The mission of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan, which is far from triumphantly ending today in front of our eyes, simply cannot but become a reason for comparing the two military campaigns that took place in this country with a fairly short interval, the Soviet and the American. Someone with haste categoricality is already in a hurry to declare them hardly "identical" - they say, the United States managed, having before its eyes the negative experience of the Soviet Union, "to step on the same rake" and "with the same results." Such statements seem, to put it mildly, incorrect and do not correspond to the truth at all.
The point here is not even that the "shuravi" who came from the USSR did not lose that war, contrary to the statements of Western historians and their domestic liberal colleagues. In order to more or less objectively compare the results of the stay in Afghanistan of Soviet soldiers-internationalists and "fighters for democracy" from NATO, we must speak, first of all, not about general points, but about the most significant differences in goals, methods and, most importantly, their conditions. missions. Let's try to consider them at least briefly.
Mistakes repeated exactly
We will begin our conversation, perhaps, with general points that unite the events of 1979-1989 and the operation, which, which began in 2001 and ends at the present moment. Tellingly, they really come down, basically, to the Americans repeating (to a greater or lesser extent) the most serious mistakes made by their Soviet "predecessors" in their time. So, the first similarity: both the United States and the USSR sent troops into Afghanistan in pursuit of their own geopolitical interests of the great powers, which, of course, were not announced openly, but were draped with beautiful and "correct" words. In our case, it was about "rendering assistance to the Afghan people" and "fulfilling an international duty", in the US version, "the fight against world terrorism" appeared. At the same time, the leaders of the army and special services of both countries, as it turned out later, had a very vague idea of who and what the structures headed by them would face in reality in this country.
Counting on a quick "restoration of order" on its territory, neither American nor Soviet generals even thought of making long-term plans and strategies. As it turned out - in vain. Both countries are firmly "bogged down" in Afghanistan, plunging deeper and deeper into the abyss of armed conflict. At the same time (and here's the second similarity for you), there was no chance that the initially set goals and objectives of a purely military nature would be fulfilled (especially in the shortest possible time, as it was seen at first) from the very beginning. And all because in both cases the stake was placed on the unequivocal superiority of the regular army over the detachments of the bearded "rebels" in training, armament, equipment and everything else. This was a huge, simply fatal mistake.
Neither the tanks, helicopters and Grads of the Limited Contingent of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, nor strategic bombers, UAVs, and a bunch of other "high-precision" and "high-intelligence" weapons of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) could not turn the tide. wars with partisan detachments of dushmans or later the Taliban (banned in Russia). Attempts to defeat Afghans with the most modern and sophisticated weapons and equipment were and remain in their effectiveness tantamount to attempts to cut the morning fog or mountain wind with the sharpest damask sword ... This is not to mention the sheer absurdity of destroying a tent made of camel hair or an adobe hut with an ammunition of several million dollars - which the Americans and their allies have sinned in recent years ...
However, the military miscalculations of both the USSR and the United States pale before their main mistake, which is, in fact, similarity No. 3 - the desire to impose on Afghanistan and its people values, ideas and worldview that are completely alien to them. "Shuravi" began to build in this country, which was then (and is now) at the tribal stage of development, socialism. Americans are a "flourishing democracy." The Afghan dekhans, nomads, and equally the local "elite", both the ideals of Marxism-Leninism and "democratic values" were, shall we say, to the wall of the nearest duval. No, seeing for themselves this or that benefit here and now, they could declare anything. But they categorically refused to accept this as their own, sincere convictions. Such a number has never been played in Afghanistan.
One against all and all against one
With the general points, we will assume that this is over. Now let's move on to the differences, of which, as already mentioned, there are many more. The first of them is the well-known fact that, having begun its operation in Afghanistan, the USSR, in fact, entered into confrontation (not only of a political, but also a military nature) both with the entire "collective West" and with a significant part of the countries. the Muslim world, as well as (you cannot erase a word from the song!) Communist China. It is generally impossible to overestimate the contribution of the Chinese comrades to the arming of the Afghan spooks. However, the "first fiddle", of course, was played by the United States. The budget of the CIA alone at the beginning of the Afghan war, spending $ 5 million annually on "aid" to dushmans by its end, has grown, according to some sources, up to 750 million a year, allocated for the same purposes! The Taliban, in fact, was not supported by anyone, except for certain circles in Pakistan.
The second difference is closely related to the first, being, so to speak, its "mirror image". The Soviet Union did not drag any of its own Warsaw Pact allies “beyond the river”, coping there exclusively on its own. Representatives of almost fifty countries, mainly members of the North Atlantic Alliance, but not only them, fought in the ranks of the ISAF against the Taliban. It would seem that such a powerful and multinational coalition (with the minimum support received by the enemy) would have to win the most convincing victory and easily control the "indomitable" country. " It was not so. Moreover, the Americans and their allies (and this is the fourth difference) spent in Afghanistan exactly twice as long as the Shuravi. However, this did not lead to the achievement of their goals, but only to an exorbitant expenditure of money and other resources.
