The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 appeared to many at that time as a sign of mounting Soviet strength, perhaps even as a milestone in a shift in the relative balance of power between the United States and the USSR. In contrast to this well-executed military operation extending Soviet power toward the Indian Ocean, the United States seemed to be beset with stagnation, having suffered the successive failures of Vietnam, Mayaguez, the fall of the Shah of Iran with the imprisonment in Tehran a year later of 52 American hostages, and the subsequent disastrous rescue attempt in the Iranian desert. Senior officers within the United States and NATO defense establishments warned about an extended “window of vulnerability,” during which it was feared that the Soviet Union would retain a significant conventional advantage in Europe.
KeywordsMilitary History Soviet Leader Soviet Invasion Soviet Force Military District
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