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Sarandoy at checkpoint (LIFE magazine)

The Sarandoy ("Defenders of the Revolution") were a gendarme police force of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s,[1] during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. They were administered by the Ministry of the Interior, and led by Sayed Muhammad Gulabzoi. At one point, the Sarandoy held 115,000 men, compared to the Afghan Army's 160,000,[2]while at other points the Sarandoy were said to exceed the Army.

The Sarandoy was subject to internal politics,[3] as its forces were controlled by the Khalqi Communist faction, opposed to the Parchami communist faction which controlled the KhAD intelligence services. Accordingly, the Sarandoy and the KhAD found battles against each other on occasion.[4]

Mark Urban wrote in 1988 that '..By 1985 there were 20 identified Sarandoy Operational Battalions and Mountain Battalions. They were attached to provincial Sarandoy commands and include[d] armoured vehicles and light artillery. The Kabul Security Command controlled two mobile regiments (the 1st and 2nd). .. A further four Sarandoy brigades/regiments have been identified in Badakhshan (24th Sarandoy Brigade), Kandahar, Baghlan, and Parwan.'[5] At the beginning of 1986, operational control of some units passed to the new unified Ministry of State Security.

A number of previously Sarandoy tribal militia units were eventually upgraded to Afghan Army formations, as part of the regularisation of the militia (see Giustozzi, War, Politics and Society in Afghanistan). Among these units was the Ismaili 80th Division in Baghlan Province.


  1. ^ Karp, Craig, (March 1988), US Department of State Bulletin
  2. ^ Milt Bearden; James Risen (6 May 2003). The main enemy: the inside story of the CIA's final showdown with the KGB. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 310–. ISBN 978-0-679-46309-2. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Robert Johnson (2005). A region in turmoil: South Asian conflicts since 1947. Reaktion Books. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-1-86189-257-7. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Shaista Wahab; Barry Youngerman (2007). A brief history of Afghanistan. Infobase Publishing. pp. 166–. ISBN 978-0-8160-5761-0. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Mark Urban, War in Afghanistan, 1988, 226.

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