Created: 3/1/1985

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Soviet Problems, Prospects, and Options in Afghanistan in the Next Year

Special National Intelligence Estimate

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ta foreign Ncrhonofa Not fteteenobie to Contractori ot/Comal ro-ti

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Inforauifaft available at at itwdIbr preparation of ifcu Eaf-male, which -ai approved by ihe National Foreign InWDUcncc Board on that dale


this estiaaate is issued by the director of central intelligence.

the national foreign intelligence board concurs.

temgtncc organixoliont participated in the preparation of the Estimate:

Th, Con.rolth.InloftoMKe Aooney. Ih. Notional Security Agency, ond the inl.flig.nco orgoniicnSon of the Deportmenti*

Also Participating:

Tl* Ault.anff S'ofl foreporiroMt of th. Army Tho Oiroctor of Naval Inlt&genca.of the Novy Th. Auitrant Omt of Stofl.eportnMnt of th. A* fore* TW Oracle* ofHoodoyortan, Morme Corp.


scope note

Increased insurgent effectiveness and the continuingof the Afghan Army forced the USSR intoore aggressive approach to combat in Afghanistanreater outside support for the resistance this year and Last means that Soviet problems probably will again increasehis Special National Intelligence Estimate assesses the measures the Soviets have taken thus far to dealore potent resistance and projects their options over the next

year or so.

-strain -


Tbe Sovietsombined political-military strategy for consolidating Communal rule inbut appear to have consistently underestimated the difficulties they face. Initially, they reportedly thought the mere presence of Soviet forces would be sufficient lo Intimidate any lesistance. Then they thought Soviet invrjvernent In combat woulddestroy most armed resistanceouple of yeanhey seem to have reconciled them-setvaonger tetto military strategy aimed at destroying enough of the resistance lo compel the remainder to see tbe futility of continuing to fight This strategy was coupledolitical strategy of trying to buildadre of reliable Afghanto govern tbe country eventually. Nevertheless, lhc Soviet Union has made no significant progress In its attempts lo obtain political backing from Ibe Afghan people.

he Sovkts augmented their forcesew thousand men and made other tactical and force adjustments designed lo regain the military Initiative But the resistance, increasingly armed and trained from the outside, abo continued to improve The net result by the end of the year was that Soviet losses had increased and there had been no measurableIn the Afghan Government's position. Theunder government control may actually have declined slightly

oscow's lack of progress in Afghanistan has generated argument and pessimism among Soviet mid dle-lcvcl military and intelligence officials familiar with the situation Many in the Soviet elite harbor doubts about the prospect of ultimate victory and the wisdom of the initial Soviet commitment. Sovietprivately admit that Afghanistan has entailed significant costs, but they also assert that the costs of alternative policies would be even higher and thai ihey must stay the course. The costs ofave not been so high as to force Moscow to shrink from its objective of ultimately controlling tbeSoviet military capabilities elsewhere have not been substantially diminished, the economic costs arr bearable, and dissatisfaction within Use elite andwhile noticeable, has remained within tolerable

he SOviel mlblary situation Lb Afgharuslari ha* continuedemit of the increased insurgent capabilities and the coMinuing irieffective-ness of the Afghan Army, aad despite Interallied Soviet military efforts. The Soviet! expect that their problems will increase as the resistance receives more and belter materiel this year.

e believe that (he Soviets will ret pood in the near term by attempting to apply more widely and skillfully the measures they have sought to apply In the past year la support of this effort, additional tactical adjustments to the current economy-of-force strategy are likely and some forcenot moreossible.

oscow will continue to hold to its mainofommunbl retime in Afghanistan because;

The Soviet invasion itself has made il likely that any successor regime In Afghanistan notby Soviet military occupation would be ly hostile to Moscow

The (all of lis Afghan regime would be seenerious blow lo Moscow's reputationesolute power.

