A Taliban fighting force dressed in U.S. military uniforms and appeared to make fun of an iconic wartime photograph on Aug. 21.
The Badri 313 Battalion has been accused of parading around Afghanistan with American-made gear and vehicles. The group strangely seemed to mock the historical moment six U.S. Marines raised the national flag on the northwest Pacific island of Iwo Jima back in World War II.
A Taliban propaganda video shows three battalion soldiers running and carrying an Islamic Emirate flag. They are posed in a very similar manner to Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo from the year 1945.
In another propaganda photo, two Taliban fighters can be seen wearing the complete U.S. Army uniform, including camouflage jacket, pants, combat boots, and body armour. One of the fighters carries a standard rifle. They seemingly arrived at the scene in a Ford pickup truck with a military camouflage finish.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group revealed the pair also wielded M4 carbines and drove around in armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles.
“Taliban with their new American gear,” Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said on Twitter.
The fighters also have access to seven new U.S.-supplied helicopters, and an estimated $28 billion in armaments delivered between 2002 and 2017.
Up to 600,000 assault rifles, 2,000 armored vehicles, and 40 aircraft–including Black Hawks–have also been seized according to the New York Post.
“Everything that has not been destroyed is the Taliban’s now,” a U.S. official said according to Reuters.
None of the fighters are trained in how to operate advanced aircraft.
بدري ۳۱۳ قطعه— Qari Saeed Khosty (@SaeedKhosty) August 17, 2021
د ارګ او د کابل ښار د حساسو سیمو امنیت په غاړه لري pic.twitter.com/dSSgnuAUbM
“When an armed group gets their hands on American-made weaponry, it is sort of a status symbol [and] it is a psychological win,” Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor Deputy Director Elias Yousif said according to The Hill.
The White House could not confirm exactly how much equipment the Taliban seized.
“We do not have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said according to the publication.
Sullivan doubts U.S. forces will ever see the equipment again.
“Certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and, obviously, we do not have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport,” he said.