Badri 313 Unit is the Taliban’s version of the elite special operation forces (SOF) units. The unit is heavily connected with the Haqqani network, which is a major influence within the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan government. From a distance, onlookers could mistake Badri 313 for the special forces units of any major nation. However, it is unlikely it has the capabilities of a US SEAL team.
Badri 313 came to light in the lead-up to the aftermath of the Taliban capture of Afghanistan in August 2021. The Taliban released propaganda videos showing off its modern war-fighting machine. Badri 313 is better equipped than the Taliban’s more common rank and file. Many of its weapons and equipment are the spoils of war. They have also assumed the kit of the previous Afghan National Army. The Taliban has equipped it with the spoils of war that were left behind by the rapidly withdrawing American soldiers. Moreover, Badri 313 along with the Taliban red unit are the go-to operators for the Taliban and the highest priority operations.
1. Doctrine and History
Badri 313 operates under the motto of “We Strike to Destroy”. The name Badri 313 is a reference to the historic battle of Badr. In which the Prophet Muhammed led 313 soldiers to victory against an army of over 1000 Quraysh soldiers. By naming their special forces after a historic battle the Taliban have cemented the view of the Badri 313, a group who can perform when all odds are against them.
It shares an ideological alignment with Al-Qaeda (AQ), and AQ units with similar names, such as the Army of Badr, which first carried out attacks in 2011. The Haqqani network controls Badri 313 which clearly explains its links to AQ. Because the Haqqani network is the link between the Taliban and AQ.
Above all, Badri 313 only accepts soldiers if they seek martyrdom or mushtashid. The goal of Badri 313 is to save Afghanistan and its people and it is organisationally the unit built for this task. Consequently, it wishes to defend the values of the Taliban and to secure sharia law in Afghanistan. It is responsible for close-quarter combat, desert warfare, direct action, special operations and guerrilla warfare.
2. Organisation of Badri 313
Badri 313 is led by Abdul Hafeez Hafiz. Hafiz is a member of the Haqqani network and a close ally of Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network.
The special unit is growing in size as a result of more fighters graduating from its training camp. As of 26th May 2022, the UN estimates that there are close to 700 fighters that operate under the Badri 313 banner.
The unit is part of the larger Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan military. They form part of the special forces divisions within the new Afghanistan military, its headquarters are Salahaddin Ayyubi Military Operations Academy in Kabul. Subsequently, the Taliban regime has tasked Badri 313 with upholding peace in Afghanistan.
3. Tactics, Techniques and Procedures
Badri 313 has received its training from the Haqqani network which is now in charge of the security within Afghanistan including the capital, Kabul. Furthermore, it is the element of the Taliban that controls the unit. Consequently, this close relationship with the Haqqani network in all likelihood means that Badri 313 has received some training in special operations by the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).
We know little about its TTPs. However, the information available on Badri 313 suggests that this unit is much better trained than the Taliban fighters of 20 years ago. With training ranging between 4 weeks to 6 months. It is able to carry out complex missions against IS-K and in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and provide security in the capital. While also protecting the leaders of the Taliban in the presidential palace.
Since all of its members seek martyrdom, it is highly likely that they were involved in the more complex suicide attacks before the Taliban’s ascension to power. Furthermore, Badri 313 carried out a suicide attack on the G4S compound in 2018. Infiltrating the compound after it detonated a suicide bomb outside.
4. Equipment of Badri 313
The propaganda videos and images that circulated of the SOF Badri 313 were equipped with the spoils of war. Both from its victories against the previous Afghanistan national army and the withdrawing United States forces. To put this into perspective the US provided the Afghan national army with $28 billion worth of equipment. This is all now in the hands of the Taliban and its new armed forces. Specifically, the Badri 313 unit has the following:
- Camouflage uniforms
- Body armour
- Tactical radios
- Night vision goggles (this is of particular concern to defence officials)
- Armoured Humvees
- M4 carbine rifles
- M16 rifles
- Side arms – Glocks and 1911 pistols.
The Taliban and its special forces are now better equipped than some small nations. This not only poses a threat to anyone wishing to overthrow the Taliban but also to regional security. As a result, the Taliban is now in control of advanced weaponry including attack helicopters and rocket systems.
5. Operations of Badri 313
Without a doubt, Badri 313 was instrumental in the Taliban victories over Afghan forces. Its training by the Haqqani network and likely ISI provided them with the tactical knowledge needed to be decisive in the Taliban’s operation to secure victory.
Following the Taliban seizure of power, the regime designated Badri 313 to maintain security within Afghanistan. Most importantly Kabul. The Taliban placed Badri 313 at Kabul airport whilst the US was evacuating and it secured the presidential palace.
5.1. Panjshir Valley
Although the Taliban secured much of Afghanistan, it is still fighting in the Panjshir Valley. The recent attacks against the Taliban coming from the National Resistance Front in Panjshir have reignited the conflict with the Taliban. With the Taliban potentially being embarrassed in Panjshir, it is no wonder it has sent in its elite SOF unit. Badri 313 are operating in the Panjshir valley. While reports suggest that it is taking heavy losses in Panjshir.
5.2. Border with Pakistan
The Taliban has deployed Badri 313 to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Known historically as the Durand Line. This is as the Taliban attempts to prevent Pakistan from putting up a fence along the border. It shows the strength that the Taliban now feel that it has. It now feels that by deploying its elite unit, it will be able to prevent a major power from reacting. However, it is unclear if they saw any combat in the region.
5.3. Fight against IS-K
The growing presence of IS-K in Afghanistan is of grave concern for the Taliban. Since the continued aggression of IS-K against the Taliban will result in them failing to deliver the regional security it promised. Therefore, the Taliban deployed its Badri 313 to Nangahar and Kunar provinces in January 2022, as the Taliban doubled down on its efforts to defeat IS-K. (source)
Also, it was in charge of internal purges by the Taliban. Most notably a UN report says Makhdoom Mohammad Alem Rabbani. Who was allegedly colluding with IS-K. Consequently, Badri 313 in December 2021, disarmed a number of Alem’s Uzbek fighters on the pretext they were working with IS-K.
Ultimately, Badri 313 is, without doubt, the most sophisticated fighting force that the Taliban possesses since its inception in 1994. Gone are the days of Taliban fighters in shalwar kameez. Although it is highly unlikely it presents a threat to any major nation’s armed forces. What the advent of Badri 313 does tell us though is that the Taliban this time round is a different outfit. Because it made the most of the spoils of war and has put them into a perceived elite fighting force, ready to defend the Taliban and its values to the death. Although much of the imagery is likely for propaganda purposes, what this does show is that the Taliban is not only able to govern this time, but it is a militarily victorious force. Which will likely drive recruitment and fear among the Afghan population.