Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kabul 1988-1989, Part Three

The First Scuds.
I was the first Western diplomat to sight and report on the introduction of SS-1 Scud-B's into the Afghan conflict, but, almost comically, my diplomatic colleagues thought the event was so improbable that at first they didn’t believe me. I almost didn’t believe it myself, since I had stumbled onto the discovery by pure chance. It happened that one afternoon in early November I was driving out of the Embassy compound to do my usual snooping when my car was stopped by Afghan police for a military convoy that had just arrived from the north. As I sat in my car, astonished, I saw over a dozen Scud missiles roll by the U. S. Embassy on their transporters, with beaming Afghan troops escorting them. I decided what the heck and started to follow them. The Afghans didn't seem to mind, since the whole purpose of parading them through town was to show them to as many people as possible, diplomats included. The convoy drove a circuitous route, north towards the airport, rolling past some of the better Soviet-style regime apartments in the northern district appropriately nicknamed Makrorayon. Then the convoy turned south through the center of Kabul, drove past the Soviet Embassy and proceeded onward to the Darulaman army base. I rushed over to Jon's house to tell him the news, and walked in as he was giving a reception for most of the Chiefs of Mission of the diplomatic corps in Kabul. By that time, I had identified the missiles as Scud-B's. At first, my diplomatic colleagues didn't believe me. Was I sure they weren't Frogs? No, I said, they were Scuds, and I expected that reports of their arrival would be on the evening TV news, since their whole purpose had to be psychological -- yet another proof that the Soviets were not going to abandon Najibullah. Sure enough, the evening news was full of the arrival of the Scuds, and in fact, a couple had already been fired off at Mujahedin positions near Jalalabad. Of course, the Scud's military utility was negligible. With a CEP (Circular Error Probability) of about a mile, they would be worthless in a war against scattered guerilla groups with no fixed positions, and their "defense" of Jalalabad quite likely killed more cattle and sheep, not to mention innocent citizens, than Mujahedin. I am also told that on the same day, the Soviets introduced SU-27's to the battlefield, but I did not see them flying over Kabul until much later. I did, however, see Backfire bombers, flying high towards the mountains, a few days later. None of these weapons would make much difference in a guerilla campaign, but to the untutored Afghan member of the Najibullah regime, particularly one outside the Scud's CEP, it must, no doubt, have been reassuring.

Ten Little Indians.
As our numbers began to dwindle, first to fifteen or so, then on down to ten, Jon Glassman and I began to consider the possibility that those of us who remained might be stuck in Kabul for a good long time without the possibility of leave. Jon was even tossing the idea around of alternating as Chargé, should the number of diplomats be reduced to just the two of us. In the meantime, we decided to see if we could get in a little leave while there was still a chance. Jon took leave in October, making me Chargé for a month or so. Then, it was my turn. Bob Mills, our Acting Political Counselor, was scheduled to be withdrawn soon, so he agreed to stay and take on my reporting responsibilities while I took leave. I spent three weeks at home in San Clemente, California, mostly just sleeping and eating, until it came time once again for me to return to Kabul. The time passed by in a flash.

I returned to Kabul in mid-December, reinvigorated but still not very sure of just how I was going to survive the next eighteen months in Afghanistan. But I put that out of my mind and buckled down to work, and as usual, the challenge was all-absorbing. Soviet withdrawal continued on schedule, and every day I would run the route and note new tank and wheel tracks leading up the northern road to the Salang pass. The Soviet bases around Kabul were emptying out, as were many diplomatic missions, including our own. In January, the weather in Kabul turned uncharacteristically cold, and it began to snow heavily. The harsh conditions were particularly hard on Afghans living in the container city to the north of Kabul, and it was clear that many people were suffering. At the same time, however, Kabul in the winter was spectacularly beautiful. Covered with snow, with a clear full moon looming over the mountains, larger than I had ever seen anywhere in the world, running the route in the early morning hours was an exhilarating experience.

Still, I could not escape a sense of foreboding, a feeling that was sometimes confirmed in the strangest ways. One morning in January, I remember walking up to the Chancery and slowly getting the feeling that I was being watched. It was a bright sunny day, and there was no one else about, but I could not shake the feeling. Suddenly, I looked over to the large tree in the Chancery's front yard. It had lost all its leaves, but it somehow seemed full. I looked closer, and to my shock, I saw hundreds of Siberian Crows, all staring at me, as if debating whether to have me for lunch. Siberian Crows, or Millibirds, as the wags at Embassy Moscow call them, are larger cousins of the crows that we know, with gray and black plumage. They are renowned for swooping down in packs and carrying off small dogs, and, on occasion, attacking children. Deciding not to wait around until the Millibirds decided what to do about me, I hurried into the Chancery. When I emerged a few hours later, they were gone.

Shevardnadze Pays a Visit.
In mid-January, Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze came to town, no doubt on another mission to reassure Najibullah that all was still well. No advance announcement of the visit was made, but the signs of a VIP visit were unmistakable. The road from the airport was lined with troops, and as Jon and I were driving about near Darulaman (I was giving him the Ed McWilliams tour, in case we had to start switching off reporting duties), we encountered a huge traffic jam of Soviet armored vehicles around the Soviet Embassy. As we picked our way through, I asked the Soviet "tankisti" what was going on. Most just grunted and didn't answer, but finally I came across one tank commander who smiled, his gold teeth glinting in the sun, and answered with the magic word: "Shevardnadze." We raced back to the Embassy and filed a report, scooping everyone else by a couple of hours. Later that evening, Moscow made a short announcement about the visit.

We were able to get the jump on breaking news stories by staying alert, watching the airport and the roads in and out of Darulaman and the Soviet Embassy. Our ability to interpret what was actually happening during these visits, however, was very limited. For example, it was only years later that we learned from Anatoliy Chernyaev’s memoirs that, during his flying visit to Kabul, Shevardnadze had almost been bamboozled by Najibullah into committing Soviet troops to clear the Kandahar highway, and to leave some Soviet troops in Afghanistan even after the withdrawal deadline. It was only after Aleksandr Yakovlev found out about the plan and brought it to Gorbachev’s attention that the whole idea was scotched. We also did not know that at the same time Shevardnadze was in Kabul, KGB head Vladimir Kryuchkov was in town as well, no doubt plotting to find ways to sneak out of Soviet withdrawal commitments. Shevardnadze and others believed, correctly as it turned out, that if Najibullah could hang on for a few more months, he had a good chance of hanging on indefinitely. He and others were desperately seeking a way to accomplish this, and sometimes lost sight of their principles in the process.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
A few days after Shevardnadze's January 14-15 visit to Kabul, I was driving along Darulaman Boulevard again, just to see if there were any tanks still about, and was startled by what I saw. The boulevard is a long, straight street leading from the center of Kabul down to the Darulaman Palace and Soviet 40th Army Headquarters. It was one of the few streets in Kabul that had been lined by respectable rows of trees, many close to thirty feet tall. In the space of a couple of days, however, all the trees had disappeared. Once the news was out, the diplomatic community began speculating furiously about what it all meant. Some said that the answer to the puzzle was simple: in a country virtually devoid of timber, and suffering a severe cold snap, the authorities had cut down the trees to use for firewood. I leaned to a different theory. Darulaman Boulevard was sufficiently long and straight that it could have been used as a runway for evacuation transports if Kabul Airport became unusable. All that was needed was to cut down the trees on either side. That way, those who remained at the Soviet Embassy and other Soviets still scattered around town would have a fallback evacuation plan. Needless to say, the Najibullah regime did not offer explanations for the sudden disappearance of Darulaman Boulevard's trees. It remained a mystery.

