Afghan soldiers trained by the US appear to have joined the Taliban 2.0 — giving the militants expertise along with the massive armory of US weapons of war they had already seized, according to a report.
British officers have analyzed photographs of the Taliban troops in action and believe they have shown clear training by NATO nations, specifically the UK and US, sources told The Times of London.
Some of the skills let analysts “know it’s our guys” who have switched sides to support the new regime — whose leadership includes designated terrorists wanted by the FBI and feared to be holding American hostages.
One giveaway was seeing Taliban troops using a “straight finger” over the trigger guard of their weapons, rather than the traditional way members of the group hold their AK47s “randomly,” one source told the UK Times.
“The new Taliban 2.0 … is using the finger discipline,” a former UK military member told the paper.
“An untrained force would normally hold the weapon randomly, but if your hand is behind the pistol grip and your finger is over the trigger guard, then you’re not going to have a negligent discharge and no one else is going to fire it either,” the sources said of Western forces’ safety training.
It could also explain why “they’re not killing loads of people” in Panjshir, the last holdout that the Taliban claimed victory over on Monday.
“They are not the same hillbillies from the 1990s,” the UK Times’ source said of the cellphone-carrying troops compared to those from the brutal regime overthrown in 2001.
The Taliban have repeatedly requested Afghan soldiers join its forces to form a new official army, also pleading for pilots to join to help fly the Black Hawk helicopters that are part of the huge armory seized since its takeover and the final exit of US troops.
The Times’ sources said it would not be surprising for soldiers to switch to avoid being imprisoned or killed by the brutal regime.
“Everyone just flips sides. You flip sides so you know you won’t get done in,” the paper’s source said.
Barbara Kelemen, an intelligence analyst at Dragonfly, a specialist security intelligence firm, told the paper that there was “reasonable probability” some Afghan soldiers had joined the Taliban.
Likely reasons would be “previous ties to the group, economic incentives and even personal or familial safety if they perceived defeat for government forces was likely,” she said.
However, a spokesman for the UK’s Ministry of Defence told the Times, “We have no evidence to support reports that western-trained former Afghan Security Forces have joined the Taliban.”