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The September 11th Sourcebooks

U.S. ANALYSIS OF THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: DECLASSIFIED
Edited by John Prados
October 9, 2001
Volume II: Index
Part 1. The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan: Russian Documents and Memoirs
Part 3. Essay - Afghanistan: The Making of U.S. Policy, 1973-1990
Volume I: Terrorism and U.S. Policy
The September 11th Source Books - Index
In the coming days the Archive will release subsequent volumes on U.S. policy and planning for "Low-Intensity Conflict," CIA guidelines on the recruitment of inteligence "assets," and the use of assassination in U.S. foreign policy.
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The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have led to major decisions by the Bush administration to conduct operations against terrorists wherever they may reside.  Osama bin Laden, the apparent mastermind behind the September 11th incidents, is based in Afghanistan where U.S. military strikes are now underway.  In the recent past, during the 1980s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a significant role in inserting U.S. influence in Afghanistan by funding military operations designed to frustrate the Soviet invasion of that country. 

    CIA covert action worked through Pakistani intelligence services to reach Afghani rebel groups.  That operation began after December 1979, when Russian forces mounted a surprise intervention in Afghanistan.  Fighting between CIA-funded Afghans and the Russians with their Khalq allies continued through 1988.  At that time Moscow, having suffered substantial losses and incurred excessive costs in the country, decided to withdraw.  The last Soviet forces left Afghanistan in early 1989, but warfare continued as the rebel forces contested with the Khalq regime for control of Kabul.

    The CIA ended its aid in 1992, the Russians sometime later, and the pro-Russian government in Kabul fell.  In the final stages of that struggle the Taliban began to emerge as a major force in Afghan politics and it subsequently drove the Northern Alliance from Kabul, confining the remnants of the original rebel alliance to a small enclave in the north-eastern part of the country. The fundamentalist leader Osama bin Laden, though getting his start in the CIA-funded war of the 1970s and 80s, did not become a prominent fugitive in Afghanistan until he returned to the country as the Taliban's guest in 1996.

    Records on the Afghan war furnish many insights applicable to the new war against terrorism, in which Afghanistan has become the first major battlefield.  On the U.S. side the primary sources for the material are the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the United States Army.  The source documents were produced by those agencies between 1979 and 1989, primarily to track events in the war for decisionmakers of the Carter, Reagan, and Bush administrations.




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Document 1
Central Intelligence Agency, National Foreign Assessment Center, "Afghanistan: Ethnic Diversity and Dissidence," 1 March 1980 (CIA Declassification Release)
The earliest item is a CIA report on ethnic divisions within Afghanistan and the impact of Soviet policy in leading disparate groups to oppose the Soviet client state.
Document 2
Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, Office of Political Analysis, "The Soviets and the Tribes of Southwest Asia," 23 September 1980 (CIA Declassification Release)
This CIA analysis links "traditional tribal ways" to a propensity to oppose Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
Document 3
Defense Intelligence Agency, Directorate for Research, "Afghan Resistance," 5 November 1982 (DIA Declassification Release)
DIA's analysis of the war indicates that it saw the Russians in a very difficult situation: "We believe the Soviets would have to double their strength to break the current stalemate."
Document 4
Defense Intelligence Agency, Directorate for Research, "The Economic Impact of Soviet Involvement in Afghanistan," May 1983 (DIA Declassification Release)
This May 1983 DIA analysis suggests the disastrous impact of the Soviet invasion on the Afghan economy as well as the high costs for the Soviet Union.
Document 5
Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, "The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: Five Years After," May 1985 (CIA Declassification Release)
This review of the Soviet invasion after five years shows that by May 1985 the CIA estimated Russian and allied losses as greater than those of the rebels.  This is a startling conclusion because that condition almost never obtains in guerrilla warfare, witness the experiences of Vietnam, Cyprus, Greece and Algeria in the post-World War II period alone.
Document 6
Defense Intelligence Agency, "Iranian Support to the Afghan Resistance," excerpt from unidentified study, n.d.
Document 7
Defense Intelligence Agency, "Iranian Support to the Afghan Resistance," 11 July 1985
Since the late Carter administration, U.S. policy toward Iran has been one of hostility.  However, DIA analyses from 1985 indicate that Iran and the U.S. both followed their separate interests in supporting the Afghan rebel movement.  This may have implications for the current situation given the parallel U.S. and Iranian statements on terrorism.
Document 8
Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, "The Costs of Soviet Involvement in Afghanistan," February 1987 (CIA Declassification Release)
A major CIA study in February 1987 examines all aspects of the Russian involvement in Afghanistan and details various costs of the effort, concluding that costs had been growing steadily and were likely to continue to rise, but that they would probably not influence Soviet decisions on their larger purposes.  Nevertheless, it was not long before the Russians made their final decision to withdraw from the country.
Document 9
Central Intelligence Agency, Special National Intelligence Estimate 11/37/88, "USSR: Withdrawal from Afghanistan," March 1988, Key Judgments only (originally published in CIA, At Cold War's End: U.S. Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991, Benjamin B. Fischer, ed. [Washington, D.C: Central Intelligence Agency, 1999])
Excerpts from a CIA Special National Intelligence Estimate from March 1988 provide an American assessment of what Agency analysts saw as a "firm" Soviet decision, based on a "leadership consensus," to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Document 10
Defense Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Appraisal, "Afghanistan: Soviet Withdrawal Scenario," 9 May 1988 (DIA Declassification Release)
This May 1988 DIA report examines the plans for Soviet military withdrawal that were agreed upon between Russian diplomats and a United Nations negotiating team representing United States, Pakistani, Afghan rebel, and other interests.
Document 11
U.S. Army, "Lessons from the War in Aghanistan," May 1989 (Army Department Declassification Release)
In mid-1989 the Army produced a report on the lessons learned from the Afghan war. Although this copy is heavily excised, it provides an illustration of just how much the United States ascertained from observing the events in Afghanistan.
Document 12
Central Intelligence Agency, Special National Intelligence Estimate 37-89, "Afghanistan: The War in Perspective," November 1989, Key Judgments only (originally published in CIA, At Cold War's End: U.S. Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991, Benjamin B. Fischer, ed. [Washington, D.C: Central Intelligence Agency, 1999])
A November 1989 CIA Special National Intelligence Estimate reckons that, despite their military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Soviets will provide "massive aid" to their client regime.  Meanwhile, authorities in Kabul will try to negotiate separate truces with "local resistance commanders."

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