This is one hell of a book. It goes into a lot more detail than most people want regarding covert operations against the Soviets during the Afghanistan war. The descriptions of the CIA's efforts to obtain deniable armaments is tragedy mixed with comedy. Checkbook war-fighting doesn't work very well.The most interesting thing I found in the book was the description of the failures of the SAM-7 and blowpipe missiles to bring down Soviet helicopters, followed by the success of the Stingers. In the book, Stingers are described as having IFF, which makes them incapable of shooting down American military aircraft. Perhaps this is true. If it's not true, why would a book published 10 years ago make an offhand claim like that?The story of how the war ended is disturbingly familiar to those who watched the end of the Gulf War. Because we preferred anarchy over a fundamentalist government, the US betrayed the mujahadeen as soon as the Soviets left the country. After five more years of civil war, the fundamentalists took over, anyway.There are lots of other tidbits, and the overall effect is to bring things into focus. It's not a pretty picture. You can see why the various governments involved didn't really want this book published.After September 11, it is more relevant than ever.
The most interesting aspect of this work is the real nuts and bolts of the war in Afghanistan, and the Pakistani contribution to the war effort. The logistical nightmare of providing arms to the Mujahideen are only one facet of this massive supply operation, and I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about this aspect of the war from a real insider.I do find flaws in this work, however, and they basically arise from the real difference of opinion about the US role in that conflict. Yes, the United States was interested in supplying the rebels for the sake of Great Power Politics. A defeat of the USSR in Afghanistan surely would be a great victory for the West, and that is why the arms were supplied. Lets get real here. The author seems to take exception with the fact that after the Soviets pulled out, the US did not seem very interested in defeating the puppet government. Why would they care? The weapons were not supplied out of any desire to assist in the Jihad, nor were they provided out of a hope for a better future Afghanistan. Afghan politics was (and is) made up of rivalries, warlords and open conflict. The US had little interest in getting involved before the Soviet occupation, so why would they after? Any interperetation to the contrary is to miss the point. Standard realist politics, pure and simple.The author also believes that the US removed support from the Mujahideen so that they could not defeat the communist government and create a fundamentalist regeime. The recent events in Afghanistan showed exactly why this was of such great concern to the US. Hindsight is certainly 20-20, and this book was written and published well before the 9/11 attacks on the US.Read more ›
This is a very interesting book. It provides a good amount of detail about the US - Pakistan process for arming the Afghanistan fighters. It is also an eye opener about the world of international arms sales - what surprised me the most was that many Arab nations were willing to send complete junk for weapons to fellow Muslims. I also enjoyed the story of the first shoot down of a Soviet helicopter and the videotape that made its way to Reagan.
I would argue with the statements about the abandonment of the US - we did leave but we were never in this war to nation build. All of the countries helping out the Afghanistan's were doing so to fight the USSR, not to nation build Afghanistan. We completed a bargain, however unseemly, which was to supply weapons not to make Afghanistan the 51st state. The one thing I would have liked was a bit more size. Overall, a good book and I would recommend it.
Afghan/Soviet War books can be broken up into a finite set of subjects. Personal/First Person Journalist account, War tactics or High level political/war analysis.
This book is squarely in the last category. A view of the war as described by the Pakistani ISI Brigadier General who ran it.
Regardless of the fact that the book is one sided, I found the book invaluable as a reference on how the Pakistani's ran the war. From Supply chain, US politics, right to on-the-ground tactics; the General goes over everything. At some points admitting Government secrets (That had probably be unclassified by print time).
An excellent book, well written, and interesting. The book even reviews at a tactical level, many battles you can read in "The Other Side of the Mountain".
This book won't cover the entire war, but is a great high level view of the Pakistani operational framework.
THIS IS A FACTUAL, READABLE AND DETAILED, INSIDER'S ACCOUNT OF THE AFGHAN WAR AGAINST THE SOVIETS. THAT SAID, IT MOVES WELL ENOUGH TO MAINTAIN THE READER'S INTEREST.
THE AUTHOR LITERALLY COULDN'T BE MORE QUALIFIED TO SPEAK. AS HEAD OF THE PAKISTANI INTELLIGENCE SERVICE'S AFGHAN BUREA FOR FOUR CRUCIAL YEARS FROM 1983-1987, HE WAS THE STRATEGIC AND SOMETIMES TACTICAL BRAINS BEHIND THE MUJAHIDEEN EFFORT AGAINST THE SOVIETS, PROVIDING LEADERSHIP FOR MUJAHIDIN COMMANDERS IN THE FIELD AS WELL AS THE OVERALL CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS. HE IS ARTICULATE AND COGENT IN HIS PRESENTATION (THE BOOK IS QUITE WELL WRITTEN) AS WELL AS SURPRISINGLY VULNERABLE IN WHAT HE SHARES.
WHAT RESULTS IS AN AUTHORITATIVE AND PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE SOVIET AFGHAN WAR, TOLD BY THE PAKISTANI GENERAL WHO SERVED AS ITS ARCHITECT. THE AUTHOR LAYS OUT HIS THINKING AND INVITES THE READER INTO THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS (AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY) AS HE SEEKS TO DISCERN HOW BEST TO EMPLOY HIS LIMITED AND DISPARATE FORCES AND RESOURCES TO OPPOSE (AND EVENTUALLY DEFEAT) THE VASTLY SUPERIOR FIREPOWER AND TECHNOLOGY OF THE SOVIET ARMY. HE LAYS OUT THE IMMENSE LOGISTICAL, POLITICAL AND CULTURAL PROBLEMS WHICH FACED HIM AT THE OUTSET.
IN THIS BOOK THE READER BASICALLY GETS TO SIT DOWN WITH PAKISTANI BRIGADIER GENERAL MOHAMMAD YOUSEF AND LISTEN TO HIM TELL HIS STORY. IT'S QUITE AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY IF THOUGHT OF IN THOSE TERMS... I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT TO THOSE WITH AN INTEREST IN THE HISTORICAL EVENTS WHICH HE DESCRIBES, OR THOSE WITH A GENERAL INTEREST IN EITHER PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN OR THE MILITARY DECISION MAKING PROCESS. IVE READ SEVERAL BOOKS OF SIMILAR SUBJECT MATTER - THIS ONE IS REALLY A GEM.