Inside the Blue Berets: A Combat History of Soviet and Russian Airborne Forces, 1930-1995

Steven J. Zaloga, Author
Steven J. Zaloga, Author Presidio Press $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-89141-399-8
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Zaloga (Target America) has taken advantage of the declassification of Soviet archives to write this accessible, authoritative history of the Soviet airborne forces, or Blue Berets. He clearly establishes Russia's legitimate claim as one of the pioneers of airmobile warfare in the 1930s; but the book's biggest surprise is the coverage of major WWII Russian paradrops-most of which ended in disaster. It wasn't until the Cold War era, he discloses, that the so-called Blue Berets came into their own (as enforcers of the Brezhnev Doctrine, Moscow's interventionist policy toward Warsaw Pact allies), first in Hungary in 1956, then in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Zaloga emphasizes that Soviet airborne forces bore the brunt of the 1979-1988 war in Afghanistan (they were, he says, ``the reliable backbone of the Afghan adventure''). Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the Blue Berets have been called on to deal with dissension and revolt in the newly independent republics. Now Russia's main elite combat force, they are, writes Zaloga, well-suited to the kind of low-intensity conflict that is typical of warfare in the late 20th century. Maps. (June)
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