Inside the Soviet Army in Afghanistan

by Alex Alexiev

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This report on the Soviet army in Afghanistan focuses on morale, discipline, motivation, and cohesion. It is based on interviews with former members of the Soviet armed forces in Afghanistan, interviews with Afghan resistance leaders and former officers, and a literature search. The report examines major factors that negatively affect morale and discipline: indoctrination, personnel relations, drugs and alcohol, quality of life, atrocities and looting, and theft and corruption. Such factors have led to infractions ranging from insubordination to fragging. The author finds their operational significance difficult to assess but believes that the relevance of possible systemic vulnerabilities to an East-West conflict should be explored. The report concludes that Soviet war conduct is not motivated by ethical considerations; thus, the Soviets can be expected to disregard conventions.

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