Inside the Blue Berets: A Combat History of Soviet and Russian Airborne Forces, 1930-1995 by Steven J. Zaloga. Presidio Press, 505 San Marin Drive, Suite 300B, Novato, California 94945-1309, 1995, 339 pages, $24.95.
After World War II, airborne forces became the Soviet Union's weapon of choice in dealing with difficult military situations. Airborne forces provided the Kremlin with power-projection capability in foreign interventions as well as a reliable force in internal disputes. As a result, Soviet leadership favored airborne forces. The "best and the brightest" of the Soviet military sought to wear the Blue Beret of the airborne soldier. Today's airborne forces are considered Russia's premier fighting force and will likely spearhead future combat operations. Until recently, much of their combat history was cloaked under the cover of state secrecy. Steven Zaloga has taken on the task of tracing the development, evolution, and combat experiences of airborne forces. He has used recently declassified Soviet documents to fill in the gaps in the combat record.
The book's main emphasis is on airborne combat operations. It discusses the airborne operations in World War II, interventions in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan, as well as "peacekeeping" operations conducted during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Many of these operations, especially the World War II airborne operations, ended in disaster and were not included in Soviet history.
The author's expertise really shines when discussing the weapon systems employed by the airborne forces. He provides a good review of airlift and helicopter development, as well as a discussion of armor …