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The Taliban Gun Locker: Not Looking Good


Kit Up! friend and crack NYT war correspondent Chris Chivers has an intriguing post on the paper's At War blog examining the Taliban "gun locker."

Looks more like they're in the "hurt locker" by the condition of their weapons.

Chivers looks at a PKM machine gun with a broken stock and an AK with markings from 1954 and a horribly pitted upper.

As was typical of many older PK-variant machine guns, the stock was made of laminated wood — plywood, essentially. And some time ago it had been snapped. But whoever was responsible for it had cobbled it back in place with the help of two strips of sheet metal and a handful of light nails. There was still play in the stock, and this would undermine its accuracy. But the weapon could be used.

An original AK-47 with a solid steel receiver. Its date and factory stampings reveal that it had been manufactured in 1954 in the Soviet Union’s main Kalashnikov plant at the mammoth gunworks at Izhevsk. Its exterior is heavily pitted and corroded. I disassembled this rifle, and inside, where it most counts, its operating system — the integrated gas piston and bolt carrier, the trigger assembly, etc. — had been oiled and were only lightly pitted. Someone had been tending to its guts, if not its skin.

Clearly the insurgents are making do with what they've got and from the AK example, they're at least taking care of the parts that count.

But Chivers asks one fundamental question about the condition of the weapons he saw and that that means for the insurgency:

Does this say something of the insurgents’ resourcefulness? Or of the insurgency’s limited means? Maybe both.

You'll remember that we had a chat back in May with the 3rd BCT's intel officer. He mentioned that at least the insurgents in his AO -- primarily Haqqani fighters -- were well funded and equipped.

What Chivers is seeing down in Marjah are no-joke Talib fighters from Pakistan camps. Clearly Mullah Omar has run out of backers or the coalition has done a good job of interdicting the money train because these weapons the bad guys are fighting with are in crappy condition and probably can't shoot accurately at all.

But luck goes a long way too, right?...

BREAK BREAK:  Be sure to keep your eyes out for Chivers' soon-to-be-released book about the venerable AK-47 rifle called "The Gun" due to be released next month. Kit Up! received a review copy and we'll be hearing more about it and from Chivers in the coming weeks.

(Photo: C.J. Chivers)

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