The recent and hasty withdrawal of the United States Armed Forces from the country of Afghanistan has been somewhat of a controversy. Many say that the withdrawal of US forces was irresponsible while others are lauding the decision as a step towards a more peaceful world. No matter what side you fall on, if you’re a serious gun aficionado then you are probably curious about all the shiny new hardware the Taliban has found themselves now owning. Today we’ll take a brief look at some of the new weapons of the Taliban and how they are already starting to integrate some US and European weaponry into their arsenal.
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A Brief Look at New and Old Weapons of the Taliban
Most of us think of very few select weapons when it comes to the Taliban. The Taliban has been in existence since 1994 when it was formed as a militia by Mohamed Omar. Since its founding, the Taliban has taken up arms in whatever form possible and has made use of everything from gifted weapons to seized and improvised ones in order to pursue their goals. Some notable weapons that come to mind that the Taliban have run as part of their mainline arsenal are the AK-47, RPG-7, FIM92A Stinger as well as the SA-7 “Grail” MANPADS. Despite a lot of manufactured firearms within the ranks of the organization, they also make use of improvised firearms like reproductions of the M-60 machinegun which can be made by local arms manufacturers who also make primitive indirect fire weapons.
The recent withdrawal of US forces from the region left billions of dollars of weapons sitting around that were intended for the Afghan military that has now been appropriated by the Taliban. Along with small arms, millions of dollars worth of equipment, ammunition, and vehicles were also seized and made a part of the fighters’ arsenal.
The United States brought along with it several of our mainline fighting weapons like the M4 platform. The picture above depicts several Taliban fighters taking control of the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan and wielding several types of weapons including an AK as well as three AR-pattern rifles one of which looks like a Knights Armament Company DMR (seen on the left of the photo). While the M4 platform isn’t a common sight, it’s probably not all that unfamiliar to them and I’m sure that the acquisition of hundreds or possibly even thousands of these rifles is a boon to their forces. Other configurations seen seem to feature a wide variety of optics ranging from none to higher-end equipment like this fighter equipped with a Pulsar Trail series thermal rifle scope (seen on the right).
The H&K G3 Battle Rifle
I know plenty of American gun owners who want a genuine H&K G3 rifle. The problem is that they are quite hard to come by in the States and it seems that thousands of them have made their way into the hands of these fighters. While these might have not been acquired from US sources, the rifles have nevertheless started making their way into the hands of Taliban fighters and have been popping up in quite a few news photos.
Drones, Humvees, and MRAPs
Along with a laundry list of small arms (which might as well just be a list of currently issued US small arms), the Taliban also collected more than 5 Boeing Insitu ScanEagle drones which are used for recon duty and cost upwards of $4,000,000 per drone. Along with the drones, many MRAPs and Humvees were taken as well and have already been seen patrolling the cities of Afghanistan with a mix of US and current use Taliban weaponry mounted to them. At the time of writing, they have captured or destroyed over 350 M-1151 HMMWVs.
M240B Medium and M249 Light Machine Guns
Along with these newly acquired M4 rifles, the Taliban have also commandeered many medium and light machine guns that appear to be equipped with several varieties of optics. The M240 Bravo is often seen deployed as both an infantry and vehicle-mounted weapon, although emplaced versions can also be found for use around FOBs and the like. The M249 on the other hand is almost exclusively wielded by infantry and is much easier to transport to and from the field of operations.
And Much Much More
Along with the above small arms and light vehicles, the Taliban has also acquired a lot of heavier hitting items like Tanks including 5 total captured T-62s, as well as 7 additional T-54/55 tanks of Soviet design. As far as US assets go, to date the Taliban has captured 55 M117 Armored Security Vehicles (some were destroyed while others were captured in good repair), as well as 7 UH-60A Blackhawk helicopters, and 2 MD 530F Cayuse light scout helicopters. Several photos circulating on social media also showcase what appear to be loads of captured armor, helmets, and night vision devices (PVS-7s).
As the transition of power continues, I think we can expect to see many more vehicles, weapons, artillery, and military assets captured by the Taliban. What are your thoughts on this sudden influx of arms, equipment, and ammunition into the organization? Will this potentially cause massive backlash for the United States and its allies? Comments welcome down below as always.