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Reply #189: Russian experience in Afghanistan and Why we don't torture [View All]

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WilliamHenryMee Donating Member (11 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-29-08 12:43 AM
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189. Russian experience in Afghanistan and Why we don't torture
Once again a great blog. I saw a replay of an amazing television program by PBS that really brings a realism to our situation in Iraq---maybe even more so than our past comparisons to Vietnam. The chilling part of this all is Senator John McCains comment to a question about us staying in Iraq for 50 years and his retort was that it might be more like 100 years and he would back that occupation. LATER WHEN QUESTIONED HE SAID 1,000 YEARS or until the end of global climate change (imagine this at $10 billion dollars a month). The 63 years comes from our occupation of Japan and Germany and the 50 years for Korea. 100 years if you fast forward it would leave us like a busted up Soviet Union with rich states like Texas seceding from the union and everyone in a depression.

Anyway back to the PBS TV program---about the Soviet Unions preemptive invasion and subsequent ten year occupation of Afghanistan. A country with a much larger military, slightly larger in population, with more natural resources and smaller in economy than the United States. Here we are in recession after just six yearswait until ten years of Iraq occupation like the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan!!!!!!!

From the PBS series The Peoples Century Episode: Guerilla Wars-----
Despite their small numbers, guerrilla movements defeat larger, more sophisticated military forces in Cuba, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. In addition to using the natural terrain to their advantage, the movements' strong political philosophies inspire the loyalty of peasants.
Unit Themes and Topics:
the Cuban Revolution
guerrilla warfare
human endurance
the Soviet war in Afghanistan
the Vietnam War
The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 after losing 15,000 killed and 35,000 wounded.
Started on December 25, 1979. CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980. The force that entered Afghanistan, in addition to the 103rd Guards Airborne Division, was under command of the 40th Army and consisted of the 108th and 5th Guards Motor Rifle Divisions, the 860th Separate Motor Rifle Regiment, the 56th Separate Airborne Assault Brigade, the 36th Mixed Air Corps. Later on the 201st and 58th Motor Rifle Divisions also entered the country, along with other smaller units. Soviet force was comprised of around 1,800 tanks, 80,000 soldiers and 2,000 AFV. In the second week alone, Soviet aircraft had made a total of 4,000 flights into Kabul. The Soviet force rose with the arrival of the two later divisions to over 100,000. Under Soviet guidance, the DRA (?) armed forces were built up to an official strength of 302,000 in 1986. To minimize the risk of a coup d'tat, they were divided into different branches, each modeled on its Soviet counterpart. The ministry of defense forces numbered 132,000, the ministry of interior 70,000 and the ministry of state security (KHAD) 80,000. However, these were theoretical figures: in reality each service was plagued with desertions, the army alone suffering 32,000 per year.

Official Soviet personnel strengths and casualties
Between December 25, 1979 and February 15, 1989 a total of 620,000 soldiers served with the forces in Afghanistan (though there were only 80,000-104,000 force at one time ), 525,000 in the Army, 90,000 with border troops and other KGB sub-units, 5,000 in independent formations of MVD Internal Troops and police. A further 21,000 personnel were with the Soviet troop contingent over the same period doing various white collar or manual jobs.
The total irrecoverable personnel losses of the Soviet Armed Forces, frontier and internal security troops came to 14,453. Soviet Army formations, units and HQ elements lost 13,833, KGB sub units lost 572, MVD formations lost 28 and other ministries and departments lost 20 men. During this period 417 servicemen were missing in action or taken prisoner; 119 of these were later freed, of whom 97 returned to the USSR and 22 went to other countries.
There were 469,685 sick and wounded, of whom 53,753 or 11.44 percent, were wounded, injured or sustained concussion and 415,932 (88.56 percent) fell sick. A high proportion of casualties were those who fell ill. This was because of local climatic and sanitary conditions, which were such that acute infections spread rapidly among the troops. There were 115,308 cases of infectious Hepatitis, 31,080 of Typhoid fever and 140,665 of other diseases. Of the 11,654 who were discharged from the army after being wounded, maimed or contracting serious diseases, 92 percent, or 10,751 men were left disabled.
Material losses were as follows:
118 aircraft
333 helicopters
147 tanks
1,314 Armored personnel carrier
433 artillery guns and mortars
1,138 radio sets and command vehicles
510 engineering vehicles
11,369 trucks and petrol tankers
Over 1 million Afghans were killed. 5 million Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran, 1/3 of the prewar population of the country. Another 2 million Afghans were displaced within the country. In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan. Along with fatalities were 1.2 million Afghans disabled - both Mujahideen and noncombatants -and 3 million maimed or wounded - primarily noncombatants.

