Small Wars Journal

The Three Misunderstandings of Soviet Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

The Three Misunderstandings of Soviet Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

Daniel J. O’Connor

As scores of diplomats seek to navigate a peaceful resolution to the current instability in Afghanistan, it is the proper time to reassess the major effort of the conflict; specifically, the military effort.  Although most of those involved want nothing more than a sustainable resolution to the conflict, it seems distinctly possible that military action will be a continued component, at least in the near-term.  To aid conflict resolution in Afghanistan, the enemy must be deprived of their willpower, localized clout and the impression that they hold a powerful bargaining position, due to local support and coalition missteps.  Accomplishing this requires a deeper understanding of past conflict in Afghanistan, acknowledgement of conventional warfare’s place in this conflict, and a tactically sound counterinsurgency approach.  While many choose to see the US effort in Afghanistan as distinct in its aims and outcomes, this may not be an entirely accurate view.  It is particularly helpful to utilize the lessons of those who have fought on Afghan soil before the US became involved.

Several major actions taken by the United States and coalition in the last 18 years share much in common with the efforts of the Soviet Union during its combat operations in the country (1979-1989).[i]  It is therefore incumbent upon any student of the current conflict to firmly understand the Soviet conflict, its doctrine, execution, and most importantly, the Soviet methods of counterinsurgency.  This should be done in order to avoid an “eerily familiar” application of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.[ii]  Due to the Soviet Union’s particularly disastrous experience in Afghanistan, and some of the recent challenges to US and coalition policy, this topic will continue to be important for the foreseeable future as the US and its partners seek to open windows of advantage, exploit the advantage and stabilize Afghanistan through conflict resolution with the Taliban and other powerbrokers in the region.

While many have analyzed the reasons for the Soviet entry into Afghanistan, from a German standpoint, Andrei Dörre and Tobias Kraudzun note that until the 1960s, Soviet actions in Afghanistan were an extension of their desire to pull Afghanistan into their sphere of influence.[iii]  It seems fair to extend this date to the Soviet entry to Afghanistan, especially when considering that some of the most influential Soviet military commanders had a decades long history pushing to forcefully start revolutionary wars in foreign countries.[iv]  The Soviet entry to Afghanistan, while undertaken with complex motivations, was largely seen globally as a violation of international norms.[v]  There is even some evidence that the Soviet leadership was aware that becoming involved in Afghanistan would be a strategic-level blunder.[vi]  But, regardless of the reasoning, the Soviet’s aims in Afghanistan largely failed as they found out too late that the Afghans were a far more fierce enemy than the Soviets expected.[vii]

This failure of the Soviet Union along with its clients of the short-lived People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan represents what political scientist Barnett Rubin calls a “failure of revolution from above.”[viii]  Additionally, as the Irish international relations expert Fred Halliday and Afghan diplomat Zahir Tanin noted, the failure, in the end was not a result of weakness of the regime, nor the strength of the opposition it stoked, but rather “the way in which this initially weak state, in seeking to strengthen its position unleashed contradictory forces that in the end engulfed it.”[ix]  These forces were exacerbated and further unleashed due to the Soviet Union’s action in Afghanistan.

The Soviet Union’s specific failures in Afghanistan can be effectively understood when they are categorized under three main misunderstandings on the part of the Soviets.  First, the Soviet Union failed to understand the type of conflict they were wading into when they committed the limited contingent to the struggling Afghan government.  This was based on a fundamental issue of Marxist-Leninist doctrine that led the Soviets to be blinded to the reality of the Mujahideen insurgency.  It further meant the rejection of the compartmentalization of the human experience and inhibited their development of effective counterinsurgency strategy.[x]  Second, the Soviets, in their approach to fighting in Afghanistan, failed to address the root causes of the insurgency.  This stemmed from a basic desire to propagate and protect Communist satellite states while neglecting the underlying social and cultural issues in Afghan society.  Finally, the Soviet military failed to properly prepare to fight in Afghanistan.  Equipped with a Cold War military, more suited to fighting on the plains of Europe, and soldiers more suited to fighting a major power conflict, the Soviet Union was ill-prepared for the harsh climate, topography and small-unit tactics that they encountered.