Ordered Departure -- What's That Again?
As January neared its end, the situation in Kabul was looking increasingly bleak, with shortages of basic foodstuffs, fuel and other supplies common. We Americans were not yet feeling the pinch, but it was only a matter of time, and I was resigned to a long hard slog through the winter of 1989. However, this all changed in the blink of an eye. One morning, I was riffling through my daily traffic when I came across a routine cable that at first looked like an administrative message on ordered departure procedures. I put it aside and read through the other traffic. A few minutes later I picked it up again and decided to reread it, since, after all, I was the Acting Administrative Counselor, among other things. Imagine my surprise, when I found buried in the cable an instruction not on general procedures for ordered departure, but specifically for Embassy Kabul to pack up and leave as soon as possible!

I had known that for months that the Afghan desk had been sending memo after memo to the Secretary arguing for Embassy Kabul to be closed down in view of the deteriorating security situation. But Secretary George Shultz had decided each time that we should hang tough. Now, however, Secretary Shultz had left with the outgoing administration, and the new Secretary of State, James Baker, took it upon himself to reverse the previous Secretary's policy. In the first decision of his tenure, he decided to close Embassy Kabul. I can't say that I disagreed.

I hurried over to Jon's office, and we immediately began making plans to get out of the country with the rest of our American staff and whatever private citizens there were who wanted to come with us. As it turned out, there were very few Americans still in town, only about 50 or so, and most of them were reporters who were camped out awaiting the demise of the Najibullah regime. A few missionaries and others did want to go out with us, however, and so as Embassy New Delhi sent in a TDY Administrative Officer to help our RSO shut down the post, I trundled off to my friends at Ariana Afghan Airways to negotiate the charter of an aircraft. The negotiations were swift and amicable. Ariana staff had enjoyed a long relationship with Pan Am before the Revolution, and many were American-trained and sympathetic. By then, however, Ariana had only aged Soviet aircraft in its fleet. I picked out the best one that could be found, an old TU-154, and arranged for the earliest charter date available in mid-February. This proved to be too slow for an increasingly panicky State Department, however, and so Embassy New Delhi was ordered to charter an Indian Airlines jet that would get us out of the country by the end of January. The departure date was set for January 30, three days before the last major Soviet military forces were due to leave the country.

In the meantime, we finalized arrangements for shutting down the Embassy. I counted out 19 million Afghanis and deposited them in the one reliable bank left in Kabul, leaving our head Foreign Service National, Paul Matthews, with the necessary authorizations to draw down the money to pay Embassy expenses and the salaries of the 40 or so Afghan staff who remained. Then we began the process of shutting the place down. Over the next few days, we wiped all of the hard disks except one, stored electronic equipment in the vault, secured our vehicles and communications equipment, and scoured the Embassy for sensitive material. Almost as an afterthought, we informed the Afghan government that we were leaving.

The press quickly got wind of our plans, and staked out the Embassy during the last week of our stay in Kabul. As a courtesy, and since we were a little worried about their security, we let members of the press set up inside the Chancery grounds. Steve Hurst and his CNN camera team came in from Moscow and began broadcasting live shots of our preparations for departure. We also let in network reporters to follow our preparations from inside the Chancery, as by now, all sensitive gear had either been stowed or destroyed. Accordingly, Robert Bazell of NBC, with a cameraman in tow, solemnly filmed us loading up the last of our gear from the communications center, which by that time was down to the most important item of all, our supply of Coca-Cola.

Jon also started giving a series of upbeat interviews in which he rather bravely predicted that the Najibullah regime's days were numbered. The Department, in one of its last instructions to us, ordered that Jon should do all the talking for the Embassy, and left little doubt as to what the party line should be. Luckily, I was not authorized to speak, and so could voice no discordant opinions as to the future course of events. Nonetheless, I was allowed to speak on technical subjects, such as the details of the Embassy's departure preparations and also to talk a little bit about the security situation. This made it into the papers after we left, but no harm was done. On the final day, I sent one last message before wiping the hard disk, notifying addressees that Embassy Kabul was shutting down operations and advising them to take us off their address lists. I did not know it at the time, but Jon had gotten Al Kaya to stay open so he could send one last message from the Embassy. I never saw the message, but I was told by others who received it that it caused a little bit of amusement and head-scratching. It was an almost Douglas MacArthur-like "I shall return" message, with Jon ending the cable with his radio call sign, "Liberator."

The Final Day.
It snowed heavily on January 30, so our departure from Kabul was delayed by 24 hours, much to the increased nervousness and agitation of the Department. Perhaps I was just too close to the situation, but I didn't see the urgency in our need for an early departure. I was more concerned with making sure that everything was battened down, buttoned up and done right, but the word was, no matter what the weather, we were leaving on January 31.

That morning we packed our last suitcases, and stuck our "Allah Akbar" armbands in our pockets (the CIA had thoughtfully provided them to us, in case the Mujahedin should overwhelm the Najibullah regime while we were still in Kabul, so we could identify ourselves as friendlies). Everyone then gathered at the Embassy for the final flag ceremony and closing of the Chancery. Actually, of course, the Embassy itself was not closing. The Americans may have been leaving, but our loyal Afghan employees were staying behind, at great risk to themselves. Many of them were still there, doing their jobs at great peril, when we Americans eventually returned over a decade later.

A couple of dozen members of the news media gathered on the front steps of the Chancery, waiting for Jon to come out and begin the ceremony, and, with nothing better to do, started peppering me with questions. Jon came around the side, looking a little peeved that I was talking to the press. We then lowered the flag amid what fanfare we could muster, with only four Marines on hand for the ceremony. Finally, Jon took the press corps over to a small memorial to "Spike" Dubs, where he paid homage to our fallen Ambassador and spoke a few words about the importance of our mission in Kabul. Then the ceremony was over, and the representatives of the press were escorted out the front gate.


Marines, Charge Glassman, Unidentified Staffer

Once the press had left, we conducted final shutdown procedures. The next morning, January 31, a Marine locked the Chancery doors from the inside and exited via a one-way escape route. Then we all piled into the last two operational International Harvester vehicles and headed for the airport, passing a gauntlet of news reporters and cameras on the way. We had left the Embassy behind.

Airport Follies.
I had always thought that if the authorities really wanted to get nasty, they would do so at the airport, with the press safely out of sight, and all of us in their power. For that reason, I was feeling a little jumpy as we went through what would normally be routine boarding procedures. As we waited in the crowded departure hall, my KhAD contact appeared, in uniform, striding through the room and barely looking at any of us. I was relieved that he didn’t show any signs of recognizing me. It would have been a needless complication. Our baggage, such as it was, got through customs without too much trouble, thanks to our Afghan employees who expedited the loading. But our own departure was a different and apparently more time-consuming matter. We were ushered into a waiting room until authorization was received. With that, the last American officials in Kabul spent their final hours at the airport huddled together, surrounded by heavily armed and very nasty looking guards, with members of the security services peering in from time to time. Anything could have happened at that point, but fortunately, my concerns proved to be unfounded, and after what seemed like an inordinate delay, our departure was authorized.

