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December 16, 2016
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January 13, 2005
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August 10, 1979
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Approved For lease 2005/03%24RECIA-RDP83B01021)00100200018-6 10 August 1979 X1 X1 X1 MEMORANDUM FOR: NIO/USSR-EE, NIO/NESA, NIO/CF SUBJECT : Soviet Options in Afghanistan 0 1. In the accompanying memo, the Director, SWS recommends issuance of an Alert Memorandum on Soviet options in Afghanistan. I concur with 2. While there is as yet no evidence of military preparations to intervene beyond the present level, it must be obvious to the Soviets that the situation is deteriorating and that their options are becoming fewer. One must logically deduce that they cannot maintain the status situation? 0 25 Attachment 3. May we meet Monday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. to discuss the Si g.ner Approved For Release 2005/gihCIA-RDP83B01027R000100200018 66g 85 amiza Approved For R e 2005103/24 : C'.~WL327R100200018-6 S-0033/Sws'l 10 August 1979 MEMORANDUM FOR:_ National Intelligence Officer for Warning FROM Doug acEachin, Director, SWS SUBJECT Soviet Options in Afghanistan 1. We believe that the Soviets must choose between one of the following three general courses of action in Afghan- istan. 25X1 A. Continue the present course of providing material support and advisors and technicians,' but refrain from com- mitting Soviet combat units. (Possibly at the same time continuing to seek a political solution.) B. Commit a limited amount of Soviet combat forces, sufficient to insure at least the security of Kabul and its immediate area, and perhaps a few other key centers. C. Commit large combat forces for the purpose of in- flicting major military defeats on the insurgent forces and recapturing much of the territory now in rebel hands. 2. Like most other community analysts, we believe Moscow views the last option as undesireable both in terms of practical military considerations and the political cor- resequences that it would entail. We believe there is a strong likelihood, however, that the Soviets will undertake the second option, and probably in the near future. We be- lieve they must consider that if no additional military force is introduced at least to the Kabul area the USSR forces the likelihood of being forced to evacuate its mis- sion from Afghanistan. For reasons discussed below, and also in the attached memo by we believe that:: oscow25X1 will view the consequent o such a development as worse than the political costs of introducing limited combat forces of their own and will be willing to gamble that further esca- lation can be contained.' Once having undertaken the increase in their military units, however, the Soviets are likely to find themselves being drawn to the large operation despite whatever resolve they might have to avoid it. ~ECREI' Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R000100200018-6 Approved Felease 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83B010000100200018-6 o 3. We r ave no concrete evidence that the Soviets are now preparing for or have decided upon a move of even limited combat formations. We nevertheless believe that the case is sufficiently strong to warrant the issuance of an Alert Mem- orandum. Although there are divided views in the community on this issue, waiting until there is clear evidence to re- solve the difference of opinion among intelligence analysts may rule out the Intelligence Community's ability to provide anything more than "tactical" warning of the first movement of Soviet troops to Afghanistan. If, as we believe, the most. likely form of initial military intervention is through the airlift of special combat units, the first may be on their way to or landing in Afghanistan before we can report unequiv- ocally that the intervention option has been chosen. We be- lieve the Alert Memorandum should be the vehicle for stating the case because its use clearly indicates the Community's intent to "warn" as opposed to "repot."- Situation Now Confronted By Soviets in Afghanistan 4. Soviet military support to the Taraki-Amin regime already has gone about as far as it can short of direct action by Soviet combat .ts. The military momentum of the insurgency continues to grow, however, and unless it is at least halted -- preferably reversed -- the Soviet- backed Marxist government is likely to be militarily over- thrown. Thb1 chance for a Soviet-engineered the Kabul governme-T which could both protect Soviet interest and at the same time diffuse the insurgency appears to have been overtaken by events, if indeed there ever was a realistic prospect for carrying it off. 5. The DRA army units in Kabul have so far maintained their loyalty to the Taraki regime. These forces have squelched the most serious uprising from within the Kabul garrisons, and