Combat Mission Wiki

Afghanistan 1980 - The Invasion is the name of one of the main campaigns in Combat Mission: Afghanistan.

The campaign follows Soviet Army during the early days of Soviet-Afghan War.

Forces present[]

Soviet Army:


  • ?

Campaign briefing[]

Enemy Forces

The rebel forces are an assorted bunch, drawing recruits from all ethnicities and classes of Afghani society. Initially driven by islamic fundamentalism intolerant to the persecutions and social reforms of pro-soviet government, the resistance movement was further augmented with nationalistic feelings once the Soviet 40th Army joined the fray. The very army of Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, a backbone of communist revolution, grown dissentful and untrustworthy. After few months of quelling the urban rebellions, pursuing tribal armies and suppressing the mutinying military, the 40th Army found itself neck-deep in a countrywide guerrilla war. Almost 80% of Afghanistan was out of government control. Wherever there was no Soviet or government troops in area, there were mujahideen in the open. Constant stream of weapons, supplies and reinforcements trained by Pakistani and American instructors flown to Afghanistan across the eastern border. After five years of Soviet presence, the number of mujahideen amounted to over 150 thousands in service to regional warlords, tribal militias and islamist parties.

Friendly Forces

The field troops of 40th Army included 103rd Airborne Division, 5th and 108th Motorized Rifle Divisions, 56th Separate Air Assault Brigade, 186th and 860th Separate Motorized Rifle Regiments and 345th Separate Airborne Regiment, along with their support units. Later on the Limited Contingent (OKSVA) was expanded with 58th and 201st Motorized Rifle Divisions and several separate motorized rifle, airborne and air assault regiments and brigades. In total the initial Soviet forces numbered about 80000 soldiers (later extending to over 100000), 1800 tanks and 2000 APCs and IFVs.

The allied Afghani military included three armoured divisions and 16 infantry and mountain rifle divisions, all severely understrength. Along with the Sarandoy (the Ministry of Interior internal troops) and the armed units of KHAD (the state security bureau), the government forces numbered between 100 and 200 thousands.

Terrain and Weather

Afghanistan is a landlocked and mountainous state in Central Asia. It borders Iran to the west, Pakistan to the south and east, Soviet Union (now Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) to the north and China to the northeast. Its total land area is 647500 square km, making it the 41st country in the world in size. Only 12% of this land is arable. The capital of the country is Kabul, other important cities include Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and Jalalabad.

The majority of the country consists of rugged mountains, the largest of which is Hindu Kush range running across the central part of Afghanistan from northeast to southwest. The mountains give way to plains to the north and southwest, while southern party of the country is mostly desert.

The mountainous terrain makes the logistics a challenge. Only a few suitable roads connect the important parts of the country, often crossing mountains at vulnerable passes. The most strategically important pass is Salang on the road from Kabul across northern Afghanistan to the Soviet border.

The climate in most of Afghanistan is one of extremes, temperature is routinely below -20 C in winter and above 40 C in summer. The day and night temperature difference may reach 17 C. Only to the west the climate is more temperate and tolerable. Blizzards in winter and dust storms at summer often add up to the torturous weather. Rains are uncommon, the climate is mostly dry.


In the seventies, Afghanistan entered a turbulent period of its history after 40 years of relative stability. In 1973 the monarchy was overthrown by former prime minister Mohammad Daoud Khan assisted by the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The reforms initiated by the new government were largely unsuccessful, however, and by 1976 the relations between PDPA and the government were souring. Initially dependant on USSR, Daoud began to drift towards the West, and that was something the Communist Party of Soviet Union would not tolerate. In the April of 1978 Daoud's presidency had come to a bloody end at the hands of pro-PDPA military. The April Revolution, however, was only a beginning of internal strife sundering the country. Since 1967 PDPA was split on two factions, the moderate Parcham ("Flag") and the more extreme Khalq ("Masses"). Over time the factions became bitter rivals, and after the Khalq seized power, the president Nur Mohammad Taraki and prime minister Hafizullah Amin launched a program of radical reforms backed by brutal repressions against the opposition and their Parcham rivals alike.

The militant fundamentalists were growing in dissent since the Daoud days. Already in 1975 the militant Jamiat-e Islami party attempted an armed rebellion which was crushed by the government forces. The Khalqist efforts to "uprood feudalism" (sic), however, set the whole country aflame. As the government executed thousands of religious leaders and figures of authority, the tribes of Afghanistan openly revolted one after another, beginning with Nuristani in December of 1978 and ending with 24 out of 28 provinces by the spring of the following year.

As the rebellion spread, Khalqist government literally begged Soviet Union for funds, supplies, and finally military assistance initially to stay on guard duty and relieve Afghani troops for fighting against the rebels whose numbers grew daily. USSR, yet unwilling to engage in full-scale intervention, nonetheless played along, deploying an airborne battalion and detachments of tanks and IFVs to secure Kabul and the primary airfields. United States, ever watchful to an opportunity to undermine its eastern rival, assigned the CIA to aid anti-communist rebels and conduct anti-government propaganda, fueling the fire.

The situation spiralled further out of control by September of 1979, when Amin displaced Taraki from presidency and had him "die of serious illness" several days later. During three months of Amin's rule, between 15 and 45 thousands were executed, many thousands escaped the country to join the islamist rebel groups gathering in Iran and Pakistan. In November, Amin launched a successful military campaign against the resistance groups in the province of Paktia, but this victory had little impact on the growing mujahideen threat.

By December the leaders of USSR came to realization Amin is not capable to secure the soviet interests in the region. Soviet Union finally responded to his request for military intervention, and of 25th of December first detachments of the 40th Army crossed the border at Termez. By evening of the same day, 700 special forces troops dressed in Afghani uniforms stormed the presidential palace, and had Amin killed. Newly appointed president Babrak Karmal, of the Parcham faction, welcomed the Soviet presence. The invasion has begun.

Commander's Intent

The intent of the Soviet government was to install and secure an allied and loyal regime as a response to the strong American positions in Pakistan. Despite the original plans to overtake guard and garrison duties relieving the Afghani troops for actual military operations, the low morale and lack of loyalty from the local army forced OKSVA to partake in the offensives, over time pushing the locals to auxiliary duties. Casualties mounted, and social dissatisfaction with war grew at home.

USA was all too eager for a chance to draw Soviet Union into and exhausting and questionable war. The history of the Anglo-Afghan wars shows that Afghani are a vehemently independent people who doesn't look lightly at the would-be conquerors, invited or not, and the mass following of the fundamentalist islam doomed the PDPA efforts to "modernize" the country and make it a socialist state. All Washington had to do is supply the eager "freedom-fighters" and islamic guerilla with arms and training, and reap the rewards. In the end, the collapse of Soviet Union is no small amount attributed to the exhaustion from Afghanistan war effort.

Basic Plan

Having secured the major cities and airports, the Soviet headquarters found the war to be far from over. The rebels were striking all around the country whenever the "shuravi" looked the other way. The road connecting Kabul to Termez through the Salang pass, vital for the supply from Soviet Union, was a particularly favored target. Soviet troops are undertaking countless raids and combings of the region to secure that critical passage.