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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The foremost discussion of Soviet tactics in Afghanistan
"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...
Published on September 25, 2008 by E. M. Van Court

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
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.
Published 17 months ago by T. Warrington


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The foremost discussion of Soviet tactics in Afghanistan, September 25, 2008
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This review is from: Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan (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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Russian Tactics in Afghanistan, February 6, 2010
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This review is from: Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Soviet tactics in Afghanistan, December 5, 2012
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bear went over the Mountain..., December 10, 2010
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This review is from: Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan (Paperback)
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.

Reading The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan (10th Anniversary Edition), it is easy to draw parallels and between the Soviet experience and the more recent experience of the American and British forces who are operating in the same areas. Its a little disturbing, in some cases, to see just how the American and British forces, had to relearn the same tactical lessons the Soviet's did, and I can say that as a member of the United States Army Reserves, I wish that this book was required reading for all frontline leaders prior to deploying to any modern battlefield.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, June 30, 2013
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This review is from: Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a military critique, May 5, 2014
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Very insightful view of Soviet tactics in the Afghanistan war. It shows different types of actions and an after action review and critique of each example. A must read for a student of military history.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit dry, but informative, April 20, 2014
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Most reviews of actual combat are not literary bombshells. This one, however, exceeds the lower limits of that standard. Each story is very nearly a repeat of the previous. That is not the writer's fault, however. It is the fault of the old Soviet commanders who were less imaginative than a gopher in their planning for combat in Afghanistan. It is no wonder the Soviets were run out of that rag-tag country. Every operation was practically a blue print of the previous. There was almost no evolution of strategy or tactics on the Soviet side. The enemy, however, was constantly evolving and coming up with new horrors to bleed them. I commend the author for his commentary reviews of each action. He tries very hard to toss some light on otherwise dreadful military practice that was at best criminal and at worst, amateurish. The only shining examples of military behavior on the Soviet part is from junior grade officers who demonstrated amazing courage and surprising ingenuity in the face of almost impossible odds.

It's a read...not a good one. but, it does shed light on an otherwise invisible side of military history. If there is anything to learn from it, I suppose it would be classified "How Not To Win A War"-
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4.0 out of 5 stars I understand now the successes of SF in Afghanistan, April 12, 2014
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It is interesting to note why SF mentality and tactics work in countries like Afghanistan and Vietnam. You can see lessons learned but still makes you question why so many lives are still lost and why we tolerate the frivolity of these losses. Combat troops from "advanced countries" are still ill-prepared to fight in such situations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Old Spec Ops Guy--USAF CCT Tactics Review, March 24, 2014
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Good to read details of the Russian experience in Afghanistan and to reflect on the lessons we have or should have learned before our own (mis)adventures there.

LTC Edd
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good military strategy, February 6, 2014
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This book here is def a good read for any one who likes military strategy does and don'ts. It tell what worked for them, and what didn't.
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Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan
Bear Went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan by Lester W. Grau (Paperback - March 1, 1996)
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