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Afganistan:  Eight Years After
CSC 1987
                 AFGHANISTAN: EIGHT YEARS AFTER     
                      Major Richard J.Dick
                  The Royal Canadian Regiment
                          4 May 1987
              Marine Corps Command and Staff College
          Marine Corps Development and Education Command
                    Qantico, Virginia 22134
Author:  DICK, Richard J., The Royal Canadian Regiment, Canadian
Title:   Afghanistan:  Eight Years After
Publisher:  Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Date:  4 May 1987
     The intent of this paper is to provide a survey examination
of events in Afghanistan precipitating the Soviet invasion up
to the present day.  While some brief, modern, historical back-
ground information is provided to add perspective to the current
situation, the emphasis is on more recent developments, speci-
fically those of 1986 and 1987.  This will provide a basic appre-
ciation for what is happening in Afghanistan today and will enable
one to understand better what these events may mean for tomorrow.
     This paper will also highlight the military characteristics
of the struggle beginning with a description of the invasion by
Soviet forces in 1979 through to the current military quagmire.  
Opposing orders of battle, equipments, weapons and changing
tactics and operational concepts and their effects and implications
will be discusssed.  But if the military clashes between the opposing
sides are the most obvious and, certainly, the most dramatic
aspect of the Afghan conflict, they may not necessarily be the
most important.  In any event, to view Afghanistan within a purely
military context would be to miss the point entirely; it would
fail to account for the many other powerful influences shaping 
the current situation.
     Therefore, this paper will also examine briefly other
important considerations such as regional pressures, the Islamic
faith, the refugee problem, the Kabul Regime, the "Sovietization"
of Afghanistan, problems within the Resistance itself and the
search for diplomatic settlement.  A familiarity with these
additional factors is necessary for a broader and more balanced
     Afghanistan is, prehaps, most important today as a symbol
of an impoverished nation and its peoples struggling for release     
from Soviet occupation and brutal repression.  It is hoped that
a review of this paper will answer some question, possibly give
rise to others but, at the very least, give pause for reflection
over what is clearly an unfolding human tragedy and its attendant
                      TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents                                       i
List of Figures                                        iv
CHAPTER                                               PAGE
1. INTRODUCTION                                         1
2. SETTING THE STAGE                                    4
   The Land and the People                              4
   Earlier Soviet Invasions                             6
   The Intervening Years                                9
   Daoud Seizes Power                                  12
   The Saur Revolution                                 14
   The Saur Revolution Fails                           15
3. INVASION                                            19
   Planning                                            19
   Execution                                           21
   Motives and Calculations                            25
4. JIHAD                                               29
   Order of Battle                                     30
   Strategies and Factors                              36
   War from the Air                                    41
   Other Weapons                                       42
   Chemical Warfare                                    44
   Spetsnaz                                            44
   Air Assault Forces                                  45
   Paramilitary Forces                                 46
   Summary                                             47
5. BEYOND THE FIGHTING                                 49
   Sovietization                                       49
   KHAD                                                53
   Religion                                            55
   Refugees                                            56
   Factionalism                                        57
6. TODAY                                               60
   Political Situation                                 60
   The Economy                                         63
   The Social Sector                                   64
   Military Operations                                 67
7. TOMORROW                                            71
   The International Forum                             72
   Concluding Thoughts                                 79
8. EPILOGUE                                            82
Appendix A.  Chronology of Significant Events          88
Notes                                                  91
Bibliography                                           98
Figure	                                             Page
1. Invasion Routes and Units                          24
2. Afghanistan                                        83
3. Afghanistan                                        84
4. Main Ethnic Groups of Afghanistan                  85
5. Dispostion - Soviet/Afghan Forces - Fall 1986      86
6. Mujahidin with Soviet Weapons                      87
                        CHAPTER ONE
     A nation is dying.  People should know.
               Mohammed Es-Haq, Panjshir resistance.1
     Anywhere you go in Afghanistan you will face thousands
     of destroyed villages.  Every day you can see in Afghan-
     istan that our villages are bombed by Russian fighter
     aircraft and shelled by Russian heavy and long range
     artillery.  Every day you can see that crops are burned,
     animals killed and the people themselves massacred.
               Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, Panjshir resistance.2
     A nation is dying.  These are dramatic words but, in the case
of Afghanistan they are not overstated.  The war of resistance
against Soviet occupation, the war of national liberation, is now
into its eighth year and despite some general indications that
the Soviet Union may be growing weary of this conflict and seeking
a way to disengage itself, the violence, the terror, and the
destruction continue, if anything, at increased intensity.  And
with these unfolds a human and political tragedy.  A nation is
being destroyed physically, politically and morally and those of
her population who are not dead, maimed or imprisoned are either
fighting a harsh, brutal war or have been driven into exile to
constitute what is the largest refugee population in the world
     Set against a background or austere beauty with vague exotic
remembrances such as Hindu Kush and Khyber Pass, set against a
background of international intrigue, cross and double-cross,
foreign invasion, rebel resistance, religious fervour and untold
stories of human suffering and courage, why has there not been
a "Great Movie", television mini-series or "Great Novel" (although
Ken Follett's Lie Down With Lions may come close) to portray the
Afghan struggle?  Perhaps it is because this drama has no romance.
But this lack of widespread media coverage, particularly in North
America,is also part of the tragedy.  Without the continuing
support of the media the realities of the Afghan conflict remain
a mystery to many in the West and support is slow to come, if at
     What were the events and motives that lead to the Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan?  What form did the invasion take, what
were the tactics involved and how successful were they initially?
What have been the military characteristics of the conflict
over the past eight years and what are some of the other powerful
influences at work which, in the long run, may be more important
than the military factor?  Finally, what is the situation that
has developed in Afghanistan in the past year and a half and what
possibly lies ahead for the foreseeable future?  Is it possible
that, this time, under new initiatives by Secretary General Mikhail
Gorbachev, the Soviets are sincere about withdrawal from Afghanistan
and that the current round of U.N. negotiations in Geneva may yet
bear fruit?  It is these questions that this paper will attempt
to answer, not so much in the expectation of providing definitive
answers but more in the hope of providing useful, current information
to stimulate further reflection about the events in Afghanistan, which
in the final analysis should be measured not with cool academic
pronouncements but rather should be remembered as a story of
human struggle and survival and all that that entails.
     A note on sources and references is appropriate at this
point.  All the reterences used for this paper are unclassified
although information used in some of the references may have
been previously classified but has since been declassified.
Furthermore, given the increasing abundance of wide-ranging
material (although it must be sought out) and particularly some
of the primary sources, it is considered that the existence of
classified material, if made known, would not substantively alter
the content of this paper.  Some excellent books on Afghanistan
have just come into circulation within the past six months or
so and have proved valuable sources of information.  Most useful,
of course, have been the primary sources and newspaper articles.
     In a similar light, a comment must also be made on the
accuracy of facts and figures and on spelling.  Not all the facts
and figures of this war are clear for obvious reasons.  Data
presented, unless otherwise specified, are those considered
most accurate upon review of the various sources.  Similarily,
spellings presented are those considered most common in North
America although it is not uncommon to see three different
spellings for the same word depending on the source.
                          CHAPTER TWO
       The position of Russia in Central Asia is that of all
       civilized states which are brought into contact with
       half savage, nomad populations possessing no fixed
       social organization.  In such cases it always happens
       that the more civilized state is forced, in the interests
       of security of its frontiers and its commercial relations,
       to exercise a certain ascendency over those whom their
       turbulant and unsettled character makes undesirable
       neighbors...The greatest difficulty is knowing where
       to stop.
		Prince Alexander M. Gorchakov
		Russian Foreign Minister, 1864 1
The Land and the People
     To understand the events in Afghanistan today it is necessary
to have some understanding of the country, its people and its
history.  Afghanistan is a country about the size of Texas.  It is
generally arid with four-fifths of the area classified as desert
or semi-tropical steppe; the country is broken by the high mount-
ains of the Hindu Kush and the Pamir which rise out of the centre
of Afghanistan and slice the breadth of the country in a southwest
to northeast direction.  Her boundaries have never been determined
by her people, but rather by her neighbors or conquerors.  Over
time Afghanistan has been a "highway of conquest" for the Persians,
Greeks, Huns, Mongols, Arabs, Turks, English, and Russians; thus,
the borders have fluctuated with the rise and fall of the invading 
     This aspect is compounded by a population which is mixed
both culturally and ethnically.  There are ten distinct ethnic
groups which account for differing languages, differing cultural
heritages, and different customs.  The pre-invasion population
was approximately fifteen and one half million and within this
population the largest and politically most dominant group are
the Pushtuns who number just over six million, still less than
half the population.3  In addition to being ethnically mixed,
the peoples of Afghanistan have been traditionally nomadic,
historically crossing back and forth over the borders of what
are now the Soviet Union, Pakistan and Iran.  One can , then,
readily see the problems of attempting to impose a national
unity over such diversity particularily when the essential
social dynamic is clan or tribal loyalty.4
     But, if Afghanistan can be characterized by difference,
diversity and contradiction there are also some broad and
important factors which connect, if loosely, the various peoples
of the land.  First, they are almost one hundred percent devotees
to Islam, with approximately ninety percent belonging to the
Sunni sect.  Secondly, Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries
in the world with annual per capita income estimated at approx-
imately US$ 168.  Along with this fact goes a life expectancy
of forty years and a literacy rate estimated at ten percent.5
Given the vast destruction and dislocation visited upon this
proud but poor country over the past eight years it is reasonable
to assume that the actual figures may well be worse than those
quoted above.  Thirdly, Afghanistan has always been and remains
underdeveloped both economically in the sense of the absence of
rail lines, few decent road and communications networks and
administratively in the sense that a strong, efficient, central-
ized government administration has never really existed and
particularly beyond the outskirts of Kabul local provincial
chieftains have tended to run things pretty much as they pleased.6
Finally, while Afghanis have difficulty agreeing with one
another on many issues, resistance to foreign domination is not
one of them and this is further strengthened by the strict codes
of conduct which control intergroup and intragroup behaviour.
One such influential code is the Pushtunwali which has among
other tenets the call for blood to be avenged when blood has
been taken and to fight to the death for a person who has taken
refuge in one's home.7  Upon reflection, one can see that these
loosely connecting factors carry with them the elements of pride,
independence, resolution and physical toughness which have made
Afghani ability to successfully resist Soviet occupation much
greater than might have been expected.
Earlier Soviet Invasions
     To review the history of Afghanistan is not the purpose of
this paper but to briefly describe some earlier Russian and
Soviet dealings with her southern neighbor may be useful in
showing that Russian interference in Afghanistan is nothing
new and that the fate of Afghanistan must, of necessity, be firmly
linked to that of the Soviet empire.
     The first manifestation or Russian involvement in Afghanistan
occurred in 1837 when Russia provided advisers and mercenaries
to a Persian military force attempting to capture the city of
Herat in what is today western Afghanistan.  The British, rearing
that Russian-Persian control of Herat would by extension pose
a threat to British India, intervened politically and militarily
and the Persian attempt to annex Herat failed.  But, with this
attempt began the "Great Game" between Russia and Britain in
which Afghanistan figured as the crucial buffer zone between
British India and Russian territorial expansion into Central Asia.8
     In 1924 King Amanullah, a reformer king, pro-Soviet and
anti-British, was attempting internal reforms to modernize his
feudal country when rebellion broke out in opposition to his
changes.  The Soviets, at his request, used warplanes to bombard
the rebels into submission and provided further assistance in
the form of telephone and telegraph lines, a radio station and 
airplanes, pilots and mechanics.  Having just rescued Amanullah,
the Soviets promptly turned around and invaded Afghanistan the
following year, December, 1925, occupying an island in the Amu
Darya River which historically had been settled by Afghans.
The island had been serving as a base for raids against the
Soviet Union by Uzbek refugees of the Russian Revolution and
Soviet soldiers, dressed as natives, simply seized the island
and proclaimed its annexation to the U.S.S.R.  The king sent
troops to the disputed area, threatening war and the British
also expressed alarm.  In the face of this opposition, Moscow
withdrew its troops in 1926 recognizing Afghan ownership of the
     King Amanullah encountered no further problems with his
northern neighbor but the same could not be said of his dealings
with his own subjects.  Once again, instituting unpopular reform-
ist measures which caused economic hardship for many and violated
many religious and social customs of the Afghan tribes, the King
faced another revolt and this time was forced to flee Kabul in
January 1929.  The leader of the rebellion was an illiterate
bandit named Bacha-i-Saqao ("Son of a Water Carrier") who immed-
iately proclaimed himself king.
     The Soviets, being practical in matters of foreign policy
and perhaps being influenced by come supporters of Amanullah,
decided that their best interests, which naturally included
stability on the Afghan border, lay with Amanullah.  As a result,
in April 1929 a mixed force of Afghans and Soviet soldiers, disguised
as Afghans, totalling approximately 1,500 once more crossed the
Amu Darya supported by Soviet weapons and equipment including
airplanes.  This force, ostensibly led by the King's ambassador
to Moscow, Ghulam Nabi, gained support as it marched toward
Kabul.  With apparent victory in sight, Amanullah suddenly
abdicated and fled to India leaving the invasion without a cause.
As many Afghan soldiers now deserted the force, Stalin withdrew
the Soviet forces in June, 1929;  he had certainly taken into
consideration the growing hostile reaction to the invasion,
particularly by Persia, Turkey and Great Britain.  Stalin was,
at this time, in no position to ignore these concerns and withdrawal
was a wise and prudent move.10
     Bacha-i-Saqao, Son of a Water Carrier,had ruled less than
a year when he was overthrown in October  1929 by Mohammed
Nadir Khan, a member or the royal family.  No sooner had Nadir
Khan regained the crown for Afghanistan and begun to consolidate
his monarchy than Soviet forces crossed the Amu Darya a third
time, in June, 1930, in search of a Basmachi rebel, Ibrahim
Beg, who had been using Afghanistan as a secure base from which
to launch raids into the Soviet Union.  The Soviets did not
capture Beg on that incursion but understandably Kabul was alarmed
at this high-handed and open violation of Afghanistan's border.11
     To this point, then, it can be seen that Russian interest
in Afghanistan dates back some 150 years.  It is also evident
that when it came to matters of security on the Soviet-Afghan
border, or matters of perceived national interest, the Soviets
were neither shy nor slow to use military force beyond their own
borders to attempt to influence or restore a situation to their
favour.  Quite clearly, this Soviet adventurism was also realis-
tically tempered by an awareness of what constituted acceptable
limits or costs particularily in terms of possible British
The Intervening Years
     Nadir Kahn, as King from 1929 onward, returned the country
to customary Islamic law and did away with Amanullah's reform
measures.  At the same time he reduced Soviet influence in the
country, particularly in the air force but retained balanced
and cordial relations with both Great Britain and the U.S.S.R.
in a true spirit of non-alignment which seemed to satisfy all 
parties, especially the pragmatic Soviets, very well.  Nadir
Kahn's reign was short-lived in the turbulent world of Afghan
politics, cut down as he was by an assassin's bullet in 1933.
