26 July 2012

I Miss My Enemies

I first saw the magazine, "Soviet Life" (1956-1991) when I was assigned to G-2 Intelligence at XVIII Airborne Corps. G-2 was filled with brilliant officers. A few spoke Russian and had been involved in covert operations behind the Iron Curtain. They were, in my estimation, the most rounded and interesting men and women I ever worked with. Ever.

I was trained in Soviet tactics and weapons at Aberdeen Proving Ground and in turn trained elements of the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions how to kill Soviets and their Warsaw Pact brothers. I also became infatuated with Russia and Russians, as those who study their enemies sometimes do.

"Soviet Life" was a quid pro quo publication for the US propaganda magazine, "Amerika" that was distributed in the Soviet Union and seen, by last count, three people from the Soviet Union. Actually, I've never met anyone from the USSR who saw Amerika magazine. But then, they didn't have to. According to Niall Ferguson, we won the Cold War with blue jeans.

"Like ice melting in the stream- I can't hold on to how I used to be"

I miss "Soviet Life" and, to be honest, I guess I miss having an enemy. You know, without Grendel, Beowulf was just another Meade swilling Geat.


Julia said...

I was born too late to see the Soviets as real enemies. Unless you count that they basically ruined the 1980 summer Olympics for me. Here's a library catalog link for you to enjoy.

Oyster Guy said...

I miss the Russkies too, but their hockey is still good. I miss having confidence in the justness of my own country more. Dark days...

KSB said...

Julia - a pity that as kids the US boycott caused us to miss out on Misha, the mascot of the 1980 Summer Olympics. Another thing to blame Carter for.


Tintin -For an interesting glimpse into an idealized vision of Soviet life in the late Brezhnev era I would suggest you take a look at the the film Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears.

When I first went to Moscow for work in 1999 I made a bee line for Red Square, wanting to give Lenin the finger (as the child of a Czech refugee family honor was at stake!) A bit disappointing in person, like most of Russia save for St. Petersburg. Ukraine is far more interesting. And Georgia is off the charts in terms of exotic appeal. Of course this assumes you have the means of an expat, living there on local wages isnt so charming.

But where was the Army getting Soviet APCs and tanks in 1979? Stuff the Israelis had captured in 1973 and that we captured from the NVA? How did it compare to our stuff?

And if you really want to wax nostalgic this evening then break out the Stoli and listen to this:


Drew said...

Thanks for the memories. My dad was an intel puke back in the day, and we always had stuff like this lying around the house: Old copies of "Janes All The World's Aircraft" make me misty-eyed with nostalgia.

LPC said...

Well THAT'S kind of brilliant, innit?

Phil Asby said...

I lament the fall of the Soviet empire - an enemy you could understand and at least see. Terrorists are no fun by comparison. But then I graduated with a double major in Economics and Soviet Studies only to have the Berlin Wall fall shortly thereafter. Talk about bad timing... I still shed a tear each May 1 and imagine the missiles and soldiers parading through Red Square.

Marine kid (back in the day) said...

Strangely coincidental---I used to really (really!) enjoy perusing Soviet Life in the library of the USMC Command and Staff College in Quantico (my dad was an instructor and I was just the kid of a marine: QHS class of '84). Cool memories! Thanks