Pentagon officials are warning commanders not to ship Army uniforms through the usual U.S. supply routes in Pakistan and Afghanistan because Taliban fighters are stealing them to “gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield.”
Politico quotes a DoD message it obtained in which Army commanders were directed to treat certain uniform items as “sensitive cargo” to be flown into Afghanistan, not shipped over land, so they won’t be intercepted. Items now considered sensitive include tactical vests, plate carriers, cold weather gear and fire-resistant items, as well as standard uniforms.
“There is evidence that the enemy is using pilfered out-garment uniform items to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield. We must take every measure to prevent this pilferance,” the message said. “U.S. outer-garment uniform items are considered highly pilferable items and every effort must be taken to ensure they are safeguarded while in transit.”
Taliban fighters have been spotted before wearing the garb of their enemies.
In late August, Taliban insurgents wearing U.S. military uniforms have attacked two coalition bases in Khost Province, according to ISAF. Coaltion forces repelled the attacks, killing 20 insurgents, including to two who breached the fence at Forward Operating Base Salerno.
It was at Khost Airfield that an insurgent detonated a suicide vest he was wearing under an Afghan Army uniform, killing seven CIA agents, the New York Times reported.
And the Paris Match ran a photo of an insurgent in the uniform of a dead French soldier. The Taliban were photographed with Famas assault rifles, helmets, body armor, walkie-talkies and a wristwatch that the Taliban asked the magazine to return to the family of the soldier who had owned it, according to the Times of London.[via Politico. And serious tip of the hat to reporter Phil Ewing, a Navy Times alum and an all-around good guy.]