Dari Archive, berita tahun 1988:
Arming Afghan Guerrillas: A Huge Effort Led by U.S.

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Arming Afghan Guerrillas: A Huge Effort Led by U.S.

Robert Pear and Special To the New York Times





With help from China and many Moslem nations, the United States led a huge 
international operation over the last eight years to arm the Afghan guerrillas 
with the weapons they needed to drive the Soviet Army from their country.

The operation is one of the biggest ever mounted by the Central Intelligence 
Agency, according to American officials and foreign diplomats. It dwarfs 
American efforts to aid the Nicaraguan rebels, but its details are much less 
widely known because it encountered little opposition in Congress.

Indeed, Congress was continually prodding the C.I.A., the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
and the State Department to provide more support for the Afghan guerrillas, who 
limped along with relatively ineffective weapons until they got Stinger 
antiaircraft missiles in September 1986. They used the missiles to shoot down 
armored Soviet helicopter gunships, and as a result, the guerrillas and their 
supply caravans have been able to move with much less fear of being attacked 
from the air. Cost Totals $2 Billion

As Afghanistan and three other nations signed agreements last week providing 
for the withdrawal of Soviet troops, these details of the supply operation 
emerged from interviews with members of Congress and officials at the White 
House, intelligence agencies, the Defense Department, the State Department and 
the Office of Management and Budget:

* Arming the rebels has cost the United States more than $2 billion over eight 
years, although the exact amounts of appropriations are secret because the 
operation is not officially acknowledged by Washington. The program has had 
strong bipartisan support in Congress throughout.

* The Government of Saudi Arabia has generally matched the United States 
financial contributions, providing money in a joint fund with Washington to buy 
hundreds of Stingers for the Islamic guerrillas even though Congress would not 
permit such sophisticated weapons to be sold to the Saudis themselves. In 
addition, several wealthy Saudi princes, motivated by a sense of religious duty 
and solidarity, gave cash contributions to the guerrillas.

* Tennessee mules have made an invaluable contribution to the guerrillas' 
campaign, transporting tons of equipment, food, clothing and medical supplies 
from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Hub R. Reese Jr. of Gallatin, Tenn., who runs 
what he describes as the world's largest mule trading and auction company, said 
that in the last year he delivered 700 mules to an Army base in Kentucky for 
shipment to Pakistan.

* China, which has a short border with Afghanistan, ''worked hand in glove with 
the United States'' in supplying the guerrillas with rocket launchers and other 
weapons, according to a military officer who served at the American Embassy in 
Beijing. But Iran, which often portrays itself as a leader of the Islamic 
world, provided very limited, intermittent support to the guerrillas, who call 
themselves mujahedeen, or ''holy warriors.''

Administration officials cite their support of the guerrillas as a success for 
President Reagan's policy of helping indigenous groups resist 
Communist-supported regimes in regional conflicts. But many officials were 
initially reluctant to provide vigorous support for the Afghans, fearing that 
it might unrealistically raise their hopes for a military victory or provoke 
Soviet reprisals against Pakistan, the main conduit for aid to the guerrillas.

Stansfield Turner, who was Director of Central Intelligence under President 
Carter, said some intelligence professionals believed the United States would 
be putting money into ''a hopeless cause.''

Fred C. Ikle, an Under Secretary of Defense from 1981 to February of this year, 
said that in the first three or four years of the Reagan Administration, 
''there was a general shyness and hesitation, a reluctance to make a more 
concerted effort, to provide more instruments and tactics to freedom fighters 
in Afghanistan.''

In October 1984, Congress passed a resolution saying, ''It would be 
indefensible to provide the freedom fighters with only enough aid to fight and 
die, but not enough to advance their cause of freedom.''

The measure had been introduced two years earlier by Senator Paul E. Tsongas, a 
liberal Massachusetts Democrat. Senator Malcolm Wallop, a conservative 
Republican from Wyoming, wrote in 1984 that ''the only opposition to the 
resolution has come essentially from the C.I.A. and the Department of State.''

Senator Gordon J. Humphrey, a New Hampshire Republican who is chairman of the 
Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan, said in an interview this week, ''The 
C.I.A. was very reluctant in carrying out its responsibilities for the longest 
time.'' But he and other lawmakers gave the agency high marks for a much more 
efficient operation in recent years. Inferior Arms in Early Program

What follows is a history of that operation, as described by people who 
supervised it or followed it closely.

More than 30,000 Soviet troops moved into Afghanistan, with planes and tanks, 
in the last week of December 1979. On Jan. 1, 1980, the Soviet Government 
newspaper Izvestia charged that the C.I.A. was ''directly involved in training 
Afghan rebels in camps in Pakistan.'' The State Department declined comment.

In mid-February of 1980, Egypt's Defense Minister, Lieut. Gen. Kamal Hassan 
Ali, said his country was training Afghans in guerrilla warfare and would send 
them back to fight against the Soviet-backed Government. At about the same 
time, six weeks after the Soviet intervention began, White House officials said 
President Carter had approved a ''covert operation'' to supply the guerrillas 
with small arms of Soviet design, including Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles.

