Is the Taliban Capable of Operating and Maintaining Modern Military Equipment?

The recent rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan has raised several questions about the group’s capabilities, particularly regarding the operation and maintenance of modern military equipment. With the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces, there are valid concerns about the sophisticated weaponry left behind and whether the Taliban will be able to utilize and maintain this arsenal effectively. This article will explore the Taliban’s experience, training, and potential future challenges in operating and maintaining modern military equipment.

Historical Context

The Taliban’s military capabilities have evolved significantly since its inception in the mid-1990s. Initially, the group relied primarily on small arms, light weapons, and guerrilla tactics to achieve its goals. However, as the conflict with NATO and Afghan forces intensified, the Taliban adapted by capturing and utilizing military equipment from its adversaries. This allowed the group to improve its operational capabilities. By the late 2000s, the Taliban had gained experience using various types of military equipment, such as armored vehicles, artillery, and rocket systems.

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Experience with Captured Equipment

The Taliban has a history of capturing and repurposing military equipment from both NATO and Afghan forces. In several instances, they have demonstrated their ability to operate and maintain these weapons systems. For example, the Taliban has successfully used captured Humvees and other armored vehicles in operations against its enemies. Similarly, they have been known to employ Soviet-era artillery and rocket systems.

However, it is essential to note that much of the equipment the Taliban has captured in the past is relatively simple and easy to maintain compared to the advanced technology used by modern militaries. For instance, Soviet-era equipment is often designed with ruggedness and simplicity, making it easier for less-trained forces to operate and maintain.

Training and External Support

To effectively utilize modern military equipment, the Taliban would need significant training and support. They have likely received some activity from external sources, such as Iran, Russia, and Pakistan. However, the quality and extent of this training are uncertain.

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Moreover, the maintenance and repair of modern military equipment often require specialized knowledge, tools, and spare parts. In the past, the Taliban has relied on captured equipment and makeshift maintenance to maintain its arsenal. However, this approach may be insufficient for more advanced systems, which often require precise calibration and access to proprietary information.

Challenges in Operating and Maintaining Modern Military Equipment

Several factors could limit the Taliban’s ability to operate and maintain Modern military equipment effectively:

Complexity: Modern military systems are highly complex and require specialized training to use effectively. The Taliban may lack the technical expertise to fully utilize this equipment, especially in advanced techniques such as drones, communication networks, and electronic warfare.

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Maintenance and Logistics: The maintenance and repair of advanced military equipment require a robust logistical infrastructure, including access to spare parts, tools, and technical manuals. The Taliban may struggle to establish and maintain this infrastructure, particularly given the international sanctions and restrictions placed on the group.

Dependence on External Support: The Taliban’s ability to operate and maintain modern military equipment may depend heavily on external support from state and non-state actors. The withdrawal of this support could significantly impact their capabilities.

Attrition and Degradation: The operational lifespan of advanced military equipment is limited, and over time, the Taliban’s arsenal may degrade due to wear and tear, a lack of spare parts, and insufficient maintenance.


While the Taliban has a history of capturing and repurposing military equipment, their ability to effectively operate and maintain modern military systems is uncertain—the complexity of these systems and the challenges of maintenance, logistics, and dependence.

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