Misunderstanding One: The Type of Fight in Afghanistan

Understanding an insurgency is a tall order.  Insurgency is remarkably complex, and no two insurgencies are exactly alike.  However, there are some common themes that can be understood across insurgencies, which help in understanding the Afghan Mujahideen insurgency.  Paramount among the factors of waging successful insurgency or counterinsurgency is support of the local population.  China’s Mao Tse-Tung likened insurgents to fish swimming about in a body of water which he compared to the population.[xi]  This concept was similarly understood by Latin-American insurgent Che Guevara, who wrote, “guerrilla warfare is a war of the masses, a war of the people… It draws its force from the mass of the people themselves.”[xii]

If popular support or control of the population is one of the chief factors in insurgency and counterinsurgency, it follows that understanding the most basic causes for satisfying and upsetting the population are one of the main methods to satisfying the population.[xiii]  The Soviet Union failed at a basic level to understand the type of war they were fighting.  They did not view the fight in Afghanistan to be an insurgency, but rather a fight against isolated groups of “bandits.”[xiv]  This then led the Soviets to conduct operations of an overly violent nature, rather than a population-centric counterinsurgency.  To put this in context, the Soviets were responsible for the deaths of at least 1.5 million Afghans; carpet bombing of cities like Kandahar, which led to a drop in population from 250,000 to 25,000; and the indiscriminate placement of millions of landmines throughout the country.[xv]  They further adopted tactics of “burning crops, destroying the rural irrigation system, [and] bombarding villages.”[xvi]  Such tactics used by the Soviets seem quite at odds with how Mao and Che conceptualized successful insurgency and counterinsurgency and illustrate the extent to which the Soviets failed to comprehend the fight they were becoming involved in.

Bard O’Neill of the US National War College notes that “a rigorous assessment of the goals, strategy, and forms of warfare… is crucial to devising a sensible, relevant, and effective counterinsurgency strategy.”[xvii]  The Soviet Union however, entered Afghanistan without any counterinsurgency doctrine to speak of.[xviii]  In fact, until the late 1980s, Soviet troops in Afghanistan were only concerned with military matters.[xix]  This was when the Soviets began to wake up to the realities on the ground in Afghanistan.  However, due to complex and changing conditions in Russia in the areas of politics, leadership changes and internal pressure, it was too late for the Soviets to adequately adjust.  They further, only occupied the main urban centers, effectively covering about one fifth of the country.[xx]  This “stronghold strategy” was a reaction to their inability to subdue the entire country, and led to a shallow strategy of concentrating on key lines of communication and waging a so-called “highway war.”[xxi]  This meant the Soviets could continually succeed tactically, but as soon as they departed the site of combat, rebel Mujahideen could again claim the area.  It is difficult to even conclusively decide if the Soviets ever deployed a true counterinsurgency strategy; an argument that scholars have been occupied with for years.[xxii]  Their “self-contradictory and schizophrenic” policies led to the infliction of significant pain on the local population and countless civilian casualties.[xxiii]

The Soviet Revolution and Communist doctrine in Russia were driven with a perception of Russia as an industrial region.  This can be understood more clearly in the context of China’s own revolution and adoption of Maoist doctrine.  In the view of some academics, China’s agrarian society, led to its own socialist development being quite different, to the point that Maoists and Soviets had very different outlooks and opinions on the world around them.  This argument runs that Maoists focus on the rural population, while most Communists focus on the working masses.[xxiv]  Afghanistan was one of the poorest nations on Earth and was nothing like the industrialized Soviet Union.  Because Afghanistan did not fit neatly into the Soviet model of development, a certain dissonance was created between the needs of Afghanistan and the aid provided by the Soviet Union.[xxv]  This narrow view and understanding of the world around them may explain why the Soviet Union failed to conceptualize the natural variance between Afghanistan and Soviet development.

