Filmed through the tinted green of night vision goggles, a February video by the Taliban depicts their assault on an Afghan security forces outpost in Kandahar province.

After police abandoned the base, the Taliban were free to roam and collect the weapons and vehicles left behind.

The use of NVGs by enemy fighters in situations like this appears to be growing, with reports from November indicating that the Taliban’s “Red Unit” used rifle-mounted lasers and night vision optics to quickly overrun multiple checkpoints and police bases.

This proliferation of night vision capability across the battlefield may be unstoppable in the long-run, and could change the way U.S. and partner forces fight.

In looking into the issue, Military Times spoke with retired Army Col. Steven Bucci, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who served 28 years as a Special Forces officer with a stint on the staff of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Bucci said the proliferation of night vision capabilities and other optical devices is “kind of inevitable.”

“When we do these kinds of missions, we basically try and buy [local forces] the same kind of equipment they already have," Bucci said. "But, you know, we are trying to upgrade these folks and give them an advantage, so we do introduce them to things like night vision devices and maybe longer range optics for weapons, and you run the risk that they're going to fall into enemy hands.”

An aircraft identifies a target for Marine Raiders by shining an infrared-spectrum light beam on its location during a notional night raid along the Arizona-California state line in October 2015. (DoD)
An aircraft identifies a target for Marine Raiders by shining an infrared-spectrum light beam on its location during a notional night raid along the Arizona-California state line in October 2015. (DoD)

Speaking on behalf of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Navy Capt. Tom Gresback confirmed that “the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command and General Command of Police Special Units are equipped with night vision goggles.”

For security reasons, Gresback wouldn’t provide specific details. However, he did add that “the Taliban uses its criminal network of couriers and middlemen to purchase and transport high-end, over-the-counter military equipment such as [NGVs].”

That supply line makes sense to Bucci.

State actors, like Iran, Russia and especially North Korea, could be willing to exchange hard cash for battlefield tech, with the added benefit of causing headaches for U.S. officials, Bucci said.