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Afghanistan: Taliban employing drones

October 28, 2016

Summary: footage of the Taliban employing drones to film a suicide attack highlight a new security dimension and also some poor defensive procedures by the Afghan police.

Some interesting information from Reuters.  The footage they offer purports to be of an Afghanistan Taliban vehicle-borne suicide attack against an Afghan police base in Helmand.  Nothing unusual in itself, but this time the footage appears to come from a Taliban-piloted drone, bringing crystal clear film of the devastation of the attack.  Apparently a police district chief and several others were killed.  Incidentally, having spent a certain amount of time living in ISAF protected bases and negotiating lengthy blast walls, all manner of protective systems and having to slow down to a crawl while trying to get in and out, I thought the police base seemed to have been spectacularly badly protected, particularly given the route taken by the attacker.

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Taiban VBIED against Afghan police base, Helmand, October 2016

Learning from ISIS?

The Afghan government believe the film is genuine.  Islamic State have used such systems in Syria and Iraq, but I have not seen the Taliban using this capability before.

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IS drone Fallujah, Iraq, May 2016

This represents a new, interesting but ultimately perhaps unsurprising development in the military capabilities of the Taliban – using remote-piloted vehicles for observation and reconnaissance purposes.  These are likely commercial off-the-shelf drones of the sort available from hobby shops.  It will not be long before such “hobby drones” will be “weaponised” by Taliban insurgents with small improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Perhaps small payloads, initially, but a significant step forward in their ability to target military, government and foreign locations and personnel.  I can see ISAF and Afghan security personnel scratching their heads over this one.

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