For five years, American officials provided the guerrillas with weapons 
designed and manufactured by the Soviet Union or other East Bloc countries so 
they could deny that the United States was supplying such assistance. They 
could maintain that the guerrillas had captured the weapons from the Afghan 
Government or from Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

But that strategy created immense problems for the guerrillas. ''For most of 
the first five years of the war, the mujahedeen lacked any effective 
antiaircraft or long-range weapons,'' said Alexander R. Alexiev of the Rand 
Corporation, an expert on Soviet affairs who has analyzed the war in 
Afghanistan under a Pentagon contract.

''Despite the presence of vastly superior weapons in Western arsenals,'' he 
said, ''the resistance was supplied primarily with 1930's vintage antiaircraft 
machine guns that were hardly a match for the heavily armored and deadly Soviet 
gunship helicopters. On the ground, the rebels' main long-range weapon was the 
Soviet-model 82-millimeter mortar, not known for either superior range or 
accuracy. As a result, the Soviets enjoyed virtually unchallenged dominance in 
the air.'' First Reagan Effort Falls Short

When Mr. Reagan took office in January 1981, his appointees were told that 
support for the Afghan guerrillas was the most significant covert operation 
being conducted by the C.I.A.

In the fall of 1982, the President decided to increase the quality and quantity 
of arms supplied to the insurgents. In December, the agency was ordered to 
provide them with bazookas, mortars, grenade launchers, mines and recoilless 
rifles. But guerrillas on the battlefield said they saw no dramatic improvement 
in the flow of arms.

Andrew L. Eiva, chairman of the Federation for American Afghan Action, a 
private group that lobbies for military aid to the insurgents, said that 
through 1984 they were still getting weapons of relatively poor quality, like 
the 82-millimeter mortar and the Soviet SAM-7 antiaircraft missile. Even when 
they got good weapons, like the 12.7-millimeter heavy Soviet machine gun known 
as the Dashaka, they did not get nearly enough ammunition to defend themselves 
against Soviet helicopters, according to Mr. Eiva, who was an Army infantry 
officer in the Green Berets in the 1970's.

In the fall of 1983, Representative Charles Wilson, Democrat of Texas, started 
a campaign to supply the guerrillas with a more effective antiaircraft weapon. 
''Opposition to the Stinger was so great that we had to settle for something 
less than a missile,'' he said, recalling that even William J. Casey, the 
Director of Central Intelligence, would not push for Stingers.

At the end of 1983, Mr. Wilson persuaded his colleagues to provide $40 million 
for weapons, and much of it went for a powerful 20-millimeter antiaircraft gun 
made by a Swiss company, Oerlikon. The guerrillas began to get the automatic 
cannon in late 1984, Mr. Wilson said in an interview.

In January 1985, Congress formed the Task Force on Afghanistan to investigate 
guerrilla needs and to put pressure on the Administration.

A turning point came in April 1985, when Mr. Reagan signed a classified order 
clarifying the goals of the covert operation. One goal was to get the Soviet 
troops out of Afghanistan ''by all means available,'' it said. That declaration 
eventually cleared the way for the C.I.A. to supply Western-made weapons to the 

The budget for the covert operation more than doubled, to $280 million in the 
fiscal year 1985 from $122 million in 1984, members of Congress said. In 1985, 
the guerrillas got their first effective surface-to-surface weapons, 
107-millimeter multiple rocket launchers made in China. They have a range of 
about five miles, so the guerrillas could fire on targets from a safe distance.

Nevertheless, according to Mr. Alexiev, 1985 was ''the bloodiest and most 
difficult year of the war for the mujahedeen.'' After Mikhail S. Gorbachev 
became the Soviet leader in March 1985, Soviet forces dramatically increased 
the number and intensity of their attacks on the guerrillas and the civilian 
population, he said. The offensives continued into the spring of 1986.

In February 1986, in his State of the Union Message, the President seemed to 
step up America's commitment to insurgent forces in the third world. 
Paraphrasing a line from the Tsongas resolution passed by Congress in 1984, he 
said: ''You are not alone, freedom fighters. America will support you with 
moral and material assistance, your right not just to fight and die for 
freedom, but to fight and win freedom.''

For several months, conservative groups had harshly criticized John N. McMahon, 
who was Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, on the ground that he was 
blocking efforts to send Stingers to the guerrillas. In early March 1986, Mr. 
Reagan approved delivery of such missiles.

At about the same time, Mr. McMahon, who had served 35 years with the agency, 
resigned for what he described as ''personal reasons.'' He said his resignation 
was not ''an expression of discontent with the President's policies..''

The first Stinger was used in Afghanistan on Sept. 26, 1986; the missile 
launcher now hangs over a door in Mr. Wilson's office in Congress. Three Soviet 
MI-24 helicopters were destroyed by the new weapons on the first day of their 
use in Afghanistan. Since then, according to American officials, the guerrillas 
have shot down at least 270 Soviet aircraft.

In 1986, the insurgents got two other types of portable antiaircraft missiles, 
the British-made Blowpipe and the American-made Redeye. But neither was as 
effective as the Stinger.

''We were startled by the success of the Stingers,'' Mr. Wilson said. Senator 
Humphrey added, ''It's rare that one weapon can transform a situation so 

Moreover, the guerrillas' bravery has surprised some of their staunchest 
supporters in Congress.

In 1980, according to Mr. Wilson, ''it was completely beyond the realm of 
anyone's imagination that the mujahedeen could chase the Russian Army out of 
their country.''

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