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Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan (1996)

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The Bear Went Over the Mountain – or Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan is a document from the Institute for National Strategic Studies through its National Defense University Press

The Preface to the book states:

When the Soviet Union decided to invade Afghanistan, they evaluated their chances for success upon their experiences in East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately for their soldiers, as well as the people of Afghanistan, they ignored not only the experiences of the British in the same region, but also their own experience with the Basmachi resistance fighters in Central Asia from 1918-1933. Consequently, in Afghanistan the Soviet army found its tactics inadequate to meet the challenges posed by the difficult terrain and the highly motivated mujahideen freedom fighters.

To capture the lessons their tactical leaders learned in Afghanistan and to explain the change in tactics that followed, the Frunze Military Academy compiled this book for their command and general staff combat arms officers. The lessons are valuable not just for Russian officers, but for the tactical training of platoon, company and battalion leaders of any nation likely to engage in conflicts involving civil war, guerrilla forces and rough terrain. This is a book dealing with the starkest features of the unforgiving landscape of tactical combat: casualties and death, adaptation, and survival.

Battalion and company commanders, platoon leaders and sergeants will find realistic issues within these vignettes to discuss with squad and team leaders, and with vehicle commanders and drivers. Basic and Advanced Infantry Officer and NCO courses will find useful applications for both classroom and field instructions. Senior leaders may find invaluable insights into the dangers and opportunities tactical units under their command may face in limited wars. Above all, the lessons in this book should help small unit lead- ers understand the need for security, deception, patrols, light and litter discipline, caution, vigilance, and the ability to seize the initiative in responding to unpredictable enemy actions and ambushes.

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