The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 after losing 15,000 killed and 35,000 wounded.
This is taken from:
We are at that 35,000 wounded figure now in Iraq.

The war started on December 25, 1979. CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980. The Soviet force was comprised of around 1,800 tanks, 80,000 soldiers and 2,000 AFV; then rose with the arrival of two more divisions to over 100,000. Under Soviet guidance, the Afghan armed forces were built up to an official strength of 302,000 in 1986. We once had that number in the new Iraqi Army. The Afghanistan armed forces were plagued with desertions, the army alone suffering 32,000 per year. Sounds familiar?

Soviet material losses were as follows: 118 aircraft, 333 helicopters, 147 tanks (each one of ours is a billion dollars and we have lost more), 1,314 Armored personnel carriers, 11,369 trucks and petrol tankers. Over 1 million Afghans were killed (over 1 million Iraqis have been killed). 5 million Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran, 1/3 of the prewar population of the country, and another 2 million Afghans were displaced within the country (similar to Iraq).

The true cost of war/occupation in Iraq are the above. But we also have the $9 billion dollars in cash sent on pallets that went unaccounted for. The last two years of reports from the GAO have unearthed massive contractual fraud, war profiteering, overcharging, and defective materials provided by Halliburton for which Dick Cheney is still accumulating stock options. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), Downing Street Memo, the oil maps of Iraq at Cheneys Task Force in 2001, and the FISA requests to the Telecom companies in 2001; all show the war was preplanned before 9-11. Any way you slice it---it stinks like Watergate or Teapot Dome Scandal.

In the founding of this country, our commanding general in the revolution, George Washington,
was approached by his officers who asked for permission to torture British prisoners. The British used torture-to-the-death for both soldiers and civilians---even women. They were particularly gruesome in their treatment of prisoners and often piled on thousands into prison ships in New York harbor---almost no one survived being a prisoner. They literally "rotted to death." Our officers wanted something even worse as a revenge. To make a political statement to the British slugs. Washington decided that a country founded on freedom was better than its enemies and we would not torture. In fact, we would befriend the prisoners and give them the same food and drink that our own soldiers had. Even though we had little to spare. This made it easy for the Hessians to surrender at Trenton in 1776. Had they fought the British, who tortured, they would have had to fight to the death instead.

In all of our wars, this practice saved much bloodshed. Wars ended earlier. We took the morally right and just position.

In World War II, we were challenged again by the Japanese whose cultural practices could not understand or accept surrender. Yet, we did not torture and held those accountable who did torture through the International Courts. The Japanese used waterboarding against Americans. Many times Americans guess what their captors wanted to hear and they made up information to give them (official US military after-action accounts). So how effective is torture?

Nations around the world adopted our practices. To torture now, although convenient---would jeopardize our moral standing in the world. We broke the vicious Japanese and Germans with kindness at their trials. They realized a compassionate democracy was more powerful than any dictatorship or religion. It might take longer but it would ultimately prevail and be morally right.

John McCain in his failed campaign demonstrated he was a soldier at heart and incapable of viewing war as a citizen like George Washington said a President should (thus the new role of "commander in chief" is different than the "commanding general" role General Washington played). McCain was really trying to re-fight the War in Vietnam and win it. A war that was un-winnable as it became a jungle guerrilla war. An un-winnable "occupation" as the Iraq War has become. McCain cannot let go of his past to accept the future. He cannot accept the fact that we have lost the war in Vietnam just as the Soviets lost the ten year war in Afghanistan (1979-1989). We have won the Iraq War and lost the occupation of Iraq. We lost it when the President and his Administration knowingly lied us into the war---the Iraq people know these facts whether or not the American People choose to believe it or not. We lost this occupation when the troop strength was reduced and when arms were not secured. We lost it when our contracts went only to Bush campaign contributors and huge cost overruns and $9 Billion dollars in missing cash on pallets went unaccounted for. McCain oversaw this and said nothing. This is what also happened in Vietnam so maybe he was use to it. The military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against profited immensely while the nation borne the costs of lives and billions that the Vietnam War cost us. Those complicit in the torture scandal (Even McCain?) and the degradation of the American Military should now be held publicly accountable. Or Bush can accept all blame in a civil suit against his family's assets to be seized and set up a fund for wounded U.S. Soldiers. This is the Bush LEGACY.

Thanks for reading this.
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