IN AFGHANISTAN: WESTERN AND SOVIET METHODS OF COUNTERINSURGENCY
Original Research Paper
The two-decade-long U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan ended in August 2021 after a chaotic departure of the NATO troops. Power in Kabul transferred back to the Taliban, the political force the United States and its allies tried to defeat. In its failure to achieve a lasting change, the Western mission in Afghanistan is similar to that of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. These two missions in Afghanistan had many things in common, specifically their unsuccessful counterinsurgency efforts. However, both managed to achieve limited success in their attempts to impose their style of governance on Afghanistan as well. The current study compares and contrasts some of the crucial aspects of counterinsurgency operations conducted by the Soviet and Western forces during their respective missions, such as special forces actions, propaganda activities, and dealing with crucial social issues. Interestingly, when the Soviets withdrew in 1988, they left Afghanistan worse off, but the US-backed opposition forces subsequently made the situation even worse. On the other hand, the Western mission left the country better off in 2021, and violence subsided when power in the country was captured by the Taliban, which the United States has opposed.
Al Jazeera, (2021). “Afghanistan: Visualising the impact of 20 years of war,” Retrieved 10 November 2021 from https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2021/afghanistan-visualising-impact-of-war/index.html
Andrew, C., Mitrokhin, V., (2005), The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. New York: Basic Books.
Bell, C., (2010). “Fighting the War and Winning the Peace: Three Critiques of the War in Afghanistan,” in Beier, J. M. and Wylie, L., (eds.), Canadian Foreign Policy in Critical Perspective, Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Bird, T., Marshall, A., (2011). Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Bolduc, C., Vachon, J., (2010). “Making Strides at the Heart of the Insurgency,” The Canadian Army Journal, 13.2 summer 2010.
Dörre, A., Kraudzun, T., (2012). “Persistence and Change in Soviet and Russian Relations with Afghanistan,” Central Asian Survey, Vol. 31, No. 4, December 2012.
Felbab-Brown, V., (2013). “Afghanistan after ISAF,” Brookings. Retrieved 10 November 2021 from https://www.brookings.edu/articles/afghanistan-after-isaf/
Fogel, S. G., (2017). Osobennosti propaganda SSSR vo vremia voennoi aktsii v Afghanistane (1979-1988 gg) (Characteristics of the Soviet Propaganda during the Afghan War, 1979-1988, in Russian). Retrieved 21 October 2021 from http://psujourn.narod.ru/vestnik/vyp_3/fo_afg.html
Holoway, S. K., (2006). Canadian Foreign Policy: Defining the National Interest, Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.
Jalali, A. A., Grau, L. W., (1995). The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War, Quantico, VA: The US Marine Corps Studies and Analysis Division.
Krisko, V. G., (1999). Sekreti psikhologicheskoi voini (Secrets of Psychological Warfare, in Russian), Minsk: Harvest.
Lobov, V., (2001). Voennaia khitrost’(Military Deception, in Russian), Moscow: Logos.
Mass Atrocity Endings, (2015). “Afghanistan: Soviet invasion and civil war,” Tufts University. Retrieved 10 November 2021 from https://sites.tufts.edu/atrocityendings/2015/08/07/afghanistan-soviet-invasion-civil-war/
Mondloch, C., (2013). “Bacha Bazi: An Afghan Tragedy,” Foreign Policy.
New York Times, The, (2015). “U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies,” September 20, 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2021 from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/world/asia/us-soldiers-told-to-ignore-afghan-allies-abuse-of-boys.html
Nabatov, A., (2011). “Medpomoshch pod pritselom. Zhenskaia istoria Afganskoi voini,” (“Medical Aid at Gun Point: A Woman’s story of the afghan war,” in Russian). Argumenty i fakti Omsk. Retrieved 5 October 2021 from http://www.omsk.aif.ru/society/article/17487
Otlowski, T., (2014). “Afghanistan after the ISAF – how to avoid failure?” Casimir Pulaski Foundation. Retrieved 31 October 2021 from https://pulaski.pl/en/afghanistan-after-the-isaf-how-to-avoid-failure/
Prey, E., Spears, K., (2021). “What about the Boys: A Gendered Analysis of the U.S. Withdrawal and Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan,” Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy. Retrieved 10 November 2021 from https://newlinesinstitute.org/afghanistan/what-about-the-boys-a-gendered-analysis-of-the-u-s-withdrawal-and-bacha-bazi-in-afghanistan/
Rashid, A., (2010). Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
U.S. Department of the Army, (2006). Counterinsurgency FM 3/24.
Waqad, A., (2007). “Afghanistan's Veteran Jihadi Leader: An Interview with Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad,” Publication: Spotlight on Terror, The Jamestown Foundation, Volume: 4 Issue: 1, May 3 2007.
Warren, T. D., (2010). “ISAF and Afghanistan: The Impact of Failure on NATO’s Future,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA.
Watson Institute, (2021). “U.S. & Allied Killed,” Costs of War, Brown University. Retrieved 10 November 2021 from https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/military/killed
Week, The (2020). “Bacha bazi: the scandal of Afghanistan’s abused boys,” January 29 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2021https://www.theweek.co.uk/105442/bacha-bazi-the-scandal-of-afghanistan-s-abused-boys
World Bank, The., “Afghanistan,” Retrieved 10 November 2021 from
© 2020 Security Science Journal. All rights reserved