The Bear Went Over the Mountain
eBook - ePub

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan

Lester W. Grau, Lester W. Grau

Share book
  1. 272 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan

Lester W. Grau, Lester W. Grau

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents
Citations

About This Book

This collection of vignettes was written by Soviet junior officers describing their experiences fighting the Mujahideen guerillas. It is not a history of the Soviet-Afghan war, but snapshots of combat as seen by young platoon leaders, company commanders, battalion commanders and military advisers.

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is The Bear Went Over the Mountain an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access The Bear Went Over the Mountain by Lester W. Grau, Lester W. Grau in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Storia & Storia dell'India e dell'Asia meridionale. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.

Information

Publisher
Routledge
Year
2012
ISBN
9781136615429
Chapter 1:
Blocking and Destroying Guerrilla Forces
Research on the combat experience acquired by the Soviet forces in Afghanistan showed that one of the fundamental methods for fulfilling combat missions was to block off a region in which guerrilla forces were located and then to thoroughly comb the region to find and destroy the mujahideen.
Successful accomplishment of this task required thorough preparation of personnel and weapons for combat; skillful coordination between the blocking and combing forces, their bronegruppa, artillery and aviation; the application of military cunning and the application of reasoned initiatives; and the brave and decisive actions of the commander and personnel. Excellent results were achieved by suddenly blocking-off those regions which had been the site of military activity several days prior.
An Airborne Battalion Searches Sherkhankhel Village
by Major S. N. Petrov2
In the spring of 1982, guerrilla forces began combat activities in Parvan Province. Guerrillas hit our convoys, outposts and separate groups of soldiers. They regularly shelled the Bagram airport and the base camp of our airborne regiment. Intelligence reports indicated that a well-armed group of approximately 40 mujahideen were operating out of Sherkhankhel village.
The airborne regiment commander received orders to destroy this guerrilla force. Preparations for combat were rapidly completed. Sufficient ammunition for three days combat was issued to every paratrooper and two combat loads of ammunition were loaded onto the combat vehicles. The regimental commander personally inspected the battalion’s readiness.
The 3rd Airborne Battalion commander planned to move his battalion secretly to the Sherkhankhel region and to seal it off with two companies of paratroopers while a third company would search the village. One airborne company would remain in reserve. An artillery battalion and four Mi-24 helicopter gunships would provide support with the initiation of combat.
In the predawn hours of 20 March, the battalion moved out from Bagram to Sherkhankhel. A reconnaissance patrol moved 300 meters in front of the column. The approach march moved on a wide, straight road. Along the left side of the road stretched a thick, high, long adobe wall while on the right side lay a concrete lined canal which was five meters wide and two-and-a-half meters deep. Suddenly, through an embrasure cut in the adobe wall, and practically at point-blank range, the enemy opened fire on the reconnaissance patrol. The survivors scrambled for safety into the canal. A machine gun opened fire from a house 150 meters further north from the ambush site. The battalion column halted and the battalion commander called in artillery and helicopter support.
The battalion finally began to maneuver its reserve company in an effort to encircle the enemy, but only after the mujahideen ceased fire. But even this attempt was stopped by a veritable hurricane of enemy fire. The mujahideen used the system of karez3 to successfully break contact and withdraw. There was no thought of conducting a pursuit or continuing the action. The 3rd Airborne Battalion lost eight men killed and six wounded. Two of the dead were officers. The battalion did not search the village since the mujahideen were already gone. Instead, the battalion returned to its base camp.
image
Map 1: The sweep of Sherkhankhel village on 20 March 1980.
FRUNZE COMMENTARY: In spite of our measures to prepare for combat secretly, the enemy was able to determine the intention of Soviet tactical elements. Exploiting the arrogance of the battalion commander, the enemy hit him with an ambush. The battalion’s subunits, which were prepared to conduct a sweep, conducted an approach march along a single march route which was so constricted as to prevent maneuver by the subunits. The battalion commander merely put a reconnaissance patrol to his front and did not consider using flanking patrols.
EDITOR’S COMMENTARY: Operations security is difficult, particularly when fighting on someone else’s turf and working with an indigenous force which may not be 100% on your side. Yet operations security is absolutely imperative for preserving your force and winning battles. In this vignette, the regimental commander thoroughly inspected his force prior to its moving out. This sounds like a good idea, however, this was the dread stroevoy smotr [ceremonial inspection] which was an unwelcome part of peace-time, garrison soldiering in the Soviet Army. The entire regiment would lay out all its equipment on the parade ground. All equipment would be laid out on tarps in front of the vehicles. Every piece of equipment would be formally checked and accounted for, the correct spacing on uniform items would be checked with a template, and displays would be aligned with pieces of string. The process could take three days. Although inspections are good ideas, these massive formal inspections were almost always conducted before a planned action. Any mujahideen in the vicinity were tipped off that an action was pending and could sound the warning. This Soviet pattern often compromised operational security. In this vignette, the mujahideen definitely were warned and punished the careless Soviet force. The stroevoy smotr may have been part of the Soviet problem.
Searching a Populated Area in the Charikar Valley
by LTC A. L Makkoveev4
Throughout the winter of 1980, Kabul and the surrounding provinces were quiet and there was no combat in this region. However, with the arrival of spring, organized guerrilla groups initiated an active campaign.
I commanded the 7th Motorized Rifle Company5 which was mounted on BMPs. On the morning of 21 July, I was given the mission to conduct a road march from Kabul to Charikar and then reinforce one of the mountain rifle battalions which would conduct a deep raid and search.