Control of Afghanistan is seen by the Soviets lo be important to the security of Soviet Central Asian border regions

The Soviets also see controlling Afghanistan as helping fulfill long-range aspirations to expand their influence in tbe region

A We believe that the Soviet military arehow their military presence In Afghanistan could be utilized for various military contingencies against Pakistan and Iran Maior improvements in lines of communications and air and logistic facilities, and the deployment of significant additional forces, would be essential for the Soviets to undertake and sustain large-scale operations from Afghanistan. The Soviets almost certainly would not undertake suchey bad coosol.datcd control In Afghani-itan



levels- The leaderships recent dWision to promote three of the key military figure* who arc mostiIc lor the USSR's operatiom suggests no disposition to reexamine Its commitment or Its strategy in Afghan -islan now

he new party General Secretary. M. Slike all other topas avoided significant direct comment on Afghanistan in publiceyin (he leadership during the last year.has presumablyegree otto current Soviet goab and strategy inHe used his meeting with Pakistan's President Zia al Chernenko's funeral to chastise Islamabad over IU policy toward Afghanistan. Gorbachev wouldwish to solve the Afghanistan problem in some way, but. while lie is consolidating his power In Ihe Soviet leadership over the next year or so. hetrong political interest in avoiding positions that might make him look weak or open him lo charges ol adventurism He therefore does not seem to have an immediate interest in seeking to revise Soviei goals and strategy.

tiajor escalation or expansion ol the war would certainly raise the coats to the Soviet system while not necessarily leadinguick victory. Intensification of the conflict at roughly present levels of Sovietb what weraise the costs somewhat Tbe Soviet Union has the economic and military resources to continue this warat present or escalated Web.he prossoectery protracted war with potentially large domestic and international cocUolitically and psycho-logically troubling to many In tlie Soviet population and elite, and presumably of concern to the Soviet leadership Toe Sovietore capable than other countries might be of bearing the political costs of direct involvement In an open-ended war. Its tolerancerotracted war in Afghanistan may not be bruit leu. We cannot say at thb point, however, what the limits might be and whether or when thev might eventually be reacbed.

n (lie basb ol an improving military supply situation, we protect that the performance of Ihe resistance in Afghanistan will improve steadily5 as it did

The greater availability of ammunition and other materiel will increase the operationaland persistence: of those already under arms.

The number of near-lull-time fighters, now estimated alill Increase substantially.

Resistance effectiveness againstikely lo increase substantiaIIv. against both airborne targets and airbascs.

The number of resistance lighten withmilitary training will continue to rise, and all are learning from combat experience.

t tbe same time, tbe inevitable sluggishness and uTievenneii of the resistance logistic network, shortages in many needed Items, foodnd the fragmented nature of the war will probably cause these factors to increase resistance effectiveness only gradually. They will not confroDt the Sovietsramatic crbb or sharp deterioration ol their military situation, ot prevent tbe Soviets from making selected imptovemeoU to it

ven so, the Soviets know thathey will beore militarily capable resistance. They have already signaled that more outside support will not dbsuade them from pursuing their oblective of full control over the country. Thev are already planning military measures aimed at negating the improvement in Insurgent capabilities Thesewe believe, are most likely to be extensions of whal the Sovieti did in the recent past;

More operations by Soviet forcer without the Afghan Army.

More agile and aggressive ground force tactics, particularly with special and air assault forces

Better use of tactical air and ground-based Qiepowet.

Temporary augmentations of Soviet forces (orpera lions.

Further efforts to Improve tactical intelligence and command and control.

More efforts to interdict resistance supplies near Afghanistan'i bofders-

Continued Improvement oi the logistic infrastructure

Continued efforU loommunist cadre to control the country in the lone term.

e expect the Soviets to continueoncerted effort to destroy Pan When resistance lenderand his mene also anticipate more Soviet effort to improve security* In Afghanistan's major cries. Interdicting Infiltration across the borders with Pakistan and Iran will mean more Soviet/Afghan aii and artillery strikes andew grounddeliberate andinsurgent targets In both these countries. Despite ihe Soviet desire lo keep them down. Scj-set casualties and equipment losses will rxoiobJy continue lo rise

ii As gn adjunct to their military efforts, the Soviet! will attempt to tio moic politically and diplo-malically to reduce support for the resistance.we see no signs thatow prepared toenuine pobtical solution that requiresSoviet oblectives and withdrawing from Afghanistan:

In addition to continuing crew*-border incidents, the Soviets will apply strong diplomatic and propaganda pressures on Pakistan They may increase efforts to destabilize- the Zia regime. They have had strong incentives to do so In ihe past, but apparently lack adequate means.

