Soldiers of the Afghan Army on Parade c.1950-58.

These Afghan infantrymen march wearing their German-style Stahlhelm helmet and armed with Soviet WWII era small arms including Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifles, PPSh-41 Submachine guns and an RPG-2 (front rank second man on the left).

When the US refused Afghanistan military aid after WWII they turned to the Soviet Union which provided war surplus weapons and training. The army reached its peak during the 1950s when it could boast several armoured divisions equiped with T-55s and an overall strength approaching 70,000 men. However, the Afghan army has been a continuously neglected throughout the 20th century with a sharp decline in troop levels and equipment quality during the late 1960s and 1970s. By the time of the Soviet Invasion in 1979 the Army had slumped in size and quality once again with desertion being a perennial problem which remains to this day.

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