Characteristically, too, the assassin seeking revenge was the
adopted son of Ghulam Nabi, the former Ambassador to Moscow, who
had led the Soviet-backed second invasion of Afghanistan and was
executed by Nadir in 1932 for plotting against the throne.12
     Nadir Kahn was succeeded by his son, Zahir Shah, who would
reign from 1933 until 1973 although the actual running of the
country appears to have been in the hands of Zahir's three uncles
and some cousins.  It was during Zahir's reign that some major
developments occurred which would alter the traditional balance
in that part of Asia.  First and foremost, perhaps, was the
outcome of World War II .  Following the defeat of Germany and
Japan in 1945, a new world order had developed which recognized
the United States and the Soviet Union as the two dominant
world powers while at the same time the British Empire and its
colonies began to disintegrate rather rapidly.
     The British departure from India in 1947 removed the
counter weight to Soviet influence which had been in effect
since the 1830's and also provided for the partition of British
India into what is today predominantly Hindu India and Moslem
Pakistan.  This quickly gave rise to a crisis in what has become
known as the Pushtunistan Issue.  In essence, Afghanistan made
claims upon the approximately six million Pushtuns and their
land in what had been the Northwest Frontier Province,  the
British, having given them the narrow option of joining either
India or Pakistan with no alternatives; the Pushtuns being
Moslem  chose Pakistan.  The friction caused by Afghan agitation
over Pushtunistan and Pakistani reaction which included border
clashes and closing of the frontier borders denying historic
trade routes to Afghan imports and exports escalated to the point
that, by 1950's Afghanistan and Pakistan had become major
antagonists.  With the borders closed, and racing a hostile
and militarily superior Pakistan, Afghanistan sought both aid
and arms from the United States.  To the United States, at this
time, Afghanistan held little or no importance and, as a result,
received correspondingly little economic aid and no arms.
Pakistan, on the other hand, as a member of SEATO (South East
Asia Treaty organization) in 1955 was an ally of the United
States and received both aid and arms.  Afghanistan was left
with but one choice;  she turned to the Soviet Union.
     The Pushtunistan Issue marked a major introduction of
Soviet influence into Afghanistan13 and laid the foundation
for events to come.  Between 1950 and 1955 trade between the
two countries rose by 50 percent.  In 1955, the Soviets extended
a $10O million line of credit in military and economic aid and
from this point onward, thousands of young Afghan army and air
force officers, the majority of the officer corps, would be
trained in the Soviet Union and would naturally be exposed to
pro- Marxist indoctrination.  In the see-saw world of Afghan
politics, the armed forces would always play an important role
and an officer corps, the majority having been trained in the
U.S.S.R., would always be a factor of consequence.
     Given the growing Soviet influence in Afghanistan it was
not surprising that on January 1, 1965, the communist People's
Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was founded14 by an
intellectual, poet and dreamer Nur Mohammed Taraki, a pragmatist,
the dramatic activist Babrak Karmal, and a former teacher, the
tough radical but smooth Hafizullah Amin.  All three would become
president of Afghanistan and all three would abruptly be removed
from power with Taraki and Amin being executed for their efforts.
In 1967 the PDPA split into two rival factions, the Khalq (Masses)
led by Taraki and the Parcham (Banner) led by Karmal.  The split
was one of     tactics and personalities (Taraki and Karmal
disliked one another intensely) rather than ideology,for both
parties were strongly pro-Moscow.  The Parcham tended to draw
support from non-Pushtun, better educated, more prosperous
urban backgrounds such as Kabul,while the Khalq were largely
Pushtuns, poorer, rural dwellers but also with a large following
of army officers.  The intense rivalry between these two parties
has been the major divisive factor within the PDPA which exists
to this day and has weakened the hand of successive Kabul regimes
through the continuous bickering, plotting, manoeuvering,
assassinations and gunfights on the streets of Kabul.
Daoud Seizes Power
     On July 17, 1973, after 40 years of laissez-faire government
by Zahir Shah, Prince Mohammed Daoud, former Prime Minister
to the king as well as cousin and brother-in-law,seized power
with the support of the army.  The successful coup was almost
bloodless and was achieved in less than twenty-four hours.
Zahir Shah, who had been on vacation in Italy, remained there.15
Daoud now abolished the monarchy and proclaimed himself President
and Prime Minister of the new Republic of Afghanistan.
     Under Daoud, relations between Afghanistan and the U.S.S.R.
remained good, initially.  Afghan trade and dependence on Soviet
aid increased as did reliance on Soviet military training and
support.  As well, the PDPA grew stronger adding military re-
cruitment to its activities and in 1977 the Khalq and Parcham
agreed to unite, under pressure from the Soviet Union exerted
through the Communist party of India.16
     Beginning in 1975, Daoud, attempting to strengthen his own
power base and demonstrate independence signalled a change to
the Soviets and some members of his government who were members
of the PDPA by shifting Afghanistan toward a policy of non-
alignment.17    This included new military training agreements
with India and Egypt, the dismissal of forty Soviet-trained
officers within his army, pledges of foreign aid from Iran and
China, widening diplomatic contacts with countries such as
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, and much-improved relations with
Pakistan.  At the same time, Daoud's increasingly autocratic
and repressive manner coupled with severe economic discontent
and rising taxes soon alienated a wide cross-section of society
such that by summer 1977 almost no popular support remained for
him.    The Soviets appear to have been prepared to live with
the faltering Daoud regime, at least for the time being.  But
the PDPA was not;  as Daoud's grip weakened the PDPA made plans
to overthrow him.  Their opportunity would come sooner than
they anticipated.
The Saur (April) Revolution
     On April 17, 1978 a prominent Parcham leader of the PDPA,
Mir Akbar Khyber, was assassinated.  At his funeral procession
two days later the PDPA organized 15,000 marchers shouting anti-
U.S. slogans.  Street demonstrations being a rare event in Afghan-
istan, the size of this communist inspired demonstration shocked
Daoud, who, on 26 April began arresting PDPA leaders including
Taraki, Karmal and Amin.  Unbelievably, though, Hafizullah Amin
was initially put under house arrest only,with various people
being allowed to visit him.  Through these visitors, Amin imme-
diately sent out orders to PDPA elements of the armed forces.
to initiate the coup.18
     The coup began at 6:00 A.M. on the 27th or April.  Forty-
eight hours later Daoud and his family were dead and power had
passed to a very much surprised PDPA.  Although Soviet advisers
would quickly have learned of the coup, there is as Joseph
Collins has stated, "no substantive proof that the Soviets
planned, directed or participated in the coup."19  The coup
succeeded not so much because of the skill and organization
of the communists but because of the disorganization and blunder-
ing of Daoud.  Probably no one was as surprised at the success
of the coup as the PDPA, unless it was Moscow.  On April 30,
1978, the Soviet Union recognized the Democratic Republic of
Afghanistan (DRA).
The Saur Revolution Fails
     Nur Mohammed Taraki became prime minister and head of the
Revolutionary Council.  Hafizullah Amin and Babrak Karmal served
as his deputy prime ministers and soon the excesses that histor-
ically accompany revolutions in the early days of heady power
were all too evident.  Thousands of civil servants who had served
Daoud were arrested and replaced by unqualified and inexperienced
PDPA members.  Butby July 1978, the rival jealousies of the
Party factions, subdued prior to the revolution, flared again
and under the Khalq Taraki and Amin, various Parcham members
at all levels were purged of their jobs including Babrak who was
sent to Czechoslovakia as ambassador.  This radical surgery on
a government apparatus already short of qualified administrators
could only prejudice the government's attempts to carry out its
own policies.  In addition, Taraki pressed ahead with hasty,
ill-conceived reforms which once again violated long-standing
economic, cultural and religious practices.  One illustrative
example was changing the traditional green Islam flag to a
Communist red one.  Widespread hostility and opposition grew
against the regime, and the regime reacted with correspondingly
widespread and harsh repression, violating individual and collec-
tive human right with callous disregard.  Thomas Hammond put it
most precisely,"If the communists had set out deliberately to
make themselves hated, they could hardly have done a more thorough
     The significance here lies in the fact that the seeds of
the revolt which continues today against the Kabul regime and
the Soviets were first sown in opposition against Taraki, Amin
and their Khalq clique and their ever-increasing numbers of
Soviet advisers at all levels and across all departments of the
military and government administration.  The first armed opposition
broke out in the summer of 1978 in Nuristan and the Panjshir
and government forces retaliated swiftly with indiscriminate
aerial incendiary bombing and strafing of villages by MIG-17
and MI-8 Hind attack helicopters.  Most illustrative, perhaps,
though is what is generally referred to as the "Herat Incident".21
In March 1979 many of the inhabitants of Herat, Afghanistan's
third largest city (population 200,000) and many of the Afghan
troops stationed there revolted, marching through the streets,
plundering government arsenals and most significantly hunting
down Soviet advisers and their families, killing approximately
50 and parading a number of their severed heads through the
streets on pikes.  As Edward Girardet points out, "The degree
of hatred for the Russians on the part of the crowds indicated
the extent to which the population had come to associate the
Soviet Union with the Khalqi regime."22  Kabul again reacted
quickly and violently sending in loyal Afghan troops supported
by tanks, assault helicopters, artillery, Soviet advisers and
Soviet Ilyushin 11-28 bombers to suppress the revolt, killing
and wounding several thousand Afghan is in the process.
     But the fires of revolt now flared throughout the entire
country.  The 4500 Soviet advisers were also directly threat-
ened as was the ever-weakening Kabul regime which now relied on   
ever-increasing Russian support and brutal retaliation.  Moscow
could not remain indifferent to this unstable,unpredictable
situation and in June 1979 Pravda warned that the war on Afghan- 
istan was "in direct proximity to us...a question of actrual
agression against a state with which the USSR has a common   
     By now, in the fantasy-world of unravelling Afghan politics,
the last props would be positioned on-stage in order to raise 
the curtain for Soviet invasion.  In this deteriorating situation,
the Soviets urged Taraki to follow a program of moderation, if
not restraint, and to rid himself of Amin who had virtually
assumed all power in Kabul.  Returning from Moscow on September
11, 1979, Taraki found Amin trying to arrest three government   
ministers.  On the 14th Taraki summoned Amin to the Arg Palace,
with the complicity of the Soviet Ambassador, Puzanov, in order
to arrest Amin.  No fool, Amin had plans or his own.  A shootout
ensued and when firing died and the smoke had cleared it was
Taraki who was under arrest.  The next day, the Kabul Times
reported that Taraki had asked "to be relieved from Party and
state posts on health grounds",24 naturally to be replaced by
Amin.  On October 9 it was announced that Taraki had died
"as a result of the serious illness from which he had been
suffering for some time".  The reality, offered in several
accounts, appears to be that he was murdered on the orders of
     Despite the fact that Brezhnev extended personal greetings
to Amin on September 17th in recognition of his new leadership
posts, Moscow was clearly chagrined at this sudden, unexpected
turn of events.  Amin was ruthless, ambitious and had been in
control of the government, army and police for some time.  Amin
had no popular support whatsoever and it was mostly he  whom
the Soviets blamed for the widespread insurgency, economic chaos
and general collapse of administration and order throughout
the country.  It was Amin whom the Soviets had wanted to get
rid of, with the help of Taraki, and now, in an ironic twist
it was Amin Moscow had to deal with.  Worse, despite being pro-
Soviet, Amin had shown increasing independence snubbing the
Soviets on social occasions and allegedly demanding the recall
of Ambassador Puzanov.  Even more worrisome to the Soviets,
perhaps, was a vague overture to the American charge d'affaires
in Kabul that Amino wanted better "Afghan-American relations."26
In the meantime, despite coolrelations, Moscow continued to
provide economic aid and increasing military support and advisers.
But given the foregoing considerations and the fact that a
communist regime, on Russia's southern border, led by a stubborn
unpopular leader, was in chaos and perhaps, in danger of being
toppled, Hafizullah Amin's days were numbered.
                        CHAPTER THREE
     Recently, the Western and especially the American media
     have been intentionally spreading deceptive rumours about
     the "interference" of the Soviet Union in the internal
     affairs of Afghanistan.  They have even asserted that
     Soviet "combat troops" have been moved into Afghan terri-
     tory.  All this, of course, is pure fabrication...
          It is well known that relations between the Soviet
     Union and Afghanistan are based on a solid foundation of
     good-neighborly relations and non-interference in the
     internal affairs of one another...
               Pravda, December 23, 1979 1
     Soon, the Soviets would invade.  Soon, much to their surprise,
they would find themselves embroiled in their first war since
1945.  They would also find themselved entangled in one of the
longest and most costly guerrilla struggles of this century
and they have, as of yet, achieved neither victory nor a way out.
     It is not exactly clear when the Soviets first began to
consider military intervention but the evidence points to the
spring of 1979.  The actual decision to intervene was probably
taken in October 1979.
     In April 1979 General Aleksey Yepishev, head of the Soviet
Army's Political Directorate, visited Afghanistan with a dele-
gation to "assess the training, morale, and political conscious-
ness of the Afghan armed forces."2  With the worsening situation
in Afghanistan at that time Yepishev returned to Moscow and
recommended an increase in military aid and advisers.  Not long
after, in August 1979, another high-level delegation returned
to Kabul, without publicity, and stayed until October.  This
delegation was led by General Ivan G. Paviovskiy, Deputy Minister
of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Ground Forces.  With
him he had a dozen generals and fifty other officers.  It may
have been that they were carrying out a ground reconnaissance
and preparations for intervention but whatever the truth, clearly
something important was going on.  After all, Pavlovskiy had
planned and commanded the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.
     The Soviets had reportedly tried to persuade Amin a number
of times to request Russian troops to restore order on Afghan
soil under the terms of the Afghan-Soviet Treaty of Friendship
and Cooperation which had been signed 5 December 1978.  The
independent and ambitious Amin had refused.  On 28 November
Lieutenant General Victor S. Paputin, Deputy Minister of the
Interior, arrived in Kabul to prevail upon Amin for one last time
to request Russian troops and to lay the political groundwork
for the invasion.3
     Paputin failed to change Amin's mind and , instead, he now
prepared to eliminate Amin.  But, in two apparent assassination
attempts (3 December and 17 December) by poisoning and gunfire,
Amin managed to survive.4  Paputin, who had returned to the
Soviet Union on 13 December, had failed again.  Shortly after,
Pravda announced that Paputin had died on December 28 under
"unspecified circumstances".  The circumstances were probably
     While these political manoeuverings had been on-going,
Soviet commanders were not idle.  On 8 December a regiment of
2,500 men from the 105th Guards Ariborne Division was posted
to security duties at Bagram Airbase, 30 miles north of Kabul.
Twelve days later a battalion from this regiment secured the
vital Salang Tunnel which lay as a key choke point on the major
overland route from Termez in the U.S.S.R. to Kabul.  Similarily,
a smaller Russian unit took up "security duty" at Kabul Inter-
national Airport.  Because of the heavy reliance on Soviet
military aid and advisers no undue suspicion appears to have
been aroused but it should have been obvious that the pattern
for the invasion of Czechoslovakia was being re-printed.
     Soviet advisers were now at company level and Russian pilots
were flying many combat missions for the Afghan air force.
Soviet advisers now recalled "faulty ammunition", called in
tank batteries for "winterization", rationed fuel because of
shortages and generally carried out these sabotage operations
on a wide scale with almost complete success.5  As a finishing
touch, important Afghan officials and military officers would
be invited to partied in Kabul on the evening of the 27th and
there imprisoned as the assault began.