We trooped out to the waiting Indian Airlines 737 and climbed on board, carrying our baggage and a dozen or so tin boxes that contained various Embassy materials. The boxes had been made at the last minute by our Afghan employees, and looked for all the world like coffins. I thought it was a bad omen, but didn't say anything. Nobody likes a jumpy DCM. We took our seats in the rear of the plane, and the tin boxes were stacked in the aisles. It was the strangest loading configuration for an aircraft that I have ever seen, but then again, we were a pretty strange group of travelers. Our pilot told us to fasten our seatbelts, and with that, we began taxiing down the runway. We took off to the applause of the passengers. We were finally on our way. We were leaving Kabul.

One Last Problem.
We didn't know it at the time, but the most dangerous part of our journey had just begun -- not due to the Mujahedin and their Stingers, however, but to Kabul International Airport's air traffic controllers. It seemed that air operations in Kabul, always somewhat chaotic, were made even more so by the fact that the military and civilian sides of the operation didn't communicate with each other very well. The result was a lot of near misses in and around the airport, and the occasional mid-air collision. We were just debating whether to break out the champagne or not, when I saw every person on the left side of the plane turn and stare with astonishment out their windows. "What happened?" I asked. "You won't believe this, but we just about hit a Russian plane," one of my seatmates replied. Apparently, just as the civilian controllers were authorizing our takeoff, the military controllers had vectored an Il-76 to land on the same runway, on a collision course. Only quick evasive action by our pilot had prevented a catastrophe. I hadn't seen the near collision, but the others who had were pretty shaken. One of them claimed to have seen the pilot of the other plane as it whisked by. Enough of that, I thought. I set people to work breaking out the champagne. A few minutes later, we crossed the Afghan-Pakistan border, and toasted our good fortune. We had left Afghanistan for good.

Received as Heroes in Delhi.
We landed in Delhi that evening, amid a blaze of lights, cameras and reporters, and promptly told the story of our dangerous passage to India, which was picked up immediately by the Western media. The next day, we were received by the diplomatic corps at a reception given by the American Ambassador at his palatial residence next to the equally luxurious Chancery building. After seeing the interior of our New Delhi Embassy, which apparently had won some sort of architectural award, and looking over the club and housing facilities available to our staffers there, for the first time in a long time I understood just how hard life had become in Kabul. I had been looking forward to 18 months full of dust, danger, and, if I was lucky, scrambled eggs every morning, as long as our kitchen supplies held out. New Delhi was quite a change.

The next day Jon was invited to brief the press on the situation in Afghanistan. At that briefing, he gave his "house without girders" speech, concluding that the Najibullah regime had no means of support anymore, and its demise was imminent. I bit my tongue throughout the briefing. Jon was giving the party line, and if I had been asked to comment, I'm afraid I would have lined up with Ed McWilliams. I did not have the bigger picture that Ed had gotten in his new job as Special Envoy, but I knew enough about my own small corner of the world to conclude that something was dreadfully wrong with conventional U.S. views on Afghanistan.

Back to the States…
We got our travel orders and were immediately upgraded by Pan Am to First Class on the next 747 to Frankfurt, our evacuation point. It was a glorious flight. The beautiful Indian flight attendants waited on us hand and foot, and we spent our time celebrating, reminiscing, eating and drinking, taking up the front seats in the lower cabin.

…But Not Before One Last Reminder of What Might Have Been.
The flight back was pleasant and uneventful, except for one bizarre moment that made my heart skip a beat. About an hour into the flight, I began to get a very strange feeling that all was not well. Without knowing exactly why, I looked out the window: the landscape far below somehow looked familiar. I glanced further down, and to my shock I saw that we were passing directly over Kabul! After all the trouble we had gone to in order to escape Najibullah's capital, we were flying directly over it again, albeit at a very safe 35,000 feet. All I could do was to shake my head in disbelief at the irony of the situation. We flew over Afghanistan for another hour or so, and then, finally, left its airspace for good. A few hours later, we arrived in Frankfurt. Many of us went our separate ways, but Jon, Gunny and I proceeded on to Washington immediately. We had a meeting scheduled with Secretary Baker.

Briefing Baker.
Jon and I arrived at the State Department the next day, and were installed in guest offices in NEA. Then we were escorted up to the 7th floor to meet the Secretary in his new office, which had already achieved some notoriety for not having a desk. Gunny and I answered the Secretary's questions politely and briefly, but it was Jon who had the floor. He was full of justified praise for the work of his staff, and briefed the Secretary on the situation as he saw it. At the end of the meeting, Baker asked the critical question: "How long has Najibullah got?" Jon thought a second, spread his hands, smiled broadly and answered: "May." I thought I noted a hint of uncertainty in Jon's voice. If so, he was right to be unsure. As it turned out, the providers of our conventional wisdom on Afghanistan, particularly the CIA, were completely on the wrong track.

Kabul, Farewell.
I left the meeting grateful to the Secretary for getting us out of the meat grinder in Afghanistan, but equally determined not to waste time getting out of my current assignment, which had dead-ended into an office on the Afghan desk, with the instructions, "just wait until Kabul falls." Fortunately, my opportunity for escape was not long in coming. I took it with relief, and got the assignment of my dreams, a second tour of duty in Moscow.

Looking back on my six months in Kabul from the safe remove of twenty years, I now see that despite all my travails at the time, the experience was, overall, a very positive one. I learned a lot from my Kabul adventure. It was a unique time in my life, when for once I took real risks, and stepped outside my normal bureaucratic persona. But the question still remains: why did I ever volunteer in the first place? The answer probably lies in my own psychological state at the time. I had been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia a few years before -- in most cases, this disease is a slow death sentence. My mind rebelled against the thought that I might soon die, and for the first time I began to consider my life as a whole, what I had done, and what I had left undone. I wanted to matter, and I wanted people to remember me as someone who had done something worthwhile. So I packed up my suitcases and headed for Kabul, and nearly got killed for my trouble. These days I am considerably older, healthier, and more cautious. My death sentence has been lifted (except for the one we all face), and I doubt that I will ever take such risks again. Still, I do have wonderful memories of my time in Kabul, mixed in with all the horrors.

Every couple of years, it is my custom to reread one of my favorite novels, George MacDonald Fraser's bitingly funny and historically accurate tale, "The Flashman Papers." It describes in eloquent terms the frightening adventures of Harry Flashman during the First Afghan War. Flashman was a cad, a bounder, and above all a coward, but like me, when he found himself in Afghanistan he adapted pretty well to the situation and made the best of things. These days, I read the book for enjoyment, and to remember; but it is also a cautionary tale, reminding me of what I would be letting myself in for should I ever entertain the dangerous notion of serving in Afghanistan again.

