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"Remember December 27, 1979 - Soviets Invade Afghanistan ?" Topic


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899 hits since 27 Dec 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 4:41 a.m. PST

Wow I remember that day so well. And the tv (ABC I think) had reports coming in from someone in Kabul who sounded very panicked.

I was 14 and on Christmas holiday that whole week. We had just moved to New Orleans a couple of months earlier.

Later on Jimmy Carter's big response was to cancel US participation in the Olympics. The Iranians had just taken US hostages in Tehran early November and he could barely handle one crisis at a time.

I'm not sure if 1979-80 was when the CIA (Carter) began supporting the Mujahideen* or if it was a little later during Reagan. I know the resistance soon called for a great Jihad ("holy war") and for fighters from across the whole of the Muslim world to put aside all their differences and come fight off the Soviet infidels. Little did any of us know at the time what that "holy war" would eventually lead to.

QUESTIONS
How about you? Did the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan catch your interest back then when it began? And, as it was just starting to happen, what did you think would be the outcome? Did you expect that it would turn into a 9-year struggle for the Soviets and that they would lose to the local tribes and the international Jihadists (Mujahideen)?

Dan
* Here are some posters for those who might be playing that period and who might want to add some details to their terrain:

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Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 5:48 a.m. PST

I must be getting slow in my old age …

I just realized that the lead Mujahideen figure in The Living Daylights (1987) is the same actor Art Malik who later, in 1994, goes on to play the leader of the "Crimson Jihad" in movie True Lies (one of my favorites).

Dan

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Vigilant27 Dec 2017 6:15 a.m. PST

I was going through officer training in the RAF at the time. Concentrated my mind wonderfully! Looked like a potential lead in to a wider conflict that I might just get involved in.

Legion 427 Dec 2017 7:15 a.m. PST

I just went on active duty in the fall of '79. At Inf Ofc training at Ft. Benning, GA. We thought it was a good if the USSR bleeds out there. Like so many other nations have.

But as time went on, including a faction of Afghan terrorists killing our ambassador there. I began to think we may be supporting the wrong side.

Initially the CIA thought just to let the USSR [one of our enemies during Cold War, as a reminder] and the locals slaughter each other.

But with Congressmen Charlie Wilson's prodding and others, etc., the CIA, etc., decided it was a good way to get payback for the USSR's support of the NVA/VC in SE Asia. The USSR's and PRC's weapons cost the US/SEATO a lot of losses. As we see it did turn into the USSR's version of Vietnam. As some refer to it.

And IIRC Wilson was really more interested in wooing a rich Texas Southern Belle. Who was very much an anti-Communist with strong Christian leanings. Because Commies are Godless heathens, etc., etc.

So Old Charlie thought by picking up her "cause" might get him some of her "favors", etc. At least the is the way it appeared to some. I don't think Charlie knew where Afghanistan was … or cared.

So IMO bottom line, Charlie, the CIA, etc. should have let the USSR, the Muj, AQ, etc. bleed themselves out killing each other off.
With any luck the anti-US/West types like UBL, AZH, Mullah Omar etc. and many of their followers would have been sent to their graves by USSR ordinance, etc. May they have Rested In Pieces.

The US and some of it's "allies", like the Saudis, weapons support caused the USSR some very heavy losses. E.g. Mi-24s, etc. And eventually help with their decision to leave the area.

The possibility of the USSR, it's ANA "ally" and the Muj, AQ, etc., would have been locked in a long bloody war. Certainly existed. Again many of the problems caused by AQ, the Taliban, etc., would not have occurred, i.e. 9/11 in NYC, etc.

Of course hindsight is 20/20. But IMO again, we supported the wrong side. At least with the USSR you could talk with them in some sort of pragmatic, geo-political, etc., terms. They are 1st Worlders after all. AQ, and it those like them, etc., just wanted to kill the "infidels". I.e. that not only included the USSR "invaders", but the USA, and basically anyone in the West. As we saw with numerous acts of terrorism which still continues today. Albeit the players may have changed a bit, but in name only, IMO E.g. ISIS, etc.