     At 11:00 P.M. on Christmas Eve, 1979, Soviet Antonov
transport planes began landing the 105th Guards Airborne Div-
ision at Kabul International Airport.  According to one Kabuli
     The planes started landing at night. You couldn't
     see anything (it was so dark).  You could only hear
     the constant roar of planes overhead. For two days
     and three nights the planes kept landing without
     a break.6
Encountering no resistance, airborne troops, including elements
of the 1O3rd Guards Airborne Division also began to land at
Bagram Air Base,  Jalalabad to the east, Shindand: to the west
and Kandahar to the south.  By Thursday morning 27 December
there were about 5,000 Soviet soldiers at the Kabul airport
alone.  Girardet points out that incredibly
       ...as late as 26 December, President Amin showed no
       indication of recognizing what the Soviets were up to.
       Judging by an interview given to an Arab journalist on
       the morning before the coup, he (and many other Afghanis)
       may still have believed that the military transports,
       now landing and taking off at ten minute intervals on
       the other side of town, were indeed there to aid his
       rebel-besieged government.7
On the evening of the 27th Soviet troops, under cover of dark-
ness, moved into Kabul. They blew up the telephone exchanges,
seized Radio Kabul and secured other vital posts in the capital
such as government ministries, key road junctions and ammunition
depots.  By midnight most of Kabul was under Soviet control,
although resistance did continue sporadically.
     Earlier in December, on Soviet advice, for"his own safety",
Amin had moved to the Darulaman Palace about five miles from the
city centre.  According to a defecting KGB major, Vladimir
      ...a few hundred Soviet army commandos (SPETSNAZ), plus
      a specially trained KGB assault unit, all of them dressed
      in Afghan army uniforms and using vehicles with Afghan
      army markings, attacked the palace with orders that no
      Afghan be left alike to reveal the involvement of
      Soviet personnel.
Amin, his mistress, members of his family and hundreds of Afghans
defending the palace were killed.
     At 2:40 A.M. on the 28th Radio Kabul, in a broadcast
actually originatihg from inside the Soviet Union,declared
that Babrak Karmal, exiled leader or the Parcham faction, was
now General Secretary of the People's Democratic Party of
Afghanistan, President of the country and Commander of the
armed forces.9  Fifteen minutes later Radio Kabul explained
that Afghanistan had requested Soviet assistance to defend the
"gains of the Saur Revolution" and at 3:15 A.M. it was announced
that Amin had been sentenced to death by a revolutionary tri-
bunal for "crimes against the people" and that he had already
been executed.  Among the crimes, Babrak would later accuse
Amin of having been a CIA agent, a preposterous accusation.
     By the dawn of 28 December Soviet tanks and armoured per-
sonnel carriers guarded key intersections and patrolled the
streets.  Kabul was under Soviet control.  At the same time,
lead elements of the 360th Motor Rifle  Division and 201st
Motor Rifle Division were crossing the Amu Darya and would
bring the total of Soviet troops in Afghanistan to 50,000 by
the end of the first week in January 1980.  Overhead, MIG 21,
MIG 23, SU-17 and Mi-24 helicopter gunships provided air cover
for the advancing Soviet forces.  By the end of March there
were six divisions in Afghanistan totalling approximately
80,000 thousand troops.  They had come complete with all organic
equipment including air defence and missile units.
     In the early weeks Soviet troops rapidly and methodically
consolidated key objectives, disarmed unreliable Afghan army
units and carried out small patrols.  They kept a low profile
and encouraged Afghan authorities to deal with local security
problems wherever possible.  But, almost immediately guerrilla
attacks began and by the end of January major civil unrest
had erupted in many areas including key urban centres.  The
Soviet occupation of Afghanistan had begun.
Click here to view image
Invasion by 105 Guards Airborne Division (24-25 Dec 79) and 357,
66, 201,360 Motor Rifle Divisions (25-27 Dec 79)  Followup by 16
and 54 Motor Rifle Divisions, March 1980.   Source:  Albert A.
Stahel und Paul Bucherer, Afghanjstan 5 Jahre Widerstand und
Kleinkrieg, (Huber and Co, AG Liestal, Schweiz, Dez 1986) p.5
Invasion - Motives and Calculations
     Joseph Collins is correct when he says that the Soviets
moved into Afghanistan to unseat Amin, install Babrak Karmal
in his place and use Soviet troops to gain time for the new
regime to restore order and rebuild the Afghan army.10  But,
what were the underlying motives and calculations behind these
actions?  Much was written, particularly immediately following
the invasion, speculating on motives.11  One school of thought,
still attractive to many is that the Soviets were simply con-
tinuing their historical thrust for warm-water ports in the
Indian Ocean plus eventual control over the strategic Straits
of Hormuz.  The reality is that there was probably no one single
factor but that the decision to invade was based on a combina-
tion of ractors and perceived opportunities driven by the
imperative need to do something quickly and decisively about
the disliked, distrusted Amin and his tottering government.
     First, and most important, then, the Russian move was not
pro-active in the sense of being part of a Soviet grand design
for power projection for strategic goals.  It was most probably
and simply a reaction to the unpopular, chaotic Amin regime
which was losing control of Afghanistan despite Soviet support.
The Amin regime would most likely fall without intervention,
possibly to be succeeded by a less friendly or even hostile
Islamic regime (Iran was clearly a worrisome model) which could
generate unrest for the 40 million Moslems living in the south
central U.S.S.R. or worse invite an American presence in Afghan-
istan.  This sort of instability and insecurity immediately on
the Russian border was a threat which the collective Soviet
psyche absolutely could not tolerate.
     A second, closely related factor was that, in addition to
security reasons, for reasons of prestige the Soviet Union could
not allow a Marxist, pro-Soviet government to be overthrown
by a popular rebellion when a communist government itself was
supposed to be the popular expression of the masses.  This would
represent the first time in history that a communist government
had fallen, a tremendous blow to Soviet prestige and Marxist-
Leninist ideology; it might also engender unsettling ideas in
other communist states within the Soviet orbit.  Tied to this
wigs the Brezhnev Doctrine, used to justify the invasion of
Czechoslovakia in August 1968, which warned that socialist
countries had not only the right but also the duty to intervene
where the security and order of another socialis country was
threatened by hostile forces.
     When appraising additional factors in their estimate of the
situation the Soviets must also have noted the following apparent
potential spin-off from any intervention.  Clearly, successful
domination of Afghanistan would be another step towards warm-
water ports and the Soviet Union, with the largest navy in the
world, would capitalize on this new-found opportunity.  Simi-
larily, longer-range Soviet aircraft positioned in western
Afghanistan would now be in a position to threaten the strategic
Arabian Sea through which oil, vital to the West, passed.  A
Soviet move into Afghanistan could also prepare the stage for
an eventual, later move into Iran, the real strategic prize
of the Middle East.  This scenario could, perhaps, be carried
out following the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini (although,
given Soviet difficulties in Afghanistan now, it is unlikely
that they would want to risk the far greater problems they
would be certain to encounter in Iran).  A Soviet move into
Afghanistan would also allow Moscow to exert tremendous pressure
on Pakistan and, indeed, on all the countries in that region.
It is also probable that, given the U.S. hostage crisis which was
occurring in Tehran, the Soviets had real fears of a U.S. move
towards Iran and felt the need to pre-empt any American moves
in that direction.  Finally, as precedent, Russian military
intervention both direct and indirect had a string of successes
which included Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Angola
in 1975 and South Yemen in 1978.  Why not Afghanistan in 1979?
The sum of these additional factors must have made the propo-
sition of intervention an attractive option, particularly if
the costs were low.
     In terms of costs the original arithmetic would have yielded
a marginal figure.  Moscow could not conceive that the dis-
jointed, poorly armed, poorly trained Mujahidin would pose
a long-term security threat to the might of the Soviet forces.
World opinion would lash out at the U.S.S.R. but would be of short
duration until overtaken by other events.  Moscow has often
and successfully weathered the brief storms of world opinion.
The only reaction of any consequence to be taken seriously would
be any American action, especially a military action.  But U.S.
military action was most improbable.  American attention was
still focused on the hostage crisis in Iran;  further, the United
States was not going to get involved militarily in a country
which seemingly had no importance to most Americans and certainly
not after having left Vietnam less than five years earlier.
It was also the Christmas season and any reaction was going to
be slow and, in this case, too late.  Other peaceful, punitive
measures might by taken by the U.S. ( and, indeed, Moscow would
be surprised by the speed and scope of retaliation by President
Carter beginning with the 1980 Olympic boycott) but again, this
might be a small price to pay given the potential gains.
     On balance, then, most of the arguments seemed to favour
intervention, indeed, made it imperative.  And the costs, if
any, would be small.  The Soviets were probably correct in all
their assumptions save one;  they did not understand the enemy
they had created.  They had attached little or no importance
to the complex ethnic, tribal, cultural and religious make-up
of the Afghan warriors.  In turn, the Soviets underestimated
their capabilities and, more importantly, they underestimated
their will to resist.
                       CHAPTER FOUR
      After the Communists took power in April 1978, they
      started to penetrate the life of the people, attacking
      religion and traditional leaders, but the Afghan people
      are deeply attached to their traditions.
          So the fire started, first in Kunan and Paktia
      provinces, then spreading.  We began by attacking the
      communists in the mountains, then removing them from
      the countryside.  When the Soviets invaded, practically
      all the people took up arms.
               Abdul Haq
               Leader Hezbi-I-Islami forces, Kabul1
     When Soviet forces entered Afghanistan in December 1979
they expected to be an army of occupation with limited objec-
tives in a low-profile, passive role.  The initial strategy
was to install Babrak Karmal as the new president and use
Soviet troops to control cities and lines of communication in
order to buy time to build up the Democratic Republic of Afghan-
istan (DRA) army and to allow the new regime to secure its grasp
on the nation at large.  They also expected that the DRA army
would do most of any fighting that needed to be done which
would be politically convenient for the Soviets and, at the same
time, would ensure minimum Soviet casualties.  The Soviets
referred to their presence as "The Limited Contingent of Soviet
Forces in Afghanistan".  Little did the Soviets realize that
the DRA army had disintegrated to the point where it was little
effective as a fighting force.  In fact, this disintegration
only accelerated immediately following the invasion.  This, in
turn, would force the Soviets to become actively engaged in
fighting through the whole spectrum of low-intensity, mid-
intensity and, some would argue, high-intensity conflict by day
and night in mountain, rural and urban terrain.  As the intensity
and scope of the fighting quickly increased and the Soviets
realized how tenuous their hold on the country was, they would
be forced to send additional troops to augment their "limited
contingent".  And so the current military struggle began to take
shape.  What had begun as the small, disjointed actions of a
civil war in response to the April Revolution of 1978 now took
on the broader context of "jihad", a nation-wide holy war of
liberation fought by holy warriors or "Mujahidin" against the
godless, foreign invaders and their puppet regime.  What follows
is an attempt to high-light some of the military aspects of
this struggle.
Order of Battle
     Soviet Military Forces.  The Soviet armed forces that in-
vaded Afghanistan in December 1979 numbered about 40,000 officers
and men.  They were part of the Soviet 40th Army and included
elements of nine Soviet army divisions:  the 5th, 54th, 103rd,
104th and 105th airborne guards divisions;  and the 66th, 201st,
357th and 360th motorized rifle divisions.2  The fierce resist-
ance of the Mujadihin and ineffectiveness and unreliability of
the DRA armed forces forced the Soviets to increase their strength
and by the end of 1980 Soviet troop strength in Afghanistan
had grown to approximately 85,000 supported by an additional
30,000 stationed in the U.S.S.R. just across the Amu Darya.
Troop levels rose agnin in 1981 to 90,000 men and once more in
1982 to 105,000.  By the end of 1984 troop levels stood at
115,000 and appear to have remained more or less constant since
that time although some estimates put them as high as 118,000.3
     Of these troops, 50 to 60% are combat troops and, perhaps,
up to 10,000 belong to the Soviet secret police and other special
units.  Soviet army operations in Afghanistan are believed to
be headquartered in Kabul or Bagram Air Base 45 miles north of
Kabul while Soviet air force operations are directed from Termez
in the U.S.S.R., again just across the border.4
     From time to time, for example in June 1980 and the fall
of 1986, the Soviets announced troop withdrawals of 10,000 and
7,O00 men respectively but these were generally suspect aS pro-
paganda ploys.  The actual number of troops withdrawn is sus-
pected to be one half to two thirds of the stated figure and
the units withdrawn were from anti-aircraft, anti-tank and FROG
rocket battalions mostly unsuited for Afghanistan where resist-
ance forces were certainly without aircraft and tanks.  These
units were then quietly replaced with more useful infantry
units.  But, whether the Soviets have 115,000 or 118,000 troops
in Afghanistan and whether a few thousand were withdrawn or not
is, on balance, not that significant.  As Ahmed Shah Massoud
pointed out in a recent interview!
     Militarily speaking, the withdrawal of 7,000 troops has
     no value because the Russians have sufficient forces
     in Afghanistan.  Moreover, the Russians have brought
     and are bringing thousands of their commando troops
     from Soviet Russia into Afghanigtan by helicopters
     and Antonov planes whenever they need.  I think it
     is just a political manoever to propagate and confuse
     the world public opinion.5
DRA Armed Forces.  At the time of the 1978 coup the Afghan army
numbered about 80,000.  By 1981, the strength had dropped to
between 20,000 and 25,000 men through casualties, purges but
mostly desertion.  By lowering the draft age in 1984 from 17
to 16 years or age and by lengthening the term of service from
three to four years the numbers in the Afghan army were increased
to approximately 40,000 men by mid-1985.6  The army was divided
into 11 infantry divisions, three armoured divisions, two
mountain infantry regiments, three commando regiments and
miscellaneous other units.  These same units appear to remain
operational at this time although the divisions are clearly
under-strength, the over-all manpower in the army having dropped
again to about 30,000.7  The Afghan air force had always been
small comparatively and its numbers are currently estimated
between 7,000 and 10,000 but probably closer to the lower figure.
The air force flies relatively few missions in its obsolescent
Soviet aircraft and is denied all access to advanced aircraft
because the quality of pilots and staff in terms of training and
reliability is considered low.8  It is also estimated that there
may be as many as 5,000 Czechoslovak and Cuban military advisers
attached to the Afghan air force in addition to Soviet personnel.9
     Despite Soviet training, Soviet equipment, Soviet advisers
and almost a decade of combat, the Afghan armned forces remain
incapable of defending the Kabul regime.  Some specialized
units have fought well but the serious problems which plagued
the Afghan military at the time of the invasion still continue.
Desertion is the most serious problem;  individual soldiers
desert, high-ranking officers desert and, occasionally, whole
units desert.  Whenever possible they bring their weapons with
them.  Poor morale is also rife among Afghan ranks and trans-
lates into poor fighting effectiveness.  It has at its roots
sympathy for the Mujahidin, dislike of the "foreigners", and
dislike of the fact that Afghan units are often made to spear-
head attacks bearing the brunt of the fighting and the majority
of casualties.  Afghan units are accorded little Soviet air and
artillery support and Soviet medical treatment of Afghan casualties
is considered poor, if considered at all.  In addition to
desertion and low morale, the Afghan armed forces have been
infiltrated by the resistance, "up to the highest levels".10
The distrust and rivalry bred by the factionalism between the
Khalq and Parcham has resulted in purges and, sometimes, gun-
battles and continues to be a great weakness of the Afghan forces.