Historical Postscript:
Those who believed that the Najibullah regime would hang on for awhile were proven correct. As the months rolled by, it became increasingly clear that Najibullah, as long as he was supported by Soviet money and materièl, would be able to hold his own against the Mujahedin. This was particularly true because Western interest in Afghanistan quickly evaporated, once the country had lost its status as a front in the Cold War. But, in the end, events beyond Najibullah's control proved to be his undoing. The abortive August 1991 coup led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in December, 1991, and support for Najibullah dried up. His troops, who were no longer being paid regularly, began defecting in large numbers. Kabul finally fell to the Mujahedin on April 25, 1992, over three years after the Soviets had withdrawn. Najibullah survived, however, by taking refuge in the UN compound, where I had spent many a happy hour trading drinks with my UN and Soviet acquaintances. True to form, the Mujahedin then began fighting among themselves, allowing the fundamentalist Taliban to gain increasing power in the South, with Pakistani help. The Taliban took Kabul on September 27, 1996. They executed Najibullah and drove the Northern Alliance and other Mujahedin groups back into their base areas. Following the al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States threw its support to anti-Taliban forces in an effort to root out terrorist bases in Afghanistan. The Taliban were no match for B-52's and Special Forces and quickly folded. U.S.-supported Afghan fighters reconquered Kabul on November 13, 2001.

The Fate of the U.S. Embassy.
Despite all the chaos in Kabul during the 1990's, the U.S. Embassy survived in relatively good shape. On September 26, 2001, as American-supported forces approached the capital, pro-Taliban rioters overran the vacated U.S. Embassy grounds and set many of the outer administrative buildings on fire, but the Chancery itself was not significantly damaged. U.S. Marines reoccupied the Embassy compound on December 17, 2001, and re-raised the flag that we had originally taken down on January 30, 1989. A few months after the U.S. Embassy was up and running again, my successor as DCM sent me a couple of keepsakes from my office, as well as a curious historical document -- my last breakfast order. It had rested, undisturbed, on the counter of our basement cafeteria for nearly 13 years.


Attachments.
1. CIA Map of Kabul 
2. Embassy Kabul Weekly Report (example)
3. Vorontsov Cable (partially released)

1. CIA Map of Kabul, ca. 1980
(Note: Best viewed at 200% magnification)




2. Embassy Kabul Weekly Report
(Example report from October 1988  -- fully declassified)
 
 
UNCLASSIFIED E31
 
 
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE
PAGE 01
ACTION NEA-11
 

KABUL 02507 01 OF 05 150631Z RELEASED IN FULL
 
 
INFO LOG-00 ADS-00 AID-00 INR-10 EUR-00 SS-00
H-01 I0-19 NSCE-00 NSAE-00 SS0-00 HA-09
TRSE-00 PM-10 PA-01 OMB-01 INRE-00 RP-10
SP-02 SNP-01 C-01 PRS-01 DS-01 P-02
/096 W
------------------007726 150742Z /11
0 150610Z OCT 88
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0300
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE
INFO AFGHAN WAR COLLECTIVE
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
AMEMBASSY SANAA
AMCONSUL CASABLANCA
USIA WASHDC 2827
DIA WASHDC
JCS WASHDC
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
FT BRAGG NC AFVS//POE//SB
CINCPAC HONOLULU HI
CINCUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE//INCO
USNMR SHAPE BE//INTAFF//
USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCJ2-IOM//
DEFENSE COMlv:IUNICATION SUPPORT GROUP
RUCLFNA/347 TFW MOODY AFB GA//IN//
USDOCOSOUTH NAPLES IT
FSTC INTEL OPS CHARLOTTESVILLE VA//AIAST-IO/CMI//
MSGBN QUANTICO VA
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PAGE 02 KABUL 02507 01 OF 05 150631Z
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE SECTION 01 OF 05 KABUL 02507
MILITARY ADDRESSEES ALSO FOR POLADS; PARIS ALSO FOR
USDAO; DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR NEA/PAB, MR. BRUNO;
 
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE
REVIEW AUTHORITY: SHARON E AHMAD
 

DATE/CASE ID: 15 SEP 2011 201101525 UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
CIAE-00
L-03
ACDA-12
T-01
 

CASABLANCA FOR CO A UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, MCAP, PHUM, PINS, PINR, PROP, PREF,
ASEC, UR, AF
SUBJECT: KABUL CITY DEVELOPMENTS: OCTOBER 3 - 9
REFS: A) KABUL 2481, B) KABUL 2477
1. (U) FOR ISLAMABAD AND NEW DELHI: YOU MAY WISH TO
DRAW ON THE FOLLOWING TO BRIEF PRESS. THIS MESSAGE MAY
BE DECONTROLLED UPON RECEIPT.
2. (U) MUJAHIDIN ROCKET ATTACKS ON THE CITY OF KABUL
WERE FEWER IN NUMBER THAN THE WEEK BEFORE, AND
CASUALTIES WERE MUCH LOWER. FOR THE WEEK, THERE WERE A
TOTAL OF SIX ROCKETING INCIDENTS INVOLVING A MINIMUM OF
60 ROCKETS AND RESULTING IN 20 CIVILIANS KILLED AND 40
WOUNDED (MILITARY CASUALTIES WERE NOT REPORTED BY THE
REGIME). THE MOST SERIOUS ROCKETING ATTACK TOOK PLACE
ON OCTOBER 5, WHEN FROM 0520 UNTIL 0740 MUJAHIDIN
ROCKETS FELL IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS IN SOUTHERN, WESTERN
AND NORTHERN KABUL. ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL ACCOUNTS,
SOME 42 ROCKETS WERE FIRED. SIXTEEN REPORTEDLY HIT
OUTSIDE THE CITY, AND THE REMAINDER FELL IN QALA MUSA,
KOLOLA PUSHTA, TAIMANI, AND WAZIRABAD, KILLING 13
PERSONS AND WOUNDING 34. WESTERN DIPLOMATS WITNESSED
THREE ROCKETS HITTING QALA MUSA AT 0520 AND NINE ROCKETS
HITTING THE KOLOLA PUSHTA AND TAIMANI AREAS BETWEEN 0705
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PAGE 03 KABUL 02507 01 OF 05 150631Z
AND 0720. ACCORDING TO AFGHAN SOURCES, THE ROCKETS WERE
FIRED FROM THE NORTH AND NORTHWEST AND WERE INTENDED FOR
THE AIRPORT. TWO ROCKETS IN THE BARRAGE DID LAND ON
AIRPORT GROUNDS, BUT NO CASUALTY OR DAMAGE FIGURES FOR
THESE STRIKES ARE AVAILABLE. ACCORDING TO DIPLOMATIC
SOURCES, AT THE SAME TIME TWO ROCKETS ALSO FELL NEAR THE
SOVIET DIPLOMATIC COMPOUND IN SOUTH KABUL, CAUSING
UNKNOWN DAMAGE AND CASUALTIES. AT 0740, A ROCKET FELL
IN THE KART-E PARWAN AREA. OTHER ROCKET ATTACKS DURING
THE WEEK OCCURRED ON OCTOBER 3, 6, 7 AND 9. ON OCTOBER
3 AT 1530, THREE ROCKETS LANDED IN TAIMANI, QALAI
FATHULLAH KHAN AND KOLOLA PUSHTA, DAMAGING SEVERAL
HOUSES AND INJURING ONE PERSON. ON OCTOBER 6 AT 1700,
DIPLOMATIC SOURCES REPORT THAT SIX ROCKETS STRUCK
DARULAMAN, CAUSING UNKNOWN DAMAGE AND CASUALTIES. AT
 
