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In Moscow’s Shadows: Storm-333: KGB and Spetsnaz seize Kabul, Soviet-Afghan War 1979

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Out today, my latest Osprey, this time on the fateful Soviet commando operation that eliminated the (admittedly, thoroughly unpleasant) dictator of Afghanistan and kicked off the bloody and (practically) unwinnable ten-year Soviet invasion. Here’s the blurb:

Storm-333, the operation to seize Kabul and assassinate Afghan leader Hafizullah Amin, was at once a textbook success and the start of a terrible blunder. It heralded the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, an operation intended to be a short, largely symbolic show of force, yet which quickly devolved into a gritty ten-year counter-insurgency that Moscow was never able to win. Nonetheless, Storm-333 was a striking success, and despite initial concerns that it would be an impossible achievement, it saw a relative handful of Soviet special forces drawn from the KGB and the military seize the heavily defended presidential palace, neutralise the city’s communications and defences, and open Kabul to occupation. The lessons learned then are still valid today, and have been incorporated into modern Russian military practice, visible most recently in the seizure of Crimea in 2014.

As usual with Osprey books, it’s very visual, as you can see from the pictures, and it was interesting to write something so granular, day by day and literally minute by minute, based especially on Russian sources.

My next Osprey is also on Afghanistan, incidentally. Out in October in their Campaign series, it’s a look at the pivotal struggles for the Panjshir Valley.


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