Would the world have been better off with the USSR still in power ? And a "balance of power" still exist between the Western and Eastern, i.e. MAD ? In retrospect … after all this time … I'd have think yes … Admittedly the chance of an East -West Nuc exchanged existed, but in reality the probability was very small/tiny.

But ,say, some religious fundamentalists radical fanatics getting WMDs, i.e. Nucs, and using them is very unlikely. I'd say there is a higher probability of religious fanatics using WMDs than the East vs. West … And the "infidels" of the West and East would be their targets.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 7:37 a.m. PST

I agree with Legion 4 – when the US began providing aid to the muj they were on their knees – and, while the Soviets were anything but nice guys, they did to things like let girls go to school, build roads etc. – I think the US made a major strategic error in helping the muj, as whether or not the Soviet Union controlled Afghanistan would impact on the world balance of power not one whit

Legion 427 Dec 2017 8:42 a.m. PST

Yes, very true the USSR was trying to move A'stan into the 20th Century. However, they were very ruthless when taking on the Muj, civilian supporters, etc. Which is to be expected by the Russians, etc. We get that … whether we like it or not, etc.

But as we see A'stan and many in the region and elsewhere, are very much locked into a "traditional" religious dogma, etc. That is still very much in the 15th Century or so, I guess ? And nothing … absolutely nothing anyone can do to remove them from their self imposed "ways" … Until they decide to do on their own, if ever.

Based on everyone's experience in the region it would be best IMO, to let them "work it out" among themselves. And the fact that the US alone has spent over a billion dollars there. Makes this only harder to accept. As well as all the KIA and WIA NATO, etc. losses in troops. Is very unfortunate …

If they would stop attacking the West, then we would really have no interest in them at all at this point. Or should IMO. Fortunately this area is not the home for this type of terrorist acts as much as it was. But that is what occurs when you kill off the bad guys in frequently in very large numbers overall.

All I can remember since I was in grade school. We, the US and others have donated "lots & lots" of money, aid, etc., there. And in those decades nothing has really changed. Save for a lot of blood and treasure wasted, IMO …

28mm Fanatik27 Dec 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

I was in Junior High in 79.

At the time supporting the insurgents and opposing the Soviet Union's attempt to exert influence in the ME seemed like a good idea in the context of the CW.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was condemned by the world community and American credibility as leader of the free world would be undermined if we did nothing. Some may also see it as poetic justice and karma for the Soviet's support of North Korea and North Vietnam against us earlier. We also did not have a crystal ball so could not foresee that OBL would rise through its ranks and haunt us 20 years later.

Funny but I just bought LnL's 'Bear and the Jackal' a few weeks ago from Noble Knight Games.

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Legion 427 Dec 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

We also did not have a crystal ball so could not foresee that OBL would rise through its ranks and haunt us 20 years later.
As I said, hindsight is 20/20 …

That does look like a pretty interesting game too.

28mm Fanatik27 Dec 2017 8:58 a.m. PST

@Legion

Yeah, if you like hex-and-counter games with great artwork Lock N Load games are as good as they come. They also have an '85 "what if" CW gone hot game called 'Heroes Against the Red Star' (formerly 'Heroes of the Gap' in an earlier edition) that may be right up your alley since you were a mech infantry officer at the time. Check it out.

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Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian27 Dec 2017 9:18 a.m. PST

I was in Germany, I'm pretty sure we went on alert

CorroPredo Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 9:23 a.m. PST

I had just gotten out of basic training at Fort Benning.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

Agree with all.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 10:02 a.m. PST

Legion 4 +1

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 10:36 a.m. PST

Have to agree with Legion 4. Afghanistan is a tar baby for whoever invades, especially if you want to stay for whatever foolish reasons you may have.
Invade if you must. Blow something symbolic up, install a local chief who will betray you, and then leave. Then tell the press that you taught them a lesson they won't soon forget. You don't have to believe it.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 10:49 a.m. PST

Found this, published the day after the Soviets showed up.

