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Soviet War in Afghanistan

Done by 9H members Josh, George, Callum and Matt

George Watson

on 15 July 2013

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Transcript of Soviet War in Afghanistan

What? - War
Where? - Afghanistan
When? - 1979-1989
Who? - Soviet and Afghan communist national forces vs. Islamic anti-communists (Mujahideen)
Why? - The USSR invaded to help the Afghan forces defeat the Mujahideen, and thus to keep their communist allies in power.
The Soviet War in Afghanistan
(c) Telegraph Media Group Ltd., British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent, Nicholas Garland, Daily Telegraph, 03/01/1980.
The Cold War Up to 1979
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic consisted of Russia and several Eurasian states and was a communist country. Communism is a social and economic system where everything is government run and wealth, property and work is meant to be distributed equally around the country.
Why were the Soviets involved in Afghanistan?
The Soviets wanted Afghanistan to stay under communist rule because it:
Made the Communist bloc larger and more powerful.
Was rich in oil
Allowed the Soviets to have more power over the Middle East.
Gave them access to the Indian Ocean and India.
The Cold War Up to 1979
September 1945
End of WWII
May 1949
West Germany Formed
August 1961
Berlin Wall Erected
October 1962
Cuban Missile Crisis
December 1979
USSR Invade Afghanistan
Oct 1962 - Dec 1979
Red Scare
March 1947
Truman Doctrine
June 1950 - July 1953
Korean War
Nov 1955 - Apr 1975
Vietnam War
The History of Afghanistan
1921 to 1963
Third Anglo-Afghan war
Afghan tribes launch attacks on UK Citizens: after 1924, most rebels are killed
The Withdrawal
Why did the Soviets withdraw?
Operation Typhoon
Original Frames-
Afghanistan is a complex country.
For centuries it was ruled by a monarchy, but in 1973 Daoud Khan overthrew the last King, Zahir
He established a republic.
Most of the power in the country lies in the countryside.
Politically, the country is conservative and deeply patriotic and Islamic. They do like foreign invaders.
In 1978 the communists took power.
They overthrew Daoud in a bloody coup, broadly supported by the Soviets.
However, most Afghans did not support the Communists, and started to rebel.
In early 1979, the leader of the party was overthrown again, by Hafizullah Amin.
Immediatly, more rebellions started, which were brutally suppressed.
40th Army
Afghan National Army
1979 Storming of Kabul
1979 Storming of Kabul
Dec 7 - Telecommunication links to Kabul are stopped; Kabul isolated
Dec 24 - Ground forces enter Afghanistan at two locations
Dec 25 - More than 5000 Soviet troops land in Kabul
President Amin moves to Tajbeg Palace in anticipation of a Soviet attack
Dec 27 - Tajbeg Palace stormed; Amin killed
Babrak Karmal is announced as the new President on Radio Kabul
Foreign Opinion on the Invasion
Western Opinion on the Invasion
The USA saw the invasion as an aggressive continuation of the Cold War
The UK pledged support to the USA, but France and West Germany were worried about returning to tense pre-Détente times.
The 1980 Olymipics were affected by a US led boycott protesting the Soviet invasion.
In January 1980, the UN voted 104-18 in protest to the Soviet invasion. Only Soviet allies voted not to protest.
34 Islamic nations passed a resolution demanded Soviet withdrawal
World Opinion on the Invasion
Some Sources
'The implications of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could pose the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War.'
American President Jimmy Carter, Jan 23 1980
British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: Nicholas Garland, The Spectator, 4 January 1980
Mujahideen were Islamic rebels who fought the PDPA's socialist policies.
They wanted Afghanistan to have Islamic law again.
The Cold War
USA and allies (capitalist) vs. USSR and allies (communist)
The USA and the USSR never directly fought
The Cuban Missile Crisis was the tensest point
There were several proxy wars
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1110-018 / Oberst, Klaus / CC-BY-SA
Life of Afghans
USSR Opinion on Occupation
After WWII the USSR started to invest billions into the Afghan National Army
They improved the armament, training, air force and commandment of the army as well as giving weapon donations.
At the start of the war the Afghan Army reached the 80,000s but due to huge desertions during the war it fell to 47,000 soldiers by the end.
Foreign Support
The USA and Saudi Arabia gave large funds to the Mujahideen
France, the UK and China also supported with weapons
Pakistan and China trained Mujahideen
Soviet Tactics
An Afghan village destroyed after a Soviet attack
Destroyed entire villages if they thought Mujahideen were present there
They were known to torture, imprison without trial and collectively rape civilians.
The mining of mountain roads caused entire villages to risk starvation and a lot of livestock was killed.
The Mujahideen:
Enforced strict Islamic Sharia Law
Held prisons in Pakistan where they tortured and executed Afghan refugees suspected of supporting the opposition.
Killed suspected spies with their families and sometimes with their entire village.
Brutally killed captured Afghan army troops in large numbers