     These factors all contributed to low recruiting and retention
rates and in an effort to stem the tide the government has
resorted to enhanced conscription, eliminating most exemptions
and literally using press-gang methods.  However, if anything,
these measures have had the opposite effect.  They have increased
desertion rates, alienated many of the regime's supporters and
driven potential draftees into hiding or into the arms of the
     The poor performance, unreliability and treachery of the
Afghan forces in Soviet eyes has led to outright distrust of
DRA units.  This is commonly seen in such examples as Afghan
pilots not being allowed to fly on their own, airfield "security
zones" where all Afghans are forbidden, limiting supplies
(particularly weapons and ammunition)to Afghan units and ensuring
that Soviet advisers from company level upward approve all
orders issued.12  Needless to say, this type of distrust and
friction can only have negative results and does nothing to
enhance the combined operational effectiveness of Soviet-Afghan
Mujahidin.  Arrayed against the might of the Soviet ground and
air forces and the discredited though still existent Afghan
armed forces were the Mujahidin.  David C. Isby, an Afghan
analyst has put his finger on it, "the Afghan resistance is
not an army but rather a people in arms".13  Thus, it is imposs-
ible to characterize the resistance in conventional military
terms for it reflects the fragmentation of Afghan society along
tribal, ethnic, regional, religious and ideological lines.14
It began as a disorganized, untrained, poorly equipped rabble
fighting for limited objectives which reflected, often, narrow
self-interest.  No one resistance party or political coalition
dominated the scene and that fact remains true at present.
Instead, there is a broad patchwork of ihdependent guerrilla
bands numbering between 150 to 200,according to Amstutz, up to
as many as 300 by Girardet's count.15  These bands operate
with varying degrees of effectiveness in about 90 fairly well-
defined areas which in turn constitute the 271 districts and
28 provinces of Afghanistan.  Actual numbers for the resistance
vary widely but are estimated at between 80,000 and 150,000 full
and part-time fighters.  These fighters are supported by civilians
and refugees in Pakistan and Iran who can act as partisans
and "reserves" when necessary and whose numbers probably run
to the hundreds of thousands.
     In many ways, the Mujahidin are a brave and tough but simple,
primitive force.  They lack aircraft, tanks, mobility and ade-
quate sophisticated support weapons.  They have poor means of
communication and transport and this is aggravated by the fact
that most Mujahidin are illiterate.  Rivalries among competing
bands make central direction and coordination of effort very
difficult.  While these characteristics are generally seen as
weaknesses in the resistance movement it may also be these thou-
sands of bold, simple, disjointed, small unit actions carried
out in familiar terrain which have allowed the guerrillas to
avoid decisive engagement with the superior Soviet forces while
at the same time subjecting them to unrelenting harassment and
attack,  Whether these characteristics are seen as strengths
or weaknesses, there is no doubt that she overall effectiveness
of the Mujahidin is strongly enhanced by their high morale
(an observation made by many observers), widespread public
support and increasing military expertise.
     Despite the independent operating nature of the resistance
bands, most are affiliated with one of the seven, major political
resistance parties headquartered in Peshawar, Pakistan.  (Paki-
stan does not permit the existence of more than seven parties
on its soil.)  Although these parties exert little or no influence
over military operations in Afghanistan they are important to
the guerrillas in terms of publicizing the struggle to the outside
world, gaining financial and moral support,and providing weapons,
ammunition and other much needed supplies.  The political parties
themselves differ on issues, tactics and Afghanistan's future
and tend to reflect personalities, and thus the differences,
of their leaders.  Nevertheless, they fall into two alliances,
the "traditionalists" or "moderaties" and the "fundamentalists".
As the names imply, the traditionalists are loosely aligned,
and conservative in nature, while the fundamentalists tend to
be better organized and disciplined but reflect more extreme
Islamic views, some seeing Khomeini's Iran as a model.  Thus,
the major division separating the alliances is what form the new
Afghanistan should take ranging from constitutional monarchy
to radical Islamic republic.
Strategies and Tactics
The Soviets.  The model for the invasion of Afghanistan had
been the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968.  And,
the actual invasion was well-executed;  it showed the results
of good planning, tight command and control and impressive
logistical capability.  Once on Afghan soil, Soviet strategy
would have their troops relieve DRA units from garrison and
security duties in towns, vital points such as airfields and key
road networks and passes in order to allow DRA units to actively
pursue and pacify the insurgents.
     But, unlike Czechoslovakia, the insurgency was not cowed but
spread rapidly and fiercely and the DRA army proved either
unable or unwilling to hunt down and destroy the rebel bands
Thus, almost immediately, Soviet forces were drawn into heavy
fighting in mountains, and valleys, and cities.
     The Soviets had probably not given much thought to this
possibility, in part, because their doctrine emphasized mass
armour formations striking opposing mass forces over relatively
flat and open terrain.  While they retained their large armoured
and motorized formations, they were now in unfamiliar terrain
fighting an unorthodox enemy.  Counter-insurgency operations
had not been part of the plan.
     Between 1980 and 1982 Soviet tactics16 relied on sending
armoured columns and motorized infantry into valleys to fire
on villages and suspected guerrilla camps.  These columns were
accompanied by helicopters and bombers.  While much property
damage resulted, Soviet infantry rarely dismounted and when they
did, never ventured far from their vehicles.  As a result, Soviet
casualties were kept low but, equally, few guerrillas were killed.
As one Mujahid said, "They seldom go into battle against us as
infantry."  Nevertheless, some of these offensives were of major
scale such as the sixth Panjshir campaign of 1982 in which 12,000
to 15,000 Soviet and DRA troops attacked about 5,000 Mujahidin
under command of Massoud.  After six weeks, the Soviet-DRA forces
withdrew, having failed to capture Massoud or destroy his forces
and having suffered an estimated 3,000 casualties.
     In 1982, in addition to search and destroy, the tactic of
encirclement or cordoning was initiated by Soviet forces.
Typically, a cluster of villages in an open area would be cordoned
off and then clearing troops would move in to search for guerrillas.
However, the terrain did not generally favour these operations
and, understandably, the Soviets rarely achieved surprise, enabling
the guerrillas to escape.
     By 1983 there was increasing emphasis on the use of light
infantry, less reliance on armour and a stated need for better
mountain fighting tactics stressing rapid deployment, flexi-
bility and surprise.  Despite these changes, the results were
mixed.  Perhaps, because of the lack of clear-cut victories
on the battlefield Soviet strategy changed at this time.  In
the words of Abdul Hag:
     The Soviets then tried with small-scale attacks, hoping
     to scare people with the sheer weight or their military
     hardware.  Then came larger offensives, and the effort
     of forcing the population into submission by heavy
     pressure on the economic side, destroying crops and
     villages.  They hoped that once impoverished, the people
     would eventually turn to the DRA government for help.
     Scorched earth policy began in 1983.17
    Perhaps the scorched-earth policy was signalled in April
1983 when Soviet bombers, probably Ilyushin 11-28s, "carpet-
bombed" Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city.  This heavy,
prolonged bombing resulted in half the city being level led and
the deaths of an estimated 3,000 civilians.18  This scorched-
earth warfare continues today.19  It involves indiscriminate
destruction of dwellings, food stocks, crops, water systems
and the indiscriminate killing of livestock and people.  Another
term now commonly heard but coined by Dr. Louis Dupree is that
of "migratory genocide".  It describes the same strategy and
its  aims are simple:  to either bludgeon the people into
submission or to destroy all their means of survival and,for
those still remaining, to force them to flee the country or seek
refuge in the cities where they could more easily be controlled
by Soviet forces.  At the same time, there has been no scaling-
down of offensives.  Perhaps the opposite is true.  In September
1986, 13,000 Afghan and Soviet troops were engaged in a major
offensive just north of Kabul and, at the same time, an estimated
20,000 Afghan and Soviet troops were reportedly attacking rebel
forces between Herat and the Iranian border.20  Each of these
offensives was backed by hundreds of tanks, massive artillery and
rocket barrages and waves of fighter-bombers and helicopter
The Mujahidin.  Given the diverse, independent and numerous
resistance bands it is difficult to characterize their strat-
egies and tactics but some generalizations can be made.  Imtiaz
H. Bokhari states that "Mujahidin tactics indicate a three
pronged strategy:  firstly, to prove by large scale sabotage
that the government at Kabul is not in control of the country;
secondly, to alienate support of the government by assassina-
tions, arson, and looting;  and thirdly, to weaken the army
by inciting defections and discouraging fresh recruitments."21
This strategy is not designed to defeat Soviet military forces
for that is an unlikely event.  It is, though, a bitter war of
attrition in which the Mujahidin show no sign of weakening.
     In support of this strategy Mujahidin originally used
simple tactics of sniper fire, ambushes on convoys and assassin-
ations of Afghan and Soviet officials.  As explosives and mines
became available, these were used to destroy bridges, electric
power pylons and mine major military highways.  In general
large, direct attacks on well-defended posts were avoided where
the army could bring its superior air and firepower to bear.
     Mujahidin tactics have definitely improved over the years,
tested by practical experience and enhanced by greater cooper-
ation among rebel groups and more sophisticated weapons.  The
tactics are constantly under review and are quickly adapted
to fit changing situations.  Again, Abdul Hag notes:
     We're studying and learning tactics too.  At the beginning
     we were really scared of the Mi-24 gunship helicopters...
     Eventually we learned to wait on mountain-tops, shooting
     when the helicopters were flying down lower to strike
     at the valleys.22
     Rebel tactics now appear to range through a broad, flexible
spectrum still retaining sniping and assassination but also
including major, well-planned, well-coordinated attacks (under
the right circumstances) supported by Chinese BM-12 rocket
launchers as was seen in the capture of Ferkhar Garrison by
Commander Massoud.23  Rockets are also used with good effect
on airbases and urban areas and although not common, occasion-
ally car bombs are used such as the one that blew up in Kabul
near the Soviet Embassy in February 1987, killing five people
and wounding 20.24
War from the Air
     Rebel forces have no air power.  The best they can hope
for are the few defections from time to time such as the two
Afghan pilots who flew two Mi-24 D helicopter gunships to
Pakistan in 1985.25  Thus,the Soviet airforce enjoys complete
air superiority.
Helicopters.  Perhaps, the most significant Soviet weapon in
Afghanistan had been the helicopter.  Mi-6 Hip and Mi-8 Hook
helicopters are used to move weapons, supplies, evacuate wounded
and land heliborne troops who have been judged fairly effective
against the Mujahidin.  Most feared, though, is the heavily
armed Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship whose protective armour
plating, 12.7 mm machine gun, anti-tank missiles and 128 57 mm
rockets make it a powerful weapon platform.  Only when guerrillas
received heavy machine guns in 1983 and later missiles were they
able to defend against the Hind.  The Hinds were originally
used singly or in pairs but now appear to be used in larger
formations with greater effect.  There are an estimated 600
helicopters in Afghanistan.  Total aircraft losses to the
Mujahidin since 1979 are estimated at 1,000, mostly helicopters.26
Fighter-bombers.  Early in the war, the MiG-21 Fishbed was used
with generally poor results in the ground attack role.  By late
1983 two new aircraft were introduced.  The TU-16 Badger medium-
range bomber was used for high-altitude bombing of valley floors
and urban areas and the SU- 25 Frogfoot ground attack fighter
bomber was used for close support missions and, often, in con-
junction with Hind helicopters.  The SU-25 carries Gatling-type
machine guns, 10,000 pounds of bombs and rockets, performs the
same type of missions as the U.S. A-10 and has been used most
effectively against rebel forces.
Other Weapons
Small Arms.  The Mujahidin are generally armed with Kalashnikov
AK-47 or AK-74 assault rifles which have been purchased in
Pakistan or, most often, taken from Russian soldiers.
Machine Guns.  Similarily, heavy machine guns such as the 12.7mm
KshK and 14.5mm Zikoyak used by the rebels are usually captured
Anti-tank Weapons.  Again, rebels use the RPG 7 and the newer
RPG 16 to good effect against Soviet vehicles and armour;
once more, these are usually captured weapons.
Tanks and Artillery.  The Soviets use T-72 tanks and 152 mm
self-propelled howitzers standard with their formations.  Soviet
artillery has used flechette rounds with great effectiveness.
Mujahidin forces have some mortars, little artillery and occa-
sionally are able to capture a Soviet tank or armoured vehicle.
Air Defense.  While Soviet forces have no requirement for air
defence weapons, this has been the most critical need of the
guerrilla forces.  In the last year and a half their air defence
capabilities have improved considerably.  The Soviet DShK 12.7mm
heavy machine gun remains the mainstay of resistance air defence
augmented by captured Soviet SA-7 air defence missiles.  But the
newest additions to the rebel air defence arsenal include  the
British-built Blowpipe surface to air missile and the U.S.
Stringer missile.  The Blowpipes were reportedly supplied by
Nigerian sources, are immune to Soviet infra-red countermeasures
and have been successful in destroying Soviet helicopter gun-
ships.27  After adequate training Stinger missiles are also
reported to be very effective.  These latest air defence weapons
accounted for 24 Soviet and Afghan aircraft kills in March 1987
Rockets.  Increasingly, the Mujahidin have come to rely upon
surface-to-surface rockets when available.  Targets include towns,
cities, airfields, ammunition dumps and even small installations
on the Soviet side of the border.  Commonly used rockets are the
107mm with a range of 8 km now being replaced by the heavier 122mm
missile.  August 1986 saw 300 rockets fired in one night at
Bagram Air Base while in the same period rockets fired at Kabul
nightly hit Soviet and Polish Embassies, an Afghan army barracks
and housing compounds used by Soviet adviser.29
     In reply, Soviet forces have used massive air and artillery
strikes which include the BM-21 122mm multiple rocket launcher
system.  Supplementing these systems in Afghanistan now is the
BM-27 220mm (16 round) multiple rocket launcher with a range
of 40 km and warheads which include high explosive, incendiary,
anti-personnel cluster and anti-personnel mines.  The BM-27
hens been used in Afghanistan for area suppression and fire sup-
port for heliborne assaults.30
Mines.  Mines are used by both sides.  The Mujahidin use Chinese
plastic mines and any others they can acquire.  Most trouble-
some to them, though, have been Soviet "butterfly" mines.
Spread by Hip helicopters or 152 mm artillery they blend in with
the terrain, and are designed to maim, not kill.  Because these
mines cannot be detected by normal means and have an unlimited
lifespan, they are banned by the Geneva Convention.31
Chemical Warfare
     Despite overwhelming circumstantial evidence, two United
Nations investigations in 1981 and 1982 were not clearly able
to establish the use of chemical warfare in Afghanistan.  One
simple reason for this was that the investigating teams were
denied access to Afghanistan and any cooperation by the Afghan
government.32  Nevertheless, there is sufficient evidence to
reasonably assume that toxic agents were used in Afghanistan
until at least 1986.33  Since that time it is difficult to
establish any use; the Soviet may have discontinued use because
of world opinion or may be highly selective in their use.
