the Mujahideen, reportedly had to go to Pakistan.

We developed a special operation to disarm the rebels. To do this, with a number of Kabul were filmed objects of the Marines who were to land from helicopters on mountain passes to cut off the rebels the way to the Pakistani border. At the same time mountain was nominated motorized infantry of the 40th army, reinforced with tanks and other armored vehicles. When combined, motorized infantry and paratroopers had to proceed to the disarmament of the enemy.

In fact, it was the first major combat operations of our troops after world war II...

...Unfortunately, the operation was not as intended. It has identified many shortcomings in the training of our troops.

First, to conduct combat actions in the mountains, we were not ready. There was not a corresponding weapons, no skills mountain training. For me still it remains a mystery why on the eve of the invasion of Afghanistan was disbanded the unique 105th Fergana airborne division, which was intended for operations in mountainous-desert terrain. The division had the best climbers in the Armed Forces, they conducted hundreds of exercises in the mountains and deserts, had one of the best material and technical bases. That is, disbanded 105th division had a well-acclimatized personnel ready for combat operations in Afghanistan. We — the soldiers of the 103rd division was preparing for war in the conditions of the marshy area of the Western European direction.

Yes, after sunset to Afghanistan, we began enhanced training of soldiers and commanders, understanding that sooner or later will have to fight with the Mujahideen. But the time was still very little. By the way, motorized infantry also had no relevant skills. When the operation began, the rebels gave them the debris on the mountain roads. And instead of the planned two hours pass, they had to break through to the paratroopers... for almost two days!

Second, not all of the officers were worthy of their positions. It's one thing to command troops in peacetime and the other in a real war. So, a number of officers of the 9th company, terrified, actually removed from their platoons, and battle management took on the sergeants.

Third, breaking the "wood" and the headquarters of the army. The staff "expert" who drew the routes nomination, did not take into account the mountainous nature of the terrain. Therefore, the landed paratroopers had to move on abrupt slopes, sometimes with no contact with neighbors. In the end, some of our units and separate groups of soldiers were surrounded by the enemy.

Meanwhile, the enemy from "commando" (our special forces) had a good mountain training and special equipment — their rifles of the Boer war with a bullet in 7 inches and American optical sight fell to a five-kopeck coin from a distance of 1400 meters! These bullets easily pierced any body armor. In addition, the rebels in the ways our approach has built fortifications in the mountain caves with closing loopholes. The stone is pulled, there is a loophole for firing and closed to regular rock...

One of the participants, the Deputy commander of the 7th airborne company commander senior Lieutenant I. Divinsky, whose division received the mission to block the road near the Pakistani border, and later described his impressions of the battle:

"...We came in on a commanding height and lay down. He now had to hold out until the main forces. But the spooks have opened such a heavy fire on the few protected height, as if a swarm of mines and bullets, a lead roof to obscure the sun over our heads. With each minute the intensity of the firefight increased. Increasingly the soldiers looked back, hoping to see the familiar shapes, but the reinforcements never came. We were in a critical situation: either to raise their heads or crawl to another place. Snipers were aimed fire, mostly in the forehead and chest. Discover that we are alone and not all the bullets reach the target, and troops in body armor, began to fire at the legs... My body armor has been broken in two places, in the region of the heart. The shooting was carried out aiming approximately four hundred metres. And as it turned out, was shot from rifles "drill"... In the 7th company were killed 6 people, and all shot in the forehead...".

During the operation, the regiment suffered, in my opinion, a big loss of 35 men killed and 38 wounded."

From the memoirs of the participant of operation Valery Marchenko:

"Marshal Sokolov told me with the escort to shoot with body armor fighters and put on the tarmac. We have posted a number of 35 bodies naked, in the dust and dirt soldiers. Many of them were ripped open their bellies, disfigured face. Five bodies were hacked to pieces. Fifteen wounded soldiers in bloodied bandages and in full prostration, supporting each other, standing next to dead comrades.

Marshal Sokolov looked at the terrible truth of war — the result of approved operations. The warlord was in a psychological stupor. From a distance of five feet I saw the petrified face of old, little man in a green uniform, who said at the meeting of party activists that we have to perform the international duty. As we all Marshall was shocked".