The importance of Marxist-Leninist doctrine in relation to this case can be better understood in the context of its effect on military thinkers.  Although the pre-World War II period saw several gifted military minds, Stalin’s purges stamped out much in the way of innovative military thought.  This is especially true with respect to counterinsurgency thought.  Mikhail Tukhachevskii, a Soviet general later executed by Stalin, published several articles on the topic, which included, among other things, an acknowledgement that the “struggle must be waged not primarily with the rebel bands, but with the entire local population.”[xxvi]  This simple statement, and the much louder statement on innovative thought during Stalin’s purges, presaged the Soviet inability to adjust to a counterinsurgency doctrine long before they stepped in to Afghanistan.

Insurgency in a country with such remote areas was much more firmly understood by the two previously mentioned insurgents, Mao and Che, who both understood that insurgency in cases of rural-majority countries will generally be rurally-based.  Che specifically reserved a place of superiority for rural insurgents, or as he put it, those insurgents in the “places beyond the reach of the repressive forces.”[xxvii]  Mao takes a similar stance by noting the importance of utilizing the vastness of China and its “complicated” terrain to the advantage of the insurgent.[xxviii]  By linking this with a rural Afghanistan, it can easily be seen how Mujahideen tactics in this same vein would frustrate the Soviet efforts, focused on the urban areas.

The sum effect of these issues was a Soviet Union that had extreme difficulty adjusting to a rurally-based insurgency that they were not prepared to engage with.  It was not until the late years of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan that they finally learned to leverage tribal relations instead of making extension of the government’s authority the central goal.[xxix]  But, the damage had already been done by this point.  It was this misunderstanding of key points regarding the situation that precipitated their own failure to help the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan control and succeed against the Mujahideen insurgents.

Misunderstanding Two: The Importance of Root Causes

The second misunderstanding from the Soviets was the failure to recognize and address the importance of the root causes of the insurgency.[xxx]  It has been noted that without addressing root concerns of the local populace, a counterinsurgency fight is unlikely to be successful.[xxxi]  Without effecting a change in the underlying social conditions of a disaffected population, legitimate change is not possible.[xxxii]  It has further been pointed out that the Soviet strategy did not so much fail on the battlefield as it did in their effort to address the key issues.[xxxiii]  The complete disconnect between reality on ground and academic thought in this case is illustrated well by the noted Soviet scholar Genrikh Trofimenko.  In an article from 1981 Trofimenko made numerous references to the military contingent in Afghanistan as the secondary component in country, with the development effort occupying the prime position in Soviet policy.[xxxiv]  While this may have been true to some degree in Moscow, in Afghanistan, this claim had no basis in reality.

The United States, in its doctrinal documents notes that an insurgency thrives off the narrative created by insurgent leaders and these grievances that drive the narrative are not static.[xxxv]  This creates an image of a complex environment for the counterinsurgent force.  However, in the case of the Soviets in Afghanistan, many of the projects pursued by the Soviets, even with the best of intentions, showed a detachment from the ground truth of what the population needed.  For example, the Soviets built many new political and social institutions, “including those that promoted women’s causes.”[xxxvi]  And while this may have been a noble pursuit, for a strongly Muslim population, rurally-based and with a history of crushing poverty, these projects were not the most pressing matter for a majority of the population.  In effect, they were received as tone-deaf efforts and showed a failure to understand the causes for discontent in the local population.

Along these same lines, many Soviet leaders were surprised to learn later how influential Islam was in the lives of Afghans.  This is not surprising, with atheism being the state religion of the Soviet Union.  But surprising or not, it was naturally at odds with a nation with a strong Muslim heritage and explains why the Soviets were treated as infidels rather than a progressive anti-imperialist force and the presence of foreign troops was considered an affront to the Afghan honor.[xxxvii]  If Soviets were viewed as invaders and against god, then they were immediately at a disadvantage in addressing deep-seated and complex root causes.

