— Long War Journal (@LongWarJournal) October 30, 2017
Hundreds of Taliban fighters in the western province of Farah paraded their vehicles and then stood in formation for a lengthy period of time, without fear of being targeted by Afghan or Coalition forces, to listen to an official give a speech recently . The Taliban continues to be able to operate openly in nearly all areas of the country.
The Taliban displayed their military power in the contested district of Bakwa in a newly released video titled From the Fronts of Farah. The video which was released on the Taliban’s propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, “is dedicated to the Jihadic situation of Farah province showcasing the strength, control and advances of the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate,” according to an accompanying statement.
The video appears to be filmed at Bakwa’s district center or a large village in the district. In the video, scores of Taliban vehicles, including new Toyota Hilux pickup trucks and minivans, as well as HUMVEES and Ford Ranger pickup trucks that have been captured from Afghan Army and police units, are paraded by the Taliban. Taliban flags are flying everywhere, and many vehicles display the white banner of the group.
After the vehicles are parked, hundreds of heavily armed Taliban fighters line up and stand in formation to listen to a speech from Taliban “scholars and officials.” Again, Taliban flags are prominently displayed as the Taliban leaders address the formation.
Bakwa district is assessed by FDD’s Long War Journal as being contested. The Taliban has overrun military bases there in the past, and last year was able to kill eight policemen during an assault on the district police headquarters.
The video From the Fronts of Farah is the latest in a series of Taliban propaganda films that has highlighted Taliban operations. A similar video, from the neighboring province of Nimroz, was released by the Taliban earlier this month. As with previous propaganda videos, the Taliban demonstrated that it can easily organize its forces for assaults on bases and district centers and execute attacks over extended periods of time, or parade its troops in the open, without fear of being targeted from the air by Afghan or Coalition forces. The Taliban has taken advantage of its control of rural areas to mass its forces.
The Taliban has remained on the offensive against Afghan forces despite the US government’s modification of strategy and tactics that are designed to roll back Taliban gains and defeat them on the battlefield. If the US and the Afghan government want to halt Taliban gains, the Taliban must be forced to pay a heavy price for massing and striking outposts, bases, and district centers.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.