     Spetsnaz,or "Special Purpose Forces",are deployed in Afghan-
istan under control of Soviet military intelligence (GRU) and
ultimately under control of the KGB.34  These highly trained,
clandestine, commando units are organized into companies of
about 115 men (although they will operate in smaller groups)
and were originally designed for use in support of strategic
missions such as selective assassination, sabotage and destruc-
tion of command, control, and communications nodes.  There are
an estimated three Spetsnaz brigades35 currently in Afghanistan
comprising 4,500 to 5,000 troops.  The Spetsnaz are deployed
in counter-guerrilla and ambush operations, often at night,
Their success against resistance forces has been limited.36
Although they fight well and show more initiative and flexi-
bility than regular Soviet units, they are also without tanks,
mobility and heavy support weapons,  They also find it difficult
to move undetected, even at night and Mujahidin forces have the
advantage of knowing the terrain better.  As a result, they
have occasionally been defeated by resistance forces.  The
Mujahidin are the wrong target and as Abdul Haq has noted,
"It is not very clever on their part (Soviets) to risk losing
Spetsnaz, who cost much more in terms of training and prepar-
ation,"  It is also suspected that they are used in cross-bor-
der operations against rebels in Pakistan but little informa-
tion is available.
Air Assault Forces
     Beginning in 1982 the Soviets began to use heliborne assaults
on a modest scale in surprise raids on rebel positions or to
establish blocking positions in key mountain passes.  Initially
these units, despite special training, suffered heavy losses,
with entire commando groups being exterminated while landing
in the Panjshir valley.37  Since then, their performance has
improved measurably to the point where surprise heliborne
assault is probably the most effective Soviet tactic against
Mujahidin forces.  Heliborne assault is carried out by Spetsnaz,
paratroop units and units of Soviet air assault brigades.  These
tactics, however, have been constrained by mountainous terrain
and severe weather, mechanical failure, inadequate pilot training
and rebel counter-attacks,including surface to air missiles.
and mining and ambush of helicopter landing zones.
Paramilitary Forces
     In support of Soviet and Afghan forces the paramilitary
forces of the Kabul regime must be remembered.  First among
these is the KHAD (Afghan Secret Police) which will be discussed
further in the next chapter.  Regular police, under the Ministry
of the Interior, perform various security duties in addition to
their normal police duties and are under the close supervision
and sponsorship of their East German and Soviet advisers.  In
addition there are rural or tribal militias under the Ministry
of Nationalities and Tribal Affairs and urban militia, known
as Defence of the Revolution, under the Interior Ministry.  The
services of these units has been purchased through very high
wages and various enticements.  At best many are merely part-
time militias and often support the rebels or at least do nothing
to impede them.  Their total numbers are estimated between
20,000 and 40,000 and although not generally acknowledged as
a serious threat they can be effective against resistance forces
because of their knowledge of the terrain, language, and local
     Soviet military forces invaded Afghanistan with the expect-
ation of shoring up a crumbling, neighbouring Marxist regime.
They anticipated a low-profile, support role and minimal cas-
ualties.  Instead, they were immediately dragged into a fighting
     From a military perspective the Soviets have been able to
use Afghanistan as their exclusive test-ground for weapons,
formations and tactics.  In addition, Afghanistan has provided
several hundred thousand officers and men of the Russian army
their first combat experience since World War II.  Now, well
into their eighth year of battle,they have adopted a mix of
conventional and counter-insurgency tactics.  Large scale
armoured and mechanized offensives are still used,heavily
supported by air and artillery.  Agressive use of infantry is
emphasized and heliborne assaults and special operations have
had reasonable success.  Targets appear to be more focused
concentrating on border areas, guerrilla bases and supply routes.
Supporting these tactics is an over-all policy of apparent
indiscriminate destruction of the people, their homes and their
livelihoods designed to grind them into submission and rob
the resistance forces of any type of support.  In reply, the
Mujahidin have rejected any thought of conciliation or surrender.
They have improved their tactics, their cooperation and their
weapons.  As Ahmed Shah Massoud discussed in an interview in
the fall of 1986, "The most important change (in the last four
years) is the escalation of the war.  Every year the war has
become more severe."38
    In the meantime the costs have been high for both sides.
Soviet casualties since 1979 are estimated between 35,000 and
50,000 with more than one-third having been killed.39  Muja-
hidin casualties are unknown but probably range between 150,000
to more than 200,000.  Because of inadequate medical treatment
and medical supplies a much higher proportion of these casualties
has resulted in death.  While Mujahidin morale remains high in
spite of severe pressures, Soviet morale is generally regarded
as low and this and associated problems have bean publicized
in the U.S.S.R. as soldiers rotate home.  Finally, there has been
the heavy cost in equipment losses.  Losses in tanks, weapons,
armoured personnel carriers, other vehicles and aircraft alone
probably exceed $8 billion as already evidenced by the more
than 1,000 aircraft losses to date.
     What is remarkable then, in spite of a massive Soviet
effort and high costs, is that the Soviet forces have not accom-
plished their mission.  After almost eight years they have failed
to defeat the counter-insurgency.  They, themselves, are not
in danger of defeat, either.  The current military situation
is a stalemate.
                        CHAPTER FIVE
                    BEYOND THE FIGHTING
     The Soviet Union, a world superpower, has been waging a
costly and brutal war against one of the poorest nations on
earth.  Into the eighth year of fighting they have realized that
they cannot conquer the Afghan national liberation movement with
their current military commitment.  The military aspect will
not diminish and remains the most visible aspect of Soviet
coercion in Afghanistan.  But, there are other more subtle and
more pervasive elements at work. In the long run these may
play a more important role in the resolution of the Afghan
     What follows is a brief discussion of some of the major
factors.  Because the Soviet Union is largely in charge of the
affairs of Afghanistan today, some of these factors are simply
Soviet policy or initiative.  Other of the factors discussed are
more neutral in nature.  However, they are all important to the
broader and deeper understanding of this conflict.
     First among these factors is probably the slow, subtle,
sovietization of Afghanistan.1  This in itself is a major topic
but for analysis purposes can be divided into some basic sub-
Administration/Command and Control.  In terms of the administ-
rative apparatus of the Kabul regime the Soviets maintain direct
control of all key ministries from the highest levels to at
least the middle levels of decision-making.  Each minister has
at least two Soviet advisers whose job it is to review and ap-
prove all decisions.  Even prior to the invasion, the influen-
tial role of Soviet military advisers was seen in their ability
to prepare the path for Soviet forces.  Military advisers are
now believed to number approximately 10,000.  Most important,
though, as an expression of freedom is a nation's ability to
direct its own foreign policy.  Abd-u-Samad Sherazi was a high-
ranking Afghan foreign ministry official who defected to Paki-
stan in November 1986.  In an interview he confirmed the exist-
ence of the two Soviet advisers at cabinet level and discussed
the predominant role of KHAD not only in supervising the appoint-
ment of officials and diplomats but in appointing a large number
of its own agents to prominent diplomatic posts.  Finally Sherazi
     I must say that the foreign policy of Afghanistan lies
     in the hands of the Russians.  They play an important
     role in the determination of the regime foreign policy.  
     In this regard, all directions are received from Moscow.2
Education.  Education is an important clement of sovietization
for it is a clear effort to win the hearts and minds of the
young who will be the leaders and led of tomorrow.  "Education"
applies notonly to schooling but also to cultural and social
institutions.  Students are taught in the classrooms of Afghan-
istan and also in those of the U.S.S.R. and Eastern bloc satte-
lites.  About 6,000 Afghans, including young children, studied
in the U.S.S.R. in 1986.3  The numbers of students being sent
to the U.S.S.R. or Eastern Europe appear to be increasing each
year;  the total number of students trained and educated since
the conflict is probably about 50,000.  This does not include
the thousands of officers and NCO's of the Afghan forces who
receive training in the Soviet Union, annually.  School curriculum
conforms to that of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc.  Teachers
are generally obliged to belong to the Party.  An interview
with a Kabul teacher noted that Islamic Studies, formerly an
important subject, had been reduced to insignificance and that
teachers not belonging to the PDPA were being threatened with
dismissal and conscription. In addition, the teacher remarked
     The Polish educational program is being implemented in
     the Allaud in School by the authorities.  In this regard,
     a Polish delegation daily visits the school and inspects
     its teaching affairs.
In reality, these programs, which include compulsory Russian
and Marxist-Leninist studies, operate only in major urban areas
like Kabul where some degree of security is assured. The long-
term effectiveness of the educational effort is yet to be judged,
Control of the Media.  Control of the media has two aspects.
On the one hand it promotes only select images of the regime
while at the same time circulating disinformation on other issues.
On the other hand it prohibits access by foreign media unless
by express invitation.  The very real physical danger involved
in collecting reports in Afghanistan is a major factor in the
lack of major publicity for Afghanistan, especially in North
America.  Put succinctly, by Edward Girardet.
     ...the Kremlin has sought to impose its will through
     rigid control of communications systems and the media.
     International phone calls...run through Moscow.  Private
     ownership of cameras, film and recording equipment has
     been banned...In radio and television, the Russians over-
     see every aspect of programing with the  object of
     presenting the Soviet Union as a victorious and invin-
     cible nation supported by a firm tradition of anti-
     fascism and love of freedom.5
Economic Relations.  In the broadest sense, the entire economic
infrastructure of Afghanistan is now inextricably tied to the
Soviet Union.  Long before the invasion the U.S.S.R. provided
relatively large amounts of foreign and military aid to Afghan-
istan and was its biggest trading partner.  Since the invasion
Soviet-Afghan trade has tripled and overall reliance on Soviet
support has chained Afghanistan to her neighbour.  For example,
aid does not come as a grant;  rather, it comes as a loan and
repayment is expected.  Soviet economic aid between 1979 and
1985 totalled about $1.6 billion.6  Under the current Five-Year
Plan, Soviet supported projects include a hydropower plant,
tunnels on key transportation routes between Kabul and the
Soviet border, technical schools and road construction and im-
provement.  It is also easy to see that these types of projects
also support Soviet military and political efforts.  Again,
in 1985, there were a reported 5,000 Soviet technicians working
on 63 projects.
    Food shortages are an increasing problem for the guerrillas
and the population at large.  These shortages have been caused
by Soviet destruction.  The Soviets, in turn, are able to exert
leverage because they provide a large proportion of Afghanistan's
food imports, especially for its urban populations.
     The last and most striking example is the exploitation of
Afghanistan's natural gas.  The Soviets "import" natural gas
at roughly one half the world price and simply deduct the cost
from Afghanistan's growing debt.  The economy touches the
existence of all Afghans;  its infrastructure, weak and poor as
it is, seems to rest securely in Soviet hands.
     The KHAD or Afghan Secret Police could correctly be con-
sidered a paramilitary force in support of the Kabul regime.
The KHAD is also a tool of sovietization in Afghanistan.  How-
ever, KHAD's influence and effectiveness is so pervasive in
Afghan society that it deserves separate discussion.
     KHAD (Dari acronym for State Information Services) was
promoted in January 1987 to WAD (acronym for Ministry of State
Security).  It is still commonly known as KHAD and is under
the de facto control of the KGB.  KHAD agents receive training
from the KGB and East German specialists.  Their numbers may
total between 25,000 and 60,000 and include their own combat
brigade of about 2,000 men.7  Their reputation is that of a
ruthless, brutal organization whose missions are to detect and
suppress antiregime elements, gather intelligence, sponsor
organizations and programs designed to support regime policies
and otherwise intrude on all aspects of Afghan society where
the interests and security of the regime may be involved.  In
support of their activities KHAD effectively uses bribery to
buy informants or turn resistance leaders, infiltrates all Afghan
government organizations and institution and systematically
uses widespread physical and psychological torture in its
several detention centres throughout the country.  As a result
it has been frequently cited for its human rights violations by
Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights
     For example,KNAD agents supervise certain education programs
for war orphans and other select children; monitor courses,
teachers and students at Kabul University; monitor the Afghan
armed forces;and have heavily infiltrated the mosques and re-
ligious societies where the rebels have traditionally drawn
strength.  By infiltrating various resistance groups they have
also been able to subvert operations, spread disinformation
and promote discord.
     An interview with an escaped prisoner reveals how he and
his resistance group were betrayed and captured for bribes
paid by KHAD.  He then spent 14 months in prison in Herat where
he was subjected to beatings, electrical shock, sleeplessness
and other techniques which may be considered mild compared
to other documented cases.  During this period he believed
160 prisoners were executed at the Herat prison of which he
remembered 49 names.  He also mentioned 20 children between the
ages of six and eight who had been imprisoned for cooperating
with the Mujahidin.  KHAD agents performed the interrogations
and were directly assisted by the Russians on occasion.  He was
scheduled for execution on 27 December 1985.  He escaped on the
26th through the prison latrine.8
     KHAD operatives have also been instrumental in a subversive
campaign among the refugee caps in Pakistan.  There, they sow
discord and rivalry among various factions and help promote
ill-will by Pakistanis against the refugees by exploding bombs
in the already over-crowded streets of Peshawar.9
     Unlike the Afghan military, KHAD has proven itself an
efficient, effective and dangerous force against the Mujahidin.
     Religion need not be laboured upon but there may be a
tendency, particularly in the western world, to under-rate
its importance in this struggle.  Even the Soviets badly mis-
judged its impact.  There are two aspects to Islam in this war.
     First, is the sincere belief in jihad or "holy war" which
is the duty of the Muslims to establish God's will.  Against
the aetheistic Soviets the choice seems clear.  Mujahidin are
warriors who wage jihad and if they are killed in battle, accord-
ing to the Koran they are martyred and, in fact, continue to 
love.  This is a powerful belief and motivator as seen not only
in Afghanistan but also dramatically in Iran.
     Second is the symbolic and potentially unifying aspect
of Islam.  Althought the various tribes and ethnic groups have
difficulty reaching agreement on many issues Islam is one cause
around which they can all rally.  As such, it is vital to the
overall resistance effort.  Equally, the resistance movement
has been able to draw upon material and moral support from
neighbouring Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Saudi
Arabis.  This fact is not lost on the Soviets who remember
the almost universal condemnation of their invasion by Islamic
     One of the truly great tragedies of this was is that of
the refugee.  Afghans now constitute the largest refugee popu-
lation in the world.  Approximately three million live in camps
in Pakistan and another two million have taken refuge in Iran.
It is also estimated that there may be as many as two million
"internal refugees" in Afghanistan whose homes and means of
existence have been destroyed by the war.  Some live in caves  
in the mountains; others have sought shelter in the cities. 
Kabul's pre-invasion population estimated between 600,000 and
800,000 has now swollen to more than a million and a half.  These
are striking figures given that the pre-war population of Afghan-
istan was estimated at 15 million.
     A report from Baluchistan describes how approximately 18
thousand families left their bombed villages in August 1986
and for four months trekked across the mountains with little
food or rest.  En route they were obliged to sell their valuables
and animals and were bombed by Russian aircraft on several
occasions.10  Once inside Pakistan and Iran, the refugees are
still not necessarily safe as the deliberate aerial bombing
attacks on their camps of February and March 1987 can attest.11
     If one accepts the premise of"migratory genocide", then
this massive refugee population is certainly one of its mani-
festations.  It is difficult to forecast the economic and social
costs to Afghanistan as a result of this exodus, but they will
be significant.  From the Soviet perspective, this depopulation
may be seen as positive in that it robs the guerrillas of much
of their support and drives out those opposed to the regime.
From the Mujahidin perspective it poses a major problem.  It
not only robs them of support but more importantly suggests
that the Mujahidin are unable to ensure the security and liveli-
hood of the Afghan people against the Soviet threat.  Since
this is a war"of the people" the Mujahidin have begun to attempt
to slow the tide of refugees by paying more attention to their
physical security, by providing what special services they can,
including education, by ensuring moreefficient distribution of
relief supplies and by attempting to alleviate food shortages
by operating agricultural projects in some provinces.12   How
successful they will be remains to be seen.
