Taliban: Terrorist Gang or Ultra-Modern War Machine?
This applies to all wars regardless of the time, place and circumstances of their conduct. The degree of technical complexity of equipment and weapons does not play a role either: it does not matter what is used in battle, sticks or Tanksand this is not a purely academic problem ... "
- Van Creveld. "War Transformation".
In recent months, Afghanistan has taken almost a central place in the entire military-political news agenda. It should be admitted that this is not happening for nothing - in the end, the fate of this country will affect the strategic alignment of forces on the entire continent.
Naturally, a central factor in the Afghan crisis, the notorious Taliban terrorist group, is also under scrutiny.
It should be admitted that the Taliban are a very little-known topic in Russia. Sometimes the domestic reader imagines this organization, extrapolating from the Soviet experience of the war with the mujahideen, which, of course, is fundamentally wrong.
Lack of data on militants sometimes leads to blatant ignorance in the expert community. Most of the people who write about the current war in Afghanistan tell us about a certain triumph of will, fortitude and the old Kalashnikov assault rifle, with the help of which "tattered slippers" smash cowardly NATO soldiers and their allies.
But is it true?
Unfortunately (it is unfortunately, given the level of threat posed by the Taliban to Russia in the future!), Few people realize that the “slippers” are highly qualified military professionals. They have been training for years to carry out the most difficult combat operations in which they encounter heavy armored vehicles and assault aviation... This is an organization that spends tens of millions of dollars on modern weapons and equipment, constantly mastering them both in theory and in practice. The militants are actively working on their tactics and strategy.
They analyze, plan, refine.
The Taliban are veterans of dozens of battles, people with colossal organizational and command experience, experts in the tactics of non-traditional military operations.
It is worth speaking frankly - this organization is a well-oiled military machine, from which the military elite of the most powerful armies in the world should learn.
Several facts about what the Taliban are
1. The Taliban have excellent tactical training. They act like most modern Western armies - they attack mainly at night, actively using night vision devices. In addition, they regularly use drones for intelligence purposes.
2. Contrary to popular belief, the Taliban do not act as scattered insurgent units, but as a full-fledged army. The organization has a centralized military leadership, unified logistics, and an officer training system.
3. The Taliban attach great importance to the military training of their soldiers. According to known data, the organization has at least 16 training bases. Approximately 2/3 of the time of service of personnel is occupied by intensive training and exercises - in addition, every 4 months, members of the organization undergo additional training, during which the discovered shortcomings of combat tactics are dealt with, as well as new weapons are mastered (this is an ingenious system that any army can envy - all errors are analyzed in the shortest possible time by tacticians and officers, and immediately brought to the rank and file).
4. The Taliban are actively using the tactics of psychological warfare. It works efficiently and uncomplicated - they simply systematically exterminate all persons loyal to the official government in Kabul: public figures, officials, doctors, journalists. Uncomplicated basics of effective terror, impossible anywhere else in the world.
5. The technical equipment of the Taliban is superior to that of most units from the Western coalition, and even more so to the Afghan National Army. Back in 2011, the American armed forces issued a number of reports on this issue: the organization's fighters began to radically change their tactics, using modern sniper weapons, night vision devices, laser-guided artillery fire systems and light infantry mortars.
And now we present to your attention two serious tactical and technical advantages, thanks to which the Taliban offensive slices through the defenses of the official government like a hot knife of butter.
Taliban drones - cheap and practical
Unfortunately, in Russia there is very little and one-sided coverage of the use of drones in various low-intensity conflicts. Meanwhile, it is very curious and instructive. story - and now I will explain why.
To start this conversation is that the Taliban are using for their own purposes the most common and fairly budget models of quadcopters - for example, the DJI "Phantom". Judging by the ISAF, a significant proportion of Taliban fighters are trained in piloting copters - this ensures their massive use.
In order to overcome the technical shortcomings of commercial quadrocopters (for example, short flight range), the Taliban, in the best traditions of asymmetric warfare, combined the mobility and flexibility of motorcycles with the ability to conduct non-contact reconnaissance using drones.
It is this advantage in detailed aerial reconnaissance that serves to organize the key to successful actions during the assault on the outposts of government forces. Among other things, the Taliban have repeatedly used copters as mini-bombers to attack roadblocks. This is a fairly straightforward tactical trick: when dropping homemade bombs, soldiers and policemen run for cover, and at this moment the militants begin a circular attack on the fortifications.
It should also be said that the Taliban have been actively using quadcopters since about 2016 to organize assassinations of high-ranking government officials.
Contrary to popular belief about the vulnerability of civilian models of drones, their massive use has become a monstrous problem even for the well-equipped US armed forces. It is simply impossible to place jammers and electronic warfare systems at all checkpoints, at every base, fortifications, and to equip all patrols with them. It turned out that it is unrealistic to stop this threat even with ISAF-level budgets.