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And this is very interesting, about the earliest stages of CIA and Mujahideen cooperation in 1979:

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Dan

28mm Fanatik27 Dec 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

Speaking of cause and effect, if the US did not support the Muj against the Russkies:

OBL might have been KIA by the Soviets and 9/11 would not have occurred, which means

The US would not have invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003 (let's face it, without 9/11 no way there would be enough support for military action), which means

ISIS would not have emerged from the power vacuum and Iran would still be held in check by Iraq like it had been before Saddam was removed.

Yeah, you might say supporting the Muj was a huge mistake.

Vigilant27 Dec 2017 1:39 p.m. PST

US supporting Mujehadeen against the Soviets didn't create Osama Bin Laden and ISIS etc. US and other western involvement in the middle east for years did that. And even if some of the leaders had been killed earlier, others would have arisen because the same circumstances existed. We might not have had 9/11 as it happened, but something similar would have likely happened anyway. At the time the USSR were effectively our enemies and were working against western interests, just as the west was working against their interests. As a result both sides meddled in other people's back yard and now we are paying the price.

Legion 427 Dec 2017 5:09 p.m. PST

Yeah 28mm I grew up with this type hex bard games from AH, SPI, etc. Those look like some great games ! Thank you for the intel !

US supporting Mujehadeen against the Soviets didn't create Osama Bin Laden and ISIS etc.
No one said it did. The radical fundamentalists types had it in for the US since we recognized Israel in '48, etc. And many had it in for their former Euro colonial masters, which started way before that. Even before WWI, but the way Euro politicians divided up much of that region after the defeat of the Ottoman-Turk Empire didn't make a lot of the locals very happy either.
US and other western involvement in the middle east for years did that. And even if some of the leaders had been killed earlier, others would have arisen because the same circumstances existed
Yes, but the US was not really involved in either region. Save for the recognition of Israel in '48. And since I was 10 years old I remember the US sending aid of all types to failing and failed states like A'stan. For decades, before anyone ever thought about the USSR invading them. Seems we started to waste money decades before that as I have said previously.
We might not have had 9/11 as it happened, but something similar would have likely happened anyway.
I'll give that a big maybe, don't think the terrorists had any real accepted effective leadership like UBL. The Blind Cleric, I forget his name, who tried to blow up the WTC in '93 was in jail.

UBL filled that void while others could [or would] not, IMO. Plus remember the terrorist are fractured along religious, tribal and ethnic lines. Which has always been to the West's(and East's) favor. They generally held their old disdain for each other before anything else.

Save for hatred for Israel and the US's support of it. And even that couldn't unite them in almost all situations. Or for very long …

ISIS was born from the ashes of AQ in Iraq. But their leader, a Jordanian, AZK was even too much of a nut job for UBL and his 2IC AZH. He was fortunately removed from the board by a US Airstrike.

After the US started to withdraw from Iraq and left their factionalized leadership to their own devises. Old hatreds of the two major very divided factions in Iraq plus the Kurd situation, etc. Is what caused the rise of ISIS. So which was more to blame ?

The US and it's allies killing off the dictator Saddam and trying to start a new better inclusive coalition government ?

Or the Iraq's very factionalized govenment, strongly influenced by Iran, started to get payback on old enemies ?

I'd say some of each. But IMO the Iraqi's dropped the ball. And went back to old habits, just like we saw/see in A'stan. Killing those from other tribes, religions, ethnicities, etc. Because it has been that way for a long, long time. For a number of reasons. And will certainly continue pretty much that way for another very long, long time, IMO.

At the time the USSR were effectively our enemies and were working against western interests, just as the west was working against their interests.
Yes during the Cold War [and even other conflicts before and afterwards] geopolitics/Realpolitik have a tendency to work that way. E.g. the USSR & PRC's support of the NVA/VC.

