Updated: Aug 8
When a new person gets into reenactment or collecting, getting a uniform is usually the first thing to do for starting an impression. But just like with anything else, there are a lot of nuances. This article will be similarly structured as our list of weapons used by the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. We will have all the uniforms listed here and as time goes by new articles will be added to the knowledge database. By "uniforms" in this list, we mean any type of outer clothing. This is not entirely correct, but it will make more sense in this case.
For obvious reasons, parade uniform was not particularly popular in Afghanistan. The majority of parades that were held in the contingent were done in regular everyday field uniforms worn both by soldiers and officers. The wool parade uniform was just too hot for the local climate. Looking after it and keeping it in good shape would also be a challenge. However, it was still present in the country - both soldiers and officers would arrive in Afghanistan having a set of uniforms for themselves.
Soldiers would use the uniform for demobilization purposes, usually adding some hand-made design improvements. Officers would rarely use their everyday parade uniform, but not the parade blues. These are especially rare on photos from Afghanistan so they are not added to this list.
Soldiers' M69 parade uniform
Officers' everyday parade uniform
Everyday field Soviet uniform
This type of uniform is called that because of its intended use - both in the field for fighting and on the base for everyday life. This was, by far, the most common and popular type of uniform used in Afghanistan by all branches and all ranks. Some soldiers and officers wouldn't even have a chance to wear anything else but their "Afghanka"
From the reenactor or collector's point of view, this type of uniform is something that should be acquired first. One can live without fancy Mabuta or a colonel's airborne camouflage, but not having a regular khaki uniform would make you stand out. Not in a good way.
We have also excluded some atrocities, such as M43 Gymnasterka which can be seen in the photos from time to time. They were extremely rare at the time and should not be considered seriously for everyday reenactment.
Regular M88 Afghanka
For winter there were some types of uniform
Enlisted men winter M69 uniform
Officers' M69 uniform
Experimental winter Afghanka
Regular winter Afghanka
This broad category includes pretty much everything which does not fall into the "Uniform" category. The difference is simple, but not obvious.
The Soviet uniform is something you were to wear by regulations while when on the parade ground. Uniforms were also regulated by the book. Overalls were called and treated as "special wear" and in theory, there were no rules on how to wear it. While this did not work all that well in the peaceful mainland, in Afghanistan soldiers and officers did wear different overalls into battle, even when they were not supposed to, by the book.
The main reason for that was the lack of uniforms. The amount of uniforms issued to a military person was heavily regulated and getting a new set officially was close to impossible. In the harsh conditions of Afghanistan wearing out your everyday uniform could happen within weeks. Hence, people would tend to wear clothing they were not held accountable for.
Parachute jumping overalls
Tank crew overalls (black and yellow)
Mabuta - a general article about GRU uniforms
Airforce technical overalls
As a separate list, we will have all those special clothing used in winter. Same intentions and purposes, just to keep it tidy.
Parachute jumping winter set
Tank crew winter overalls
Winter work suit jacket
Airforce winter jacket
Headgear is an essential part of almost any army's uniform. Soviet Army had long and distinct traditions of rather unique hats and caps. In Afghanistan following were used.
Vizor cap (parade)
Vizor cap (field)
Winter underhelmet balaklava
Civillian sports hat
Apart from uniforms and overalls, Soviet soldiers had access to some other types of clothing which we are listing here for future elaborated articles.
Officer's summer underwear
Officer's winter underwear
Portyanki (foot wraps)