     Factionalsim, bred by fierce individual and tribal indepen-
dence conditioned by geography, livelihood, culture and social
and religious codes, is an inherent characteristic of Afghan
society.  It affects the PDPA and the resistance rorces equally.
     The PDPA was founded on 1 January 1965 and held its first
full Party Congress on that date.  Since then there have been
other Party Congresses convened bat attendance has been as low
as half the approximate 1700 delegates and the PDPA has been
rent by Parcham-Khalq rivalry.  As discussed previously, the
majority rank-and-file Khalq are continually at odds with the
minority Parcham-dominated upper ranks.  Differences are fre-
quently settled violently involving betrayal to rebel forces,
assassination, imprisonment and torture and full scale gun battles.
One shoot-out in September 1985 reported 14 people killed.13
More significantly the Afghan officer corps has been a major
victim of rivalry purges.  Following the Saur Revolution in 1978,
the Khalq Taraki-Amin regime may have purged as many as 7,000
of a total of 8,000 officers before the invasion.14  Officers were
either executed, imprisoned, dismissed or retired.  Once the
Parcham Karmal took power, the purges began again, this time to
remove the Khalq-faction officers.  Since then, the armed forces
have been purged three or four times which had contrubuted
nothing to their fighting effectiveness.  More recently, it
appears that the Parcham themselved may have split into a pro-
Karmal faction (following his ouster from power in May 1986)
and the faction which supports the current leader, Najibullah.
     This intense rivalry is a major weakness of the PDPA
and their Kabul regime.  It is also a great irritant to the
Soviets who have, in vain, tried to bridge the gaps.  It is also
a weakness for the Mujahidin to exploit.
     However, a similar condition affects resistance parties.15
Although seven major resistance parties have headquarters in
Peshawar, Pakistan there also exist numerous smaller groupings
often reflecting personality more than ideology.  The personal
nature of various factions has been a key element in an inabil-
ity to unite in a coordinated military effort and has weakened
their ability to seek outside help with one voice.  They differ
on tactics, strategies and the future of Afghanistan.  Their
rivalry is frequently reflected in resistance party publications.16
The rivalry is further being reflected between successful mili-
tary commanders fighting in Afghanistan and political party
leaders, not actively involved in fighting, trying to direct
affairs at a distance in Pakistan.
     Nevertheless, some elements now recognize the unity problem
as essential to their survival and to their representation in
the international forum.  An example of this is an article
written by a find commander, Abdul Rashid.  He notes that,
"The problem in achieving unity of the Afghan Resistance is to
reconcile the sometimes conflicting interests of Isalm, demo-
cracy and ethnic groups."  He makes a number of concrete pro-
posals towards unifying the Resistance and concludes, "Unless
theResistance remains rooted in the culture of Afghanistan,
it is destined to fail."17  Therein, lies the dilemma.
     The foregoing factors are subtle, complex and powerful
considerations which deserve a basic understanding for their
importance to the Afghan struggle.  They are also domestic in
nature and omit the critical role which the international forum
has to play in this conflict.  This role will be discussed in
the final chapter.
                       CHAPTER SIX
     In Afghanistan as a whole, this year the war has in-
     tensified much more than before.
               Resistance Leader  November 1986 1
     In the past year or year and a half military activity
has increased on both sides and shows no sign of let-up.  Other
important changes and trends have also occurred.  This chapter
will offer an overview of events during the period 1986 to
early 1987 in an attempt to provide the most current information
and to give a picture of the situation in Afghanistan at this
point in time.
Political Situation
     The most important change in the Kabul regime since 1979
took place on 20 November 1986 when Babrak Karmal "requested
to be relieved of party and state posts", for "deteriorating"
health reasons.  He was replaced by Najibullah, former head of
KHAD.  This move was orchestrated by the Soviets who had become
disenchanted with Karmal's inability to heal the factional
rift or to achieve any significant political and military gains.
Because Karmal had been installed by Soviet forces he was also
seen as a mere puppet both internationally and domestically
and had, in this sense, become a liability to the Soviets.
Karmal's ouster and subsequent purge of his followers has led
to the emergence of a pro-Karmal faction within the Parcham
which aggravates the serious differences which still exist
between the Parcham and Khalq factions of the PDPA.
     The ruthless, efficient Najibullah immediately initiated
a broad, propaganda plan of "national reconciliation" which
included offers of selective amnesty for some political prisoners,2
an offer to negotiate with the rebels or "opposition" who had
formerly been called "bandits", incentives such as land and
money to encourage the return of some refugees and allusions
to a Soviet troop withdrawal.  The centre-piece of this "national
reconciliation", as a measure of the regime's good faith, was
a six month unilateral declaration of cease-fire on 15 January
1987.  The timing was excellent as it came in the same period
as an apparently more flexible approach to world politics was
being adopted by the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev and in
anticipation of some progress at the February 1987 U.N. talks
on Afghanistan in Geneva.  The atmosphere had been further
softened by the apparent Soviet withdrawal of three anti-air-
craft regiments, two motorized rifle regiments and one tank
regiment in October 1986.  The anti-aircraft regiments were
withdrawn as scheduled since there was little Mujahidin threat
from the air.  The other three regiments were introduced into
Afghanistan from the U.S.S.R. between July and September 1986
solely for the purpose of being able to "withdraw" them.  There
had been no decrease in Soviet combat capability.3
     Najibullah's offer of reconciliation was rejected out of
hand by resistance leaders in Peshawar on 17 January 1987.  Before
tens of thousands of refugees and fighters the leaders made a
joint declaration from the Koran:  "Fight them until there is
no more tumult or oppression and there prevails justice and
faith in God."4   Resistance units immediately stepped up attacks
on communist targets and on 4 February 1987 Soviet and Afghan
forces launched division-sized attacks accompanied by fighter
bombers and helicopter gunships against guerrilla targets in
Paktia province.5  The cease-fire had collapsed and so, apparently,
has the plan for "national reconciliation".  Despite further
regime efforts to "conduct elections", enlarge the Revolutionary
Council to include non-party members and otherwise enlist a
broader and more popular support base for its programs, the
regime has had little success.
     From the Mujahidin perspective the last year has been
increasingly difficult because of the scale of the problems
faced such as chronic ammunition shortages, food scarcities,
depopulation and refugees, the critical need for medical supplies
and the lack of education for children at the primary level.
These problems are not only massive but require immediate atten-
tion and pose major challenges to the limited resourced of the
resistance. Of course, lack of a strong united political leader-
ship among the Mujahidin organizations in exile still remains.
     Neverhteless, some progress has been made.  The seven
resistance parties in Peshawar have formed an alliance (Islamic
Unity of Afghanistan Mujahidin) governed by a council of party
leaders.  Spokesmanship rotates on a three month schedule and
committees have begun work on education, social services and the
coordination of outside humanitarian assistance.  The governing
council visited the United States in June 1986 at the invita-
tion of President Reagan.  Similarily, in the past year the
alliance has been successful in promoting its cause at an Islamic
foreign ministers meeting in Morocco, at meetings in Oslo and
New Delhi and at a meeting of the European Parliament in Luxem-
bourg last summer.6
The Economy
     Despite large scale Soviet economic aid which brings its
own costs, as discussed previously, the economic situation in
Afghanistan is deteriorating each year.  1986 was no exception.
Since Afghanistan has a predominantly rural, agrarian economy
the reasons for the deterioration are straightforward:  depopu-
lation and widespread destruction or damage to villages, culti-
vated land, orchards, pastures, food stocks, domestic livestock
and water and irrigation systems.  Food shortages in 1986 have
been particularly critical and have affected resistance opera-
tions.7  The shortages are aggravated by the difficulties of
transporting food stuffs in the war-torn country.
     The above factors,plus falling exports and rising imports,
have contributed to the rising prices which have affected all
sectors in the past year.  Vegetables, oils, rice, sugar and tea
are often in short supply while the price of staples such as
wheat, rice, flour, beef, mutton and eggs has increased five-
fold since the invasion.8
     The destruction of about 10,000 villages and the displace-
ment of as many as three million farmers9 has had a devestating
impact on the economy.  Those farmers that remain face increasing
difficulties including lack of governmental assistance previously
available to them prior to the April Revolution.  Farmers and
their families seeking shelter and employment in the cities
tax the already over-burdened facilities and services, help drive
up prices and will be most fortunate if they find work.  Afghan-
istan has always  been a poor country but the current prospects
are bleak.  This constitutes a major reason why resistance
parties have taken an increasing interest in the development of
agricultural projects and the procurement of foreign assistance.
The Social Sector
Education.  Prior to the communist revolution in 1978 Afghanistan
was a largely illiterate society with, perhaps, 10 or 15 per cent
of the population being able to read.  Almost 10 years later,
the percentage may not be much better and the educational system
is in chaos.  The Mujahidin recognize the importance of school-
ing their children and have managed recently to establish some
primary schools in liberated areas.  Nevertheless, they are
constrained by finances, facilities, qualified teachers and
military operations which may sweep through their areas at any
time.  More success is being experienced in Pakistan, where,
through outside assistance, many schools have been established
for refugee students.
     The Kabul regime claims total school attendance of 685,000
but it is clear that the regime's education program does not
extend much beyond the schools of Kabul and possibly a few
other major urban areas.  As noted, the system is being "soviet-
ized";  compulsory Russian has been introduced in the past two
years, courses in Afghan history have been "amended" and courses
teaching "political knowledge" are compulsory.10
     Furthermore, the effectiveness of the regime school system
is suspect in terms of providing a basic education.  Loyalty to
the regime and party and not ability are reported to be the
factors governing promotion for students and teachers alike.
Classes are now often disrupted to have teachers and students
perform "forced work",11 and because of recruiting problems,
in 1986 the regime began to draft students directly from the
classroom into the army.  This forced many students to abandon
their education and flee to the resistance or to Pakistan.
Finally, it is also reported that many families in the villages
surrounding Kabul have simply stopped sending their children to
school because of their "anti-Islamic" nature.12
Health.  The war has exacted a large cost from Afghanistan's
health services infrastructure.  Facilities and medicines are
in short supply and, yet, the growing casualty lists place
excessive demands upon them.  Most indigenous doctors have fled
to be replaced by Soviet doctors in urban areas or some volun-
teer French doctors in resistance-controlled areas.  A resistance
health officer reports no clinics in two complete districts
and not a single doctor in another district.13  Sanitation is
now non-existent in many areas and hepatitis, typhoid and tuber-
culosis are all reportedly on the rise.  Some estimates suggest
that Soviet forces experience an additional 5,000 men per year
incapacitated because of these and other diseases.14
Religion.  Under Najibullah's new initiatives the regime has
tried to appear more pious, more pro-Islam, finally aware of the
importance of religion to the people.  This must pose a problem
for she avowed atheist PDPA but, regardless; Najibullah and two
other top leaders attended prayers, with much publicity, in
Kabul's central mosque in August 1986.15  Not being able to
eliminate the religious factor, the Soviets and their regime
are now trying to control it.  The new Islamic Affairs Ministry
oversees all religious activities and claims some 10,000 mullahs
in its employ.  In this regard, Abdul Haq observes;
     The Soviets are doing all sortsto pursue their program
     of spreading ethnic divisions and consolidating their
     grip on Afghanistan.  Seven years ago they were saying
     religion is the opium of the people and now they're
     founding mullahs and building mosques and trying to
     lull the people into neutrality by appeasing them.16
There is no evidence, yet, that the regime has had any success
in this effort.
Human Rights.  Violations of human rights continue in Afghani-
stan on a massive and brutal scale.  They are perpetrated by
both Afghan and Soviet forces and are reported upon continually
in the resistance press.17  The total number of Afghans killed
since 1978 is estimated at between 600,000 and 1,000,000.
In a February 1986 report to the U.N. Human Rights Commission
in Geneva, the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan concluded that
"continuation of the military solution in Afghanistan will lead
to a situation approaching genocide."18
Refuges.  In 1986 the number of refugees continued to grow
although at a slower rate.  It was also noted that newly arrived
refugees appeared to be in worse condition than their predec-
essors, having been more directly affected by the fighting,
and that they brought fewer possessions with them, a fact
again borne out in the resistance press.19  Pakistan not only
offers it's hospitality but bears nearly one half the cost of
the annual $360 million relief effort.  The next major contri-
butor is the United States;  other major contributors include
Japan, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia and some West European
Military Operations
     In Soviet eyes the major tool of pacification still remains
the defeat of resistance forces by Soviet and Afghan military
forces.  In the past eighteen months combat operations have
spread in scope and grown in intensity.  While the Soviets have
expanded operations in rural areas throughout the country, the
resistance has increasingly brought the war to the cities, par-
ticularly Kabul and Herat.  The Soviets still carry out large
scale offensives (usually division size) but operations appear
to be more decentralized and more focused. Heliborne assaults
are now used with good results and the Mujahidin admit that
Soviet forces are increasingly effective as they gain experience
and make some modifications to their tactics.  Massive artillery
and air support remains a feature of all Soviet combat operations.
In 1986 some new tactics were adopted.  Ambushes of guerrilla
bands and their supply routes became more common, and air raids
to cut off supply routes in the border areas with Iran and
Pakistan were stepped up.  In addition, new strong points were
constructed along key routes.  The new tactics have had some
success and have forced the Mujahidin to seek longer, more
difficult supply lines.
     Soviet forces in Afghanistan are fixed at approximately
115,000 but are supported heavily by the 30 to 40 thousand
troops across the northern border.  The Afghan army remains
of questionable effectiveness, suffers severe recruiting short-
ages and has a current strength also of 30 to 40 thousand men.
     Despite their many difficulties and heavy Soviet pressure
the Mujahidin in 1986 continued to attack and, if anything,
increased their attacks after Najibullah's offer of cease-fire
in January 1987.  Training and cooperation among various groups
has improved considerably but most important in the past year
has been an increase in both the quantity and quality of wea-
pons.  Of these, the BM-12 multiple rocket launcher system and
the Stinger and Blowpipe surface-to-air missile systems have
had the greatest impact allowing the rebels to attack enemy
targets from a distance and enabling them to defend against
their greatest threat, attack from the air.
    The introduction of more than 600 surface-to-air missiles
in the last six months has forced Soviet jets and helicopters
to alter their tactics;  they no longer linger over targets
and are also forced to bomb from higher altitudes, with less
accuracy.  The missiles are now accounting for 20 or more air-
craft losses a month with a probability-kill rate of about
70 percent.  One Stinger missile costs $75,000 and, at $8
million per Mi-24 HIND, the air war is becoming very costly
to the Soviets.20
     According to Kabul Radio 215 battles took place between 
the Mujagidin and regime forces in 1986.21  These battles were
spread across all provinces but increasingly they are being
fought house to house on city streets.  Hardest hit of the cities
is Herat which has more or less seen constant battle since
February 1986.  At the time, Herat's large Shia district was  
levelled by air and artillery but the Mujahidin fought on in the
rubble.  By August 1986 the resistance reportedly controlled
more than 60 percent of the city and, on August 16, were attacked
in the southern suburbs by Soviet and DRA forces comprising   
10,000 men and hundreds of tanks.22  Fierce street battles
were still reported in Herat in March and April 1987.23  Kabul,
too, has been the scene of heavy fighting;  the level of resist-
ance pressure has never been so high as in the past year.  The
Kabul airport, military garrisons and soviet installations
have all been under frequent rocket attack, car bombs are being
used more frequently and a number of assassinations of Soviet
and Afghan army officers in Kabul have been reported.24  Most
dramatic was the rocket attack of 27 August 1986. On the huge
Qargha arms and ammunition depot on the outskirts of Kabul.
