Traditionally, U.S. Soldiers Have ‘Owned The Night’, But Now The Taliban Has Night Vision, Too

Losing this strategic advantage means the U.S. military will have to make tactical changes.

By Alain StephensMarch 13, 2018 1:22 pm

In February, a video was released on the website Voice of Jihad – a piece of propaganda created by the Taliban that displays an overnight raid against Afghan security forces in Kandahar.

On the surface, it was nothing too out of the ordinary for Taliban videos, but there is one unusual aspect of this video that has the U.S. military gravely concerned. The images from the video are in the green tint of night vision and that points to a serious problem.

Kyle Rempfer, an editor for Military Times, says, “This video shows that there’s an increasing proliferation of night vision equipment and the optical devices that kind of are associated with it, that use the infrared light spectrum.”

Historically speaking, U.S. forces have owned the night. Night vision technology has given them a strategic advantage that their adversaries haven’t had. But now, Taliban forces have gotten ahold of night vision goggles.

“The big tactical advantage is even if only one member of the Taliban has it, they can see a U.S. team or even a partner force team moving from a long distance away, so the advantage of surprise is taken away right there,” he says. “As far as where they’re getting them, there’s three big possibilities. The main one and the kind of traditional one is that the Taliban are taking them as battlefield trophies off enemy combatants.”

The other two possibilities, he says, are that they’re purchasing them on the black market or that other nations – like Russia, Iran, or North Korea, for instance – are supplying them through secondary channels.

Rempfer says the immediate tactical change is that U.S. forces will now have to be more careful about how they move.

Written by Jen Rice.