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Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan Paperback – March 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0788146657 ISBN-10: 0788146653 Edition: 0th

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Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan + The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War + The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Diane Pub Co (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0788146653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0788146657
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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A must read for a student of military history.
Bob Pratt
There was almost no evolution of strategy or tactics on the Soviet side.
Mike3746
What I got was a book that reads like a military after action report.
Chez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Van Court VINE VOICE on September 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
"The Bear Went Over the Mountain" is a compilation of after action reports on tactical operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s, from the Soviet perspective. The descriptions of the action and Soviet after action observations are translated from Frunze Academy (Soviet War College) documents, and accompanied by commentary from the single most knowledgable American on the Soviet army, a man who spoke with leaders from both Russian and Afghan forces from some of these engagements.

No research of the Soviet-Afghan war is complete without careful consideration of the material here. As important as the documentation of the events of the war are the insights into the Soviet perceptions of the operations and the war, and the lessons that they drew from their experience.

This isn't really a book to sit down and read cover to cover, but rather to take a battle at a time and reflect on it before moving on to the next.

Brilliant work from a great man!

E. M. Van Court
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard M. Cavagnol on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book provides a series of first-person accounts of the tactics used by Russian forces from 1980 to 1988. I found the school solution interesting as well as the accounts of how the Russian troops responded to the Afghan insurgents. Having served with the first Combined Action Companies (CAP) in Vietnam and as an advisor with the Vietnamese Marines as well as more recently in Iraq, South Sudan and Afghanistan, I found the accounts provided interesting lessons learned that focused on the tactical training of junior leaders and the preparation of troops to fight counterinsurgency warfare. It seems that we quickly forget COIN lessons and have to relearn them again and again. As with our current situation in Afghanistan, although we have been here for almost 9 years, we do not have 9 years of experience - we have one year of experience 9 times. I suggest "The Other Side of the Mountain", a collection of Afghan tactics employed against the Russians.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rick Cook on December 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an expanded and redacted series of articles on small unit actions in Afghanistan which originally appeared in a Soviet military publication. Each chapter describes an action from the Soviet point of view, followed by the author's critique at the end. The result is invaluable to anyone who is interested in war in Afghanistan or how the Soviet Army fought.

The basic answer is that the Soviet Army didn't fight very well. The vignettes graphically reveal the weaknesses in their army, all the way from systematic flaws, to over concentration on mass armor battles on the plains of Europe, to a general ineptness at all levels, especially company and below.

As the book makes clear in the Soviets' own words, they just weren't very good at the sort of mountain guerrilla war they faced in Afghanistan. By contrast, the Coalition forces there now, for all their problems and failures, come off looking like military geniuses.

Again, and again, the Soviets repeated the same tactics and made the same mistakes. If they went in large enough force and were willing to take the casualties they could go anywhere in the country, but their day to day performance was generally sub-optimal.

There are a lot of lessons here as well as a view of a mostly vanished military system being tried beyond its abilities.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Casper on December 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
o/~ The bear went over the mountain...The bear went over the mountain o/~
o/~ To see what he could see...To see what he could see...o/~

And this book is an analysis of what the Bear saw, experienced, and learned while on the other side of the Mountain.

If you've ever read more than one book about combat operations, planning, or war in general I'm confident that you've heard the expression "Armatures talk tactics and professionals talk logistics", which is true in the big picture of things. If you don't have the ability, the foresight, or the proper planning to get your bullets, butter, bombs, and personnel to the right place at the right time, you are never going to win a war of any sort, no matter how well trained or tactically proficient your soldiers are.

That said, unless your overarching strategy is one of unlimited men and material, your military's tactics are going to play a key role in how you achieve your victory, something that is often lost sight of in the modern era of combat operations. Emphasis is placed too much on the logistical and operational side of things, without enough focus being placed upon the ground.

The Soviet's recognized this, perhaps a little too late for it to really do them again good, but at least they learned from their mistakes in Afghanistan and this book is a product of that learning. It is a glimpse into the tactical side of Soviet operations, what worked, what didn't, and the importance of communicating those lessons to the frontline leaders.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Warrington on June 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was assigned this as "homework" by my platoon sergeant. As a lessons learned type book, it does a good job of telling what not to do.
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