- Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
Afghanistan
The future appears uncertain for Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban as US-led forces withdrew from the country after 20 years of occupation. As other nations continue to evacuate their citizens, the Central Asian country has been struck by political and humanitarian crises.

British Military Reportedly Spotted UK, US-Trained Afghans Among Taliban Fighters

© AP Photo / Rahmat GulTaliban fighters pose for a photograph in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021
Taliban fighters pose for a photograph in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.09.2021
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The reports of Afghan government forces switching sides instead of fighting the insurgents actively circulated in media in July and August 2021 during the Taliban* offensive.
Some Taliban* fighters, seen in numerous, show photos signs of having received professional military training, possibly from the UK or US, or from people whom these countries' militaries had trained, The Times reported, citing anonymous sources in the British military. They reportedly came to this conclusion studying the photos, including from the latest Taliban operation in the Panjshir Valley.
The sources pointed to the fact that many fighters hold their fingers straight over the trigger guard when holding a gun, which prevents accidental weapon discharges.
"This is the safety training we have […] 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 are not going to have a negligent discharge and no one else is going to fire it either", British military sources told The Times.
This type of training is typical in Western militaries and could alternatively have been provided to the Taliban fighters by those who were trained by the American or British, the media's sources said.
This adds to the feeling that the insurgent group has undergone certain changes over the past decades, becoming "Taliban 2.0", some of the sources said. Trigger discipline is one of these signs. Another is the reports that suggest the Taliban did not kill "loads of people" in the Panjshir Valley – the last stronghold of the opposition.

"[The Taliban] is not the same hillbillies from the 1990s", one anonymous source said.

The US and other NATO states have engaged in a lot of training of Afghan locals as part of the unsuccessful effort to build a military capable of at least keeping the Taliban at bay after the foreign forces withdrew. There have been numerous media reports suggesting that many members of the Afghan military chose to switch sides instead of fighting the insurgents, when they launched their summer offensive that resulted in the takeover of Afghanistan.
As to the reasons why soldiers switched sides, there may be several explanations, Barbara Kelemen, an intelligence analyst at the security intelligence firm Dragonfly said.

"Among reasons that would prompt some soldiers to join the Taliban are their previous ties to the group, economic incentives and even personal or family safety if they perceived defeat for government forces was likely".

Barbara Kelemen
Intelligence analyst
At the same time, an anonymous defence source rejected a notion in the interview with The Times, claiming that any "competent" force would have exhibited signs such as a "straight finger".

"We have no evidence to support reports that western-trained former Afghan Security Forces have joined the Taliban", the source said.

*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries.
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