Russia is recruiting Afghan commandos

By | October 26, 2022

Lynne O’Donnell writes:

Members of Afghanistan’s elite National Army Commando Corps, who were abandoned by the United States and Western allies when the country fell to the Taliban last year, say they are being contacted with offers to join the Russian military to fight in Ukraine. Multiple Afghan military and security sources say the U.S.-trained light infantry force, which fought alongside U.S. and other allied special forces for almost 20 years, could make the difference Russia needs on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Afghanistan’s 20,000 to 30,000 volunteer commandos were left behind when the United States ceded Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021 . Only a few hundred senior officers were evacuated when the republic collapsed. Thousands of soldiers escaped to regional neighbors as the Taliban hunted down and killed loyalists to the collapsed government. Many of the commandos who remain in Afghanistan are in hiding to avoid capture and execution.

The United States spent almost $90 billion building the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. Although the force as a whole was incompetent and handed the country over to the Taliban in a matter of weeks, the commandos were always held in high regard, having been schooled by U.S. Navy SEALs and the British Special Air Service.

Emblematic of the commandos’ pyrrhic success was the battle of Dawlat Abad, where an Afghan commando unit fought the Taliban while waiting for reinforcements and resupplies that never came in June 2021. The U.S.-trained major who led the unit, Sohrab Azimi, became a national hero when it was revealed he’d had only three days’ rest after fighting for 50 days straight before heading to his final battle.

Now, they are jobless and hopeless, many commandos still waiting for resettlement in the United States or Britain, making them easy targets for recruiters who understand the “band of brothers” mentality of highly skilled fighting men. This potentially makes them easy pickings for Russian recruiters, said Afghan security sources. A former senior Afghan security official, who requested anonymity, said their integration into the Russian military “would be a game-changer” on the Ukrainian battlefield, as Russian President Vladimir Putin struggles to recruit for his faltering war and is reportedly using the notorious mercenary Wagner Group to sign up prisoners. [Continue reading…]

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