KASKAD (‘Cascade’), originated as a KGB special operations forces warfighting detachment in Afghanistan. There, the KGB were swamped as they faced many of the same issues American and coalitions forces face today in Afghanistan: corruption, radicalism, terrorism, tribalism, and installation of a political regime that was intended to be friendly to their cause. In 1980, the KGB was troop to task installing the Karmal regime as a Communist political institution for Afghanistan.
KGB special operative Igor Morozov sits on top of the BTR-80 armored vehicle during his assignment to the Badakhshan province, c. 1982. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Russia, like American and Coalition forces, captured the physical institutions of Afghanistan with little difficulty. Yet similarly the Russians were also unable to quell the disruptive nature of the beast that is Afghanistan. The challenge for any force to truly and completely take and hold Afghanistan has remained a historical riddle. Plutarch, who chronicled the campaigns of Alexander the Great, took note of the guerilla-style fighters who opposed the Macedonians and Greeks. He compared the Afghans to the mythological Hydra; when one head was removed, seven more grew back in its place.
The forces of Alexander set the roadmap for American and Coalition forces in Afghanistan, relying on strategic strongpoints and a long-term garrison. Russia had other plans. The KGB set out to simply eradicate all opposition to the Karmal regime and to Russia, by first creating a new Afghan security service, Khedamat-e Etala’at-e Dawlati (KHAD), as the new justice and internal peacekeepers of Afghanistan. Yet, Afghan security force failed to perform effectively in the field, became corrupt and relied heavily on executions and torture for their few successes. Under the command of Muhammad Najibullah, who demanded to be called “Comrade Najib,” spearheaded these tactics and soon simultaneously took command of Afghan internal intelligence.
The KGB was impressed with Comrade Najib’s work and soon followed suit, and amplified their methodologies, reviving the atrocities of Stalinism as their counterinsurgency doctrine. This soon backfired on the KGB and KHAD, despite their best efforts to implement the big, dumb hillbilly go-to of, “Kill’em All.” This dumb-ass move amplified the insurgency against the Russians and their puppet government and paved the way for foreign fighters to take root in Afghanistan; such as Usama bin Laden to led Al Qaeda and Zarqawi to form Daesh [ISIS/ISIL.] This is on example of why the, “just nuke’em” mentality never works.
Enter the Spetsnaz as KASKAD
Regardless, the KGB needed a means to put out the fire that they had started. The KGB coopted a bold new move in conjunction with Comrade Najib and KHAD intelligence to lay the framework for KASKAD. The force was initially composed of 145 man units, heavy with KGB commanded, Spetsnaz and supplemented with KHAD infiltrators. The units were simply tasked to locate, infiltrate, destabilize and destroy the Mujahideen.
Yet, this method was time-consuming as each infiltrator had to develop a network, build rapport and not be compromised or turned. This led the KGB to devise a more direct action approach through KASKAD. Initially, the Spetsnaz were sent forth into the field with the KHAD, posing as Mujahideen force and then ambushing really Mujahideen forces upon contact. This was effective, but also time-consuming and required a hefty long-term dedication of the Spetsnaz. In the wilds, the teams soon developed a way to expand their operations and lower their commitment by enticing Mujahideen commanders to work for them.
By 1981, the Spetsnaz were no longer overly committed as KASKAD and the tempo began to shift to the establishment of employing local forces as KASKAD. The KGB had successfully developed its own foreign legion in Afghanistan. One of the best examples of the immediate success of KASKAD in its new role came in 1981, when the KGB persuaded a Tajik commander of 250 fighters, named Khoja Shira-Aga Chungara to support the Russian cause. Chungara was also the owner of prime battlespace, controlling forty-eight villages along a crucial line of communication in Herat province. The KGB seized the day with Chungara and set out on a successful two-year campaign of joint or logistically support operations throughout Herat province.
Russia’s Foreign Legion
Meanwhile, the KGB were notForeigng their eggs in one basket, by 1983, eighty-six units of foreign fighters had banded with the KGB. Such success caught the attention of the Kremlin and from Moscow, the long-mothballed Department 8, Special Actions of First Cheif Foreign Intelligence Directorate (FCD) Directorate S, was called to the field for its first major action since their intelligence and irregular warfare operations in Havana, Cuba which were recalled in the early 1970s. In Balashikha, Afghanistan they created the “Training Center for Afghanistan,” and sought to streamline their newly acquired foreign legion into Russian doctrine on irregular warfare.
From the Russian schoolhouse came the superabundance of improvised explosive devices, which dominate the landscape of Afghanistan and places touched by its dispatched jihadist to this day. Directorate S, under the guidance of the Centre, expanded their curriculum to include espionage and special operations practices. The success of KASKAD now had the full attention of Moscow, which sought to expand the capabilities of their foreign legion.
KASKAD Cannon Fodder to Asset
In short order, KASKAD was no longer simple guerilla warfighters. Some became operatives who were running short penetration operations into Mujihadeen bases inside of Pakistan. Across Afghanistan and Pakistan KASKAD operatives were now also conducting psychological warfare operations by spreading forged documents, disinformation, pro-Russian pamphlets, performing calculated sabotage, and sowing the seeds distrust and dissent amongst the ranks of the Mujihadeen.
