Training of ‘Quick Assault Team’ highlighted by Taliban

The Taliban continues to churn out propaganda that touts the training of elite military units, even as the US seeks to negotiate its exit from Afghanistan. In the latest release, the Taliban showcased what is called its “Quick Assault Team,” which is part of its special forces.

While these training videos are often mocked, including by the spokesman for Resolute Support and US Forces – Afghanistan, the graduates from these camps have been effective at battling Afghan security forces. Taliban units have defeated Afghan National Army Commandos and Special Forces in multiple battles over the past several years.

The Taliban published 32 photographs of the Quick Assault Team in various stages of training. The photographs were released on Voice of Jihad’s Pashto language website on Aug. 20. Voice of Jihad is the official website of the Taliban.

In one photograph (above) the Taliban fighters were shown wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name of the Taliban’s government in waiting, with the words “Quick Assault Team” and “Special Forces” printed below.

The Taliban fighters were outfitted with new uniforms, boots, and gear, and their weapons appear to be well-maintained. More than two dozen fighters were present in the training photographs.

The location of the camp was not disclosed. The camp is called the Salahuddin Ayubi Military Camp, according to Zabihullah Muhajid, an official Taliban spokesman. If it is located in Afghanistan, its existence further highlights the deteriorating security situation in the country – with the Taliban operating in the open and unafraid of retaliation from US forces by air or ground. If it is in Pakistan, then it underscores that country’s unwavering support for the Taliban.

The Taliban has promoted the training of its so-called special forces in the past. In Jan. 2019, the Taliban released images from its Mahmud Ghaznawi Military Camp, which it said trains its “Commando Mujahidin.” In Nov. 2017, it advertised the existence of its “Special Forces Unit.” In June 2015, a series of photographs purporting to show the Taliban’s “special forces” circulated on Twitter.

Additionally, the Taliban controls 66 of Afghanistan 407 districts and contests 192 more, according to an ongoing study by FDD’s Long War Journal. The Taliban’s special forces often lead the charge to take these districts.

The existence of Taliban special forces has been acknowledged by both the US military and Afghan intelligence. Known as the Red Unit, Red Group, or Danger Group, it is the Taliban’s version of special forces. The Red Unit operates throughout Afghanistan and is often at the tip of the spear of assaults on district centers, military bases, and outposts. The Red Unit operates more like shock troops rather than traditional Western special forces.

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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