★ The Soviet army was struggling to go up against the guerilla warfare and the terrain. Soviets lacked the right equipment and uniforms for the mountains. By 1981 Soviet activity had evolved into three main types of operations ○ Immobile defense of key centers ○ The highway war ■ The highway war is the protection of communication and supply lines like mainly keeping the roads open between Kabul, Kandahar, and Heart along with Salang Highway between Kabul and Termez in the USSR) ○ Direct operations against the mujahideen. ★ The 40th Army conducted periodic multi-divisional offensives into the mujahideen- controlled areas. It launched nine operations into the strategically vital Panjshir Valley. These offensives usually began with a few days of heavy bombardment by aircraft, helicopters, artillery, and missiles followed by maneuvers of mechanized columns of tanks and motorized rifle units and motorized rifle units moving along major routes into mountain valleys.
★ Even though these massive conventional attacks were rarely effective and exposed Soviet units to ambushes, more air elements were introduced with the aim of clearing key terrain of enemy units and reducing the number and severity of mujahideen attacks on Soviet ground columns. Later the use of helicopters became a way of seeking out and destroying the guerillas. ★ By 1983 motorized rifle units were withdrawn from direct anti-guerilla operations ( Not including large offensives) and assigned to protect cities, highways, garrisons, airports and other strategic centers. They were also used in economic warfare operations such as burning crops, destroying irrigation systems, and bombing villages. ★ Special operations units, spetsnaz,, were deployed and given the major role of ambushing the mujahideen. But these forces didn’t apdapt well either because they were vulnerable to ambush and relied too much on technological advantage rather than on greater mobility and tactical deception. ★ Since the Soviets couldn’t do well in the air they put all of their energy into attacks on villages and cities. The soviets goal was to deprive the the guerillas of resources and safe havens. ○ This tactic of crude firepower, indiscriminate bombin, mining, and the use of chemical weapons (rockets filled with toxins and mycotoxins) depopulated many areas. ★ The Soviets also sustained high losses like, the 40th army suffered serious morale problems resulting from: a lack of motivation, boredom, sickness, sbysmal living conditions, racial and ethnic tensions, cruel superiors, discrimination by other soldiers, and substance abuse. Morale was also low because of the inequality in recruitment caused by favoritism and corruption. ★ Negotiations for withdrawal had began in 1982 but disengagements became possible only after Mikhail Gorbachev took power in 1985. With the introduction of glasnost discussion of Soviet performance and casualties was permitted for the first time and Gorbachev looked for a honorable withdrawal. The exit strategy involved transferring the
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