as long as no further erosion in loyalty occurs it is likely that they would be able to continue to keep Kabul secure. The events of 5 August, however, clearly demonstrate that the Kabul-area forces are not immune from the defections that have been taking place elsewhere in the army. As the ring of insurgent forces draws closer to Kabul, defeatism is likely to spread, and the Army leaders may start to ponder their long term future. The Soviets must at least consider the possibility of another, more serious uprising, occuring with little or no warning, which could confront them with a fait accompli and in effect eliminate whatever options they still have. 5ECRE Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R000100200018-6 Approved For Release 2001 RDP83B01 7R000100200018-6 ? 6. In sum, it must be evident to the Soviets that unless they inject some additional military strength their investment in Afghanistan is likely to go under, and there is at least a growinc possibility that this could happen with unexpected sud- denness. Soviets Faced With Choosing "Least Bad" Option 7. The Soviets doubtless recognize that they would be pilloried by much of the rest of the world if they sent com- bat units into Afghanistan, and they would have to consider that taking such a step would damage the chances for Congres- sional ratification of the SALT II treaty. Moreover, Moscow would have to be concerned that introduction of even small forces -- a few battalions or regiments, for example. -- would deepen the commitment to what could grow into an open-ended military operation. S. On the other hand, the likely consequences of not sending in combat units go far beyond replacement of a client government by a hostile one in an area which, although on the USSR border, has no great strategic significance. -- Moscow will not be able to represent the result as anything less than a forced eviction by a native insurgency that is not even well organized. -- There is no graceful way out. Evacution of the So- viet mission in Kabul could not be portrayed as anything other than abandonment of the Taraki regime. -- The manner in which these events would have been. brought about would add to the aura of the growing strength of Islamic militancy in the region. The latter may be of even more concern to the Soviets than'the particular situa- tion of Afghanistan itself. -- The Soviets would have shown themselves unable or unwilling to use their military power even to save a client government in a country snaring a common border with the USSR and ,in a situation in which there is little chance of direct confrontation with another major military power. R 7 Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R000100200018-6 iS-ECRET Approved For Sase 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83B0l02*0100200018-6 X) In this situation, psycholoc;ic l :actors and the So- viet big power self-image is likely to influence the decision making process at least as much if not more than the politi- cal considerations. While it is true that Soviet public statements of support for the Afghan regime have been low key of late, it is nevertheless also true that strong public statements have been made by the highest level of Soviet lead- ership, as is discussed in the attached memorandum. is 10. Moreover, the cause and effect relationship of the no-action" alternative appears more certain than in the case of the intervention option. The fall of the Taraki regime with all it would entail seems virtually unavoidable if the Soviets commit no combat elements. On the other hand, Soviets may the persuade themselves that they can insert some com- bat forces without succumbing to pressures for escalation. Insofar as SALT II is concerned, the Soviets can have no as- surance that the U.S. ratification process will result in some- thing they can accept, no matter what they do in Afghanistan. As regards world opinion, the Soviets have shown the ability to live with criticism in the past, andTi s problematical which form of world impression would be more unacceptable to them -- that of a bellicose power or that of a power unable to use its military force in directly contiguous areas. 11. Commitment of troops to the defense of Kabul also would at least have some benefits to weigh against the costs. As long as Kabul is secure, the Soviets can at least maintain the arguement that their client continues to govern Afghanis- tan and that the USSR is living up to its commitment. Moscow would have demonstrated its willingness to use its power. The Soviets also would have bought some time to find ways to de- fuse the situation, perhaps continuin? to seek a cast of char- acters which might provide the basis for the hoped-for politi- cal solution. 