Tuesday May 21, 2013
Soviet Tank Graveyard in Afghanistan A Haunting Reminder (VIDEO)Tim King, in Afghanistan, for Salem-News.com
DISPATCHES FROM AFGHANISTAN
(KABUL, Afghanistan) - Twisted and charred battle vehicles laden with armor are a close reminder of a massive eastern bloc military occupation that attempted to over take Afghanistan in the 1970's and 1980's.
To say the Russian military are not fondly regarded here is an understatement, and after years of occupation and fighting that ended in defeat, these remnants of war are among all that is left.
Tim King reports, "All over Afghanistan you'll find remnants of the former Soviet presence that was here, but even more recently the buildings that are now ruins and the tanks, were being used by the Taliban."
1st Sgt Don Weber of the Oregon Guard says, "The first time I came out here it was just amazing, everyone like myself, the first time anyone comes out here they want to stop and take a lot of pictures." If it had a voice, there is no doubt that each machine here could tell a story. Many, if not all of the tanks and some of the armored personnel carriers show signs of combat damage.
Most have been at least partially stripped. The tracks are missing from every single military vehicle here.
The Soviets left in a hurry when they finally did, their ranks in disarray, flanked by desertion and disease, and pursued by angry Afghans who know how to fight if they know anything at all.
The Soviets are just one empire over the last several hundred years that has attempted to invade and occupy this ancient place, and like all that came before it, they left empty-handed and with fewer soldiers, and pieces of equipment as these images depict.
As the weapons of the Soviet military machine now rot in the Afghanistan desert, I have discovered that complex metals are not easy to recycle, and Afghanistan has few facilities that could accomplish that undertaken if they could.
Now these armored weapons of war have become monuments, what they represent is up to interpretation.
When the Russians left, many were made ready for combat again by an even more unpopular regime in recent history, one that has dealt the strongest blow to Americans in history, on their own soil.
"Well, I know this has always been a military training center for the Afghan Army's control, even prior to the time of the Russian invasion,” says 1st Sgt Don Weber. “But after the Russians invaded, they built some buildings, then the Taliban used it while they were here. So some of the destroyed buildings were all buildings that the Taliban used to repair the tanks they had."
The equipment left here near the Kabul Military training Center was not the cream of the crop for the Soviet Union. The latest models appear to be the Soviet T-62 tank. Humble power plants powered these beasts of war, and the weight of any of them is immense.
Maybe some day the people here will find a way to melt them down and regain some value, hardly a true penance for the suffering the people here underwent at the hand of the Soviets.
For now, they continue to freeze in the winter and bake under the hot Afghan sun each summer.
Watch the Video News Report below, direct from Kabul, Afghanistan by Tim King:
__________________________________Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.
Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 82 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: email@example.com
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