Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Monday, 24 December 2012

Review - Book, The Soviet Afghan War

How a Super Power Fought and Lost

A superb book on the Soviet Afghan War up there with the Bear went over The Mountain.  It is also another translation from original works by the Soviet Genreral Staff, this time a collection of papers based on their analysis of the armies performance over its extended deployment in Afghanistan. As such it provides a degree of analysis and overview beyond that provided in the Bear went over the Mountain and the Other Side of the Mountain.

Whilst it covers the General background to the war and the organisation and equipment of the Mujahideen, its real value lies in the Chapters on Operational Art, Combined Arms Tactics, Combat Arms Branch Tactics, Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

My Interest Lies mostly on the Central Front and my main interest sits in what the Soviets learned and started to apply to wider conflicts. Whilst the book can be read cover to cover I have mostly been dipping into selected chapters those on combined arms tactics and combat arms branch tactics offer considerable read across to the central front, particularly with regard to the employment of Air Assault and aviation assets.  In particular the detail on the co-ordination of activities between the different arms in the conduct of a mission along with the general level of task organisation that occurred is illuminating.  The Chapter on Operational Art provides an indication of how the Soviets intended to fight a war in central europe which adds in those components missing from similar expositions that focus on WW2 examples, in short it portrays an approach to war that was never likely to be successful against the Mujahideen but one that may have lead to some interesting outcomes if it had played out on the North German plain.

Lester Grau adds commentary at the end of each chapter which I found very useful often highlighting the issues presented by the differences between the war the Soviet Army was designed to fight rather than the one it was called upon to fight.  If your interested in the Soviet Afghan war its an excellent read, if your interested in the Cold War in general and war on the Central Front it is an extremely useful text on the organisation, operation and thinking that drove the Soviet War Machine.

The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost (Modern War Studies) @ Amazon

Other Book Reviews

Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army
Soviet Air Land Battle Tactics
The Military Balance
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre
First Clash
The Third World War
The British Army in Germany

The Cold War Bookstore contains links to over 60 Cold War titles covered in my book list


  1. This looks like a candidate for those Amazon and Waterstones vouchers. I have often wondered how much the operational experience in Afghanistan involved, affected or cross-referred to GSFG. Season's regards, Rusty

  2. Sounds fascinating. Not so much the repetition of the lesson that designing your army for the war you foresee ill equips you for the war that actually comes to pass. But how this came about. Often 'howdunits' are more intriguing than 'whodunits'.