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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 28, 1979

REPORT ON THE SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN, GROMYKO, ANDROPOV, USTINOV, AND PONOMAREV TO CPSU CC

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    The CC CPSU points to the economic 'backwardness,' small middle class, and the weakness of the PDPA as the reasons behind political instability in Afghanistan. Increasing internal support of the PDPA and strengthening the Afghan military are proposed solutions achieve stability.
    "Report on the Situation in Afghanistan, Gromyko, Andropov, Ustinov, and Ponomarev to CPSU CC," June 28, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, A. A. Lyakhovskiy, The Tragedy and Valor of the Afghani (Moscow: GPI "Iskon", 1995), p. 76. Translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111629
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to the CC CPSU

The situation in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) continues to deteriorate. The actions of the rebel tribes are taking on a broader and more organized nature. The reactionary clergy is intensifying anti-government and anti-Soviet agitation and in this regard preaching the idea of creating a “free Islamic republic” in the DRA similar to Iran's.

The difficulties in the coming-into-being of the DRA have a primarily objective character. They are related to the economic backwardness, the small size of the working class, the weakness of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). These difficulties are becoming more intense, however, as the result of subjective reasons: In the Party and the government a collegial leadership is lacking, all power in fact is concentrated in the hands of N.M. Taraki and H. Amin, who none too rarely make mistakes and commit violations of legality; there is no People's Front in the country and local bodies of revolutionary authority have not yet been created. The recommendations of our advisers regarding these questions have not been put into practice.

The main support of the Afghan government in the struggle with counter-revolution continues to be the army. Recently, security forces, border troops, and newly-created self defense forces have begun to take a more active part in this struggle. However, broad strata of the population are involved in the struggle with reaction only insufficiently, the consequence of which is that the measures which the DRA government has taken to stabilize the situation have been not very effective. In these conditions the counterrevolutionaries are concentrating their main efforts at demoralizing the Afghan army. In the process they use various means: religious fanaticism, bribery, and threats. Individual methods of cultivating officers are used to incline them toward treason. Such actions of the reactionaries are becoming more widespread and can lead to dangerous consequences for the Revolution.

Regarding this information the USSR MID, USSR KGB, Ministry of Defense, and CC CPSU International Department consider it expedient:

1. To send a letter to the PDPA Politburo in the name of the CC CPSU Politburo in which in a comradely manner it expresses the concern and anxiety of the Soviet leadership in connection with the real danger of the loss of the gains of the April Revolution and state recommendations to intensify the fight against the counterrevolutionaries and strengthen people's power. Note several mistakes in the leadership of the Party and government and recommend steps to correct them, directing special attention to the principle of collective leadership in the work of the CC PDPA and DRA government. Recommend that the political leadership of the DRA create an effective system of local bodies of people's power in the form of revolutionary (people's) committees, and also considerably improve the ideological and political educational work among the population and the personnel of the armed forces.

2. Take measures to strengthen the Party adviser's staff and expand its activity, and also consent to sending Party advisers to provincial and city government bodies.

3. To assist the main military advisor, send to Afghanistan an experienced general and a group of officers to work directly among the troops (in the divisions and regiments). Consider the chief task of this group to be to help the commanders of formations and units [Translator's note: using the generic terms here for “divisions” and “regiments”] organize combat operations against the rebels and improve the command and control of units and subunits. In addition, send Soviet military advisers to the DRA to the government security brigade and tank brigades down to battalion level inclusively (40-50 men, including 20 political advisers), and also [send] military counterintelligence advisers to all DRA regiments.

4. To provide security and defense for the Soviet air squadrons at the Bagram airfield, send to the DRA, with the agreement of the Afghan side, a parachute battalion disguised in the uniform (overalls) of an aviation-technical maintenance team. For the defense of the Soviet Embassy, send to Kabul a special detachment of the KGB USSR (125-150 men), disguised as Embassy service personnel. At the beginning of August, after preparations have been completed, send to the DRA (to the Bagram airfield) a special detachment of the GRU of the General Staff to be used in the event of a sharp aggravation of the situation for the security and defense of particularly important government installations.

5. Bring goal-oriented information to the attention of the Indian leadership through USSR KGB and General Staff GRU channels about the plans for including Indian Kashmir together with Afghanistan in a “world Islamic republic” in order to induce the government of India toward active steps to counteract the anti-Afghan activity of Pakistan.

6. Soviet mass media are to intensify propaganda against attempts at interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan by Pakistan, Iran, China, and the US under the slogan of “Hands off Afghanistan”. Assist in the publication of similar materials in the press of third countries.

Please review [this].

A. Gromyko, Yu. Andropov, D. Ustinov, B. Ponomarev

28 June 1979
Nº 0552/gs