Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan - Lester Grau

The Country must have a large and efficient Army, one capable of meeting the enemy abroad, or they must expect to meet him at home.
                                                                                                                   Wellington, 1811

Title: The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan
Author: Lester W Grau
Publisher: National Defence University Press
Pages: 221

Content: This detailed analysis of the methods utilized by the Soviets during their operations in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 represents for the West insight into the challenges faced by Soviet forces as they came to grips with a heretofore unknown style of enemy. The statistics speak for themselves. By the time of their evacuation from Afghanistan approximately 620,000 Soviet had served in-country. They suffered casualties in the range of 13,833 dead and 469,685 sick and wounded (a fully 73 percent of their overall forces); of even greater significance is the fact that of the 415,932 who fell victim to disease, 115,308 suffered from infectious hepatitis and 31,080 from typhoid fever. They lost 118 jets, 333 helicopters, 147 tanks, 1314 armoured personnel carriers, 433 artillery pieces, 510 engineering vehicle and 11, 369 trucks. Recognizing the degree to which the military’s tactics, capabilities and operating procedures were inadequate, the Frunze Academy (Soviet Senior Staff College) commissioned a study to address these shortfalls. Drawing on the experiences of platoon, battalion, staff and advisory officers, a series of vignettes outlining different situations were drafted. These vignettes, complete with maps, were extremely frank and honest; outlining successes and failures in contacts with the Afghans. Each was followed by an analysis by Frunze Academy staff. As a training document this book is invaluable for any who are potentially going to be operating in environments where asymmetric warfare may be encountered.

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