Leaving the Graveyard: The Soviet Union's Withdrawal From Afghanistan

David G. Fivecoat
2012 Parameters  
A closer look at history, however, reveals the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1992 capably orchestrated its diplomatic, military, and economic efforts to disengage from the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) on its terms, under the aegis of an international agreement. It left behind a semi-stable regime, an improved military, a dreadful economic situation, and a commitment to a long-term relationship. Throughout the withdrawal process, the Soviet Union relied upon the leadership of Mikhail
more » ... achev and Mohammad Najibullah to harmonize the instruments of power; developed a military strategy focused on controlling cities, securing major roads, and rapidly training and equipping Afghan forces; and used a transition plan that combined timelines and the phased "Afghanization" of the war. In 1991, four months after Soviet aid stopped, the Afghan government collapsed under mujahidin pressure. This article provides a short history of the Soviet Union's efforts between 1985 and 1989 to end the war and withdraw. It examines and evaluates four key aspects of the withdrawal: leadership, the military strategy, the transition plan, and the economy. More importantly, the article mines the Soviet Union's experience for critical lessons applicable to the current situation in Afghanistan, such as vigorous leadership, a firm timeline, and a decade-long commitment of aid.
doi:10.55540/0031-1723.2632 fatcat:lc6fcqxap5fx3ensb25gsmdi5y