Claymore’s Adventures: KGB, Afghan Refugees and Mystery Glass Vials

    Editor’s note: Claymore’s career took many interesting twists and turn through some of the worlds most notorious regions. His first article for TFB, about the rare AK rifles he discovered deep in the jungle, can be read here. His second article about the Chinese AK clones he found in the jungle can be read here.

    We have another “what is it story?” today. The response from our readers on the other stories of this type has been very good. You guys are experts on this stuff.

    Way back in 1988 my partner and I were doing our thing in the Pakistani town of Peshawar which had grown huge due to an influx of Afghan refugees fleeing the first war in Afghanistan.

    One of the honchos we were working for “Ho chi Lynn” was an avid collector of all things from the soviet military and had put out the word to the teams going into Afghanistan that he wanted to see anything they collected.

    He was showing us some of the goodies had had gotten from the teams and most of them were easily recognizable as standard military equipment.

    Then he brought out this pair of glass vials (photo top) that had us all stumped.

    The back story he told us is they were taken from the KGB building in the Chowni Garrrison in Afghanistan by one of our Muj and given to “Mr. Lynn” as he was known to the Afghans. 

    This is where the saga begins and has yet to end so I’m hoping one of our readers can help me out.

    The glass vials come well packed in a sturdy metal container that is painted in the typical soviet OD green.

    As a side note if you do not have a ruler where you are taking the photos any object that is always of a standard size, like this cigarette pack, can be used for scale of the objects.

    Liquid Closed Can 2

    The vials are held in the cans by wrapped paper we think to prevent rattles and give some protection to the fragile glass vials.

    As you can see clearly in this photo the metal container is marked “1” and “2” showing they are not the same thing.

    They are also marked on the tips one red and one blue. One is an amber liquid and one is clear.

    Liquid Open Can 4

    This is a better shot of the paper wraps and the lid that is just popped on and off with no hindge or seals of any kind.

    Liquid can top 3

    So we had it but nobody knew what the heck it is.

    So we do our thing as usual and before we headed back to the states we took the photos above as we knew we would be checking in with our contacts to see if we could find out what these things are.

    We got back to the states and I sent the photos to my buddy Capt. Mike at an army intelligence unit because the Army was always interested in new military things found in that area of the world. The photos had to be sent by mail because the internet was just beginning to come into popular use. (BTW Capt Mike it’s 26 years later and you haven’t sent my photos back!)

    A couple weeks later Capt. mike calls me and we go to the story of my using the STU (Secure Telephone Unit) at the FBI office.

    The photos and these vials have now been classified which led to the STU phone call at the FBI office in my last post.

    I think I have posted this before but the comments may have gone missing with the newest Disqus update from old posts.  So here is the short version of that phone call. If you have read it already skip down. Mike said he can’t talk over an unsecured phone so is there an STU that I could get to?

    So I head up to the main FBI office in our state capitol and tell the FBI I’m expecting a call on the STU. the FBI guys I knew all all over themselves as to what I could need an STU for but I get to tell them they don’t have “The need to know” for once.

    Anyway I get connected to Capt. Mike on the STU and he tells me  he checked every place open to Army Intelligence and nobody has even seen them before.

    All of Army intelligence can say is their best guess is they are for decontaminating tanks or large equipment after a chemical leak or attack but that is a qualified guess.

    My partner sent his copy of the photos off to DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) and the answer he got back had more info but still not 100%. DIA thought along the same lines as Army Intelligence and that the red one was for Nerve gas (neurotoxins) and the blue one for irritants.

    So here we are 26 years later and I’m still not sure what these vials are for.

    So my hope is some of our expert readers can help me identify these vials.

    I learned my lesson and looked and searched the web using all the terms I could think of but nothing shows up. In fact I’m less convinced this could be for large vehicles now because all the things found on the net for soviet decontamination have them mixing up large 55 gallon drums stuff to use so these look too small for that purpose.

    Again this is an exercise for fun. No prizes will be awarded to the winner except the good feeling of being right.


    Thanks for everyone for their help identifying the vials. They are Russian individual decontamination kits ( индивидуальный дегазационный пакет – ИДП) used for decontaminating small arms after a chemical attack. One vial is for blister agents and the other is for nerve agents. A special thanks to Yuri Lyamin of Armament Research Services (ARES) and to Toni for information and the below photos.

    decon kit 001



    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!