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US must shift strategies in Afghanistan: Soviet war veterans

Last Updated: Monday, January 25, 2010 - 10:06

Moscow: The United States is repeating the mistakes that the Soviet Union made in Afghanistan, Russian veterans say, convinced the USSR`s disastrous near decade-long war there harbours deep lessons for Western forces.
"It is now (nearly) nine years since the coalition invaded Afghanistan and nothing has changed," said retired Lieutenant General Ruslan Aushev, 55, who served five years in
Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation there from 1979-1989.

However, Aushev, who was made a Hero of the Soviet Union after being wounded on his third Afghan deployment, admitted that NATO and US troops face a fiercer enemy today than did Soviet troops.

Then, the Red Army untrained for the mountainous terrain found themselves bogged down in an unwinnable guerrilla war against Mujahedeen Islamist fighters backed financially and militarily by Washington.

"Today, the situation is more complicated. The Mujahedeen were more moderate than the Taliban, who are radical. In our era, there were no suicide bombers," said Aushev, who now heads the Afghan veterans committee.

Major General Makhmud Gareyev was a former deputy chief of the Red Army general staff and a top military adviser to Afghan President Najibullah, who was overthrown by Islamic insurgents in 1992 and hanged by the Taliban four years later.

After the Soviet pullout in 1989, Gareyev stayed behind to support the Kremlin`s client regime.


First Published: Monday, January 25, 2010 - 10:06

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