No less depressing feel of 860 soldiers of the th regiment, which on March 30, 1980, has lost his companions while trying to land troops in the mountain district Baharak (Badakhshan province). The next day the regiment lined up on parting with the fallen. From the memoirs of Nikolai Belashov:

"Today is Monday and the day is really heavy. Say goodbye to the children killed during yesterday's operation in Baharak. I have the feeling that this is a dream, not true, is not with us. The sun is shining, only a memorial service, but the carriages are guys speeches. This begs the question – how many more such speeches continue, how many more goodbyes to say that the grateful Afghan people will never forget the blood of Soviet soldiers spilled in the name of bright future of Afghanistan? A bright future? I don't believe that any Afghan will remember our children, nobody needs that. All are such beautiful, young, they would live and live, but how much grief to mothers, it is difficult to imagine...

In General, more and more often the question arises – why war, not much is clear. After all, the more we got into this war, the more "cargo 200", but at Home I don't even know what we fighting for, are dying here guys.

And according to radio "Mayak" today passed on socialist competition, covering citizens of the Soviet Union, which in unison, preparing to meet adequately the 110-th anniversary of Lenin's birth. I wonder will or will not fight on April 22...".

Had to fight not just to 22 April 80th year, and nearly ten years...

He left and never came back

Now about HOW it was acquired the necessary military experience. From the memoirs of a former intelligence chief 201st motorized rifle division Nikolai Pavlovich Kuzmin (book "Military intelligence officers in Afghanistan"):

"The first serious loss of the scouts of our division have suffered 13 may 1980. Then in the killed intelligence group razvedrota number of 8 people. The group was headed by the assistant to the chief of intelligence division Lieutenant N. R. Shigin.

Don't know what caused the need for the appointment of staff officer of the division commander razvedochny, usually it is rarely practiced. Scouts were landed from a helicopter in a remote mountain area West of the city of Faizabad. During the day the spooks haven't touched them, watched, and occasionally fired. To the evening, making sure that no one supports, surrounded in the gorge. Radio communications from reconnaissance command was absent, otherwise they would be provided with the necessary fire support and evacuation.

Had such a loss of connection in 1982-1983, in the area of their intended location would be immediately sent Vertoleyou and a group would be found. But it was only in may 1980, and combat experience has had to. Combat experience and blood – things are inextricably linked (emphasis mine — V. A.)

Fierce battle was fought over three hours. When out of ammunition, the scouts tried using the onset of night, to move along the gorge, but unless they could match the knowledge with the locals? They were densely surrounded, and after a fierce fight all were killed. In the morning sent into battle troopers found everyone dead.

Body N. R. Sigina the average and S. E. Solovyov were beheaded, their heads then the bandits showed in the surrounding villages and population. Private N.. Romanov blew himself up with a grenade. Ordinary M. V. Buyanov, V. G. Saburov, S. B. Rubinet, Sergeant V. I. Galkin and interpreter private V. A. Muzafarov was pricked with knives, their heads smashed with stones, twisted his arms and legs...

The cause of death of the reconnaissance was that our troops were still in power requirements of the old regulations and manuals, it is absolutely not suited to the conditions of the Afghan war. After all, according to the "Instruction on tactical intelligence" of 1966, in force in the period of the reconnaissance groups of divisions could be sent behind enemy lines to a depth of 100 km!"...

Even more tragic experience got 66th separate motorized rifle brigade, formed on the basis of the 186th regiment. From the memoirs of Nikolai Yusupov (in the 80th Sergeant and Deputy platoon commander):

"March 31, 1980, in Nangarhar province we had the first release way were walked by foot in the mountains. The first 66 units of the brigade. Nobody knew what to do, no one put a combat mission, no one instructed, at what rate should go units, where to go, what to keep, what to pay attention to.

The heat was under 60, the first company where I worked, stretched, fuck knows how. Around the mountain, a narrow trail winds among the black rocks, so hot that spit on them – hissing. Unless, of course, will collect saliva. My throat is dry. Shoulders pulls a backpack weighing over 20 pounds. From habit dizzy, and in the brain only one desire – to fall into the shadows. And fuck all.

We went to some hill, behind which lurk the spirits. Then we didn't know it, and it went like sheep being driven to the slaughter. Without razvedat, without outposts. As always. Suddenly the war has split our world into thousands of small pieces. A few bullets from rifles marked on our bodies bloody roses of death...".

In this first release, three people were killed. The other miraculously survived — fought scattered in all directions, without a single command and as best they could. Saved only by the fact that the spooks apparently knew nothing about the real number of units, or readiness (which almost was not). In General, the soldiers waited for nightfall and went to their — too hit and miss...

Alas, this fight learned nothing — following the release of this ill-fated first company was a terrible fatal. The description of this fight a few years ago sent me an Afghan veteran Igor Kotov (in Afghanistan — the commander of the mortar platoon). Now with these his memoirs "'HARA. Afghanistan. History of invasion" can be found online on the website "". ( — I highly recommend this book, it is very instructive not only to military...