The explosions were spectacular and resulted in heavy losses to
the communists.
     The fierce fighting of 1986 continues but has now spilled
into other territory.  In bold moves which must surely be cause
for consternation among Soviet leaders, if only from the view-
point of Kremlin prestige, Afghan guerrillas have recently
begun to attack limited targets in the Soviet Union.  Attacks
have consisted of rocket barrage across the border, ambushes
and mining of roads used by border patrols and military traffic.25
Although not a direct result, this led to deliberate Afghan
airforce bombing assaults on refugee camps inside Pakistan's
borders in February and March 1987, claiming more than 200 lives.
After numerous warnings about border violations, Pakistani F-16
fighters shot down an Afghan jet on 30 March ten miles inside
the Pakistani border.
     The Mujahidin have always claimed about 80 percent control
of Afghan territory in the past, but by their own admission,
estimate their overall control of territory to  have diminished
to 70 percent during 1986.  This figure may not have much impor-
tance particularly in view of the increased pressure on the
cities.  In the same period they also estimate 4,000 to 5,000
Russians killed, 10,000 regime troops and paramilitary forces
killed, 200 aircraft downed, 1,000 Soviet tanks, APCs and vehicles
destroyed, 4,000 Mujahidin killed and 50,000 civilians killed.26
These figures may be considered fairly accurate.
     The war in Afghanistan today remains a stand-off.
                       CHAPTER SEVEN
     We will go on fighting until we achieve either vic-
     tory or death.
              Ahmed Shah Massoud, Panjshir Valley 1986 1
     The Soviets continue to justify their position in Afghan-
istan on the basis that they were invited there to help protect
the Marxist regime against "foreign interference".  But, this
has been difficult for them to explain in light of the fact
that Soviet troops immediately killed the Afghan president and
PDPA General Secretary, Hafizullah Amin and then, a week after
the invasion installed Babrak Karmal as the new Afghan leader.
     Although there were several associated reasons for the in-
vasion, they condensed into two major arguments:  one, that
Russian security could not be threatened by an unpopular,
defiant, unstable government on its border and two, that under
the Brezhnev doctrine, not only for reasons of security but
also for those of international communist prestige, brother
Marxist governments were "obliged" to come to the aid of any
neighboring Marxist regime being "threatened".
     What the Soviets anticipated as a relatively straight-
forward occupation with potential high gains and limited costs
has turned into a long and costly quagmire with no end in sight.
Their recent attempt to strengthen their position and that of
the Kabul regime by replacing the weak, uninspiring Babrak
Karmal with the feared, former head of the secret police, Naji-
bullah,has not yet bet with any notable success. His sweeping
plan of "national reconciliation", supported by Soviet propa-
ganda ploys, seems to have collapsed rather rapidly.  If any-
thing, these measures may have served to help-unify     resist-
ance forces, stiffen their resolve and to increase the number
of attacks on communist targets.  At the same time, the popu-
lation at large is sympathetic to the Mujahidin and alienated
from the Kabul regime and its Soviet backers.  Despite increasingly
fierce and widespread fighting the situation is that of a mili-
tary impasse.
     Perhaps, then, another forum of resolution must be consid-
ered.  As a recent resistance editorial put it:
     Westerners often ask whether the mujahidin really hope
     to be able to defeat the Soviet army.  In the eyes
     of the resistance the question is not to the point.
     The right question will be to ask the Russians whether
     they still believe they are able to crush the resist-
     ance militarily.  During the past seven years, the muja-
     hidin of Afghanistan have been able to fight against
     one of the most powerful armies in the world.  It is
     in itself an achievement, already a victory.  Now the
     question is;  what is the rest of the world going
     to do?2
The International Forum
     Afghanistan has been a war "of the people" with a complex
mosaic of factors at play in addition to the dominant military
effort.  And, it has been the Afghan people who have paid the
high and tragic costs of this war and their efforts and losses
must not be diminished in any manner.  But, in the final anal-
ysis, it may well be the international forum which determines
the future of Afghanistan.  This suggestion begins with the
simple proposition that the Kabul regime of Najibullah cannot
survive, even a short time, against current resistance forces
without active Soviet military support.  A corollary is that
resistance forces cannot survive in the long run against a
Soviet-backed Kabul regime without outside support in terms
of weapons, supplies and humanitarian aid.  The third element
is that of the "linkages" which connect or influence the various
governments involved.
U.S.S.R.  The Soviets, despite the propaganda aspects of "glas-
nost" or "openess" seem genuinely intent on improving their
international image, particularly in view of increasing world
criticism with regard to Afghanistan.  To some degree, improved
relations with the United States and Great Britain algo hinge
on the Afghanistan issue as recently raised by Prime Minister
Thatcher in her March 1987 visit to Moscow.  Obviously it is
in the Soviet interest to reach a solution in Afghanistan.
Soviet troop withdrawal is hinted at but, in the meantime,
Soviet military activity has increased.  The Soviets are not
prepared to withdraw unless survival of the communist Kabul
regime can be guaranteed.  The dilemma for the Soviets is that
once their troops are withdrawn, the survival of the regime
cannot be guaranteed;  it will, in fact, probably fall quickly.
At the same time, as the Soviets widen their military efforts
they must become concerned about spillover into other areas.3
Recent assaults by rebels into Muslim-dominated Soviet territory,
fighting near the Iranian border and the recent Pakistani retal-
iatory downing of a Soviet jet with Afghan markings should
give Soviet leaders pause for thought.  Clearly they have enough
problems in Afghanistan without further antagonizing other
Islamic nations in the region.
United States.  United States support of the resistance effort
is crucial and plays a role second only to that of Pakistan.
The support includes a current budget of $450 million for wea-
pons and related defence items such as the Stinger missile and
$50 million for relief assistance which includes $25 million
worth of food commodities through the World Food program.4
Not only is this assiatance essential but also it has set an
example for other nations, particularly West European ones
such as France, who have provided increasing humanitarian
assistance while at the same time becoming more vocal and crit-
ical of the Soviet role in Afghanistan.
     U.S. policy toward Afghanistan aims at a negotiated poli-
tical settlement predicated on the prompt and complete with-
drawal of Soviet troops.  The U.S. has supported U.N.-sponsored
efforts and resolutions to reach an agreements on Afghanistan
but in the absence of a settlement is committed to support of
the Afghan cause.5  At the same time in somewhat contradictory
fashion the U.S. maintains an embassy in Kabul and recognizes
the government of the DRA in the United Nations.6   Perhaps,
this is done for the purpose of maintaining a conduit into
Afghanistan but by these actions the U.S. publicly fails to
recognize the resistance as representing the legitimate aspira-
tions of the vast majority of Afghan people.  This in turn
helps to exclude the resistance from U.N. peace negotiations
since the Mujahidin are not legitimately recognized as speaking
for the Afghan nation.
     A final consideration of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan
is that it is closely tied to policy toward Pakistan.  Pakistan,
concerned about being  heavily pressured between the U.S.S.R.
and India, has indicated that it is progressing toward the
building of a nuclear bomb.  The U.S. has stated this act could
jeopardize U.S. military and economic aid.  As the American
ambassador in Islamabad remarked;
     The trick is to sustain the resistance in Afghan-
     istan so the Soviets see it is better to get out.
     At the same time we want to discourage the Paki-
     stan movement towards nuclear weapons capability.7
Pakistan.  The major concerns of Pakistan have been reflected
above.  Hundreds of air violations by Afghan aircraft, bombing
attacks inside Pakistan borders, artillery attacks and subver-
sion by KHAD and Afghan and Soviet special forces inside Pakistan
have made the Pakistan government wary and forced it to be
cautious in its support of Afghan rebels.  This is especially
important in view of the fact that Pakistan is under continual
military threat on its southern border from India.  The Soviet
Union is using its pressure on Pakistan in an attempt to have
Pakistan support resolution of Afghan problems on Moscow's terms.
To some degree, the pressure is effective since the U.S.S.R.
is well aware that the U.S. has not guaranteed Pakistan's secur-
ity in case of attack.
     In spite of all, Pakistan has been most generous in its
support of the resistance.  Its support, in fact, is vital.
Pakistan will pay nearly $180 million in relief support this
year, will provide space for three million refugees and will
administer most of the relief effort.  It allows the resistance
parties to operate from its territory, allegedly permits the
existence of resistance military training camps and acts as the
major funnel for the passage of arms and supplies into Afghani-
stan.  Finally, Pakistan is instrumental in representing the
interests of the Mujahidin in international talks.  Any sudden
change in Pakistan policy toward the Afghan resistance would
jeopardize the very existence of the guerrillas.
India.  India's dominant role in the Afghan issue is that it
poses an additional military threat to Pakistan as evidenced
by the exercise of more than 20O,000 Indian troops on the India-
Pakistan border in December 1986.  In some regards, India may
be considered an ally of the Soviet Union in that it maintains
good relations with Kabul and has never supported any U.N.
resolution condemning foreign forces in Afghanistan.
Iran.  Iran condemns the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, pro-
vides homes for nearly two million refugees in eastern Iran
and openly espouses support for the resistance cause.  Iran
is also believed to be arming and supporting Moslem Shia guer-
rillas operating in the western provinces off Afghanistan.
Islamic Nations.  Most other Islamic nations have provided
moral support and some, like Saudi Arabia, have given financial
support.  The foreign ministers at an Islamic nations meeting
in January 1987 passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal
of foreign troops from Afghanistan.8
China.  China has condemned the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan
and cites it as a threat to Chinese security and an obstacle to
improving relations with China.  The Soviets are believed to
have recently annexed the strategic finger-like Wakhan corridor
of Afghanistan based on a 1980 agreement with Kabul. This
"finger" which reached east toward a 50 mile border with China
is apparently administered directly from the Soviet Union.  This
seizure has further threatened Pakistan directly and has cut
off China from Afghanistan bringing protests from the Chinese.
It is believed that this corridor was used to ship Chinese arms
to the resistance during the summer season.9
United Nations.  Since the invasion the U.N. General Assembly
has endorsed eight times a resolution calling for the withdrawal
of foreign forces from Afghanistan; the restoration of an inde-
pendent, non-aligned status;  Afghan self-determination;  and
the creation of conditions that would enable refugees to return
home safely.  The resolution, introduce by Pakistan again on
5 November 1986 passed by a vote of 122 to 20 with 11 absten-
     The most recent talks were held in Geneva beginning in
February 1987, attended by Kabul and Islamabad and led by U.N.
Undersecretary-General Diego Cordovez.  The talks began with
cautious optimism but did not achieve a hoped-for breakthrough.
Friction was present immediately because of Afghan air raids
on refugee camps in northwest Pakistan but the main problem was
that the two protagonists, the Soviets and the Afghan resistance,
were not present to negotiate with each other.11  This will
continue to be a major difficulty as long as the U.N. insists
it can only mediate with recognized governments.  Nevertheless,
the talks will probably continue in the hope of finding an
eventual broader political settlement.
     The UN peace initiative consisted of four points.  Three
of these were agreed upon:  the voluntary repatriation of refu-
gees;  the normalization of relations (mutual non-interference)
between Afghanistan and Pakistan;  and the guarantee of Afghan
independence by the United States, China and the Soviet Union.
The fourth point constituted the major obstacle upon which
agreement was not reached;  a fixed and short timetable for
Soviet troop withdrawal.  The Afghan delegation, which in earlier
discussions had talked of a three or four year period of with-
drawal, reduced its timeframe to 18 months while the Pakistani
delegation insisted on a six month withdrawal.12
     The protracted schedule of Soviet troop withdrawal reflects
Soviet concerns with ensuring the continuation of a communist-
dominated regime.  In return for an 18 month schedule Moscow
also insists on an immediate halt to all outside arms shipments
to the resistance, an obvious move designed to weaken the guer-
rillas.  Having failed to reach agreement on this critical
difference, the talks are temporarily suspended.  Regardless,
they represent a move toward a political solution rather than
a military one and will become a more realistic and attractive
alternative as the costs of the war escalate for all parties
Concluding Thoughts
     As the wag postulated, "It is difficult to make predictions
---especially about the future".  This is particularly true in the
case of Afghanistan and it will be the clairvoyant, indeed,
who can speculate on the final resolution of this terrible
struggle.  In light of this no hard conclusions are drawn nor
are any firm predictions made.  Instead, some concluding thoughts
are offered for further consideration.
     First, as discussed in this chapter, the eventual solution
to Afghanistan will probably be a political one as opposed to
a military one.  The solution will be found only with the assist-
ance of outside powers, specifically the U.S., the U.S.S.R.,
and Pakistan and, perhaps, with the further help of the United
Nations forum.
     Secondly, any solution will have to include adequate repres-
entation of the aspirations of the Afghan people and the prin-
ciple of "self-determination".  The current Kabul regime does
not meet the requirements.
     Thirdly, the question among resistance parties of who will
govern and how they will govern following a Soviet withdrawal
is hypothetical at this time and not as important as strength-
ening resistance unity to ensure such a withdrawal.  If they
can eventually achieve this they will also be able to solve on
their own who will govern.
    Fourthly, any future Afghan government, if it is non-commu-
nist, will probably have to take the form of a peaceful, non-
threatening, non-aligned nation if it is to exist with any degree
of independence next to the U.S.S.R.
     Fifthly, if the invasion of Afghanistan also represented a
Soviet move toward warm-water ports and control of the Arabian
Gulf it has been a costly step.  Any future moves contemplated
through Iran or Pakistani based on the Afghan experience, will
prove more costly yet.
     And, lastly, the Soviets will not be "forced" out of Afghan-
istan for they are too strong for that.  The permanent nature
of the military infrastructure that they have built in Afghan-
istan suggests that they are prepared to remain a long time if
necessary.  Equally, they are less susceptible to world condemn-
ation and are under no internal pressure at home to withdraw.
However, it may be that under Mikhail Gorbaohev's new iniatives
at home and toward the West, he is willing to risk an uncharac-
teristic Soviet withdrawal of troops in return for other reason-
able assurances.  Thus, while the Soviets will not likely be
forced out of Afghanistan, they may be "negotiated" out.
     Nevertheless, they should also realize that as long as
their troops remain on Afghan soil they will continue to be
attacked by the Mujahidin and that the Mujahidin will never
surrender.  While the Soviets could increase their contingent
in Afghanistan it would probably require at least three or four
times their current strength to make a significant difference.
This is a price they are unable or unwilling to pay given their
current deployments in Eastern Europe and on the Chinese border.
Furthermore, the longer the war, the more likely this will
encourage more international support for the resistance and
correspondingly erode Soviet efforts.  There can be little
doubt that the resistance is prepared to engage in a lengthy
battle.  They have been battling communist forces for nine years
now and there is an old Afghan saying, "the mujahid waited one
hundred years for his revenge and cursed himself for his im-
    The Soviet Union has always been a sponsor of "wars of
national liberation".  Today, they are finding that it is much
easier to sponsor a war of national liberation than it is to
suppress one.  Afghanistan is, for the Soviets, in Gorbachev's
own words, "a bleeding wound".
