Take A Rare Look Inside An Army Ranger Armory Somewhere In Afghanistan

The 75th Ranger Regiment has provided important direct action raiding forces in Afghanistan for years. Here’s a look at the tools of their trade.

byJoseph Trevithick|
Afghanistan photo


The U.S. Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment has released a rare set of photos from inside an armory for its personnel in Afghanistan. Rotating contingents of Army Rangers have served for years as key direct action forces for conducting raids on the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the country. The secretive Joint Special Operations Command has often directed these operations and they have sometimes been in cooperation with the most capable of the Afghan military's own special operations units.

The 75th Ranger Regiment posted the pictures online through the U.S. military's Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website on Feb. 19, 2020, but they were taken nearly a year earlier at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. A flag seen in the background of some of the pictures indicates that deployed elements of the Regiment's 3rd Battalion were using the armory at the time.

Each of the pictures has the same brief caption, which reads:

 "U.S. special operations service members conduct combat operations in support of Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan, February 2019. RS is a NATO-led mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and institutions."

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Though there is no detailed information accompanying the pictures, they do offer a good look at the typical weapons and other gear that Rangers are employing on operations in Afghanistan, including modified M4A1 carbines, Mk 48 light machine guns, and an 84mm Carl Gustaf M3 recoilless rifle. The last weapon is one that has been in use around the world for decades, but which only came to the U.S. military in the late 1980s when the Rangers adopted them. 

The use of the Carl Gustaf subsequently expanded throughout the U.S. special operations forces community and, more recently, the recoilless rifles have begun to make their way to conventional Army and Marine Corps units.  You can read much more about the M3 in this past War Zone piece.

US Army

Here are the detailed images with descriptions of what we are seeing: 

Various M4A1 carbines hang in the armory in Afghanistan. These are, by and large, in a standardized configuration that the Rangers adopted years ago, known as the Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) Block II, according to Leigh Neville’s Guns of Special Forces, 2001-2015. This includes the Daniel Defense Rail Interface System (RIS) II handguard with attachment points for various accessories, including the flashlights and laser aiming devices seen on most of the guns. Each one also has a muzzle device that can accept a quick-detach sound suppressor and most of the carbines have one fitted. There are a number of different optics seen, as well. The first carbine on the left has what appears to be a variant of the Aimpoint Comp series non-magnifying red dot sight, as does the gun second from the right. The third and fourth M4A1s from the left have EOTech Model 553 non-magnifying holographic sights. The others have SU-230s or SU-269s, both of which are variants of the Elcan Specter DR with 1x and 4x magnification modes., US Army
A trio of 7.62mm Mk 48 light machine guns. These guns also have laser aiming devices and a version of the Elcan Specter DR with 1.5x and 6x magnification modes., US Army
A close up of one of the Ranger M4A1s with an EOTech Model 553 sight., US Army
Mk 48 with their barrels removed and stacks of spare barrels underneath., US Army
An individual in the Armory with no visible unit patches inspects one of the M4A1 carbines with an EOTech Model 553 sight., US Army
An M3 Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle is just barely visible in the background on the floor. What appears to be an 84mm illumination round, which contains a parachute flare, is to its immediate right., US Army
Another shot with the M3 recoilless rifle in the background., US Army
Other personal gear is also visible in the armory. This includes this row of helmets with night-vision goggles attached, at least one of which also has an infrared strobe light to help friendly aircraft identify the Rangers on the ground. , US Army

It's not clear why the 75th Ranger Regiment decided to release these photos now. They have come out just days before the Taliban are set to enter into what has been described as a "period of reduced violence." This partial ceasefire is part of a possible pathway to a true peace plan between the group and the United States. 

Army Rangers remain deployed in Afghanistan and the elements of the 75th that are there now are no doubt just as prepared for whatever might happen as the ones who were utilizing this armory last year. 

Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com