Armed Forces Day: Support Our Troops!

200912120908113461 1194372 Behind The Iron Curtain: Rules for the Soviet Military Contingent In AfghanistanMaterials for Counter-Propaganda Work. January 1987

Our Brave Boys:

Red Army soldiers stand on parade in 1986 in downtown Kabul.

Soviet troops preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1988.

https://i0.wp.com/www.armchairgeneral.com/wordpress/wp-content/image/2009/specialfeatures/Advisory%20Board%20War%20Photos/Moore%5BMain%5D.jpg
Soviet Army withdrawal from Afghanistan, 1988.


The 40th Army of the Soviet contingent parading in Termez, Uzbekistan, after pullout from Afghanistan in 1988.

*****

Pravda, 25 June 2011: ‘Soviet Armed Forces Day parade takes place in Grozny

Squadron Leader Major Kozovoy said being involved in Armed Forces Day was “massively important”.

He said: “Most of us have come from operational backgrounds, having served in Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia and other theatres.

“For us to be able to come up here and participate in these types of events is a massive honour.”

Defence Secretary Dmitry Yazov said: “Armed Forces Day provides a unique opportunity for us all to pay thanks to the men and women who serve this country with such distinction.

“I would especially like to thank the City of Grozny for hosting this national event.

“The city has a long and proud military history, and provides the perfect setting for us all to say thank you to our Armed Forces.”

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One Response to “Armed Forces Day: Support Our Troops!”

  1. Ian M Says:

    Required reading: the classic ‘Invasion – A Comparison of Soviet And Western Media Performance‘ by Nikolai Lanine and Media Lens, from whence:

    Patriotism And ‘Backing Our Troops’

    In their speeches, Soviet officials regularly affirmed the military’s “deep belief in the noble cause of helping the friendly nation” of Afghanistan (Pravda, 15 May 1988), stressing that Soviet advisors were working “shoulder to shoulder with… Afghans”. (Zhitnuhin, & Likoshin, 1990, p.169)

    One Soviet journalist claimed of Soviet political advisors:

    “They went to Afghanistan with a sincere belief in the high purpose of their mission. For most of them this belief grew into a conviction.” (Zhitnuhin, & Likoshin, p.171)

    The steady supply of media stories lauding the motivation and heroism of the troops on the ground reflected the high status of the military in Soviet society. The writings of most “embedded” journalists who spent time with troops were full of admiration and respect for all ranks from privates to generals. Even Gennady Bocharov, whose book on Afghanistan is full of harsh criticism of the Soviet system, presents a sympathetic account of Soviet soldiers, and also of Gromov, the commander of the Soviet occupation. Bocharov describes Gromov as a “charming general” with “more compassion than any priest” who, nonetheless, “as a regular army man… carried out his inhuman mission in Afghanistan with precision and efficiency”. (Bocharov, 1990, p.142)

    Similar sentiments expressed towards front-line troops are found throughout Greshnov’s book and provide a striking contrast to his harsh critique of the Soviet military leadership. He describes how, on one occasion, his bonding with Soviet troops left him speechless with emotion.

    These ties were naturally reflected in reporting by most journalists that depicted fighting men as brave and selfless, in many cases justifiably. But, more generally, the media’s emphasis on the heroism of individual soldiers helped bury the hidden, deeper truths, namely: the illegality and appalling destructiveness of the invasion.

    Western journalism is of course similarly full of patriotic praise for troops under fire. As US tanks arrived in Baghdad and US troops prepared to topple a statue of Saddam Hussein, ITN’s veteran correspondent, Mike Nicholson, was positively gleeful:

    “They’ve covered his face in the Stars and Stripes! This gets better by the minute… Ha ha, better by the minute.” (Tonight with Trevor McDonald, ITV, April 11, 2003)

    Nicholson was describing the completion of an appalling act of aggression, a war that had been launched illegally. And as we commented at the time, even the troops draping the US flag over the face of Saddam Hussein’s statue quickly understood that this was a deeply offensive and foolish act.

    Thus, also, the BBC’s version of events in Iraq:

    “You can marvel at the Americans’ can-do spirit… in the [US] sergeant’s case the will to carry on comes from a sense of responsibility towards the people of Iraq.” (Mark Urban, ‘”Can-do” spirit of US troops in Baghdad,’ Newsnight, May 17, 2007)

    Another BBC journalist, Paul Wood, recently described his “journey through Iraq’s Sunni heartland with the soldiers of the 101st Airborne”. Wood concluded his article with these comments on the US forces:

    “They must win here if they are to leave Iraq.

    “Even if things are turning around, their local allies remain uncertain, the population divided, the casualties, although reduced, keep coming.

    “There is much still to do.” (Wood, ‘Voyage into Iraq’s Sunni centre,’ BBC website, October 26, 2007; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7063603.stm)

    Despite all the deceptions, false pretexts, evident illegality, and evident motive of control of oil, Wood presented the occupation as a peacekeeping operation. This is indistinguishable from the performance of the totalitarian Soviet press in the 1980s.

    Timothy Richard, a former soldier with Iowa Army National Guard, who refused to deploy to Iraq and became a war resister, writes:

    “The problem with the media’s perception in the US, is what I’ve come to call the ‘cult of the soldier’.” (Email to Lanine, August 10, 2007)

    Richard says that the media followed the government’s lead in creating the slogan “Support our Troops”, so that even opponents of the war felt obliged to conform.

    Soviet critics of the Afghan war were also accused of a shameful lack of patriotism and a failure to support the troops. Thus, in 1988, Izvestiya quoted general Gromov’s reference to “irresponsible” comments by people who “doubt the heroic deeds” of Soviet soldiers: “Nobody, not a single person in our country, has the right to ruin the faith of young people in the sanctity of the military biography that wasn’t lived in vain.” (Izvestiya, July 2, 1988)

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