The Afghanka (Ru:Афганка) is a Russian military slang term for a field uniform developed and issued by the Soviet Army in the early 1980s. The uniform is still in use today in many different variants. It was dubbed so because initially it was introduced for the military which took part in the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
After 1984 were manufactured according to ТУ-17-08-194-84; fabric type 3303 ("habe" (after "h/b" Russian abbreviation х/б for cotton fabric)) and fabric type 3155 (steklyashka, "glassy").
The Afghanka is as follows, a long, loose fitting 6 pocket BDU jacket with large stand-and-fall collar, epaulettes, concealed buttons, and armpit vents, and tight fitting combat trousers with characteristic sewn-in pant leg creases down the front.
There are both winter and summer versions of the Afghanka.
The summer Afghanka comes in three parts: jacket, trousers, and field cap.
The winter Afghanka comes in four parts: jacket, jacket liner, trousers, and trouser liner. The liners are buttoned into their respective garments, but can be worn without the overgarment, and the overgarment can be worn without the liner. The jacket liner bears the fur collar of the jacket, usually in fish fur but occasionally in real fur. When the jacket is worn without the liner, the collar is plain material. The jacket and trousers are lined with a pile-type material that helps insulate by trapping warm air, whereas the liners are made of a quilted material similar to the Telogreika uniform.
The enlisted man's Afghanka has two sleeve pockets, two breast pockets, two waist pockets, an inside pocket on the jacket, an inside pocket on the liner, and an inner pocket on the jacket for a pistol (complete with lanyard). The trousers have two cargo pockets on the legs and two hip pockets.
The officer's Afghanka jacket has only two slash pockets on the waist of the jacket and an inner pistol pocket. Officers' jackets usually have a real fur collar. Officers' Afghanka trousers have no pockets. The pockets are the same on the winter and summer Afghankas.
The second type enlisted man's Afghanka has two sleeve pockets, two breast pockets, no waist pockets, an inside pocket on the jacket, an inside pocket on the liner, and maybe an inner pocket on the jacket for a pistol (complete with lanyard). this jacket is designed to be worn tucked into the trousers. The trousers are the same as the first pattern.
Issue and effectiveness
The Afghanka began appearing in military units in the early 1980s during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, hence the name. The design of the jacket and trousers may have been based on similar patterns used by other Warsaw Pact armies such as the GDR. Initially, the Afghanka uniform was in very short supply and was often issued to units rather than individuals and passed around as necessary for various duties. As more were produced, more were issued. By the end of the 1980s it had become possible for everybody to be issued his own. Individual soldiers began marking the collars of their uniforms with bleach.
The soldiers found the new uniform to be very effective, especially in Afghanistan. Even without the liners in, a winter Afghanka is comfortably warm in temperatures of down to -20°C. Another advantage of the winter Afghanka over the preceding Bushlat and Shinel greatcoat was the greatly enhanced mobility and increased number of pockets. Afghanka was issued alongside the Mabuta uniform, which is similar in shape and looks. Mobuta was used exclusively by the Spetsnaz and VDV, and was used alongside the much more famous Afghanka uniform.
The original issue Afghanka was only available in the standard Soviet Army Khaki shade. Within two years a uniform in a camouflage pattern called Spetsodezhda (Similar to KLMK) had been designed and issued to the Border Guards and KGB troops.
A version of the Afghankha in TTsKO camouflage was developed for VDV paratroopers and marines was developed in 1984. Since then, various other Afghanka uniforms in various camouflage shades such as VSR camouflage, Flora camouflage, and many others have been produced. Kazakhstan and Ukraine both currently issue uniforms in their own camouflage patterns.
The Soviet and Russian VDV used the first version, in both Khaki and TTsKO, but without the lower patch pockets on the jacket as a convenience fit a parachute system or if the shirt needed to be tucked into the trousers.
2nd Guards soldier 1992
- Soviet Uniforms and Militaria 1917-1991 by Laszlo Bekesi
- Inside the Soviet Army Today. Osprey Elite Military History Series No. 12 by Stephen J Zaloga
- Russia's War in Afghanistan by David Isby
- Warsaw Pact Ground Forces by David Rottmman