ANI News service is quoting Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid saying that the new Taliban Army will include a battalion of suicide bombers in its table of organization.   The Taliban have said previously that they will stand up an army of some 100,000 troops as they try to consolidate their hold on Afghanistan following their occupation of Kabul in mid-August of 2021.

To build this new army, the Taliban is looking to fill its ranks with soldiers from the 350,000 man Afghan Army it defeated in its take over of the country.  The Taliban came into possession of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. funded and provided equipment including 2,000 Humvees and trucks, helicopters, 50 armored fighting vehicles which include the Mine-Resistant MRAP type, seven Boeing built drones, perhaps 200 pieces of artillery and mortars, attack aircraft, and perhaps a dozen tanks. Not to mention hundreds of thousands of U.S. made small arms and millions of rounds of ammunition.

What the Taliban lack is the technical ability to repair and maintain this equipment long-term so they are looking to induct specialists with these skills from the old Afghan army into the new force.

The Taliban have stated that women will be inducted as well in certain cases, which would likely mean that the suicide bomber unit will include them as well.

While this army is being called a defense force by the Taliban, once constituted it will probably be deployed against the remaining forces of the Afghan government still holding out in the Pajshir region North East of Kabul.  So far, Taliban attacks with just their irregular infantry have been easily repulsed in the restricted terrain of this valley.

Armed transport in Taliban-controlled Kabul, August 17 2021. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Taliban come from the Eastern and Northern Pashtun provinces of Afghanistan which is a country of various ethnic groups that most often are rivals to each other with hostilities going back centuries in their origins. The Pashtun make up about 42% of all Afghans, followed by the Tajik with 27% and Uzbeks and Hazaras each comprising less than 10% of the population.  There are as many as two dozen other small ethnic groups within the country that the Taliban are also trying to bring under their rule.

Viewing all non-Pashtuns with suspicion, this new army will be primarily comprised of their fellow Pashtuns to assure their loyalty with some exceptions made for those members of other tribes that have technical skills they need.  Its relative exclusivity will likely result in Tajiks, Uzbeks and the Hazara seeing it as a Pashtun Army stood up to oppress them.