This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Nearly eight years since initiating combat operations in Afghanistan, the United States and our allies are witnessing first-hand the difficulty of denying sanctuary to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Similar to the Mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghan War, today's insurgents are leveraging mountainous terrain and international borders to survive against a superpower's counterinsurgency efforts. As the United States prepares to shift focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, it behooves us to incorporate lessons learned from the Soviet-Afghan War in order to adequately shape our force and equipment, evolve counterinsurgency tactics and doctrine, and integrate the elements of national power to deny insurgent sanctuary. I chose to study the Soviet efforts to deny the Mujahideen sanctuary because I believe sanctuary denial is a critical requirement for our success in the current fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The Soviet Union did not anticipate a decade-long counterinsurgency fight against the Mujahideen when it invaded the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) in December 1979. Determined to stabilize the rapidly deteriorating political-military situation in its newest client state, the Soviet Union conducted a coup de main modeled after successful interventions in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). The Soviet leadership believed that ".. .the mere presence of Soviet forces would serve to 'sober up' the Mujahideen..." and enable the DRA's communist government to suppress the insurgency. Failing to appreciate the will of the Mujahideen to resist foreign invaders, the Soviets miscalculated the nature of the war into which they entered. Instead of simply providing security, logistics, and combat support for DRA forces fighting the Mujahideen, the conventionally structured, trained, and equipped 40th Army assumed the lead against a determined guerrilla opponent in some of the most rugged terrain on earth. The Soviets properly identified sanctuary as a critical requirement for the Mujahideen to wage a successful resistance, but never effectively deprived the insurgency of this requirement. The Soviet Union failed to deny sanctuary to the Mujahideen because it deployed an inadequate force to Afghanistan, but more importantly, it proved unable to counteract international support for the insurgency.
PREFACE * INTRODUCTION * SANCTUARY DEFINED * GEOGRAPHICAL CONTEXT * DEMOGRAPHICS AND CULTURE * BACKGROUND * POLITICAL TURMOIL IN THE 1970s * SOVIET COMBAT OPERATIONS * INADEQUATE FORCE TO DENY SANCTUARY * COUNTERING INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR THE MUJAHIDEEN * CONCLUSIONS * NOTES * APPENDIX A - AFGHANISTAN'S NEIGHBORS * APPENDIX B - AFGHANISTAN 3-D RELIEF MAP * APPENDIX C - MAIN ETHNIC GROUPS OF AFGHANISTAN * BIBLIOGRAPHY