Speaking of costs ... Here we have, of course, the fifth difference. There is no exact data on how much the Afghan campaign cost our country. Some American experts cite the figures of 800 million dollars annually spent by Moscow to support the “Kabul comrades” and talk about the amount spent by the OKSA in this country from 3 to 8 billion dollars a year. Okay, let's try to take it on faith (although the numbers are probably overstated). Multiply by 10 and we get 8 billion "for the Afghan government" and ... okay, let 80 - "for the war." There is more information about how much Washington has thrown into Afghanistan. Only the program of "recovery and development" there economics estimated at $ 137 billion. The direct military expenditures of the United States alone by 2014 (the moment they proclaimed the official "end of the war", after which the Americans did not even think to get out of Afghanistan) amounted to more than 600 billion dollars!
To date, this figure is all 800 billion, although some are talking about a trillion. Well, as they say, the rich have their quirks. At the same time, our fans to speculate about how everything in the United States happens exclusively "according to the law," "honestly and transparently," should know that, according to the estimates of American controlling organizations, at least 15 and a half billion dollars of the colossal amounts "Were simply stolen only for the period from 2006 to 2017. This is just twice as much as all Soviet aid to this country for the same exact time period.
This is all that will remain after me ...
Here we come close to new differences. The sixth of them is that during the period when Soviet troops and advisers were in Afghanistan, this country was by no means a center of world drug production. But the American "fighters for democracy" have achieved fantastic success in transforming it into such a democracy! And this is despite the fact that since 2002 the West has officially spent ten billion dollars on the "fight against Afghan drug trafficking".
Nevertheless, the size of the local opium plantations during this time increased significantly and in 2017 reached its historical maximum. Incidentally, this is UN data. Therefore, the seventh difference can be safely considered the fact that the USSR built schools, bridges, roads, industrial and infrastructure facilities in Afghanistan (only large ones were built about one and a half hundred), and the United States and its allies - "developed democracy" and "gender equality". As far as we know, the only non-military facility actually left behind by the Americans is a small diesel power plant that provided power to the government's region of Kabul. Where tens of billions allegedly invested in "restoration and development" have "gone" is absolutely incomprehensible. However, if you consider that the USD 35 million invested in a program to grow in Afghanistan ... soybeans, which failed completely and with great disgrace, then there is nothing to be surprised at. From the USSR, the country, albeit desperately resisting its military presence, received real assistance in the economic sphere and tens of thousands of qualified specialists trained in our country, and from the United States - abandoned military bases today and bureaucrats mired in corruption and theft who have taken refuge under the wing Americans.
Let's return, however, to military affairs. The eighth difference is considered by many to be the ratio of casualties between the Soviet Limited Contingent and the US-led ISAF. We, according to available data, have lost about 15 thousand people killed and more than 50 thousand wounded. Until recently, the Americans continued to talk about 2 killed and 20 wounded. On this occasion, our liberals deigned to admire - here, they say, what fellows: they fight with intelligence, and not with "cannon fodder"! One could agree, if not for a number of "nuances". First of all, a variety of sources say that the casualty figures for both the US Army and the entire coalition are godlessly distorted. The same Iranians, for example, claim that they are underestimated by 2.5, or even 3 times. Moreover, the lion's share of the most "dirty" and, accordingly, dangerous work in Afghanistan for the Americans and their allies was carried out by PMCs, and no one took into account their fighters. Nevertheless, independent sources speak about about 2 thousand "private traders" who laid down their heads there only from 2001 to 2014. More precisely, the losses of the coalition are estimated at 11 thousand killed and this sounds quite realistic.
However, this figure is explained by the fact that the US and NATO military, unlike ours, practically did not participate in ground operations, preferring to blow enemies to shreds from the air. Well, if at the same time missile and bomb strikes "mistakenly" destroyed civilians, they were never tormented by remorse. The ninth difference - perhaps the most fundamental of all - is that after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the government forces of Kabul quite successfully repelled the attacks of the Mujahideen for another three years, until April 1992. The regime left behind by the Americans collapses like a house of cards in a matter of days. If not a watch. The Taliban are spreading their power across Afghanistan at the speed of wildfire, and no one even tries to resist them.
So the tenth difference between the military campaigns of the Soviet Union and the United States can and should be considered their final result. The government of Najibullah was defeated not having lost its "Soviet bayonets", but as a result of the collapse of the USSR and the subsequent categorical refusal of the then government of Russia to support Kabul in any form. The decision itself to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan was not made for objective reasons, but because of the betrayal of Gorbachev and his clique, which capitulated to the West. The United States today, it seems, has not yet collapsed, and Biden, who is hastily removing the American army from a distant eastern country, only confirms the decision of his predecessor. The Soviet soldiers left Afghanistan because they wanted it so in Washington, and the Americans are fleeing, because they lost not only the war there, but in general everything that is possible. That's the whole difference.