UNCLASSIFIED
 
2300, SEVEN ROCKETS STRUCK KOTAL-E KHAIR KHANA, ALSO
CAUSING UNKNOWN DAMAGE AND CASUALTIES. ON THE MORNING
OF OCTOBER 7, TWO ROCKETS HIT A HOUSE NEAR KABUL AIRPORT
GROUNDS, KILLING FOUR PERSONS. AT 1050 ON OCTOBER 9, AN
UNKNOWN NUMBER OF ROCKETS LANDED IN WESTERN KABUL,
KILLING THREE AND INJURING FIVE, ACCORDING TO KABUL
MEDIA. IN OTHER MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS, A BOMB EXPLODED
AT A MINIBUS STATION IN SILO AT 1830 ON OCTOBER 6,
CAUSING NO CASUALTIES. THE REGIME PUBLICIZED A NEW
BLOOD DRIVE, PROBABLY TO REPLACE BLOOD EXPENDED IN
TREATING CASUALTIES FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK. FINALLY,
AFTER AN ABSENCE OF MORE THAN A MONTH, SOVIET SU-25
FROGFOOTS WERE ONCE AGAIN DEPLOYED TO KABUL AIRPORT ON
OR ABOUT OCTOBER 6. UNTIL THE AUGUST 27 ROCKET ATTACK
ON THE AIRPORT, EIGHT SU-25'S WERE BASED AT KABUL. IT
APPEARS THAT FOR THE TIME BEING ONLY FOUR FROGFOOTS HAVE
RETURNED. FOR THE WEEK, DIPLOMATS AND AFGHANS REPORTED
THE FOLLOWING:
-- OCTOBER 03: AT 0200, AFGHANS REPORTED OUTGOING
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 


 

 
 
 
 
ARTILLERY FROM THE KARGHA AREA. AT 0900, MACHINE GUN
FIRE WAS HEARD IN MIKRORAYON. AT 1505, MULTI-BARREL
ROCKET FIRE WAS HEARD TO THE WEST OF KABUL. AT 1530,
THREE ROCKETS LANDED IN TAIMANI, QALAI FATHULLAH KHAN
AND KOLOLA PUSHTA, DAMAGING SEVERAL HOUSES AND INJURING
ONE PERSON. AT 2015, A SMALL BOMB WAS ROLLED UNDER A
VOLGA AUTOMOBILE PARKED NEAR THE SHER PUR MOSQUE. THE
RESULTING EXPLOSION WRECKED THE CAR AND BLEW OUT SEVERAL
WINDOWS, BUT CAUSED NO CASUALTIES. AT 2050, OUTGOING
ARTILLERY WAS HEARD. FROM 2000-2100, SMALL ARMS FIRE
WAS HEARD IN VARIOUS AREAS OF CENTRAL KABUL.
-- OCTOBER 04: NO ACTIVITY OF MILITARY SIGNIFICANCE WAS
NOTED.
-- OCTOBER 05: FROM 0520 UNTIL 0740 MUJAHIDIN ROCKETS
FELL IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS IN SOUTHERN, WESTERN AND
NORTHERN KABUL. ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL ACCOUNTS, SOME 42
ROCKETS WERE FIRED. SIXTEEN REPORTEDLY HIT OUTSIDE THE
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CITY, AND THE REMAINDER FELL IN QALA MUSA, KOLOLA
PUSHTA, TAIMANI, AND WAZIRABAD, KILLING 13 PERSONS AND
WOUNDING 34. WESTERN DIPLOMATS WITNESSED THREE ROCKETS
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PAGE 03 KABUL 02507 02 OF 05 150633Z
HITTING QALA MUSA AT 0520 AND NINE ROCKETS HITTING THE
KOLOLA PUSHTA AND TAIMANI AREAS BETWEEN 0705 AND 0720.
ACCORDING TO AFGHAN SOURCES, THE ROCKETS WERE FIRED FROM
THE NORTH AND NORTHWEST AND WERE INTENDED FOR THE
AIRPORT. TWO ROCKETS IN THE BARRAGE DID LAND ON AIRPORT
GROUNDS, BUT NO CASUALTY OR DAMAGE FIGURES FOR THESE
STRIKES ARE AVAILABLE. ACCORDING TO DIPLOMATIC SOURCES,
AT THE SAME TIME TWO ROCKETS ALSO FELL NEAR THE SOVIET
DIPLOMATIC COMPOUND IN SOUTH KABUL, CAUSING UNKNOWN
DAMAGE AND CASUALTIES. AT 0740, A ROCKET FELL IN THE
KART-E PARWAN AREA. AT 1115, A BOMB EXPLODED IN AN
OFFICE NEAR BAGH-E BABUR IN SOUTHEAST KABUL. CASUALTIES
ARE UNKNOWN. AT 1750, OUTGOING ROCKET AND ARTILLERY
FIRE WAS HEARD IN DARULAMAN.
OCTOBER 06: AT AROUND 0300, MACHINE GUN FIRE WAS
HEARD IN WAZIR AKBAR KHAN. AT 0630, OUTGOING ARTILLERY
WAS HEARD FROM THE KHAIR KHANA AND AIRPORT AREAS. AT
0715, THERE WAS SCATTERED SMALL ARMS FIRE HEARD IN THE
COMPOUND ACROSS AIRPORT ROAD FROM THE U.S. EMBASSY. AT
1700, DIPLOMATIC SOURCES REPORT THAT SIX ROCKETS STRUCK
DARULAMAN, CAUSING UNKNOWN DAMAGE AND CASUALTIES. AT
1830, A BOMB EXPLODED IN A MINIBUS STATION AT SILO,
CAUSING NO CASUALTIES. AT 2300, SEVEN ROCKETS STRUCK
KOTAL-E KHAIR KHANA, CAUSING UNKNOWN DAMAGE AND
CASUALTIES.
OCTOBER 07: DURING THE MORNING, TWO ROCKETS HIT A
HOUSE NEAR KABUL AIRPORT GROUNDS, KILLING FOUR PERSONS.
AT 2030, AK-47 FIRE WAS HEARD IN FRONT OF THE YUGOSLAV
EMBASSY ON GREEN MOSQUE STREET.
OCTOBER 08: FROM 2100-2200, OUTGOING ARTILLERY WAS
HEARD FROM DARULAMAN.
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
OCTOBER 09: AT 1050, AN UNKNOWN NUMBER OF ROCKETS
LANDED IN WESTERN KABUL, KILLING THREE AND INJURING
FIVE, ACCORDING TO KABUL MEDIA. FROM 1900-1915,
ARTILLERY FLASHES WERE OBSERVED IN THE DARULAMAN AND
KARIZ-E MIR AREAS, WITH HITS TO THE EAST OF KABUL IN
KOH-E SAFI. FLARES WERE ALSO OBSERVED OVER THE AIRPORT
AND OVER DASHT-E BARCHI.
3. VEHICLE MOVEMENT IN THE KABUL AREA: VEHICLE
MOVEMENT WAS VERY HIGH THIS WEEK, REFLECTING
SOVIET/REGIME EFFORTS (LARGELY SUCCESSFUL) TO CLEAR THE
LOGAR, JALALABAD, AND SALANG ROADS.
-- OCTOBER 03: AT 0625, DIPLOMATS OBSERVED 30 SOVIET
TANKER TRUCKS FORMING UP TO MOVE NORTH ON THE SALANG.
AFGHAN SOURCES REPORT THAT ON THIS DAY A BATTALION-SIZED
REGIME FORCE OF 80-90 ARMORED VEHICLES MOVED SOUTH ON
THE LOGAR ROAD. ALSO ON OR AFTER THIS DAY, THE REGIME
REPORTEDLY SENT A BATTALION-SIZE FORCE OF AROUND 90-100
VEHICLES EAST FROM KABUL TOWARDS SORUBI IN AN ATTEMPT TO
CLEAR THE JALALABAD ROAD. HOWEVER, THIS FORCE FAILED TO
BREAK THROUGH, AND A LARGER RELIEF FORCE WAS SENT,
 
