U.S. Army troops from the 10th Mountain Division board a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan in 2007.
Some records are made to be broken, from the 100-meter dash to Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. But who would covet breaking the nine-year, 50-day Soviet record for its military campaign in Afghanistan? And the winner is … the USA. —JCL
Los Angeles Times:
As wartime days go, Friday was a fairly quiet one in Afghanistan. Helicopters skittered across the sky; convoys rumbled along desert roads; soldiers in mountain outposts scanned the jagged peaks around them.
But one thing set the day apart: With its passing, the length of the U.S. military’s campaign in Afghanistan matched that of the Soviet Union’s long and demoralizing sojourn in the nation.
The last Red Army troops left Feb. 15, 1989, driven out after nine years and 50 days by the U.S.-backed Afghan fighters known as mujahedin, or holy warriors. Ragtag yet ferocious, they were so spectrally elusive that the Soviet forces called them dukhi, or ghosts. A fitting term, perhaps, for a country that has been called “the graveyard of empires.”