Yes, you heard right - two hundred dollar copters have become a headache for the regular Western armies. Competent tactical use of these devices has become one of the main advantages of the Taliban over its high-tech adversary.
And DJI "Phantom" gradually and become the same legend of asymmetric warfare, like Toyota pickup trucks.
Motorized infantry riding a bike
If you think that the Taliban are scattered guerrilla units without equipment, then you are most seriously mistaken.
Back in the 90s, before the coalition invaded Afghanistan, Taliban fighters established themselves as aces of mobile warfare. For the next two decades, they actively strengthened their reputation in practice - but, alas, not much has been written about this.
Of course, you will have a logical question - what kind of maneuverable war are we talking about, if Afghanistan for many years was under the hood of ISAF aerial surveillance? And how can technology be used in such conditions?
And I will answer you: anything is possible if your technique is a motorcycle!
For many years the Taliban used the strategy of guerrilla warfare - in general, the general strategic situation did not allow the group to go over to open hostilities. At the same time, the use of exclusively foot units is not the most reasonable thing. After all, the year is not 1943, and even a low-intensity war requires high mobility from the participants. Naturally, the use of cars in such conditions was almost impossible: they are noticeable, require a significant amount of fuel, are quite expensive, and they also need roads.
The first major motorcycle niche in the Taliban was intelligence. High mobility, coupled with the ability to disguise as civilians, was a major headache for the ISAF. As mentioned above, the real "highlight" was the use of the "motorcycle + UAV" bundle - drone operators, changing positions on the bikes, proved to be a very functional and flexible tactical unit.
Naturally, in the absence of the possibility of using other vehicles, the Taliban began to use motorized infantry as well. Militant detachments have successfully mastered the high-speed transfer of personnel and heavy weapons on motorcycles. As the ISAF forces were withdrawn from the country, the Taliban made this tactical trick their trump card - units are sometimes deployed simultaneously on a hundred bikes, providing unprecedented mobility against the backdrop of frankly passive ANA forces. In addition, the militants are actively using bikes right in battle, shifting the calculations of heavy weapons - heavy machine guns, grenade launchers and anti-material rifles. This allows them to concentrate firepower at high speed during assaults, which, of course, is a great advantage over the enemy (it is worth noting that this tactical technique works like a clock - despite the capture of a large number of armored vehicles, militants mainly continue to use calculations for maneuvering heavy weapons, namely motorcycles).
And, of course, such a side of the war as ordinary terror cannot be overlooked. The Taliban have been practicing lightning-fast fire raids on government outposts and civilians for years. At times, such attacks do not cause much damage, but seriously exhaust the ANA forces. In addition, the militants have successfully mastered attacks on convoys and patrols in the style of "cavalry raids." It would be worthwhile to separately mention a tactical technique that seriously spoiled the blood of the ISAF in the early years of the invasion. Its essence is simple - bikers attack a patrol and make a false retreat, escaping ... through a minefield. Anti-tank mines ignore light motorcycles - but respond perfectly to heavy tactical vehicles from NATO countries. Is it worth explaining what happens next?
Naturally, mock motorcycle retreats have been used repeatedly to lure ISAF forces into classic ambushes. In short, the Taliban riding bikes has successfully revived Mongolian light cavalry tactics in the 21st century - and are using them successfully.
As in the case of the UAV, the Taliban took the path of absolute practicality - the group uses the iconic Chinese-made Honda CG-125. The reasons for this are simple and understandable: these bikes are sold in any bazaar in Afghanistan. They are cheap, economical, hardy, and affordable.
As a conclusion
The Taliban is one of the clearest examples of the transformation of war in the world today.
Weapons will become less, not more complex. The war will not be fought from a distance by neatly uniformed men sitting in air-conditioned rooms behind computer monitors, manipulating symbols and pressing buttons: in fact, the "troops" will have more in common with police officers (or pirates) than with military analysts. "
- Van Creveld. "War Transformation".
What can we see when looking at the Taliban? It is a super-flexible military machine, extremely sensitive to any changes, which is capable of reconstructing in the shortest possible time to the current conditions of hostilities. We see a system that is impossible in any regular army in the world - a system that for several decades successfully fought and defeated real, classic armies, built with the latest military thought for battles in conditions of large-scale conflicts like World War II.
This is a topic that is definitely worthy of detailed study - after all, in the end, modern warfare is changing more and more - the regular army more and more often resembles a victim, and various military-terrorist organizations - predators.
* Editorial note: The Taliban is a terrorist organization banned on the territory of the Russian Federation
- Anzhey V.
- republic.ru usip.org thediplomat.com media.pri.org timesofisrael.com
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