Great Gamble Addendum

>> Monday, January 11, 2010

Ralph, in comments to the Great Gamble review:

Soviet casualties and aircraft losses (reported thru military channels to the General Staff) were much lower than what is popularly believed. The Soviets definitely had a "casualty avoidance" mentality and endeavored to fight the war "on the cheap," in my opinion -- committing relatively modest forces.

This is something I forgot to mention in the review. Feifer argues, more or less in passing, that Soviet war dead from Afghanistan probably exceeded the 14427 official figure, possibly by a factor of four or five. I've seen this argument in other places, but I've never seen very good sourcing for it. I suspect that the 14427 number is probably the floor for an estimate of Soviet dead in Afghanistan (why would they exaggerate?) but I'd have to see some good evidence as to why a substantially higher number is plausible. It's bloody difficult, even in an authoritarian state, to make dead soldiers disappear, and it's really, really difficult to make 50000 dead soldiers disappear. Units have to be filled, bodies have to be buried, families of the dead get irritable and vocal, and so forth.

Anybody know of any good data on the subject?


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