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Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime

Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience

Olga Oliker
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 126
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  • Book Info
    Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime
    Book Description:

    Security force assistance is central to the counterinsurgency campaign of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The outcome will hinge on the effectiveness of the assistance provided to the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and other security forces. This report provides an overview of Soviet efforts to improve and facilitate the training and development of Afghan security forces.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5171-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Table
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    The Soviet Union never declared war in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the “Limited Contingent of Soviet Forces” entered the country at the end of 1979 and stayed for a decade. The Contingent’s initial mission was thought to be, in line with the terminology, limited in nature, a shortterm deployment in Kabul and other major cities to serve as a deterrent and stabilizing force while the Afghan government consolidated power. Instead, they quickly became the center of the fight against the Mujahedin.¹

    The Limited Contingent and the thousands of military and civilian advisors who accompanied it had, whether they were initially intended to...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Historical Overview: 20th-Century Security Aid to Afghanistan Before the Soviet Invasion
    (pp. 3-18)

    The history of Soviet-Afghan security cooperation is nearly as old as the history of the Soviet Union. The first Soviet military advisors arrived as early as 1920.¹ In early 1921, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic signed a friendship agreement with Afghanistan.² Lenin at the time emphasized the need to ensure that Russia’s southern borders were secure.³ The Soviet Union provided the first three aircraft of Afghanistan’s air force in 1924, and Afghan military personnel first came to train in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in 1925.⁴

    Even though Soviet SFA continued to develop, other countries were initially closer partners to successive Afghan...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Soviet Advisory Mission in the 1980s: Senior Leadership and Reporting Channels
    (pp. 19-24)

    If the mission of Soviet forces in Afghanistan was never as clearly stated as some might have liked, there was no question about the reason they were needed: Afghan security forces were not sufficient to stabilize regions of unrest and help extend government reach throughout the country. Training and developing Afghan security forces’ capacity were thus key components of the Soviet effort.¹ These were shifts in focus from the advisory mission of the 1960s and 1970s, which focused heavily on equipment provision and related training (as was typical for a Soviet defense assistance mission). But although the number of advisors...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Mol and KhAD Security Forces During the 1980s
    (pp. 25-36)

    Ministry of Interior forces were called theSarandoy. The term referred to the forces reporting to the Ministry,¹ including traffic police, provincial police, and corrections/labor prison facility officers.² Personnel included female officers, who (presumably among other things) interacted with female civilians.³ The Sarandoy were tasked with fighting counterrevolutionary insurgents (and included a special section to fight “political banditism”), ensuring the broadening and strengthening of government control through policing and other actions, securing government and party components, and securing important facilities and structures.⁴ They also participated, as did KhAD, in arrests of counterrevolutionaries and those who provided them with support.⁵


  13. CHAPTER FIVE The Afghan Military
    (pp. 37-52)

    The historical development of the Afghan armed forces left the Afghan military with a number of inconsistencies and irregularities.¹ Although structured on the Turkish model, it was developed on the Soviet model. The Afghan armed forces as of December 1979 (that is, at the time that Soviet troops crossed the border) comprised, according to one source,

    three army corps (numbers 1, 2, and 3)

    12 infantry divisions (numbers 2, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, and 25)

    over 20 brigades, including joint brigades, tank brigades, artillery brigades, eight commando brigades, one air defense brigade, 11 border...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Militias and Other Forces
    (pp. 53-58)

    The Afghan government mobilized citizens into a variety of militia structures in addition to the security forces already discussed. These should not be confused with the tribal and regional militia structures, discussed in the next section, although there were some areas of overlap. Citizen militias were countrywide and varied greatly in their composition and tasks. Members were recruited in communities, schools, and workplaces. PDPA members were particularly pressured to join militias. These groups are credited with some “operational” achievements throughout the 1980s, including attacks on Mujahedin.² One former advisor reports that female members of the PDPA youth organization were sometimes...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Afghan Security Forces Challenges and Responses
    (pp. 59-72)

    The security forces as a whole remained perpetually understrength throughout the war, with the Army manned on average at 65 percent in 1980 and about 53 percent in 1987. Moreover, these official numbers tended to report units at their highest strength levels and failed to account for senior personnel padding the rolls in order to keep the additional paychecks for themselves—for instance, by reporting deserters as still on duty.¹ Low manning overall and manning at only 25–40 percent of full strength in some key units (particularly combat units and/or units where Mujahedin activity was high) limited the Afghan...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT The Soviet Decision to Withdraw and the Legacy of Soviet Efforts to Build Afghan Security Forces
    (pp. 73-82)

    A number of Soviet officials expressed their concerns about the conduct of the conflict, and the counterproductive effects of Soviet and Afghan forces’ repressive tactics, throughout the war. Although these dissents are not the subject of this monograph, two of these reports are worth noting for contextual purposes. On October 10, 1980, the commander of the Turkestan Military District (to which the 40th Army was subordinate) reported to Defense Minister Ustinov that he recommended military efforts be slowed to prevent escalation and alienation of public opinion. Instead, Soviet and Afghan operations to eliminate enemy actors from the provinces of Afghanistan...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Conclusion: Parallels, Disconnects, and What the International Security Assistance Force Can Learn from the Soviet Experience
    (pp. 83-94)

    The Soviet experience in developing Afghan security forces holds many possible lessons for others who seek to build indigenous forces in the midst of a counterinsurgency effort, and particularly for those who seek to do this in Afghanistan. Certainly, any student of U. S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) efforts in Afghanistan today will see a number of parallels, as well as some interesting differences. It is beyond the scope of this monograph to describe the ongoing NATO effort. It can, however, highlight some interesting comparisons and discuss how current SFA efforts might be informed by the Soviet experience....

  18. References
    (pp. 95-100)