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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Powell: U.S. Used Russian Advice

ReutersPowell, in an interview with King, said Washington learned from Moscow's experience.
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military has used Russian advice in its campaign in Afghanistan but is fighting a different conflict than the Soviet Union did in the 1980s when it faced a united nation, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said.

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and became embroiled in an ultimately unsuccessful decade-long war with Afghan guerrilla fighters.

The Soviet campaign scored early successes, including the quick occupation of Kabul. But experts said the Soviets made critical mistakes in alienating the Afghan people and fighting guerrilla battles against mujahedin who made lightning raids on Soviet supply lines and garrisons before withdrawing to hide in caves and homes of ordinary Afghans.

"They have given us a great deal of advice," Powell said Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live." "We have gone to school on their experience."

The United States has used its overwhelming air power to pave the way for the ground troops of the Northern Alliance, complemented by limited numbers of U.S. special forces, to oust the ruling Taliban Islamic militia from much of Afghanistan.

Powell said the United States' battle in Central Asia, undertaken to find Saudi-born Islamic militant Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network following the Sept. 11 attacks, is different from that waged by tens of thousands of Soviet troops over more than nine years.

"They were fighting a nation that was united against them, and they tried to do it with blunt force," Powell said. "We are fighting a nation that really isn't in the hands of the Taliban -- they didn't really want this kind of regime over them.

"And so you can see those fissures start to break it up into its different components: Pashtuns, Northern Alliance, Tajiks, Uzbeks, all sorts of folks who are now very happy to see the Taliban regime go."

Powell will visit Russia, Central Asia, Turkey and several European countries next week to boost efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, the State Department said Monday.