Updated: Aug 25
The variety of gear and equipment used by the Soviet Army during their 9 years long colonial campaign in Afghanistan is truly fascinating. It is much larger and more diverse than a list of small arms or uniforms. Several factors played a role in this variety - unsuited issued gear, captured items, outdated equipment issued in TurkVO, and almost no gear on the civilian market. In this article, we will try to combine all equipment used by the Soviets, and later on, each piece of gear will get its article.
Historically, the waist belt was the base for any warrior's equipment. This tradition stays alive even now, but in the Soviet Army, it was practically the only way to carry your personal equipment. Generally speaking, there were only two types of belts to be used in the field - soldiers' and officers' versions. There were soma variations to them, of course.
Ammunition bearing equipment
Essentially all ammo-bearing equipment in the Soviet Army was following the traditions of the First and Second World Wars and was presented by a number of separate pouches intended to be attached to the belt and used in a firefight. In some instances, these pouches could also have an extra belt to be carried over the shoulder, but the general principle was to attach everything to the belt.
The war in Afghanistan made a big move forward in developing new ways to carry personal fighting equipment. Captured chicom vests became incredible forces among deployed personnel and the Soviet textile industry did some work in that direction.
But the biggest amount of this type of equipment was generated by soldiers themselves. In this list, we will not be able to name even a fraction of these self-made vests, but we will have a separate article covering the topic.
Issued ammo-bearing gear
3-cell magazine pouch
4-cell magazine pouch
2-cell grenade pouch
2-cell magazine pouch (RD-54)
2-cell grenade pouch (RD-54)
Poyas-A (model 1986)
Captured and self-made ammo-bearing gear
Type 56 Chi-com vest
Type 56 SKS Chi-com vest
Locally made vests
Tank crew safety vest
Personal protection equipment
During the initial invasion, Soviet soldiers had to rely on WWII-style helmets and the armor provided by their vehicles. They had no body armor and no other means of personal protection. However, the situation changed very quickly. By the summer of 1980 some units were already provided with 6b2 body armor vests and in the next year there were so many of them produced that there were no soldiers who lacked them. We have the story of the first mass-produced Soviet body armor 6b2 in our blog.
The backpacks were always the Achilles heel of the Soviet Army. In short - there were no issued backpacks available. The longer answer was once discussed in an article on another website. Yet, after initial weeks in Afghanistan, it became painfully obvious that managing dismounted operations is impossible without having some form of carry pack for the supplies. Individual soldiers and units had to overcome this problem mostly by themselves - the Army has not got any backpacks during the Soviet-Afghan War.
Other Soviet Army equipment
Apart from the obvious pieces of equipment mentioned in previous paragraphs, this list will mainly have comforting gear, which allowed soldiers to survive long periods away from the base and to take care of their individual health and appearance.
Standard aluminum water bottle
PET plastic tropical water bottle
Standard mess tin
Airborne combination flask mess tin
SPP-1 "Rain" rubberized inflatable matras
Airborne foldable spade