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Afghanka is the name of a type of field uniform developed and issued by the Soviet Army in the early 1980s. The uniform is still in use today in many different variants.

Contents

Design

Soviet soldier wearing the winter Afghanka uniform, USSR, 1991.

There are both winter and summer versions of Afghanka. The summer Afghanka comes in three parts: jacket, trousers and a field cap. The winter Afghanka comes in four parts. Jacket, Jacket liner, Trousers and trouser liner. The liners are buttoned into their respective garmets, but can be worn without the overgarment, and the overgarment can be worn without the liner. The jacket liner bears the Fur collar of the jacket, usually in Fish fur but occasionally in real fur. When the jacket is worn without the liner, the collar is plain material. The jacket and trousers are lined with a pile-type material that helps insulate by trapping warm air, whereas the liners are made of a quilted material similar to the Telogreika uniform.

Types

The enlisted man's Afghanka has two sleeve pockets, two breast pockets, two waist pockets, an inside pocket on the jacket, an inside pocket on the liner, and an inner pocket on the jacket for a pistol (complete with lanyard). The trousers have two cargo pockets on the legs and two hip pockets.

The officer's Afghanka jacket has only two slash pockets on the waist of the jacket and an inner pistol pocket. Officers' jackets usually have a real Fur collar. Officers' Afghanka trousers have no pockets. The pockets are the same on the winter and summer Afghankas.

Issue and effectiveness

The Afghanka began appearing on the military scene in the early 1980s during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, hence the name. The design of the jacket and trousers may have been based on similar patterns used by other Warsaw Pact armies such as the DDR. Initially the Afghanka uniform was in very short supply and was often issued to units rather than individuals and passed round as necessary for various duties. As more were produced, more were issued, and by the end of the 1980s it was then possible that everybody was issued his own. Individual soldiers took to marking the collars of their uniforms with indelible Bleach. The soldiers found the new uniform to be very effective, especially in Afghanistan. Even without the liners in, a winter Afghanka is comfortably warm in temperatures of down to zero degrees. Another advantage of the winter Afghanka over the preceding Bushlat and Shinel greatcoat was the greatly enhanced mobility and increased number of pockets. Today the Afghanka design uniform is still in use by Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Georgia.

Variants

Russian paratroopers at an exercise in Kazakhstan

The original issue Afghanka was only available in the standard Soviet Army Khaki shade. Within two years a uniform in KLMK Camouflage had been designed and issued to the Border Guards and KGB troops. A version of the Aghanka in TTksO camouflage also came into use with the VDV paratroopers and Naval Infantry around the same time. Since then various other Afghanka uniforms in various camouflage shades such as VSR camouflage, Flora camouflage and Desert camouflage have been produced. Kazakhstan and Ukraine both currently issue uniforms in their own camouflage patterns. Both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation have also produced the uniform in neutral shades for police use.

See also

Sources

  • Soviet Uniforms and Militaria 1917-1991 by Laszlo Bekesi
  • Inside the Soviet Army Today. Osprey Elite Military History Series No. 12 by Stephen J Zaloga
  • Russia's War in Afghanistan by David Isby
  • Warsaw Pact Ground Forces by David Rottmman
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