Further, while it is difficult to zero in on the precise root cause of the Mujahideen insurgency, it is simple to list the proximal causes. These include but are not limited to the lack of economic opportunities, a failure of the government to protect its population, Afghans’ religious perceptions of the Soviet Union, and a significant misalignment between government direction and population desires.  This last example is worth examining further.  It was this attempt to re-create Soviet society and apply Soviet solutions in Afghanistan that hindered Soviet efforts.  The Soviets in this way, failed to appreciate the “permanence of the tribal system [and] resistance to national administration” in Afghanistan.[xxxviii]  This attempt to force revolutionary change on a conservative Afghan population was at odds with the root causes of their dissatisfaction.[xxxix]

Several counterinsurgency experts have noted that authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union tend to have advantages in “designing, planning, and implementing counterinsurgency campaigns.”[xl]  However, this appears to be true in the case of brief combat-driven conflicts.  Counterinsurgency tends to be a protracted struggle requiring a long-term commitment; a fact long understood by both the modern US military[xli] and Mao Tse-Tung.[xlii]  The Soviet Union eventually realized that a military solution to its own protracted conflict would not be possible.[xliii]  Thus, through the Red Army’s misplaced trust in military solutions, a major point of failure can be observed.[xliv]  The Soviets, who were unaware of the fight they were coming in to, therefore failed to address root causes, so the first misunderstanding fed directly into the second misunderstanding.  Both of these, further fed into the third misunderstanding.

Misunderstanding Three: The Type of Forces Required

The Soviets arrived in Afghanistan with heavy weapons and tanks and a force that had been specifically trained for Cold Warfare, with its inherent mass conventional forces and nuclear deterrence.  This meant sacrificing a certain irregular warfare capability and ignoring anti-guerilla training.[xlv]  This is best displayed by the way the Soviet forces on ground were described as “over supervised, lacking initiative, and addicted to cookbook warfare.”[xlvi]  That is to say, they respected the sanctity of their manuals, to the detriment of innovative, agile thinking.  However, they found a “hardy, resilient guerilla force which generally refused to stand and fight.[xlvii] The hit and run tactics used by the Mujahideen were challenging for the Soviets to fight against.  This is perhaps unsurprising, as Russians view doctrine as the basis of everything in military affairs.[xlviii]  Soviet troops were trained to fight a conventional force, not pursue a population-centric counterinsurgency.  Such a strategy would require situational awareness and an adaptive, educated, flexible military force.[xlix]  This all underlies the simple unheeded truth: Revolutionary fervor and expectation are never a substitute for military preparation.[l]

US Marine Corps Major Brian Hawkins correctly noted that soldiers need to be educated in the methods of counterinsurgency if they are expected to engage in this type of warfare.  But the Soviets were not even told what they were going to Afghanistan to do, beyond going “to build socialism.”[li]  This lack of information and ignorance of the greater war that was being waged has a long history in the Soviet consciousness.  Roots of it can be observed going back at least as far as the Great Game era in the neighborhood around Afghanistan, when Russian Imperial officer Bronislav Gromchevsky noted that the Russian solider goes where he is told, and doesn’t trouble his head much on details of the fight he is engaged in.[lii]  This concept is best epitomized by one of the interviews in Svetlana Alexievich’s work on the Soviet-Afghan War, where an interviewee remarks that “we pointed our guns where we were told, and then fired them, exactly as we’d been trained, and I didn’t care, not even if I killed a child.”[liii]

Beyond the sphere of training, the Soviet tactics utilized were some of the most brutal possible, aiming to essentially destroy the country and kill the local population.[liv]  They included heavy weapons, chemical weapons, and a willingness to utilize indiscriminate firing which resulted in the death of countless civilians.[lv]  And while Swedish professor Robert Egnell notes that this is an option in counterinsurgency, he also notes that there is a history of limited success from this method as it tends to alienate the local population even further from the counterinsurgent forces.[lvi]  Soviet commanders made “little effort to punish those who mistreated the locals.”  Murder and theft were normalized.[lvii]  Wanton destruction of property and the massacre of populations had a naturally negative effect on the counterinsurgency effort.[lviii]

The Soviets brought with them a military equipped to fight Cold Warfare on the plains of Europe.  This meant heavy weaponry and tanks not suited to the arid, mountainous portions of the country.  The Mujahideen, however, favored hit and run tactics.  The “run” portion in Afghanistan meant retreating to difficult terrain, where the Soviet tanks could not follow, making them completely ineffective.  This falls in line with another of Che’s dictums on fighting insurgency, in that the guerilla should take up positions that are inaccessible to the enemy, especially in the event the enemy is equipped with tanks.[lix]

