Battle for Hill 3234

Battle for Hill 3234

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle for Hill 3234
partof=the Soviet war in Afghanistan

caption=View from the hill 3234, a photo from personal files of S.V.Rozhkov.
date=January 7, 1988 - January 8, 1988
place=Khost Province, Afghanistan
result=Soviet victory
combatant1=flagicon|USSR 9th Company, 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment (VDV)
combatant2=Afghan mujahideen
commander1=Senior Lieutenant
Sergey Borisovich Tkachev
commander2=Jalaluddin Haqqani
strength1=39 [ "Клятва тридцати девяти".] A. Oliynik. "Krasnaya Zvezda", 29 October, 1988. ru icon]
strength2=200 [ "Афганский дневник".] Y.M. Lapshin. "ОЛМА-ПРЕСС Образование", 2004. ISBN 5-94849-641-4. Part 2. ru icon] -400 [ [ "Из воспоминаний участников боя".] on [] forum. ru icon] (Soviet est.)
casualties1=6 killed, 28 wounded
casualties2=~90 (Soviet estimate)

Battle for Hill 3234 was a defensive battle fought by the Soviet paratroopers in Afghanistan in 1988 against the much larger Afghan rebel force.


In November 1987 the Soviet 40th Army under General Boris Gromov began Operation Magistral to open the road from Gardez to Khost near the Pakistani border. Khost had been cut off for months by mujahideen led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and had to be resupplied by air. Negotiations were undertaken with the local Jadran tribe as well as with Haqqani. This didn't give any results mostly due to the unshakable resolution of Haqqani who wanted to control the city which could help to form an independent Afghanistan and to be a base for future incursions deeper into the country. Before the combat there was a large propaganda campaign, a special radio station was setup which called the Jadran people to cease the support of mujahideen and leave the combat areas. Even during the negotiations a detailed operation plan was formed and the required forced were put into alert. The operation involved the 108th and 201st motorized division and the following paratroopers: 103th guard division, 345th regiment and 56th brigade. They were supported by 5 infantry divisions and 1 tank division of the Afghan government. Due to the collapse of talks, the offensive was set in motion. According to the intelligence and aerial reconnaissance the most important sites which were on the road connecting Kabul to Khost were occupied by the rebels who dug in well. There were about 3km deep of mine fields, 10 BM-21 rocket launchers, numerous anti-air guns and DShK positions, recoilless guns, motars and RPGs. The rebels were well prepared for defense and made the passage and the surrounding hills impenetrable. The Soviet command was aware that a direct attack would be suicidal, and therefore decided to trick the rebels to reveal their positions. 28th of October 1987, a fake landing was made in the areas controlled by the mujahideen, throwing dressed up mannequins from the air. Thanks to this the reconnaissance plane was able to transmit the coordinates of the positions to the air force and after several air strikes a 4 hour long artillery barrage was put in place after which the Magistrala began.Fact|date=July 2008

The Battle

As the operation went on, the commanders wanted to secure the entire section of the road from Gardez to Khost. One of the most important point was the nameless hill which was assigned to the 9th company of the 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment led by Colonel Valery Vostrotin. The task was undertaken by a 39 men who landed on the 7th of January 1988. Their goal was to setup a strong point on the nameless hill designated by its height 3234m. From this point one can control a long section of the road beneath and could secure it for the safe passage of convoys.

Shortly after landing, the 39 soldiers who were well trained and experienced in the Afghan campaign, started to take up positions which covered both the road and the passages uphill. Just as they have dug in, the mujahideen began their attack at 15:30. First they fired with all possible weapons including recoilless guns and RPG. After few salvos, the Soviet artillery roared. The commander of the first platoon Lt. Victor Gargarin directed the fire through radio. When all went silence, it was clear that this was the beginning of an attack.

The soviets were attacked by a coordinated and well-armed force of between 200 and 400 mujahideen. The attack occurred from two directions, indicating that the assailants may have been assisted by rebels trained in Pakistan. During the ensuing battle the Soviet unit was in constant communication with headquarters and received everything the leadership of 40th Army had to offer in terms of artillery support, ammunition, reinforcements, and helicopter evacuation of the wounded. [Carey Schofield, 'The Russian Elite,' Greenhill/Stackpole, 1993, pp.120-125. ISBN 185367155X. ]

The first attack came at 15:30 on January 7th and was followed by 11 more attacks until just before dawn on January 8th, when the mujahideen withdrew leaving Hill 3234 in the hands of the Soviet paratroopers. The exhausted and mostly wounded Soviets were nearly out of ammunition after the final attack and may not have been able to withstand a 13th assault.


oviet Union

The Soviet forces sustained 34 casualties (out of a force of 39 men), including 6 men killed and 28 injured. Two of the killed soldiers, Alexandrov Vyacheslav Alexandrovich and Melnikov Andrey Alexandrovich, were posthumously awarded the golden star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. All of the paratroopers after this battle were given the Order of the Red Banner and Order of the Red Star.


According to the Soviet estimates, the mujahideen lost approximately 90 men. Mujahideen had black uniform with rectangle black-yellow-red stripes. [ [ "Афганистан: бой у высоты 3234".] D.Meshchaninov. ru icon] It was claimed by several sources that the mujahideen were actually members of the Black Storks, an independent commando division of the Pakistan Army. [My Jihad: One American's Journey Through the World of Usama Bin Laden--as a Covert Operative for the American Government. Aukai Collins. ISBN 0-7434-7059-1.] [Carey Schofield, 'The Russian Elite,' Greenhill/Stackpole, 1993, p.121. ISBN 185367155X.]

Mass culture

The Russian / Finnish / Ukrainian movie "The 9th Company" released in 2005 was loosely based on this incident. In 2008, the Russian "documentary video game" "The Truth About 9th Company" was released.


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