Situations like that really show who the capable and forward looking elected leadership is. And in SE Asia, the support of the Muj and the 2d Gulf War showed how very wrong those elected leaders can be … But again hindsight is 20/20 …

now we are paying the price.
Yes, the West and East are. But more from those regions are killing off each other than anyone else.

Eumerin27 Dec 2017 10:50 p.m. PST

OBL might have been KIA by the Soviets and 9/11 would not have occurred, which means

Note that key word *might*. That's a pretty big if.

From what I've read, OBL wanted nothing to do with Western aid. He apparently preferred to funnel money to his favorite groups without support from the West. So I find it unlikely that a lack of US support would have done much with regards to him.

Finally, even without US support, the Russians likely would have pulled out after the collapse of the USSR. They might have lasted for a few more years, but Russia had some pretty serious cash flow issues in the '90s. I question whether they would have been able to continue spending large quantities of money in Afghanistan.

Dn Jackson28 Dec 2017 2:56 a.m. PST

I was 12 when the invasion happened and remember Jimmy Carter's response as embarrassing. I disagree with some of the conclusions drawn in the above posts.

From what I've read there was little to no chance of UBL being killed by the Soviets. He spent the vast majority of his time miles behind the lines living in palatial luxury off his father's money. He went there to get his 'street cred' as a muj, but didn't do anything.

"Finally, even without US support, the Russians likely would have pulled out after the collapse of the USSR."

I wonder if the USSR would have fallen without Afghanistan. They poured tons of men, material, and money into that country which broke the morale of their civilian population and their bank. Had we not fought that proxy war it is conceivable that the USSR might still be around.

I want to give Afghanistan and Iraq more time. I'm old enough, (as are a lot of the above posters), all the stories from the press in the 80s about all the failed countries we supported, El Salvador, The Phillipines, Guatamala, Nicaragua, etc. These countries are now vibrant democracies to one extant or another. As a nation we tend to be too impatient and want everything done NOW. I believe, and hope, that given time the power of free people choosing their own leaders and their own future will bring them along the same path that the countries we supported in the Cold War have traveled.

I can hope.

Legion 428 Dec 2017 8:16 a.m. PST

From what I've read, OBL wanted nothing to do with Western aid. He apparently preferred to funnel money to his favorite groups without support from the West. So I find it unlikely that a lack of US support would have done much with regards to him.
That was pretty much true. But he was not the only game in town. He had one of our "allies" Shah Massuad killed off before 9/11. As he lead a major force against the USSR and then AQ types. As well as the different alliances both based on warlord and tribal affiliations. And many took US, Saudi, etc. support. UBL could have gotten killed by Massaud or other Muj, etc. forces as well. Not all there supported UBL. But many did …

However, when we asked the Afghan leadership, Mullah Omar et al, etc. to turn over UBL after 9/11. And they said no … that sealed their fate. And there was no way the US would let 9/11 go unanswered in kind and then some.

The Taliban was defeated by US and it's allies, e.g. the UK, etc. in a matter of weeks in Oct of 2001. With only a handful of assets. Mostly SF, and Light Infantry units plus lots of CAS. Working with locals like the Northern Alliance, etc.

But as we later saw in Iraq. When left to their own devises. Their old tribal, religious, ethnic, etc. differences filled the void. Of real effective leadership of Afghanistan's 6 major tribes, etc. And they started killing each other off, AQ moved back from places like Pakistan, etc. … and so it continues today.

With the addition of a new faction, i.e. ISIS. Which in reality are mostly locals who just wave another colored flag. As well as a few foreign fighters from outside the region. Which is ever present in many places that go on Jihad, to kill the infidel. Which means anyone who believes different then they do. And that is Not just Westerns, the Russians, etc. But many of the locals with all the affiliations as I already mentioned …

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