Video shows U.S.-trained Afghan soldiers likely fighting for Taliban, experts say
"I’d say they undoubtedly had prior training from U.S. forces," one expert told Task & Purpose.
Taliban propaganda video shows apparently highly trained fighters using U.S. military equipment, and experts say the Jihadist group could be enlisting the help of former Afghan security forces members.
Afghanistan's state-run media outlet Bakhtar News Agency posted a video last week on Twitter showcasing Taliban training exercises with military gear from the U.S. and allies. The soldiers on video dodge in and out behind barricades on a tactical course as they shoot.
The fighters also quickly trade out magazines and weapons use a riot shield and gas masks in the video.
Former Green Beret Benjamin Bunn was deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Baltic Region during his time serving from 2000 to 2016.
"I’d say they undoubtedly had prior training from U.S. forces," he told Task & Purpose. "What you’re seeing is individual movement tactics and team-level small unit tactics," he said.
Bakhtar does not give a location or date of the videoed training but states the soldiers are members of the Sixth Border Brigade of the Al-Fatha Army Corps.
Former Marine infantryman Zachary Bell, who was deployed twice to Afghanistan, told Task & Purpose, "The way [the Taliban soldier] is using cover and concealment, not exposing himself, moving deliberately to each position, smoothly changing magazines, the most likely scenario is that he has had legitimate training."
While the Taliban fighters do not appear to have "a ton of exposure to special operations forces," Bunn said, "a transition drill, going from a primary to a secondary weapon, that’s not something that would be taught to regular folks."
Bunn noted that after 20 years of American involvement, "most Afghan males between the ages of 18 and 45 have had some exposure to U.S. training, and had family that has fought for and against coalition forces, likely both."
He told Task & Purpose that medical and vehicle training are incredibly important, but it is not in the video.
"What gets complicated is when you bring in operating in and around vehicles, first aid," Bunn said. "In a gunfight people will require first aid, and that downs three or four people. It requires more than just close quarters combat training."
Bell has a cynically quipped, "I guess they’re really enjoying the fruits of our labors."
The Taliban touted American military equipment in a parade shortly after seizing the country and establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, Bakhtar News Agency reported that new Taliban Army graduates "have been prepared for special operations."