The Aftermath of the Withdrawal
On 15 February 1989 the last member of the Soviet combat contingent, Lieutenant-General B. V. Gromov, crossed the land frontier between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, bringing to an apparent end the USSR's longest and most painful military adventure beyond its frontiers. As the date for the completion of the withdrawal had approached, tension rose in Kabul. The superior loyalty of the elements of the armed forces had been pointed out even before the completion of the withdrawal but seemed to have been discounted. While the Soviet Union was employing the various devices to improve the position of the regime, the reaction of Western powers was notably flat-footed. Various circles in Pakistan recognised that the completion of the Soviet withdrawal would create a novel situation in Afghanistan, but the tactics which they employed in order to cope with this situation miscarried spectacularly, as anyone familiar with Afghan society would have expected.