WHICH, WITH SOVIET HELP, SUCCEEDED IN LINKING UP WITH
REGIME FORCES SENT TO SORUBI FROM JALALABAD.
-- OCTOBER 04: AT 0645, SOVIET CONVOY NO. 346,
CONSISTING OF FIVE BTR-80'S, FIFTEEN MEDIUM TRUCKS, SIX
FUEL TRUCKS, TWO TRUCKS WITH ZU-23'S MOUNTED AND ONE
 
 


 
 
 
FIRE TRUCK, WAS OBSERVED MOVING WEST ON THE PERIMETER
ROAD. AT 0652, A SOVIET CONVOY CONSISTING OF 13
VEHICLES, INCLUDING ONE BTR-80, EIGHT BOX-BODY MEDIUM
TRUCKS, THREE OTHER TRUCKS, AND ONE TRUCK WITH ZU-23
MOUNTED, WAS SEEN MOVING WEST ON THE PERIMETER ROAD. AT
1635, AND AFGHAN CONVOY CONSISTING OF 40 TANKER TRUCKS,
ESCORTED BY NUMEROUS BTR'S AND APC'S, WAS OBSERVED
MOVING SOUTH ON THE SALANG INTO THE CITY.
-- OCTOBER 05: AT 0330, A SOVIET CONVOY CONSISTING OF
OVER 20 VEHICLES WAS OBSERVED MOVING SOUTH FROM KHAIR
KHANA PAST THE AMERICAN EMBASSY. AT 0645, AN AFGHAN
CONVOY CONSISTING OF OVER 200 TRUCKS OF VARIOUS TYPES,
AND AT LEAST ONE BRDM, FIVE BTR-60'S, TWO BMP'S, AND SIX
TRUCKS WITH ZU-23'S MOUNTED, WAS OBSERVED MOVING NORTH
ON THE SALANG FROM AN ASSEMBLY AREA IN TAIMANI. THIS
CONVOY REPORTEDLY HAD ATTEMPTED TO MOVE UP THE SALANG AT
0400, BUT HAD RETURNED TO KABUL DUE TO FIGHTING NEAR THE
KHAIR KHANA PASS. AT 0720, A SOVIET CONVOY CONSISTING
OF 13 TRUCKS, ONE WITH ZU-23 MOUNTED, TWO BMP-2'S, AND
TWO TRUCKS WITH FLAT-FACE RADAR MOUNTED, WAS OBSERVED
MOVING WEST ON THE PERIMETER ROAD. AT 1615, A REGIME
CONVOY, CONSISTING OF 50 MILITARY TRUCKS, FIVE TRUCKS
WITH ZU-23 MOUNTED, SEVERAL JEEPS, BTR'S AND BMP'S, AND
TWO TRUCKS CARRYING VEHICLE WRECKAGE, WAS OBSERVED BY
DIPLOMATS MOVING SOUTH ON THE SALANG INTO THE CITY.
-- OCTOBER 06: AT 0655, A SOVIET FIGHTING CONVOY WAS
OBSERVED COMING IN FROM TARAKHEL AND MOVING WEST ON THE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
PERIMETER ROAD. IT WAS LED BY A T-62 TANK EQUIPPED WITH
A MINE ROLLER, AND INCLUDED TWO BTR-70'S, TEN TRUCKS,
AND ONE BROKEN-DOWN TRUCK UNDER TOW. A BTR-70 WAS ALSO
POSTED AT THE INTERSECTION OF THE TARAKHEL AND PERIMETER
ROADS, PRESUMABLY FOR CONVOY SECURITY.
OCTOBER 07: NO VEHICLE MOVEMENT WAS OBSERVED.
OCTOBER 08: ON OCTOBER 8, THE SOVIETS SENT FIVE
LARGE CONVOYS TOTALLING OVER 200 VEHICLES UP THE SAL.ANG,
 
 
 
OPENING THE SALANG TO UNRESTRICTED TRAFFIC. AT 0430, A
SOVIET FIGHTING CONVOY CONSISTING OF 50-60 ARMORED
VEHICLES WAS OBSERVED MOVING FROM DARULAMAN THROUGH THE
CENTER OF KABUL AND NORTH UP THE SALANG. AT 0625, A
MIXED SOVIET-AFGHAN CONVOY, EXTREMELY DIRTY, WAS SEEN
FORMING UP AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE SALANG, CONSISTING OF
15 MEDIUM TRUCKS AND SEVEN BTR-80'S. AT 0630, A SOVIET
CONVOY CONSISTING OF ONE BMP-2, FOUR MEDIUM TRUCKS, ONE
BOX-BODY TRUCK, TWO MAZ-537 TRACTORS, 10 MAZ-537 TRACTOR
TRUCKS WITH SEMI-TRAILERS, TWO TRUCKS WITH ZU-23'S
MOUNTED, TWO CRANES AND TWO BTR-80'S WAS SEEN MOVING
WEST ON THE PERIMETER ROAD. THE 10 SEMI-TRAILERS WERE
 
LOADED WITH DAMAGED OR PARTIALLY DESTROYED VEHICLES,
INCLUDING 12 BTR-80'S, ONE T-62, FOUR BULLDOZERS, TWO
BMP'S AND ONE KAMAZ TRUCK. AT 0634, SOVIET FUEL CONVOY
NO. 1051, CONSISTING OF 24 TANKER TRUCKS, ONE TRUCK WITH
ZU-23 MOUNTED, ONE URAL-375 BOX BODY, ONE GAZ-66, ONE
BUS, TWO KAMAZ TRUCKS, AND ONE LARGE FLATBED TRUCK
CARRYING TWO BOX-BODIES, WAS SEEN MOVING WEST ON THE
PERIMETER ROAD. AT 0640, SOVIET FUEL CONVOY NO. 1052,
CONSISTING OF 31 TANKER TRUCKS AND TWO BOX-BODIES, WAS
SEEN MOVING OUT OF THE TANKER FUELING AREA NORTH OF THE
PERIMETER ROAD AND THE 103RD GUARDS AIRBORNE DIVISION
CAMP. IT THEN MOVED WEST ON THE PERIMETER ROAD.
OCTOBER 09: NO VEHICLE MOVEMENT WAS OBSERVED.
4 . AIR DEVELOPMENTS: AFTER AN ABSENCE OF MORE THAN A
MONTH, SOVIET SU-25 FROGFOOTS WERE ONCE AGAIN DEPLOYED
TO KABUL AIRPORT ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 6. UNTIL THE
AUGUST 27 ROCKET ATTACK ON THE AIRPORT, EIGHT SU-25'S
WERE BASED AT KABUL. IT APPEARS THAT FOR THE TIME BEING
ONLY FOUR FROGFOOTS HAVE RETURNED. THEY ARE HOUSED IN
NEWLY-CONSTRUCTED REVETMENTS. NIGHT HELICOPTER PATROLS
OVER THE CITY APPEAR TO HAVE INCREASED DURING THE PAST
FEW WEEKS FOR UNKNOWN REASONS. OBSERVED IL-76 MISSIONS
WERE LOWER THAN THE PREVIOUS WEEK, WITH 22 IL-76
DEPARTURES NOTED, VERSUS 24 THE WEEK BEFORE.
OCTOBER 03: TWO IL-76'S ARRIVED THEN DEPARTED.
OCTOBER 04: TWO IL-76'S ARRIVED THEN DEPARTED.
OCTOBER 05: THREE IL-76'S ARRIVED THEN DEPARTED.
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
-- OCTOBER 06: FIVE IL-76'S ARRIVED THEN DEPARTED.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