The previously improving education system also dissipated during the war and many teachers became refugees.
19.5 million Afghans lived in Afghanistan before the war.
850,000–1,500,000 Afghan civilians were killed.
5 million became refugees outside Afghanistan.
2 million were internally displaced.
Events Leading to Withdrawal
Soviets used heavy artillery such as air strikes and tanks to destroy villages they suspected to hold Mujahideen members.
They dropped mines to mame Afghan civilians and the Mujahideen along important mountain passes
By 1983, it was clear to most that military victory was improbable
Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985 and gave the 40th Army one more year
The Soviet Union instated Najibullah as Afghan leader in 1986
The Soviet Army began to pass many responsibilities to the Afghan Army as they prepared for a withdrawal
Withdrawal began in May 1988
‘almost ten years of the war were reflected as if in a mirror in three days and three nights: political cynicism and military cruelty, the absolute defencelessness of some and the pathological need to kill and destroy others. Three awful days absorbed in themselves ten years of bloodletting’
Mujahideen fought guerrilla warfare.
This is where smaller, more mobile groups of militants, including civilians, fight larger armies.
This is done by repeated ambushing and disruption of the opposition.
The rural Afghan terrain was ideal for guerrilla warfare because of the concealment it offered.
The Soviet Union
Thanks for watching!
Josh, Callum, Matt, George
‘Thousands of Soviet people have been killed and tens of thousands of Afghans - not only partisans, but above all the peaceful citizens, old men, women, children, peasants and townspeople. More than a million Afghans have become refugees...bombing of villages...which threatens whole regions with starvation’
The war was meant to be secretive at the start of the war.
Gorbachev's policy of 'glasnost' (openness) in 1985 allowed the Soviet Press to report freely on the war
By late 1980's press had started to spread rumours about the Soviet soldiers.
The soldiers received hostility and little sympathy as a result
Never developed into protests.
Why did the Soviets withdraw?
Gorbachev wanted better Sino-Soviet relations, UN-Soviet relations and US-Soviet relations
The USSR public were mainly opposed to the war
Victory was improbable in Afghanistan
The Soviets had suffered heavy losses
Afghan leaders were not being the puppet leaders the USSR wanted them to be
Gorbachev was not as obsessed with spreading communism as past USSR leaders
‘We will leave the country in a deplorable situation, ruined cities and villages, a paralysed economy. Hundreds of thousands of people have died. Our withdrawal will be regarded as a major political and military defeat.’ Shevardnaze
Aftermath in the USSR
Vast amounts of funds and weapons were spent (wasted) on the war.
At least 14 000 Soviets died.
The war made the Soviet forces look less invincible and the 40th Army incompetent
This, along with glasnost and that many fighting Soviets were not Russians, contributed to making other Soviet Republics more inclined to rebel.
Afghan civilian deaths: 850 000 - 1.5m
Mujahideen deaths: 200 000 - 250 000
Wounded Afghans: 3m
Refugees to foreign countries (especially Pakistan): 5m
Internally displaced: 3m
Land mines left by the USSR: 10m - 15m
Estimates for:
The ruling PDPA held off insurgency with the help of Soviet support until this stopped in 1991 after the USSR dissolved
However, infighting between the party's two factions worsened during this time.
After many government forces changed alliegences to fight against the government, the end of Najibullah's regime was inevitable.
Mujahideen would then fight each other for power, as a civil war began
Flag of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, which followed the end of the Najibullah regime.
The Soviet war left the Afghan economy devastated
The lack of food in the national army contributed to the desertion.
Failed because of ill-planned strategy which could not control guerrilla forces
Much of public in major country hoping for the return of troops as soon as possible.
The American Intervention in Vietnam
Begun (partly) to try and secure a better position for the major force, during the Cold War
Took far longer than the major force would have liked
The NATO Intervention in Afghanistan
The Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan
A Comparison
Known to have needed a longer time frame, but disagreed with by American public because of attrition warfare
The 40th army was the Soviet army created for the Afghan war.
It was mainly composed of conscripts, who numbered 70% of the army, and veteren officers. The period a conscript served was two years.
The army had its own air force, as well as numerous tanks and BMPs.
It had major health problems, with 415932 soldiers falling victim to disease.
Phases of Withdrawal
Begun as part of the 'War on Terror'
Defence Minister Yasov decided that withdrawal of Soviet troops should come in two stages.
First phase of withdrawal was between May and August 1988 where half of soldiers left.
Second phase of withdrawal occurred between December 1988 and February 1989.
Soviets negotiated with the Mujahideen so that withdrawing garrisons weren't ambushed.
February 15th 1989 the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan.
Mid Januray 1989 Najibullah Khan asked the Soviets to stay a little longer to defend the path of supplies to Kabul from Massoud.
The Soviets were reluctant- if they did not meet the deadline set at the Geneva Accords then there would be conflict between the USSR and Pakistan.
Before the Politburo could make a decision, the order had already been given to start Operation Typhoon.
On 23rd January Operation Typhoon began and it lasted two days.
600 of Massoud's soldiers were killed.
To avoid worsening the Soviet morale heavy artillery was used which resulted in huge civilian deaths.
The two countries had previously had good relations
The Soviets fought almost constantly with the Mujahideen.
They stormed villages, moved convoys and tried to control roads and the Pakistani border.
Often, they launched large offensives against areas suspected of harbouring Mujahideen.
They were almost always unsuccessful, as typified by the Panjshir offensives.
They were a series of 9 offensives spread over 5 years, none of which had any long term effect.
The Communists Take Power
A Brief History
The Cold War Up to 1979
September 1945
End of WWII
May 1949
West Germany Formed
August 1961
Berlin Wall Erected
October 1962
Cuban Missile Crisis
December 1979
USSR Invade Afghanistan
Oct 1962 - Dec 1979
Red Scare
March 1947
Truman Doctrine
June 1950 - July 1953
Korean War
Nov 1955 - Apr 1975
Vietnam War
Full transcript