Soldiers Trained By UK And US Army Will Now Fight For Taliban

by : Hannah Smith on : 08 Sep 2021 14:52
Soldiers Trained By UK And US Army Will Now Fight For TalibanPA Images

Military officials believe that several Afghan soldiers trained by US and UK forces have defected to the Taliban, after analysis showed some fighters were using techniques taught by NATO forces.

According to a British military source, images taken during the Taliban’s recent offensive in Panjshir showed soldiers holding their weapons with a ‘tell-tale’ grip known as the ‘straight-finger’ hold, which indicates that they received training from NATO forces.

Taliban soldiers (PA Images)PA Images

The source told The Times that the soldiers could be easily distinguished from other Taliban fighters who held their guns ‘randomly’, adding that the technique was learned in safety training, which made it clear that ‘these are our guys’.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson would not confirm the claims, saying in a statement, ‘We have no evidence to support reports that western-trained former Afghan Security Forces have joined the Taliban,’ while an unnamed defence source told The Times that officials understood that any ‘competent’ force could be trained to hold their guns with the same technique.

However, the anonymous military source said they believed that it was inevitable that some former government forces would have decided to align themselves with the Taliban falling the withdrawal of international forces so as to avoid reprisals against them or their families.


‘Everyone just flips sides. You flip sides so you know you won’t get done in,’ they said, adding that in their view the presence of UK-trained soldiers among the Taliban’s ranks could explain why there has been relatively less bloodshed in the campaign to take Panjshir than had been feared.

A Taliban soldier guards a border crossing (PA Images)PA Images

‘They’re not killing loads of people,’ they said, adding that the more westernised soldiers were ‘not the same hillbillies from the 1990s’.

Intelligence analyst Barbara Kellman agreed that there were a number of plausible explanations for Afghan government soldiers joining the Taliban, including ‘previous ties to the group, economic incentives and even personal or familial safety if they perceived defeat for government forces was likely’.


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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, Afghanistan, military, Now, Taliban, UK


The Times
  1. The Times

    British trained soldiers 'now fighting for the Taliban'