It is somewhat surprising that the Soviets had such a difficult time understanding the concept of retreating and surviving to fight another day.  Particularly telling is the example of the Bolsheviks accepting the humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.  This treaty, which saw them lose one-third of their population and 60 percent of their European territory, ended the Russian involvement in World War I.  And as crushing a blow as it may have been to the new Bolshevik government, it may have saved the very existence of the Revolution by preventing further invasion by the Central Powers.[lx]  Essentially, this was the Soviet acknowledgment of accepting a defeat and living to fight another day.  The Soviets then, must have understood the value of accepting defeat in order to preserve long-term survival of their movement.  But the Soviets in Afghanistan had great difficulty in understanding the Mujahideen hit and run tactics.

Contemporary Conclusions

Afghanistan is the effect that the Soviet Union had on the Mujahideen.  Following the war, a brutal civil war occurred that tore the country apart even further and precipitated the emergence of the Taliban.  Some of the Mujahideen became local warlords and leaders; some became part of the Northern Alliance, which was instrumental in the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  Still, others are included in the current government administration of Ashraf Ghani.  However, many Mujahideen became early members of the Taliban.[lxi]  Between the horrors of the civil war, the Taliban in power, and the 18 years of war that have followed the US invasion, a clearer picture emerges.  There is therefore, little positive that can be espoused from the Soviet experience in Afghanistan and the events it may have precipitated.

As for the Mujahideen, they were successful in their insurgency aims of ejecting the foreign invader.  Of the conditions laid out by French insurgency expert David Galula for successful insurgency, the Afghanistan example includes them all.  Specifically, Galula’s second condition was present: a “weakness in the counterinsurgent camp.”[lxii]  This paper has outlined the three misunderstandings of the Soviet Union, which led to this “weakness” in their camp and how this led to a strategic failure on the part of the Soviet Union.

The Soviets were poorly trained for this fight, with no formal training in counterinsurgency.  Although doctrine was paramount to the Soviets, they had no counterinsurgency doctrine to rely on.  They compounded this with an inability to acknowledge and address root causes.  The military contingent in Afghanistan was poorly equipped for the fight with a military suited for the Cold War on the plains of Europe.  This was exacerbated by the significant deficiencies in the area of tactics.  These inadequacies added up to a Soviet contingent that completely failed to understand the reality of war in Afghanistan.

These misunderstandings are specifically important in the context of current efforts to forge stability in Afghanistan.  As the US, its allies and the government of Afghanistan seek an inclusive peace with the current insurgency, it is important to remember the previous Soviet experience in the country.  To prevent a rather Soviet outcome in Afghanistan, it will be vital for policy makers and senior defense officials to avoid the same major misunderstandings.  Conflict resolution in Afghanistan is far more intricate than simple negotiations might lead one to believe.  While the Taliban has lingering support, however localized, they still have power; political power, the power to instill fear, and organizational willpower.  To take this power away at the negotiating table, the coalition must relook its counterinsurgency methods, tailoring them to the situation on ground.  Without understanding the conflict at a deeper level and bringing the proper forces with the proper training, the US will be unlikely to find success in Afghanistan.  Fortunately, the example laid down by the Soviet Union provides a useful roadmap of what to avoid in the search of conflict resolution in Afghanistan.

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End Notes


[i] Lasha Tchantouridze, “Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: Comparing Canadian and Soviet Efforts,” International Journal, Vol. 68, No. 2, Pg. 331-345, June 2003.

[ii] David C. Ellis and James Sisco, “Implementing COIN Doctrine in the Absence of a Legitimate State,” Small Wars Journal, 13 October 2010.

[iii] Andrei Dörre and Tobias Kraudzun, “Persistence and Change in Soviet and Russian Relations with Afghanistan,” Central Asian Survey, Vol. 31, No. 4, Pg. 425-443, December 2012.

[iv] Condoleezza Rice, “The Making of Soviet Strategy,” in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Peret, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986, Pg. 648-676.

[v] Riaz Mohammad Khan, Afghanistan and Pakistan: Conflict, Extremism, and Resistance to Modernity, Washington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2011, Pg. 290.

