This manuscript analyzes the failure of Soviet air and ground forces to defeat the Afghan mujahideen during the nine-year Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In pursuit of this objective, Soviet military strategy underwent a process of increasing radicalization that eventually resulted in a sanctioned policy of terror by Soviet air and land forces. During this period, airpower played a critical role in this campaign of terror by providing the platforms for punitive bombardment, chemical attack, aerial mining, troop insertion, and fire support. The ability of a relatively ill-equipped and technologically inferior opponent to force the eventual withdrawal of one of the world's most vaunted military powers has broader implications for contemporary political and military leaders. Soviet military operations against the mujahideen in Afghanistan, from December 1979 until the withdrawal of the Limited Contingent of Soviet Forces in February 1989, provide an instructive case study for evaluating the efficacy of airpower as an instrument of coercion. The Afghanistan example offers an excellent historical case for measuring the inherent limitations of airpower as a coercive instrument in the conduct of counterinsurgency operations.