In recent months the Sovieu have toughened their stance toward Iran, and we expect thu trend to continue. However, the Soviets mightore flexible approach to Iran in which they seek lo exploit Iran's interest In an Improved relationship to get Iran to cut back its support of Ihe Afghan resisUnce.

USSR and China have moved to improve relations with each other despite the "three obstacles'* raised bytroops on China's borders. Soviet support of theoccupation of Cambodia; and Sovietof Afghanistan. Even if the Afghan issue has become more significant because of the growing Chinese role In aiding the Mujahodin, we judge that neitherikely to make the continuing improvement of relations contingent onotation

Toward the United States, the Soviets could attempt to make US support lor the reslstuiice moreactor In bilateral relations than ihey have in the past. But there are inhibiting risks in either of the two approaches thev might take Should they suggest tbat Other improvements in the relationship, such as arms control arc jeopardized by US policy toward(hey risk sacrificing other importantgoab, such as erscouragtng restraint In US mUitary programs.ey. on the other hand, hint al the possibilityovietfrom Afghanistan without prior guarantees lor ihc Kabul regime in order lo encouragein US support for the resistance. Iheyk signaling their own vulnerability inand emboldening their major adversary. For these reasons we do not believe thai the Soviets will wish to make Afghanistan stand in the way of changes in US-Soviet bilateral relations In the near future

IS. We doubt lhat any of these military or political measures will be sufficient to put the war convincingly on the pathoviet victory To the contrary, if our appreciation of iheorrect. Ihe Soviets are likely to find themselves no better off after another year or so of tactical adjustments and small troop increases. At someontinued militarymight no longer be tolerable to tbe Soviets and they might cixuider radical alternatives to theirstrategy. These couldarge Sovietbuildup in Afghanbtan and more forcefulto diminish Pakbtan's support to the resistanceefforts tooliticalinvolving Soviet military withdrawal

or the lime being, however, we believe that Moscow prefers to avoid the military costs and risksroop increase. Logistic preparations for an increase0 troops, for example, would require several months and would probably riot decisisffect the course of theuch largera levelto assure Soviet control wouldear or more to accomplish and still might not lead to quick uipprrujon of tbe insurgency

e also believe thatot yet ready to face the military risks and political consequencesignificant expansion of hostilities into Pakistan or Iran Major action against either country from Afghan territory would require extensive logistic preparations, including securing of supply lines

IS We believe, therefore, that the Soviets will continue for at least tbe next year or so to try to make progress against the insurgentsajorof iheir forces or of the geographic scope of the war Hut we believe that such progress will continue lo etude them.


Thereumber of developments, which do not now seem likely, that could upset our calcuUtiom Although we soe no evidence that Gorbachev Is ready to depart far from current Soviet strategy, Soviet leadership politics could produce debate that leads to more radical changes in Soviet policy thanakistani government without President Zia might be less committed to current Afghan policy, despite the consensus that supports this policy now. Iran might reduce its support for the Afghan resistance to Improve its relation* with Moscow; but an Increase of Iranian support is as likely In the near term. Regional political development adverse to the Afghan resistance might curtail but probably would notcut oS Muiahedin resupply. If thereutoff of outside support for the resistance inthe Soviets would start making progress toward gaining control of Afghanistan. This would reduce pressure on them to escalate their commitment to the war or toolitical accommodation.

If present trends continue, the Soviets may well faceears or more of fighting in Afghanistan We cannot judge with any certainty how thb will impact on Soviet society and the Soviet political system. The case can be made that the USSR would find the prospect of indefinite and costly conflict preferable to the alternatives of significant resnforocrnent orof Soviet objectives, and will continue the present course indefinitely in the belief that eventually the resistance and Its outside supporters will give up. The contrary case can be made that the prospects of indefinite and protracted conflict in Afghanistan would be unacceptable to Moscow; that sooner or later the domestic and international costsontinuing war in Afghanistan will force the leadership to either radically increase the Soviet military cc^iunitrnent to the war, accepting the costs and risks of its expansion beyond Afghanistan's borders, or toolitical path for withdrawal, even at the cost ol the Kabul regime's collapse- If the Afghan resistance continues to grow In scale and effectiveness in the years ahead, the odds increase that the Soviets will eventually confront such choices.



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