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Photos and Information from Jean-Paul Bligny.

Infantryman of the Soviet Motor Rifles Photos from Jean-Paul Bligny
This soldier is wearing the standard tan, padded winter uniform which consisted of a jacket, trousers and mittens. This jacket has a removable liner and has a faux fur collar that can be turned up to protect the wearer's head from the freezing cold. There is a version of this winter uniform manufactured in the TTsKO camouflage. He is also wearing the enlisted fur cap "ushanka" with the standard enameled insignia on its face. This soldier carries the standard infantry rifle of the Soviet Armed Forces; the AK-74. The bayonett for his AK is seen on the left side of his belt. This particular model of bayonett is intended for use with the AK-74 and it can also be mounted on the AKM series of rifles. The scabbard and handle is encased in rust colored bakelite. His field gear consists of the faux leather, brown belt with brass buckle, canteen and 4-celled, tan magazine pouch. The magazine pouch holds up to an additional 120 rounds of 5,45 mm ammunition. The pouch also holds stripper clips for ammunition, rifle cleaning kit and oiler. Photos from Jean-Paul Bligny
Senior Sergeant of the Soviet Airborne (VDV) Photos and Information from Jean-Paul Bligny
Top Row of 2 Photos - This soldier is wearing his number one field dress. Most of the world's military have a dress order as this set of photos provides a great example of Soviet dress order. This uniform in particular, the M-69, is the same as his combat dress with the exception of his insignia. It is made of olive to tan cotton. The insignia on this uniform has color; i.e., his branch color (sky blue for VDV) and the metal would usually be bright (shiny). On occasion the Soviet soldier wore his medals and proficiency badges on his combat uniform, but they usually saved this practice for this uniform. The patch of the VDV is worn on his left arm. His number one field uniform was used for the everyday around the barracks and on occasion in the field during practice and exercise. Because he is in the Airborne, he dons the symbol of the oganization, the blue beret. His beret has the standard, enlisted enamled star and wreath insignia and the beret also bares the red "Guards" flash on the left side signifying that his unit is a "Guards" unit.

This uniform combination was seen in Afghanistan.

Bottom Row of 3 Photos - In this series of photos, he is wearing the same uniform as his number one field uniform, but this is his combat uniform. This is usually the uniform that is lowest on the totem pole (a step below the number one field dress) and what is typically used during field exercises and combat. Note that the insignia is subdued to cut down on visibility (Infantry insignia is on this jacket). This uniform is normally seen with painted buttons to cut down on the reflectivity. Note that this sergeant is not wearing any medals or badges (plenty of photos also show the opposite) nor is the soldier wearing the VDV patch on his left arm. Again, this is a common sense measure to reduce the chance of grabbing the attention of the enemy to make unit recognition impssible to the enemy. Typically the beret wasn't worn in combat for the very same reasons of visibility and recognition. They typicaly wore the same field caps as the rest of the Soviet Ground Forces. For example, the "Afghanka," was commonly worn by the VDV. This cap is similar to the American "Boonie" cap in that it helps keeep the sun off their face. This soldier is carrying the AKS-74. The AKS-74 is the "work-horse" rifle of the Soviet Airborne. It is the same as the AK-74 with the exception of the side-foldable, metal stock. The black and white photo in the top row of photographs shows the standard combat uniform of the VDV in the first years of the conflict in Afghanistan. Note that the "Afghanka" cap is being worn.

This combat uniform and equipment was used early by the VDV in Afghanistan, mostly during the invasion phase of the conflict (1979-1983). Though the uniform was being replaced with the four pocket variant, it did not completely disappear. The equipmet did change during the mid-1980's. The VDV's major and most noticeable change was the elimination of the magazine pouch because of its shortcomings and akwarness and replaced it with the "lifchick" or (bra in English). The "lifchick" is the Russian nickname of the magazine chest rig. The first chest rigs were captured Chinese, but the Soviets did develop their own, making modifications based on the soldier's combat experience.