Taliban touts “Special Forces Unit”

The Afghan Taliban recently promoted its “Special Forces Unit” that purportedly is operating in the eastern Afghan province of Laghman. Since 2015, the Taliban has advertised its so-called “Special Forces Unit” which is known to have operated in southern Afghan provinces.

These six photos of the “Special Forces Unit” operating in Laghman province were released by the Taliban on its official Telegram account on Nov. 1. The Taliban special forces are seen wearing new uniforms and chest rigs, and are photographed with a captured Afghan Army HUMVEE. The images were captured during the daylight.

In 2015, Taliban supporters began circulating photographs online purporting to show a Taliban “Special Forces Unit” training camp somewhere in Afghanistan. The pictures showed dozens of Taliban recruits partaking in physical exercises and weapons training. The recruits were seen training with handguns, heavy machine guns, and what looks like an anti-aircraft gun. Other photos showed the recruits making use of technicals, or armed pickup trucks. The Taliban’s white flag can be seen flying in almost every picture.

Afghan military officials confirmed the existence of a Taliban “Special Forces Unit”, known as the Red Group or Danger Group, in the summer of 2016. An Afghan Army special forces commander said the group uses “advanced weaponry, including night vision scopes, 82mm rockets, heavy machine guns and US-made assault rifles.” According to The Associate Press, the Red Group has fought in Helmand and other provinces.

While the Taliban’s “Special Forces Unit” certainly isn’t trained to the same standards and proficiency as US special operations forces, it has proven to be effective on the battlefield against its Afghan adversaries.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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10 Comments

  • anan says:

    It would make sense the the Taliban special forces unit are in Laghman right now.

    Two places they no longer appear to be in are Helmand and Kunduz; where they are avoiding the ANSF offensive. In general the Taliban appears to be avoiding the ANSF offensive in Helmand and Kunduz and focusing on offensive operations in several other parts of the country.

    Other places that the Taliban doesn’t seem to be focusing on now include Nuristan , Kunar, Nangarhar (other Jihadi groups focus in these provinces).

    Where are the main offensive focuses for the Taliban right now?

  • Julian Ahmed says:

    They look uniformly young. Any photo evidence of modern arms and NVGS?

  • Dick Scott says:

    At the time of the Taliban government, their “army” had a “draft”, at least in Helmand, where each household was required to give one member to the “army” where their training was basically how to shoot an AK-47. What’s happening today? Are they mostly volunteers to fight the “foreign invaders” and an army that supports a very corrupt government? Regardless of training and equipment and air support, the motivations for fighting may be very different between the two “armies”. Or has it become just another “job” with pay for many. This war has been going on for a long time!

  • John Dapper says:

    Wantabe special forces. Very brave in ambush situations against smaller numbers. You would think they’d use tan uniforms in that area. I didn’t know the US made AK copies. I don’t see an M16, M4 in the pictures. I like the white headbands. Nice target for an old school sniper. I bet the CIA appreciates the pictures.

  • Pat G says:

    The “Red Cell” or saraqitah Taliban have been operating in Southern Afghanistan for almost two years. Their most notable assignments were the taking over of Helmand, and Uruzgan provinces. They are well funded, decently trained, and utilize funding from several sources. They certainly are no match for Int’l SPECOPS, however, they do operate effectively on the front lines, especially with special assignments. Within that group are 2-3 specialized sub units.

  • sam says:

    so where are our drones to kill them with?

  • George Matkovits says:

    The white headbands must be great targets.

  • Mike says:

    //youtu.be/1XlH7as17tc

    Skip ahead to 1 min for serious jihadi training.

  • irebukeu says:

    Taliban special forces are special because they wear Chinese sneakers from Pakistan and not sandals.

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