12. At least some Soviet leaders probably will continue to argue that all this is merely rationalization and that sending in combat forces -- albeit limited -- only commits Moscow further down the road to a large scale military occupa- tion of Af~,hanistan. They will argue that the increment of combat unitslwi_11 offer a holding action. Ultimately the Soviets probably would confront pressure to increase further their military commitment or face an evacuation made all the more distasteful by the fact that the involvement will by then have grown. ECR. Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83B01027R000100200018-6 ApprQd FoW lease 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83B0100000100200018-6 13. While we tend to agree with this assessment of the likely consequences of a "limited" intervention, we doubt that Soviet leaders holding this view will be able to with- stand the combination of arguements regarding consequences of no action and rationalizations that the escalation can be contained. Indications And Collection 14. The airlift of a Soviet regiment (2,000 or so troops) without much equipment other than infantry weapons would re- quire on the order of 130 flights of AN-12 aircraft. These could originate from almost any part of the Soviet Union where there are ground force units with ready access to an airfield. The most likely source for-the troops is an air- borne division, but they could be drawn from motorized rifle divisions as well. If the troops are to be airlifted, there is no great advantage in drawing them from the part of the USSR closest to Afghanistan. The Soviets might elect to draw troops from the Western USSR, keeping those in the Afghan border area in reserve for further contingencies. 15. A complete airborne division with all of its weapons and equipme t would require on the order of 600 AN-12 flights. (The numbeflights would of course vary depending-on the type of aircraft used and the amount of equipment brought in.) This would be more easily detected and would mean that the likely origins of the troops would be more limited in number. 16. There is a good chance that if the Soviets do elect to bring in combat troops they will t,'ry to do it -- at least in the initial stages -- in as low key a manner as possible. As long as they control Bagram airfield the Soviets can move in their own troops incrementally. The civil air fleet -- Aeroflot -- is used to effect the rotation of some 120,000 Soviet conscripts in Ea-` Europe twice annually.. Using Aeroflot aircraft to bring in troops and using military air- craft only for major equipment would enable the Soviets to mute someat the telltale sizes of military intervention at least uril a substantial number of troops were in-the country. 17. For these reasons, it may be difficult to obtain much advance warning that the Soviets have in fact undertaken to introduce combat elements into Afghanistan. LECRET Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R000100200018-6 Approved For lease 2005/1 ?CCRFVP83B01027 00100200018-6 18. If the Soviets intend to use combat forces in Afghanistan for more than static defense they will need to provide them with some mobility -- por;sibly substantial heli- copter support. It is also possible that the initial form of increased Soviet mili':ary support may be to provide Soviet- piloted helicopter units -- both transport and attack. That alone, however, is unlikely to have much effect and if whole Soviet helicopter units do start appearing in Afghanistan it would -- in our view -- mean commitment of ground combat troops probably is in the off4a ng. 25 the Afghan border. We have no assurance, however, that we will identify the initial preparations for movement of Soviet combat troops to Afghanistan. 91 LSECRL"= Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R000100200018-6 Approved For Rel 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R0000200018-6 10 August 1979 ,n,2-10: ~1I -L.< .20:x: I`110 for :yarning SUBJE~JT . Afghanistan-Pressures for Soviet 1,1i---itary Escalation 1. In examining I Maosco.:'s perceptions of its stances and options in Afghanistan, it would be prudent to bear in mind the legacy of more than a century of competitioj for predominance in that country between Russia, on the one hand, and Britain and the latter's successors in the power rivalries of South Asia and the Middle East, on the other. Because of this long record of Tsarist and Soviet ambitions and involvement in Afghanistan, the outcome of the present struggle for power carries much greater signifi- cance for the Soviets than the fortunes of other Third World "liberation movements" or ventures in "national democracy." In a word, Afghanistan is a special case, with close parallels to the role x? Persia/Iran has played in the history of Russian expansion southward into the Trans-Caucasus and eastward into Central Asia. 2. Soviet perceptions of the stakes in Afghanistan-conditioned by these historical and geopolitical factors -hould be distinguished from Moscow's aspirations and behavior, for example, in Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Yemen and even in Southea-t Asia. In the hierarchy of national and security interests, Afghanistan occupies roughly the same position as other non-Wars:uwd Pact contiguous states such as Finland, Iran, and Mongolia. Africa and Southeast Asia rank ;ell b--,low; these contiguous states in terms of Soviet priorities and are viewed primarily as targets of opportunity in the global competition i;;ith tie US and China for povier, influence and prestige. Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83B01027R000100200018-6 Approved For Relo 2005/03/24 : IA-RDP83B01027R0*0200018-6 3. The perc, ptions and motives of the Soviet loaders al:-o: r ~t certainly have been strongly influenced by the history of Russian advance and retreat in tfghanistan. Tsarist mid-nineteenth century enna~ision in central Asia led to a confrontation with Great Britain over Afghanista in 1378-79 in ,,which the Russians were obliged to retreat and "stand. idly by" .chile British forces occupied the greater part of the country. The British established a protectorate which gave them control of Afg-hanistan's foreign policy and of the tribes on the fghan-Indian frontier. Renewed Russian, expansionist Probes received another humiliating rebuff at the hands of the British in 1884. For several weeks war between Russia and Britain seemed inevitable, but the Tsarist government again backed down rather than risk provoking a war. 4. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet regime cultivated the new King Amanullah, leader of a Young Afghan movement which was anti-British and reformist. In 1919, Lenin congratulated the "independent Afghan people heroically defending itself against foreign oppressors" and proposed "mutual aid" against foreign attack. During the Third Afghan ,ar in 1919, which ended with British troops on Afghan soil, Lenin offered military aid against England and frontier concessions. The Soviets signed a treaty of friendship with Amanullah in 1921. In a striking parallel -.:ith events under the Taraki regime, Amanullahts reforms in the early 1920s alienated the Muslim hierarchy and tribal chiefs who sa-w a menace to tseir traditional autonomy. IW rien Amanullah was overthro.,n, a modest intervention by the Red Army might have saved him, but the Soviets were then in no position to provide forc:,s or material assistance in response to the King's ar.peal. (Arnanullah died in exile in Italy). The Taraki regime has depicted itself as the heir to the Amanullah tradition of nationalism and reform. Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R000100200018-6 Approved For Reoe 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83B01027R* 00200018-6 5. after ":orld ;jar II, of course, 3ritain's retreat from empire enabled ti,e Soviets to achieve their historic aim of as..urin ; a "friendly" Afghanistan on t!ieir southern border. ,successive regimes in Kabul say: no real alternative until the mid-19'70s. The relationship ww;as altered. significantly by President Daoud's shift toward closer relations with Iran and by his break with the Parcham Communists--a process vihich culminates in the "revolution" in April 1978. The Soviets embraced the Taraki regime not only as an ideological client but as a valuable ally in combatting perceived Iranian and Pakistani designs to draw Afghanistan out of the Soviet orbit anti-Soviet of influence and into a new/alignment. This combination of ideological and geopolitical interests and motives led the Soviets into .:hat they probably now recognize to have been an exc,.ssive arid imprudent commitment to the Taraci regime-including; the friendship treaty last December which provides for consultations and "appropriate measures" to insure each country's security, independence, and territorial integrity. 6. In sum, the legacy of Tsarist aspirations and Soviet involvement, coupled with changes in the internal Afghan equation in the mid-1970s, which led to the April revolution aM steady gro:th in Soviet commitments of economic and military aid, perso:nel, and prestige to the success of the revolution. .,;ould seem to rule out the theoretical option of Soviet wit hdrawdl and cutting of losses. In view of the events over the past five years, the Soviet lea:'ers probably judge that the defeat of the Tara ki re, ime would not be followed by the installation of a successor government that would pursue the traditional Afghan policy of neutraliisr:, and acco:i:rod..tion .:with the USSt. Cn tie cont_ ary, the :soviets apparently are operating on the assumption that a successor regime would be omin,:.';e-:d by Muslim 11counterrevolutionaries" Approved For Release 2005/03/24: CIA-RDP83BO1027R000100200018-6 Approved For RdWe 2005/03/24: C4A-RDP83B01027R* 00200018-6 aligned ..ith he Khomeini and Pakistani goVernzments and co:a fitted to anti- Soviet policies. P o ..t:ou prc)b:abl r fea ?s m ~{ r ~ Cih(; %L~'. .-?, t~,::;tu Pakistani in:flu,3ncc: in i