     But, it is much more.  Afghanistan is a long and terrible
struggle against a ruthless, unpopular regime and undisguised
foreign occupation.  It is being paid for at incalculable costs
in human lives and suffering.  It embodies the brave battle
of an impoverished disparate people against the massive resources
and military might of Soviet invasion.  Their quest is indivi-
dual liberty, religious freedom, cultural heritage and the
right to national self-determination.  So far, Afghanistan
also reflects a triumph of iron will and a victory for a fierce,
independent spirit.  In a sense, the resistance to foreign
military occupation in Afghanistan symbolizes a fight for the
values of the free world at large.  It must not be allowed to
                      CHAPTER EIGHT
     On the night of April 8-9 guerrillas raided across the
border into Soviet Tadzhikistan near the small town of Pyandzh,
190 miles north of Kabul.  They killed two Soviet border guards
before being repelled.  The Soviet news agency Tass reported
the raid and said that Moscow would take "every necessary measure
to stop any infringements on the inviolability of its frontiers".
In reprisal, Soviet forces carried out major attacks in the north-
ern Afghanistan border provinces of Kunduz and Takar.  Report-
edly, entire villages were wiped out and hundreds were killed.1
    The war goes on.
Click here to view image
                          APPENDIX A
            1837     Russia provides military advisers and mercenaries
                     to Persian military force attempting to seize 
                     Herat.  The "Great Game" between Russia and   
                     Great Britain begins.
    December 1925    Soviet troops invade and occupy Afghan island
                     in the Amu Darya (Oxus River) and declare it
                     annexed to the Soviet Union.  Troops withdraw
                     in 1926.
       April 1929    Soviet and Afghan force supported by Soviet
                     weapons, equipment and aircraft invade from USSR
                     to restore King Amanullah to power.  Attempt
                     fails, Soviet forces withdrawn June 1929
       June 1930     Soviet forces cross frontier during the Reign
                     of Nadir Kahn in pursuit of Basmachi rebel,
                     Ibrahim Beg.  Soviet forces withdraw after
                     failing to capture him.
   January 1929-     Tadzhik bandit, Bacha-i-Saqao proclaims himself
    October 1929     king and rules until overthrown by Nadir Kahn.
   October 1929-     Reign of Nadir Kahn until assassinated.
       1933-1973     Reign of Mohammed Zahir.
 01 January 1965     People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)
       June 1967     PDPA splits into Khalq (masses) led by Taraki
                     and Parcham (banner) led by Babrak Karmel,
    17 July 1973     Prince Daoud overthrows Nadir Kahn, abolishes
                     monarchy, establishes Republic of Afghanistan.
27-28  April 1978    PDPA overthrows Daoud in the Great Saur (April)
                     Revolution.  Daoud and his entire family gunned
                     down in his palace.
        July 1978    Uprisings in Nuristan and Badakhshan against
                     Taraki government and revolts continue to
                     spread throughout Afghanistan in the following
         March 1979  Revolt in Herat.  Soviets and families hunted                    
                     down and killed.  Afghan soldiers join the rebels.
       August 1979-  General Ivan G. Pavlovskiy, Commander-in-Chief
       October 1979  visits Afghanistan, with high level delegation
                     but without publicity.  Following visit military
                     aid and military advisers increase, with advisers
                     at company level and Soviet pilots flying combat
                     missions, especially helicopter gunships.
  14 September 1979  Shootout at Arg Palace.  Hafizullah Amin arrests
                     Taraki, seizes power and has Taraki murdered on
                     10 October 1979.
          Fall 1979  Resistance to Kabul and Soviets continues to
                     grow and is widespread throughout most of country.
                     Economy in chaos.
 8-20  December 1979 Soviet airborne regiment posted to Bagram
                     Airbase, secures Salang Pass Tunnel and takes
                     up security duty at Kabul International Airport.
    24 December 1979 Soviets begin airlift of airborne troops, 75-120
                     flights per day for three days.
    27 December 1979 SPETZNAZ troops seize Darulaman Palace near Kabul
                     and kill Amin.  Soviet troops seize Radio Kabul
                     and government posts in Kabul.  Resistance in
                     Kabul ends by morning 28 December.
    27 December 1979 Karmal broadcasts from "Radio Kabul" inside
     (2240 HRS GMT)  the Soviet Union.  He announces overthrow of
                     Amin and is proclaimed president and prime
    29 December 1979 Two motorized rifle divisions cross into Afghan-
                     istan, followed by others bringing total to
                     85,000 by March 1980.
     01 January 1980 Karmal arrives in Kabul from the USSR to head
     1980-PRESENT    "JIHAD", holy war, war of national liberation
                     against Soviets and Kabul regime.
     02 May 1986     Najibullah, former head of Afghan secret police
                     replaces Karmal as party leader and head of
                     government.  Karmal has resigned for "health
   January  1987-    Najibullah offers six month ceasefire to resist-
          PRESENT    ance forces.  Ceasefire offer rejected.
                     United Nations talks in Geneva on-going to seek
                     Fighting intensifies, mujahideen better equipped.
                     Afghan air and artillery attacks on border
                     villages in Pakistan.  Pakistan threatens
                     Afghan guerrillas conduct cross-border raids
                     into USSR and fire rockets across the border at
                     Soviet installations.
Chapter 1
1. Girardet, Afghanistan - The Soviet War, p. 233
2. "Interview with Commander Massoud", Afghan News, 1 Oct 1986,
     p. 1
Chapter 2
1. Complete text of Gorchakov's memorandum is in W. Ken Fraser-
   Tyler, Afghanistan:  A Study of Political Development in 
   Central and Southern Asia, 2nd ed. London 1953, pp. 319-323
2. Dupree, Afghanistan, pp. 255-413
3. Harmmond, Red Flag Over Afghanistan, p.5
4. Collins, The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, p.2
5. Ibid., p.6
6. Ibid.
7. Collins, p,4
8. Amstutz, Afghanistan - The First Five Years of Soviet Occu- 
   pation, pp. 4-5
9. Hammond, pp. 11-13
10. Ibid., pp. 13-17
11. Ibid., p. 18
12. Collins, p. 12
13. Hammond, pp. 23-26
14. Collins, pp. 28-29
15. Ibid., p. 33
16. Hammond, p. 49
17. Collins, pp.36-43
18. Ibid., pp. 47 57
19. Ibid.
20. Hammond, p. 73
21. Girardet, Afghanistan - The Soviet Ward pp. 115-116
22. Ibid.
23. Collins, p. 61
24. Hammond, pp. 84-85
25. Ibid.
26. Ibid., p. 87
Chapter 3
1.  Hammond, Red Flag over Afghanistan, p. 97
2.  Nyrop and Seekins, ed., Afghanistan - A Country Study, p. 239
3.  Girardet, Afghanistan - The Soviet War, p. 13.
4.  Nyrop and Seekins, p. 241
5.  Girardet, p. 13
6.  Nyrop and Seekins, p. 304
7.  Girardet, p. 13
8.  Amstutz, Afghanistan - The First Five Years of Soviet Occu-
    pation, p. 48
9.  Ibid., p. 51
10. Collins, p. 71
11. For examples see:  Arnold, Afghanistan - The Soviet Invasion
    in Perspective (1981);  Weinland, (Centre for Naval Analysis),
    An Explanation of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (May 1981);
    and an often cited work, ACIS Working Paper No. 27, (Center
    for International and Strategic Affairs), The Soviet Invasion
    of Afghanistan:  Three Perspectives,  Essays by Vernon Aspa-
    turian, Alexander Dallin and Jiri Valenta (September 1980).
Chapter 4
1.  "Abdul Haq: my fight with the Red Army", Jane's Defence
     Weekly, 7 Feb 1987, p. 181
2.  Amstutz, Afghanistan - The First Five Years of Soviet Occu-
    pation, pp. 168-169
3.  Nyrop and Seekins, ed., Afghanistan - A Country Study, p. 287
4.  Amstutz, p. 156
5.  "Interview with Commander Massoud", Afghan News, 1 Oct
    1986, p. 2
6.  Nyrop and Seekins, p. 324- 327
7.  "Afghanistan", Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p.9
8.  Nyrop and Seekins, p. 327
9.  Ibid.
10. "The Agony of Afghanistan", Videotape, report by Sandy Gall,
    distributed by Jamiat - I - Islami, Washington, D.C. Nov 1986.
11. Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, pp. 9-10
12. Amstutz, p. 184
13. Nyrop and Seekins,. p. 334
14. Ibid.
15. Girardet, Afghanistan - The Soviet War, p. 54
16. Amstutz, pp. 148-153
17. Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 Feb 1987, p. 181
18. Amstutz, p. 145
19. "Scorched-Earth Warfare", Maclean's, 1 Dec 1986, pp. 32-33
20. "Soviet and Afghan troops pound rebel forces", Jane's Defence
    Weekly, 27 Sep 1986, p. 670
21. Nyrop and Seekins, p. 337
22. Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 Feb 1987, p. 181
23. "The Agony of Afghanistan", Videotape, Nov 1986
24. "Car bomb kills 5, hurts 20 in Kabul", The Washington Times,
    2 Feb 1987, p. 5D
25. Nyrop and Seekins, p. 327
26. Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p. 11
27. "Afghan Rebels Supplied with British-built SAMs", Jane's                           
    Defence Weekly, 23 Aug 1986, p. 279
28. "Rebels rack up 24 kills in Afghanistan air war", The Wash-
    ington Times, 1 Apr 1987 p. 6A
29. "Afghan guerrillas pound Kabul to divert Soviets", Jane's
    Defence Weekly, 30 Aug 1986, p. 349
30. "BM-27 MLRs in Afghanistan", Jane's Defence Weekly, 17 May
    1986, p. 886
31.  Nyrop and Seekins, p. 315
32.  Amstutz, p. 176
33.  Stahel und Bucher, Afghanistan- 5 Jahre Wiederstand und
     Kleinkrieg, pp. 13-14
34.  Stahel und Bucher, Afghanistan 1985/86 Besetzung und Krieg-
     fuhung der UdSSR, pp.3-5
35.  Ibid., p. 3
36.  Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 Feb 1987, p. 181
37.  "Afghan Resistance 1986", Afghan Information Centre Monthly
     Bulletin, Dec 1986, p. 3
38.  "Interview with Commander Massoud", Afghan News, 1 Oct
     1986, p. 1
39.  Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p. 11
Chapter 5
1.   Girardet, Afghanistan - The Soviet War, pp. 135-161
2.   "Russians Direct Afghan Foreign Policy", Afghan Realities,
     16 Dec 1986, pp. 1-3
3.   "Afghanistan", Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p. 17
4.   "Reports from Peshawar", Afghan Realities, 16 Dec 1986,pp. 4-5
5.   Girardet, p. 148
6.   Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p. 16
7.   Nyrop and Seekins, ed,, Afghanistan - A Country  Study, pp. 327-
8.   "Prisoner Suffers 14-month Torture in Herat", Afghan Realities,
     16 Oct 1986, pp. 1-4
9.   "Bomb Sparks Anti-Afghan Riots in Pakistan", The Washington
     Times, 20 Feb 1987, p. 4A
10.  "New Refugee Caravans from Northern Afghanistan", Afghan
     Information Centre Monthly  Bulletin, Nov 1986, pp. 4-5
11.  "Afghan Bombs Hit Pakistan;  51 Killed", St. Louis Post-
     Dispatch, 24 Mar 1987, p.1
12.  "Economic Sector", Afghan Realities, 2 Jan 1987, p. 4
13.  Nyrop and Seekins, p. 183
14.  Ibid., p. 181
15.  Bradsher, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union (expanded edition,
     1985), pp. 218-220
16.  "Phoney "Leader" and his Allegations Against Islamic Unity of
     Afghanistan Mujahidin", Afghan Jihad News, Jan 1987, p. 4
17.  "The Afghan Resistance and the Problem of Unity", Strategic
     Review, Summer 1986, pp. 58-65
Chapter 6
1.  "Interview" Afghan Jihad News. Jan 1987, p. 1
2.  "Afghan official offers selective amnesty", The Washington
    Times, 27 Jan 1987, p. 4D
3.  "Afghanistan", Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p. 12
4.  "Moslem Guerrillas Rally to Affirm Rejection", The Washington
     Post, 18 Jan 1987, p. A22
5.  "Savage soviet offensive ends Afghan cease-fire", The Wash-
    ington Times, 5 Feb 1987, p. 7.
6.  "Situation in Afghanistan", Afghan Realities, 2 Jan 1987, p. 2
7.  Ibid., p, 4
8.  "Agriculture in Afghanistan", Afghan Realities, 16 Jan 1987
    pp. 2-5
9.  Ibid., p. 3
10. "Situation in Afghanistan", Afghan Realities, 16 Dec 1987, p. 5
11. "Reports from Peshawar", Afghan Realities,. 16 Dec, 1987, p. 4
12. "A Journey to Kabul", Afghan Information Centre Monthly  Bulle-
    tin, Nov 1987, p. 11
13. Ibid., p. 12
14. Nyrop and Seekins, p. 159
15. Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p. 17
16. "Abdul Haq: my fight with the Red Army",  Jane's Defence Week-
    ly, 7 Feb 1987, p. 181
17. "Human Rights Situation in Soviet Occupied Afghanistan",
    Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin, Nov 1986. pp. 12-14
18. Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p, 18.
19. "New Refugee Caravans from Northern Afghanistan", Afghan
    Information Centre Monthly Bulletin, Nov 1986, pp. 4-5
20. "Important Lessons from Afghanistan", The Washington Times,
    8 Apr 1987, p. 1D
21. "Kabul Radio Reports", Afghan Realities, 2 Jan 1987, p. 13
22. "Situation in Afghanistan", Afghan Realities, 2 Jan 1987,
    p. 8
23. "Fierce Afghan Battle Told", Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr 1987, p. 2
24. "Guerrillas bring fight into Afghan city streets", The Wash-
    ington Times, 11 Feb 1987, p. 1D
25. "Fighting Spills Over into Soviet Territory", The Washington
    Times, 24 Feb 1987, p. 11
26. "Situation in Afghanistan", Afghan Realities, 2 Jan 1987, p. 11
Chapter 7
1.  "The Agony of Afghanistan", Videotape report by Sandy Gall,
    distributed by Jamiat-I-Islami, Washington, D.C. Nov 1986
2.  "Afghan Resistance 1986", Afghan Information Centre Monthly
    Bulletin, Dec 1986, p. 10
3.  "Risk to Soviets grows in Afghanistan", The Washington Times,
    25 Feb 1987, p. 1A
4   "Afghanistan", Department of State Bulletin, Feb 1987, p. 19
5.  Ibid., p. 21
6.  "Pivotal Post in Afghanistan", The Washington Times, 2 Mar
    1987, p. 1D
7.  "Pakistan talks reflecting big powers' strategies", The Wash-
    ington Times,  19 Mar 1987, p. 6D
8.  "Situation in Afghanistan", Afghan Realities, 2 Jan 1987, p. 2
9.  "Soviets quietly annex strategic Afghan turf", The Washington
    Times, 10 Nov 1986, p. 1A
10. Department of State Bulletin,Feb 1987, p. 20
11. "Afghan talks show "long haul" lies ahead", The Christian
    Science Monitor, 3 Mar 1987, p. 11
12. "U.N. claims progress to end Afghan war", The Washington Times,
    11 Mar 1987, p.6A
Chapter 8
1.   "Soviets slaughter Afghans in reprisal raids", The Washington
     Times, 22 Apr 1987, p. 6A
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