Question re post-9/11 occupation of Afghanistan VS Soviet Occupation

This is something I’ve been wondering about since reading ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ and from prior knowledge of that conflict.

One aspect of the Soviet occupation that is repeatadly mentioned is the sheer sadism and brutality of the Afghan fighters towards any Soviet military personellel they captured, not to go into it but its generally accepted that being taken alive was possibly the worst mistake a Soviet soldier/airman could make and the Afghan resistance went out of their way to capture said personellel as a terror tactic.

This however doesn’t really seem to be an aspect of the current conflict (and yes I consider this a good thing), sure setting off roadside bombs and shooting incidents aren’t exactly friendly but those are more conventional and expected acts of warfare, so why this difference in the two campaigns?

Perhaps its as simple as less allied forces have been captured in the first place? But if this is the case why, better tactics on their part, less emphasis on capturing enemy personell on the Afghan side?

Even Conan Doyle and Kipling mentioned the unpleasant fate that awaited British troops captured by their Afghan foes (and their women) back then.

These days, I dunno. Maybe the Afghans are more civilized; maybe the Taliban knows it’s better to take Allied prisoners as hostages; or maybe they just don’t get many opportunities to take prisoners at all.


Complete text at Poetry Lovers' Page - Rudyard Kipling: The Young British Soldier

Who in the ISAF has been taken prisoner by the Taliban besides Bergdahl? I recall that the Taliban, or other ACM, tried to take some members of SGT Giunta’s squad prisoner, but he put a stop to that (and won the Medal of Honor in the process.) The wiki for Taliban prisoners just lists a few journalists and aid workers, but no ISAF guys, unless I’m misreading it.

I think it’s just that the various ACM/Taliban/AQ types haven’t been able to get any prisoners, not that they’ve decided to embrace Geneva and the other Laws of Land Warfare. Although, it’s not like trying to do prisoner exchanges/ransoming with the Soviet Union would’ve done the Muj any good—unlike trading hostages with the West—so why not treat captured Soviets like noisy entertainment?

All this is a WAG on my part, but you think we’d have heard of more atrocities done to US troops by now, and we havent heard of any captives, so what other choices are there?

  1. Talibans don’t want to outrage the Western public.
  2. They get payed, either in ransom, or secret bribery, or even as a deal with westerns governments.
  3. The Soviets were seen as “atheists”.
  4. The Talibans are strongly supported my the Pakistani regime, which is in line with the West.
  5. The Talibans, unlike the Northern Alliance’s drug dealers, are not Mafia. They proclaim to follow the Koran. They can’t just go around torturing people.

I guess there might be a cultural or religious difference between ‘Afhgan’ and Taliban.

Thanks for the answers everyone.

While the Taliban will occasionally take ANA prisoners, it looks like they don’t keep them. See this blog post referring to a NYT article: War News Updates: The Taliban In Afghanistan Do Not Take Prisoners

I’m not a Times subscriber, so I can’t link to the referred article, but I think it’d be useful in answering your questions.