How not to repeat the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan

Henry L. Stimson's picture
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WASHINGTON - Over the years, U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have paid close attention to the failed Soviet Union experience in that country as they developed their own campaign plans.

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 in order to prop up a friendly government. They withdrew in 1989 as the Soviet Union disintegrated, leaving the Afghan forces to take the lead in fighting an American-funded insurgency.

John Allen, the Marine general who retired last year after serving as the top coalition commander in Afghanistan, said a study of the Soviet war in Afghanistan produced key lessons.

"I sought to apply those in the recommendations I made ultimately to my senior leadership and the president," Allen said in a talk at the Stimson Center, a think tank in Washington.

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