Six years into its decade-long war in Afghanistan, with thousands of soldiers in their graves, the Soviet Union was still confounded by the traditions and terrain of the hardscrabble nation.
In recently translated documents, former President Mikhail Gorbachev admits:
''If we go on in the same way, we'll have to fight for another 20-30 years! They'll soon be calling it the weird war. In six years, we haven't learned how to fight there.''
The Soviet War in Afghanistan, also known as the Soviet–Afghan War, was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan at their own request, against the Islamist Mujahideen Resistance.
The Afghan government was also supported by India, while the mujahideen found other support from a variety of sources including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other Muslim nations through the context of the Cold War and the regional India-Pakistan conflict.
The initial Soviet deployment of the 40th Army in Afghanistan began on December 24, 1979 under the leadership of Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
The final troop withdrawal started on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989 under the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Due to the interminable nature of the war, the conflict in Afghanistan has often been referred to as the Soviets' Vietnam; in relation to the Vietnam War.