Preparations for combat began in garrison. The company had 100% fill in personnel, weapons and equipment. We carried three days worth of dry rations6 and the vehicles were topped-off with POL. After a thorough inspection, I reported to my battalion commander that we were ready for combat.
We completed our road march to the AO (area of operations) of the 3rd Mountain Rifle Battalion. That evening, the battalion commander, Captain Yu. P. Levintas, explained the 3rd Battalion mission and instructed me to prepare my company to move in the main body of the battalion along a designated route and search all the nearby villages.
At 0500 hours on 22 July, the 3rd Mountain Rifle Battalion, reinforced by my 7th Motorized Rifle Company, moved out. Riding on our combat vehicles allowed us to overcome many natural obstacles. At one stage of our advance, I dismounted my company. While we were dismounted, I received the order to search a nearby village and, following the search, to take the road [which ran through the village] to rejoin the battalion main body. I dispatched a squad-sized patrol to establish a defensive position at the entrance to the village. I wanted the squad to cover the company as it deployed. On the outskirts of the village, I established firing positions for the machine gun-grenade launcher platoon.7 The company then descended from the heights, formed into a line and combed the village, searching the houses and basements. After two hours, we finished the search and the company assembled on the road to exit the village.
image
Map 2: Motorized rifle company searching a village while separated from the main force on 22 July 1980.
At that moment, the enemy suddenly opened up on us with heavy fire from hill #2. The company went to the defense and took up positions behind the adobe walls on the south and southwest edges of the village. I decided to send two squads from the first platoon to envelop hill #2 and then destroy the enemy by an attack from the front and rear. I also decided to dispatch a patrol squad to the top of hill #1. However, just as the platoon started to move to carry out its tasks, the mujahideen opened fire [from hills # 1, 2 & 3]. My forces had to stay in place and return fire. After 30 minutes, I received orders to withdraw my company to the hill from which we started [#4]. During the withdrawal from the village, my company was pinned down by fire from hill #3. After we destroyed the enemy on hills #2 and #3 with small arms fire and helicopter gunship strikes, I moved my company to the designated area.
FRUNZE COMMENTARY: The positive aspect of this skirmish was that the personnel displayed high morale and rapidly reacted to all orders even though this was their first time under fire. Further, the helicopter gunships displayed great skill as they made gun runs on the enemy. However, the skirmish also showed that the company had insufficient experience in conducting combat in mountainous regions and neither the officers, sergeants, nor soldiers knew the enemy’s tactics. If the enemy had held his fire until the entire company was moving on the path between hill # 1 and # 2 (where there was nothing but open wheat fields to the right and left), the company would have been in a very serious predicament. Instead, the enemy opened fire immediately when the company reached the southern outskirts of the village. The Soviet force did a weak job of reconnaissance. Their failure to seize the dominant terrain allowed the enemy to suppress practically the entire company area with fire. Another shortcoming was that the company had never rehearsed breaking contact and withdrawal during training.
Data from this skirmish further shows that it is necessary to devote greater attention to commanders’ training, especially tactical training. This should be done separately from platoon, company, battalion and field training. This includes training junior commanders. Courage and bravery are excellent characteristics, however the skillful handling of squads and, consequently, of platoons in battle is what is necessary and training did not achieve this.
EDITOR’S COMMENTARY: The commander learned that he must control dominant terrain and position over-watch forces before beginning the sweep. Failure to properly employ reconnaissance forces and failure to control high ground are constant problems throughout this book.
This 1980 example gives a partial look at one of the innovations in force structure which the Soviet Army made in an attempt to deal with the guerrilla forces-the mountain rifle battalion. Apparently, most of these came from the mountain training center in the Turkestan Military District.
Blocking and Destroying a Guerrilla Force in Kunar Province
by Major V. A. Gukalov
In December 1980 in Kunar Province, a 50-man guerrilla force slipped across the border from Pakistan and crossed the Kunar river at night. Then it stopped to rest in a canyon. We decided to destroy the mujahideen within the confines of the canyon which was located to the southwest of Chaghasarai. The commander planned to conduct the battle as follows: Insert an airborne company (minus one platoon) by 0400 hours, 15 December to block the southern lip of the canyon and simultaneously insert an airborne platoon and the regimental airborne reconnaissance platoon to block enemy exits to the north and west. At 0500 hours, move the rest of the battalion (minus the blocking company) into the canyon to search for and destroy the enemy which was resting in the village located in the canyon.
At 2200 hours 14 December, the blocking group moved out on GAZ 66 trucks. The trucks headlights were off. They drove from the battalion lager, which was located along the highway, north toward Chaghasarai. In order to deceive mujahideen reconnaissance, several GAZ 66 trucks also drove south from the lager. The trucks dropped the first group two kilometers south of the canyon and then continued north. The first group walked to their blocking positions. The second part of the blocking force was dropped north of the canyon and walked to their positions. By 0400, 15 December the exits from the canyon were sealed.
At 0500 hours, the battalion (minus the blocking company) began its sweep into the canyon. The mujahideen security discovered this force at 0600. Adhering to their tactics, part of the enemy initiated combat with our main force while the rest began a withdrawal. The withdrawing forces were caught in our ambushes.
The enemy lost 24 killed and 4 captured. We had one wounded.
FRUNZE COMMENTARY: This example contains typical elements used to deceive the enemy (complete light discipline; insertion by trucks; running trucks in opposite directions; final movement into position on foot). The action succeeded despite our inability to conduct prior reconnaissance in the battle area due to time constraints and the lack of reinforcements and supporting elements.
image
Map 3: Blocking and destroying a guerilla force in Kunar Province on 15 December 1980.
Combing the City of Bamian and its Outly...

Table of contents