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The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost

Customer Reviews:

Learning From a Defeat

By Marco Antonio Abarca - January 25, 2002

The Russian/Soviet General Staff is well known and highly esteemed for its comprehensive studies of past Wars and Campaigns. Following the Afghan War, a small group of Senior Officers gathered together to publish a history of the Soviet War experience in Afghanistan. They hoped to pass on the hard won lessons of their war onto a new generation of Russian officers who are currently engaged in guerilla wars in the Caucusus and Central Asia. Unfortunately, there has been little interest in publishing their book in Russia. In an effort to get their book published they turned to Lt. Col Grau, an American soldier/scholar of the Russian Army. "The Soviet Afghan War" is an attempt to distill lessons from a bitter experience. The Soviet Army that rolled into Afghanistan in 1979 was a formidable force trained to do battle with NATO in Western Europe. They were unprepared for a guerilla war waged in the high mountains and deserts of Afghanistan. However, as the war progressed, the... read more

An Excellent nuts and bolts primer

By Emery E. Nelson - February 20, 2002

On many occasions during my reading of this book, I was filled with questions. Eventually, each and every question was answered in full. It covers everything from footwear of the Airborne forces to the pay of senior officers. It's filled with hard won knowledge of a largely misunderstood (by both Russia and the west) war. I was constantly struck by some comparisons with U.S. Army, Vietnam experience. We see an army, known for it's operational and technical excellence, finding its strengths of little or no use in a hostile and underdeveloped country. Although the 40th Army made some adaptations to their environment, they suffered from, "an ideological blind spot in the Marxist-Leninist tenets." Let's hope that the U.S. Mandarins who are running the present war in Afghanistan read this book. It would be great tragedy to see ideological blind spots cause a repeat of the Soviet experience.

The organization of this book is worth noting. Each chapter covers a given subject,... read more

Superb analysis and an excellent translation

By A Customer - February 3, 2002

Les Grau had already firmly established himself as an expert on Soviet and Russian tactical operations in Afghanistan before the release of this latest work. Here he partners with Michael Gress to provide a timely translation of the Russian General Staff's perspectives on the Soviet military's war in that nation. The result is a fine work that offers members of the United States and other armed forces a number of valuable lessons. It is apparent as we watch current events that many of these were known and taken into account. The use of special operations forces and focus on those nodes of greatest criticality have served allied interests well. Yet it is unfortunate that this book was unavailable a few months earlier, for other lessons proffered by Grau and Gress have been learned at unfortunate cost. That competing interest groups in Afghan society seek to use U.S. firepower against potential foes other than the common enemy has become all too obvious. The authors let their... read more

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