[vi] Panagiotis Dimitrakis, “The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: International Reactions, Military Intelligence and British Diplomacy,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4, Pg. 511-536, 2012.

[vii] Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, New York, NY: Kodansha USA, inc., 1994, Pg. 7.

[viii] Barnett Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, London: Yale University Press, 1995, Pg. 111.

[ix] Fred Halliday and Zahir Tanin, “The Communist Regime in Afghanistan 1978-1992: Institutions and Conflicts,” Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 50, No. 8, Pg. 1358-1380, 1998.

[x] Brian Hawkins, “Soviet Counterinsurgency Operations in Afghanistan (1979-1988),” US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 2010; Condoleezza Rice, “The Making of Soviet Strategy.”

[xi] Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare, trans. Samuel B. Griffith, New York: Praeger Publishers, 2017, Pg. 93.

[xii] Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Guerilla Warfare, trans. J.P. Morray, Middletown, DE: B.N. Publishing, 2012, Pg. 3-4.

[xiii] David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, New York: Frederick and Praeger, 1964, Pg. 115.

[xiv] Brian Hawkins, “Soviet Counterinsurgency Operations in Afghanistan (1979-1988).”

[xv] Bruce Riedel, “Comparing the US and Soviet Experiences in Afghanistan,” CTC Sentinel, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 2009.

[xvi] Scott R. McMichael, “The Soviet Army, Counterinsurgency, and the Afghan War,” Parameters, Vol. 19, Pg. 21-35, December 1989.

[xvii] Bard E. O’Neill, Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse (2nd Edition), Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, 2005, Pg. 191.

[xviii] Paul Robinson, “Soviet Hearts-and-Minds Operations in Afghanistan,” The Historian, 2010.

[xix] Andrei Dörre and Tobias Kraudzun, “Persistence and Change in Soviet and Russian Relations with Afghanistan.”

[xx] William Polk, Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerilla War from the American Revolution to Iraq, New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2007, pg. 201.

[xxi] Scott R. McMichael, “The Soviet Army, Counterinsurgency, and the Afghan War;” Paul Robinson, “Soviet Hearts-and-Minds Operations in Afghanistan.”

[xxii] Brian Hawkins, “Soviet Counterinsurgency Operations in Afghanistan (1979-1988).”

[xxiii] Lasha Tchantouridze, “Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: Comparing Canadian and Soviet Efforts.”

[xxiv] A. James Gregor and Maria Hsia Chang, “Maoism and Marxism in Comparative Perspective,” The Review of Politics, Vol. 40, No. 30, Pg. 307-327, July 1978.

[xxv] Paul Robinson and Jay Dixon, “Soviet Development Theory and Economic and Technical Assistance to Afghanistan, 1954-1991,” The Historian, 2010.

[xxvi] Mikhail Tukhachevskii, “Iskorenie Banditizma,” Voina I Revolutsiia, 1922, as cited in Paul Robinson, “Soviet Hearts-and-Minds Operations in Afghanistan.”

[xxvii] Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Guerilla Warfare, Pg. 3.

[xxviii] Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare, Pg. 68.

[xxix] David C. Ellis and James Sisco, “Implementing COIN Doctrine in the Absence of a Legitimate State.”

[xxx] The Russian General Staff, The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost, trans. Lester W. Grau and Michael A. Gress, Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2002, pg. xix.

[xxxi] Ben Connable and Martin C. Libicki, “How Insurgencies End,” RAND Corporation, 2010.

[xxxii] Ben Connable, “Intelligence Assessment in Late 2005 and 2006,” in Al-Anbar Awakening, Vol. 1, ed. Timothy S. McWilliams and Kurtis P. Wheeler, Quantico, VA: Marine Corps University Press, 2009, Pg. 135.

[xxxiii] Anton Minkov and Gregory Smolynec, Economic Development in Afghanistan During the Soviet Period, 1979-1989: Lessons Learned from the Soviet Experience in Afghanistan, Ottawa, Canada: DRDC Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, 2007, pg. 1.

[xxxiv] Henry (Genrikh) Trofimenko, “The Third World and US-Soviet Competition,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 5, Pg. 1021-1040, Summer 1981.