KASKAD was a resounding success, but the war was not. Russian forces were bogged down, KHAD was failing miserably against the Mujihadeen, and neither could keep the peace in Afghanistan. Yet KASKAD remaining in-tact well enough as can be expected as an unofficial foreign legion could with fighters and operative who stay on board with Russia after the official withdrawal of Russian forces in February of 1989. Although a lesser amount of the KASKAD was kept by Russia, as only 200 KGB and military officers stayed behind in Kabul after the withdraw. Those who remained in KASKAD ran small operations as directed by the 200 who had no chance at keeping communist Afghanistan together.
The End of the Begining
The Berlin wall fell in April of 1989, and the winds of change began to blow away the derelict state the was the Soviet Union. By 1992, Afghanistan was on the verge of complete collapse and the Taliban were set to take power. It was only then that a rather shocked Boris Yeltsin of the newly reformed Russian Federation demanded their immediate return to Russia. KASKAD was disbanded, and the idea shelved as Russia figured out its new path.
Afghanistan provided the Russians with the knowledge and skill to successfully create and dispatch a somewhat clandestine unofficial foreign legion; KASKAD may be the one feather in the hat of Russia from Afghanistan. All the while, the CIA, Pakistani ISI, Saudi General Intelligence Department and Iranian Clandestine Services all sought to create a rival foreign legion in Afghanistan at that time to rival Russian influence. Yet none of them was as successful as the Russians on this front; while one could argue that American Stinger missiles helped bring the Russian adventure in Afghtistant to close.
The CIA walked away from Afghanistan confused, ill-informed, and failed to maintain a good standing with its contacts as did the other influencings intelligence agencies. All of which ceased major operations upon the primary Russian withdraw in 1989, thus closing what can contently be called the largest – active, secret war in history that was constantly manipulated by actions of the intelligence service from a host of nations.
Meet the New Boss, Who was the Old Boss.
Validrim Putin, a KGB officer from 1975 to 1991. He immediately entered politics, following his resignation as a lieutenant colonel one day into the coup that transformed the U.S.S.R. into the Russian Federation. By 1999, he had secured his current position, and has kept it by changing his title, but has not retained power. Putin is a capable man in the know who can play the game and was around for Afghanistan and KASKAD.
KASKAD is not exactly the KASKAD it was anymore as the KGB isn’t the FSB, yet many of the fundamental operational doctrine remains the same.
The Hybrid Warfare Little Green Men are KASKAD, Rebranded
Little Green Men appeared in Crimea, and just as sudden Russia annexed the peninsula from the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Those Little Green Men are not aliens [you morons,] although they appeared as mysteriously and created a real international crisis. Soon those very same Little Green Men appeared in Eastern Ukraine, and a Russian-backed revolution erupted, leaving Ukraine in orchestrated civil war since 2014.
Litlle Green Men Strike Globally, Seize Land and Declare Sovereignty for Russia
The Little Green Men then wore black uniforms, and then Russian uniforms, armed with Russian weapons. Trucks allegedly filled with aid streamed into Eastern Ukraine from Russia, only to be found empty upon inspection. Then Russian anti-aircraft systems appeared in the hands of Russian-backed Separatist, displaying the Stars and Bars of the loosing side of the American Civil War. Then a commercial airliner, Mh-17 was downed killing – 298 civilians. Yet Russian, artillery, multiple rocket launch systems, and tanks appeared. The Russian military then came to Eastern Ukraine.
Russia picks up to Cold War height in the level of air and sea space violations and challenges the air force and navies of the world – regularly. The Little Green Men who traded in their signature attire in Eastern Ukraine for the Stars and Bars – cited as volunteers. Volunteers, the under if at all paid who travel around for years on end.
The volunteers who happened to leave Eastern Ukraine in time to find themselves armed and equipped in Syria. Just in time for the Russian military interdiction in Syria; wow, what a coincidence they had matching flights on the way home as well. They’re home in time for the blind and angry threats issued by Moscow to prospective NATO members Finland and Sweden. The digital attacks launched against the United States by Russia and China are astounding. Meanwhile, an army of FSB orchestrated trolls manipulate opinion on the web.
Civilian volunteers from Russia and Russian-allied nations, as well as a misguided few who are likely as misinformed as the folks who thought “aliens,” when Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke of this growing aligned, unregistered Russian circus train of a foreign legion. The Little Green Men are currently eyeing Bulgaria – Russia could much easier steal more land from Georgia. I mean the nation of Georgia, not the state in America. Perhaps the Russians very well may, as people seem to be more worried about some religious freaks in the desert.
As opposed to a nuclear-armed global power that is threatening us while getting buddy-buddy with China who regularly steals technology they from the West. That is while China is not busy annexing the Sea, or Russia is off claiming the North Pole.
Cold War 2.0
The Russian battle-sphere is expanding, but it’s nothing new. Russia has simply recycled a few old tricks from the good old days, and Cold War 2.0 is on the rise. If you can’t see that, I recommend scheduling an appointment with an optometrist or psychiatrist. Denial is not only a pun for a river in Egypt. After all Europe, home of call America “paranoid warmongers,” is preparing their defenses against Russia and is asking for America assistance, which we are providing. After foolish drawing down our presence in Europe up to 2015, and now we’re going right back.
Welcome to what has a cool new name: Hybrid Warfare, but it’s a same old game.
Primary source – The Mitrokhin KGB Archive – Churchill College, Janus Server
Featured Image – Valdimir Putin as a KGB Officer in Berlin, Gemany – Espionage History Archive