SOF Operators take to two-wheels in the hunt for Taliban in remote regions of Afghanistan.

If you are the Taliban, this is your worst nightmare come true.

A ten-man element of U.S. Spec Ops shooters armed with precision fire weapons and night vision optics, weaving through rolling hills along goat trails on blacked-out motorcycles in the middle of the night.

Every time you hear the faint noise of a two-stroke engine off in the distance, you think to yourself, “Is it a villager, fellow Taliban or someone hunting me?”

“Hell on wheels” has a new definition. Special Operations has a long history of using the enemy’s tactics against them, with devastating effect. Unconventional warfare is what you make of it.

MSOT operating deep inside of Afghanistan
MSOT operating deep inside of Afghanistan

If the Taliban are utilizing motorcycles to maneuver and assault against ISAF and friendly forces in remote regions of Afghanistan; how do you counteract this? The answer for one Marine Special Operation Team is to mount up on two-wheelers of their own and head to the hills.

These roving teams of SOF Operators have compromised all of the advantages, routes and capabilities that the Taliban once enjoyed. However, access to working off-road vehicles is more difficult than you would think for teams in country.

AVTs and dirt bikes in regular use are extremely hard to maintain and repair when being utilized at isolated combat outposts (COP) or village stabilization operations (VSO) sites. Many teams have resorted to purchasing the same small and low horsepower motorcycles that the Taliban are using, sometime even buying them from the same local bazaar.


Marine Special Operation Team: Taliban Hunters!
Marine Special Operations Team: Taliban Hunters!

MARSOC/ODA Teams will continue to evolve and exploit the enemy on Afghanistan‘s low-tech battlefield. This technique has filled the gap between vehicle mounted and foot patrols. The integration of “two-wheel Ops” has resulted in forcing the Taliban back to the drawing board. The use of motorcycles allows for speed and freedom of movement across rough terrain.

The ability to run down the enemy on their home turf using their tactic is priceless and leaves the Taliban to reassess their strategy. The use of these bikes has provided Operators with a new perspective to what the enemy is dealing with and taking into consideration when planning their operations against friendly forces.

The experience and insight from the ground Operator is as good as it gets when it comes to an unfiltered perspective of the war. Allowing the men who are pulling the triggers to determine and influence what specialized gear they require to accomplish the mission is a must. Using the enemy’s tactics and techniques against them has repeatedly proven effective.

MSOT On the hunt in Afghanistan
MSOT On the hunt in Afghanistan

Let’s remember that it is not the equipment, funding or training that makes these SOF operator elite. Rather, it is the fast and creative thinking they bring to the battlefield. Technology and advanced weapon systems cannot replace the ingenuity to adapt to a specific situation. This is what makes these teams so effective and lethal to the enemy.

Dedicated to the loving memory and sacrifice of GySgt. Robert L. Gilbert & SSgt. Patrick R. Dolphin

Level Zero Heroes | The Story of U.S. Marine SOF in Bala Morghab, Afghanistan

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*Editor’s note: This article’s headline was modified on 9/16/2019 and was originally written by Michael Golembesky