Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

On December 25, 1979, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in order to support a pro-Soviet government that was being attacked by rebels in the country.  Although they thought the war would be short, it dragged on for 10 years.

The invasion was condemned by nations all over the world, especially the United States.

Cold War tensions rose. More nuclear arms were made.

And, in the immediate response, the United States decided to do something else:

Clearly, the Soviet army was technologically superior to the Afghan rebels. The main rebel group fighting against the Soviets were the Mujahideen, and they believed that they were fighting a holy war against the Soviet invaders.

They used guerrilla tactics against the Soviet Army.

Plus, they had help.

Since this group was fighting against the Soviet Union, the United States decided to help the Mujahideen. They supplied them with money, weapons and training.

The most important piece of equipment delivered to the rebels by the United States, was the Stinger Missile. This missile was heat-seeking and could destroy planes and helicopters. This weapon turned the tide of the war.

Afghan Mujahideen shoots down a Soviet helicopter with a U.S.-Supplied Stinger missile. (Public domain)
Like what happened to the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. Soviet forces lost over 15,000, while the Mujahideen lost close to 80,000.

The war cost the Soviet Union in other ways, too. The war was costly and combined with arms race against the United States, the Soviet Union was at risk. In the late 1980s, they would be forced to make some changes. And those changes will result in the fall of the Soviet Union.

At the time the United States thought that the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was a good thing. However, the support the United States gave the Mujahideen would have some unintended consequences.  Those fighters that the United States armed and trained will turn against the United States a decade later.

One of those fighters the United States trained was Osama Bin Laden.