[xxxv] Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-24/ Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-33.5: Insurgencies and Countering Insurgencies, Washington D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the Army, May 2014, Para. 4-11 to 4-14.

[xxxvi] Anton Oleinik, “Lessons of Russian in Afghanistan,” Global Society, 18 April 2008.

[xxxvii] Jonathan Gandomi, “Lessons from the Soviet Occupation in Afghanistan for the United States and NATO.”

[xxxviii] Jonathan Gandomi, “Lessons from the Soviet Occupation in Afghanistan for the United States and NATO,” Journal of Public and International Affairs, Vol. 19, Pg. 51, Spring 2008.

[xxxix] Mark Urban, War in Afghanistan, New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1988, Pg. 203.

[xl] Yuri Zhukov, “Examining the Authoritarian Model of Counter-Insurgency: The Soviet Campaign Against the Ukrainian Insurgent Army,” Small Wars and Insurgencies, Vol. 18, No. 3, Pg. 439-466, September 2007.

[xli] US Marine Corps, Small Wars Manual (FMFRP 12-15), Washington D.C.: Department of the Navy, 22 December 1990, Para. 2-2; US Department of Defense, Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency, Washington D.C.: US Department of Defense, 25 April 2018, Para. III,3,a,(3).

[xlii] Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare, Pg. 68.

[xliii] Jonathan Gandomi, “Lessons from the Soviet Occupation in Afghanistan for the United States and NATO.”

[xliv] Brian Hawkins, “Soviet Counterinsurgency Operations in Afghanistan (1979-1988).”

[xlv] Henry S. Bradsher, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1983, Pg. 203.

[xlvi] Scott R. McMichael, “The Soviet Army, Counterinsurgency, and the Afghan War.”

[xlvii] Ibid.

[xlviii] Mark Galeotti, “Hybrid, Ambiguous, and Non-Linear?  How New is Russia’s ‘New Way of War,’” Small Wars and Insurgencies, Vol. 27, No. 2, Pg. 282-301, 2016.

[xlix] Brian Hawkins, “Soviet Counterinsurgency Operations in Afghanistan (1979-1988).”

[l] Condoleezza Rice, “The Making of Soviet Strategy.”

[li] Svetlana Alexievich, Zinky Boys, New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1990 (translated 1992), pg. 54.

[lii] Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, Pg. 456.

[liii] Svetlana Alexievich, Zinky Boys, New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1990 (translated 1992), Pg. 16.

[liv] William Polk, Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerilla War from the American Revolution to Iraq, pg. 200.

[lv] Jonathan Gandomi, “Lessons from the Soviet Occupation in Afghanistan for the United States and NATO.”

[lvi] Robert Egnell, “Winning ‘Hearts and Minds’? A Critical Analysis of Counter-Insurgent Operations in Afghanistan,” Civil Wars, Vol. 12, No. 2, Pg. 282-303, 27 September 2010.

[lvii] Paul Robinson, “Soviet Hearts-and-Minds Operations in Afghanistan.”

[lviii] Ali Ahmad Jalali and Lester W. Grau, The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War, Quantico, VA: US Marine Corps Studies and Analysis Division, 1995, Pg. xix.

[lix] Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Guerilla Warfare, Pg. 9.

[lx] B.B. Bulamov, “Ob Economicheskikh Posledstviakh Brest-Litovskogo Mira,” Economica, Ecologiya, Vol. 2, No. 19, November 2011; Condoleezza Rice, “The Making of Soviet Strategy.”

[lxi] Florian Weigand, “Afghanistan’s Taliban – Legitimate Jihadists or Coercive Extremists?” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Vol. 11, No. 3, Pg. 359-381, 2017.

[lxii] David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, Pg. 42.

About the Author(s)

Major Daniel J. O’Connor, US Army is a Foreign Area Officer (48D).  He previously served as deputy chief, Office of Military Cooperation at US Embassy Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  He holds a B.A. in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies from the University of Connecticut a M.B.A. from the College of William and Mary and a M.A. in Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies from Georgetown.  He has served mostly in the Pacific region and has deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.