Saturday, July 02, 2005

Irony

- Bryan



One of the most effective tools the mujahadeen used to break the backs of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan were CIA supplied Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Shoulder fired, easily transportable, short learning curve, and extremely lethal, the 500 or so CIA supplied Stingers were reportedly behind the downing of over 300 Soviet aircraft, mostly helicopter gunships. Their threat was a constant concern for the Soviets, who never really were able to successfully defend themselves from the fire and forget Stinger.

The recent downing of a Chinook in Afghanistan is suspected to have been with an SA-16, a Russian shoulder fired missile similar to the Stinger. It also is ideal for shooting down helicopter gunships. The Russians are hungry, for arms exports and probably aren’t turning down anybody with hard currency.


Flush with cash from the revitalized opium trade, it’s more likely than not various elements in Afghanistan will have increasing access to weapons like the SA-16.

I’d like to think was a fluke, a lucky one time shot. Unfortunately, the recent history Chechnya and Iraq being flooded with Russian arms predicts this will be increasingly common.

In less than 20 years we go from supplying SAM’s to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, to US troops being attacked with Russian SAM’s, all in the same territory with many of the same indigenous actors. There is irony in there somewhere.

Related:

Juan Cole provides an excellent analysis of the military implications of this development

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