So, the 11th of may 1980, the 1st battalion 66th brigade received orders to scour the gorge of the river Pecadora in the direction of the village of Hara, located near the city of Asadabad (Kunar province). The mistake I made the command of the battalion, then in different variations repeated again and again in Afghanistan. This is when the unit not observing the rules of movement in a combat situation, enters the canyon without adequate cover on the slopes of the surrounding mountains. It is for the same reason later, on 3 August 1980, near the village Siesta suffer great losses 783-th separate reconnaissance battalion of the 201st motorized infantry division during the battle, killed 49 and injured 48 soldiers of the Soviet army. And 30 April 1984 in the gorge Hazara die a battalion 682-th infantry regiment, 108 division... But the first in such a situation was exactly the first company of the 1st battalion 66th brigade — in addition, the situation for the company was compounded by the fact that it was not a single experienced in military fighter...

While combing the gorge at the village of Khara battalion strongly stretched. The second and third company come forward. But the first, which closed the movement, hesitated. Writes Cats in the eventual demise of the company was largely to blame for its political officer Nikolai Shornikov. On his orders, the company lined up in marching order, without complying with the necessary in a combat situation the distance between the fighters was removed and outposts on the slopes. It is not known what considerations guided the political officer — most likely, he just wanted to speed up the movement of the company. Didn't realize he was only one — it was not a peaceful territory of the Soviet Union, where it was possible to move without problems and even in the parade, a war zone where travel was akin to conditions of life or death.

In General, sitting the ambush Mujahideen took advantage of the mistake Shornikova, that is, on full!

And when the unit from the surrounding mountains came under a barrage of enemy fire, immediately there were many dead and wounded. Moreover, when the battle began, the political officer was confused and tried to escape, but received from the spooks shot in the back. Scattering the soldiers in the same shot literally in the dash! As I write today, military historians:

"The remains of company and platoon AGS disappeared into the nearest building (about 30-35 people). Up to 12 hours of the day, the group survived more than 10 attacks of the enemy, losing about 10 men killed and wounded, the Attempt to call for help failed. The rest of the group fought until nightfall with a superior opponent".

The course of this battle vividly described by the participants Igor Kotov:

"Organization of defense company commander the senior Lieutenant by Secologanin in the last house of the village'hara like crazy, which is not taught in military schools. Shoot five people, the rest are in a state of shock hiding inside houses and behind the walls of Duvan (emphasis mine — V. A.)".

Word, truly fought only a few people, the rest being in a state of shock, just hiding — it is understandable, because these fighters are not prepared for this war either in combat or in morally-the psychological plan.

But gradually, all the survivors came to. From the environment group — no more than 14 people — in the night escaped from the battle, even joining in the melee. Out in the dark, a shot in the water, dragging on itself the wounded and weapons. In the end he came to his own... exactly How many of us died in that battle, is still unknown. According to Igor Kotov, more than fifty people — almost the whole company...

... Of course, those first battles on Afghan soil, provided the 40th army a good lesson. How to remember the veterans, the soldiers, even the expression on their faces changed as they have become more concentrated and severe. And those who then began to come in to replace them, was much easier — all the same mate was someone to learn.

"I must say, the first battle in Kunar has literally changed the psychology of our people wrote me Valery Siluanov. — We first encountered the wild Asiatic cruelty to our wounded and killed. We realized that in a battle there can be only one: either you kill the enemy, or the enemy will kill you. For the training of personnel began to raise soldiers, had already passed through battle-tested, awarded military awards (the so-called military asset), as well as our military advisers working in Afghan army: they helped us to explore the national characteristics and customs of Afghans. Soldiers and officers began to understand the importance of combat training and most importantly — the need to protect his comrades, not having proper experience. So beginners who have not passed the preliminary semiannual training on military operations, as a rule, not sent...".

But for us the main lesson from the sad experience of the Afghan is made in the army even in peacetime only have to do real combat training, plus the appropriate psychological preparation. And nothing more!

Moreover, I will Express maybe even a very subversive idea for some of our fellow citizens — it seems to me that military professionals (generals, officers and soldiers kontraktniki) must undergo periodic military testing in a variety of real military conflicts (whether in Syria, in the Caucasus or even in Africa). Because only war can keep a professional army in this combat form is even the most approximate to combat the teachings of this practice will never replace.

Otherwise, the sad and bloody experience of the first months of the Afghan war will be repeated for our army again and again...

Vadim Andryukhin


Tags: armed forces , USSR

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