 
 
 
 
OCTOBER 07: ONE IL-76'S ARRIVED THEN DEPARTED.
OCTOBER 08: FOUR IL-76'S ARRIVED THEN DEPARTED.
OCTOBER 09: FIVE IL-76'S ARRIVED THEN DEPARTED.
SCHUMAKER
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE
 
UNCLASSIFIED
 
UNCLASSIFIED
 
NNNN
 
 
 

 
3. Cable on Vorontsov
(Released in Part)
 
 
 
 
UNCLASSIFIED  RELEASED IN PART B1, 1.4 (B), 1.4 (D) /38 DECAPTIONED
 
CONFIDENTIALPAGE 01              KABUL  02513   01          OF 03   170526Z
ACTION SS-00
 
INFO LOG-00 ADS-00 SSO-00              /000 W
------------------041474              170526Z
O            170459Z OCT 88
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0306
INFO AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY LONDON
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 02513
 
EXDIS KHYBER
 
E.O.     12356: DECL: OADR
TAGS: PREL, UR, AF
SUBJECT: VORONTSOV AS SOVIET PROCONSUL
 
REFS: A) KABUL 2502, B) KABUL 2503, C) KABUL 2506,
D) MOSCOW 24005
 
1.           C - ENTIRE TEXT.
 
2.          SUMMARY: SPECULATION IN KABUL CONTINUES OVER THE
SUDDEN AND UNEXPECTED RECALL OF SOVIET AMBASSADOR
YEGORYCHEV, AND HIS REPLACEMENT BY ONE OF THE MOST
 POWERFUL MEN IN THE SOVIET FOREIGN POLICY APPARATUS,
FIRST DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER YULIY VORONTSOV.
THERE ARE SEVERAL THEORIES AS TO WHY VORONTSOV WAS SELECTED TO REPLACE YEGORYCHEV. HOWEVER, THE MOST PLAUSIBLE IS THAT THE SOVIET LEADERSHIP, REALIZING THAT THE POLITICAL AND MILITARY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN WAS STEADILY DETER-IORATING, DECIDED THAT STRONGER MEASURES WERE REQUIRED. VORONTSOV WAS THEREFORE SENT IN WITH A MANDATE TO DO WHATEVER WAS NECESSARY TO PRESERVE SOVIET INTERESTS AND TO ACHIEVE A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT. ACCORDING TO THERE WAS ALSO A DOMESTIC POLITICAL ANGLE WHICH FORCED GORBACHEV'S HAND AND DICTATED STRONGER MEASURES IMMEDIATELY IN AFGHANISTAN. IF THE ABOVE ANALYSIS IS CORRECT,VORONTSOV'S TASK WILL BE ENORMOUSLY
DIFFICULT, AND HIS ROOM FOR MANEUVER WILL STEADILY
DIMINISH AS THE FEBRUARY 15 DEADLINE FOR SOVIET WITH-
DRAWAL APPROACHES. IF HE SUCCEEDS, VORONTSOV WILL RETURN TO MOSCOW IN TRIUMPH. IF HE FAILS, HE COULD BE REMEMBERED AS JUST ANOTHER DOBRYNIN PROTEGE WHO BROKE HIS SWORD IN AFGHANISTAN. END SUMMARY.
 
3.          ON OCTOBER 13, KABUL MEDIA ANNOUNCED THAT SOVIET
AMBASSADOR NIKOLAY GRIGORYEVICH YEGORYCHEV WAS BEING
RECALLED, AND THAT HIS REPLACEMENT WOULD BE FIRST
DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER YULIY MIKHAYLOVICH VORONTSOV,
A DIPLOMAT WITH LONG EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH THE
AFGHANISTAN PROBLEM. SINCE THAT TIME, SPECULATION
ABOUT THE REASONS FOR THE CHANGE OF AMBASSADORS AND
VORONTSOV'S MANDATE HAS GROWN RAPIDLY IN KABUL.
IN BROADEST TERMS, THERE ARE SOLID INDICATIONS AS TO THE
REASONS FOR YEGORYCHEV'S WITHDRAWAL, AND THERE ARE THREE THEORIES, ONE OF WHICH WE CONSIDER OVERWHELMINGLY THE MOST LIKELY, TO EXPLAIN VORONTSOV'S SELECTION AND MANDATE.
 
4.          WHY WAS YEGORYCHEV WITHDRAWN?
 
 
THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF THEORIES SUGGESTED AS TO WHYYEGORYCHEV WAS WITHDRAWN, BUT THE ONE THAT SQUARES MOST CLOSELY WITH THE FACTS IS THAT, AS SOVIET AMBASSADOR, HE WAS NOT FORCEFUL ENOUGH IN ASSERTING SOVIET INFLUENCE OVER THE PDPA AND IN CRACKING HEADS TO ESTABLISH POLITICAL UNITY WITHIN THE PARTY. THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF RUMORS IN RECENT WEEKS THAT MOSCOW WAS GROWING INCREAS-INGLY DISSATISFIED WITH THE PDPA'S INTERNAL POLITICAL BICKERING. ALSO, AND PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANTLY, THERE ARE
REPORTS THAT YEGORYCHEV HIMSELF WAS NOT FULLY INFORMED
ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE SOVIET MILITARY IN AFGHANIS-TAN. A PAKISTANI DIPLOMAT REPORTS A STORY, WHICH IS UNCONFIRMED, THAT FOLLOWING THE SHULTZ-SHEVARDNADZE TALKS AT THE UN LAST MONTH, VORONTSOV WAS REQUESTED BY SHEVARDNADZE TO LOOK INTO REPORTS OF SOVIET AIR VIOLATIONS OF THE PAKISTANI BORDER, TO SEE IF U.S. AND PAKISTANI CHARGES HAD MERIT. ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, VORONTSOV ASKED YEGORYCHEV FOR AN ANSWER, AND HE WAS TOLD, "ASK THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE." VORONTSOV AND SHEVARDNADZE WERE REPORTEDLY DISSATISFIED WITH THIS REPLY, AND TOLD YEGORYCHEV THAT HE SHOULD ALREADY KNOW. COMMENT: WE WOULD NOTE THAT IN OUR INTERMITTENT CONTACTS WITH YEGORYCHEV, THERE WERE TIMES WHEN WE SUSPECTED THAT HE DID NOT KNOW THE WHOLE STORY ON SOVIET AIR VIOLATIONS, AND WAS BEING MISINFORMED BY MOD. END COMMENT.
 
