Soviet Union combat experience after WWII?

The USSR obviously got a lot of combat experience during WWII. But between WWII and the invasion of Afghanistan, it seems like they had very mild opportunities to train in battle. The invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia weren’t real battles, and I don’t recall the Soviet-China war being that significant.

Did this lack of experience contribute to their failed invasion of Afghanistan?

On the other side, the US had during the Korean and Vietnam wars many soldiers killed, but the collective combat experience gained certainly must have helped the overall skills of the individual soldiers and the armed forces as a whole. While that might not have helped in the event of a nuclear conflict, were the Soviets concerned at all about this? Did need for real life experience play into the decisions of either the Soviets or the Americans during the Cold War?

The invasion worked fine. It was the occupation that went wrong.

As we know, a village/tribal society like Afghanistan adapts well to resistance which is what the CIA utilised when arming them with Stingers - taking away from the USSR air superiority via the tribal organsation and network.

I don’t know but I guess experience always helps, which was maybe a contributing factor in how Russia - eventually - overcame Chechin resistance in a later imperial adventure.

You might be right about the military machine learning though, of course, for the USSR and USA poor (in almost every sense) conscripts often did the fighting.

Some Soviet pilots fought during the Korean War. Their uniforms and planes were “branded” as either PRC or DPRK.

None of the USSR Korean War aces I could find seem to have later combat experience. All were retired by 1978 it seems, and none had been active pilots well before that, so none of them were involved in Afghanistan.

But at least one did a tour in North Vietnam as an advisor.

I suspect that other Soviet pilots had similar post-Korean War experiences.

In Afghanistan, the Soviets couldn’t even resort to “fighting the last war”. They were propping up an existing regime and they had to treat locals as supposed friendlies, up until they started shooting back.

I vaguely recall that a North Korean Ace was suspected to be Russian.

North Vietnam - google - soviet participation in the vietnam war

From one site

Portion below:

“Beginning in November 1964, relations with the Soviet Union took a new turn, evidently because of Moscow’s avowed intention to render active support to Hanoi in its political and military confrontation with the United States. On 17 November 1964, the Soviet Politburo decided to send increased support to North Vietnam. This aid included aircraft, radar, artillery, air defense systems, small arms, ammunition, food and medical supplies. They also sent Soviet military personnel to North Vietnam-the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Vietnam (DRVN). Some 15,000 Soviet personnel served in Indo-China as advisers and occasionally as combatants. The largest part of the Soviet adviser personnel were air defense officers.”

While the number of Soviet troops wasn’t that large, they used some innovative tactics (helicopter borne armored vehicles for one) and ended up victorious:

Good point. Those SAM missile and radar sites in North Vietnam often had Soviet personnel. Any experience there would definitely come in handy in Afghanistan, not.

Hungary and Czechosovakia. More shooty in Hungary for a couple of days, but both are relevant experience deploying and logistically supporting forces that matter for fighting other away games. Amateurs study tactics… :stuck_out_tongue:

The Soviet armed forces relied heavily on conscription both for their junior enlisted and junior NCOs. That kind of force turns over very quickly down where the rubber meets the road anyway so for any fight most of the troops are inexperienced.

There’s also experiences like the Ethio-Somalia War in 1977-78 where they sent advisors and Cuba sent ground troops. That type of mission might include more of the longer service professionals and get combat experience for those involved even if they aren’t leading Soviet troops. That’s a big rabbit hole to dive down to figure out how much and what kind of experience was gained out of every small mission to every hot spot.