5.          WHY WAS VORONTSOV CHOSEN TO SUCCEED YEGORYCHEV?
SINCE NEWS OF VORONTSOV'S SELECTION WAS FIRST ANNOUNCED ON OCTOBER 13, THREE DISTINCT THEORIES HAVE DEVELOPED ON WHY HE WAS SELECTED AS THE NEW SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN:
 
-- FIRST, IT WAS A STRAIGHT DEMOTION. VORONTSOV, AS A PROTEGE OF DOBRYNIN, WAS BEING DEMOTED FROM HIS CURRENT JOB AS FIRST DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER AND BEING SENT TO AN IMPOSSIBLE JOB IN AFGHANISTAN, AND LIKELY POLITICAL OBLIVION.
 
-- SECOND, THE SELECTION OF VORONTSOV MEANT THAT MOSCOW WAS IN EFFECT DISENGAGING FROM THE NAJIBULLAH REGIME, SINCE VORONTSOV WOULD RETAIN HIS FIRST DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER TITLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES, AND WOULD LIKELY SPEND MOST OF HIS TIME IN MOSCOW, EFFECTIVELY LOWERING MOSCOW'S POLITICAL PROFILE IN, AND COMMITMENT TO, THE KABUL REGIME.
 
-- THIRD, THAT VORONTSOV WAS CHOSEN BECAUSE THE SOVIET LEADERSHIP, REALIZING THE POLITICAL AND MILITARY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN WAS STEADILY DETERIORATING, FELT THEY NEEDED THEIR BEST MAN IN KABUL, WITH EXTRAORDINARY POWERS
--IN EFFECT A PROCONSUL--TO RIGHT THE SITUATION AND PROTECT SOVIET INTERESTS.
 
6.           BASED ON THE EVIDENCE TO DATE, THE THIRD THEORY SEEMS TO BE THE MOST LIKELY ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: WHY VORONTSOV? VORONTSOV'S RAPID ARRIVAL ON THE SCENE, EVEN BEFORE HIS PREDECESSOR'S DEPARTURE (THE PAIR USED THE SAME INBOUND AND OUTBOUND SPECIAL FLIGHT) INDICATES THAT HE WAS ALREADY A MAN WITH AN
URGENT MISSION, AND COULD NOT WAIT FOR THE
NICETIES OF DIPLOMATIC PROTOCOL. EARLY INDICATIONS WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM SOVIET DIPLOMATS HERE ARE THAT
VORONTSOV HAS MUCH BROADER POWERS THAN HIS PREDECESSOR, YEGORYCHEV, AND THAT HIS MANDATE IS TO CRACK HEADS, ESTABLISH PDPA PARTY UNITY, AND ADVANCE A NEGOTIABLE TRANSITION GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE

TIME. SOVIETS HERE NOTE THAT VORONTSOV WILL RETAIN HIS
FIRST DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER TITLE AND CLAIM THAT HE
WILL RETAIN HIS MOSCOW RESPONSIBILITIES, BUT IT IS MOST
LIKELY THAT REPORTS FROM MOSCOW THAT HIS RESPONSIBILITIES
THERE WILL BE PARCELLED OUT AMONG OTHERS IS CLOSER TO
THE TRUTH       (REF D). SOVIETS HERE ALSO SAY THAT VORONTSOV
CAN BE EXPECTED TO SPEND MOST OF HIS TIME IN KABUL, IN
KEEPING WITH THE VIEW THAT HE WILL BE TAKING AN ACTIVE
ROLE IN REGIME AFFAIRS.
 
7.           ((DELETED)) REPORTS, TOO, THAT
THERE IS AN ADDITIONAL DOMESTIC POLICY WRINKLE TO THE
VORONTSOV APPOINTMENT.
((DELETED))1 HAS TOLD ((DELETED)) OFFICIALS THAT
GORBACHEV'S HAND WAS FORCED OVER AFGHANISTAN BECAUSE OF
CRITICISM OF HIS POLICY BY THE MILITARY. THE SOVIET
MILITARY MAINTAINED THAT, GIVEN A FREE HAND, THEY COULD
WIN THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN QUICKLY, AND DID NOT UNDER-
STAND THE COMPELLING FOREIGN POLICY AND DOMESTIC REASONS
WHICH PERSUADED GORBACHEV TO MAKE THE DECISION TO WITHDRAW
FROM AFGHANISTAN. BECAUSE A FAILURE IN AFGHANISTAN WOULD
GIVE GORBACHEV'S OPPONENTS A POWERFUL WEAPON TO USE
AGAINST HIM, GORBACHEV AND HIS SUPPORTERS DECIDED THAT
STRONGER MEASURES WERE CALLED FOR. ERGO, VORONTSOV.
ACCORDING TO THIS ((DELETED)) REPORT, VORONTSOV'S APPOINTMENT
IS SHORT-TERM, AND HE WILL RETURN TO MOSCOW ONCE HE HAS
DEALT WITH THE CRISIS.
 
8.           VORONTSOV'S PROBLEM
 
IF THE FOREGOING ANALYSIS IS CORRECT, NATO CHARGES HERE
IN KABUL AGREE THAT VORONTSOV'S TASK WILL BE ENORMOUSLY
DIFFICULT. WHILE IT IS LIKELY THAT HE WILL BE ABLE TO
ENFORCE UNITY AMONG THE PDPA'S FACTIONS AND PRODUCE SOME
SORT OF NEGOTIABLE PLAN FOR A TRANSITION GOVERNMENT, THE
GREATEST OBSTACLE TO THE FULFILLMENT OF HIS OBJECTIVE
WILL BE THE INCHOATE NATURE OF THE OPPOSITION ITSELF.
VORONTSOV MAY AT SOME POINT PRODUCE A NEGOTIATING
PROPOSAL, BUT WITH WHOM WILL HE NEGOTIATE? WITH MANY
MUJAHIDIN GROUPS PRESSING FOR AN UNCONDITIONAL MILITARY
SOLUTION, VORONTSOV'S BEST HOPE WOULD APPEAR TO BE TO
SPLIT OFF THE MORE MODERATE MUJAHIDIN FACTIONS BY ENTICING
THEM INTO SEPARATE NEGOTIATIONS. IN ANY CASE, AS THE
CLOCK TICKS TOWARD FEBRUARY 15, VORONTSOV'S OPTIONS, AND
HIS ROOM FOR MANEUVER WILL GROW EVER SMALLER. IF
VORONTSOV SUCCEEDS WHERE OTHERS HAVE FAILED, HE WILL BE
ACCLAIMED AND RETURN TO MOSCOW IN TRIUMPH. BUT IF, AS IS
LIKELY, HE FAILS, HE COULD BE REMEMBERED AS JUST ANOTHER
DOBRYNIN PROTEGE, WHO WAS GIVEN AN IMPOSSIBLE MISSION, AND BROKE HIS SWORD IN AFGHANISTAN.  SCHUMAKER
 
 
 
CONFIDENTIAL
 
NNNN
 
UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
End of Draft Chapter.

3 comments:

  1. Sir,
    Thank you for a fascinating post. I have drawn attention to your memoir on my FaceBook page.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eamonn-Gearon/227348607278613
    Best regards,

    Eamonn Gearon

    Professor, Johns Hopkins (SAIS)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Jim, thanks for the good read, it brings back memories.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete