Malhama Tactical Evolves

    Last December we reported on the Uzbek originated group Malhama Tactical, offering the equivalent of private military services to numerous belligerents within the Syrian conflict. Rather than fade away from the scene, the group has actually appeared to have grown, with its own dedicated Twitter, Telegram, and several Youtube pages that go by hannibal Great and Malhama-Tactical FanGuy. In our previous post about the group, the videos that we posted were all taken down from Youtube but they are still on the internet in various locations. I’ve taken the liberty of downloading them from their original source and uploading them to Youtube, because it probably is only a matter of time before the group deletes their channel or it gets taken down. My hope is that readers realize that TFB isn’t intent on “spreading” their propaganda videos, but is instead doing our utmost to learn and analyze the weapons, tactics, techniques, and procedures that the group is utilizing.

    If you need a refresher on Malhama Tactical, this On the Ground Network TV episode highlights the group and summarizes it extremely well, but importantly has been made after our previous reporting of it.

    The largest observation that we reported on in our earlier post is that although the TTPs displayed by the group are fairly advanced by other rebel group standards within Syria, they lack the mature knowledge that would come with many years of infantry or combat experience. Essentially, I would expect the same amount of knowledge and TTPs out of a randomly gathered group of Marine Lance Corporals after a single combat deployment or a year or two in the Fleet. Abu Rafiq, the apparent founder of the group has according to some sources been killed in combat since we reported on it, but the group is still around.

    As I covered in the previous post, what I mean by this lack of “tactical maturity” is evident in the video posted by OGN TV. Take the example of the casualty evac and treatment drill. The MT guys understand the basics of evacuation under fire, getting off the X, cover and movement back to a hard point. They understand the basics of a tourniquet, and to note the time it was applied. But what they don’t understand is rechecking the casualty for additional entry/exit wounds, elevating the afflicted limb to reduce blood flow, not just knowing that his pulse is “normal” but noting the exact BPM. They know to provide security around the patient, but they are only covering one sector, and don’t have a 360 formed. The same in these ensuing videos, especially when it comes to CQB/MOUT. The MT fighters understand the basics of covering their sectors and each other, but such topics as muzzle awareness, and moving into unknowns are obviously not adhered to.

    While watching these videos produced by the group, take note of a number of details present throughout the production. The Islamic Nasheed music in the background plays to potential supporters of the group. However, more important are the weapons, gear, CAT tourniquets, the uniformity of the group overall. These attributes set the group apart from the majority of propaganda videos in the region. The so-called Islamic State might look the part in their videos, but it is clearly evident that the group tends to lack the actual training or field craft that Malhama Tactical brings to the table. Also note that the majority of their equipment appears to be either kept very clean or is relatively new/unopened. This is indicative of a group that understands the importance of keeping gear field worthy, or a decent supply chain leading to them.

    In this particular clip, an AK74 with Magpul components was spotted, standing out amongst the numerous other Cold War production Kalashnikovs present throughout Syria. The skater elbow pads are a nice touch. Extensive use of the “C” clamp grip is made throughout the video as well. It serves to show that the bad guys watch the same Youtube material and read the same literature as the good guys do.

    However, notice the frag drill at the end of the clip, where the stack gets stuck within the fatal funnel, and the three-man inadvertently and completely flags his team mates in the back while entering the room.

    The addition of a Soviet AGS-30 is perhaps the largest weapons capability multiplier that the training team has to offer. Specifically, the indirect fire assets, combined with a forward observer and a well-mentored crew make Malhama Tactical drastically more effective than it was beforehand. Apart from a shoot-spotter team that understands concealment, range estimation, and target selection, this is perhaps the single largest threat from the group to any coalition, Iraqi, or Assad backed forces. Much more so than the ability to clear rooms somewhat effectively. Note the use of a forward observer, complete with lensatic compass, and communications system. Also observe the disposable grenade launcher (unknown identity, most likely Russian/Soviet) employment at the end, making use of the “hot” position, then retreating to cover afterwards.

    This clip shows a fighter demonstrating and narrating himself through a variety of techniques. Of particular note is the use of maximizing cover through pie-ing off and clearing structures, and the Steyer HSG rifle.

    These next videos show the group making ample usage of reactive steel targets, something that has still not caught on in much of the U.S. civilian and Military/LE sectors. In addition to contact drills. Most of these drills seem to be driven by Youtube content, some Instructor Zero material possibly.

    This one was taken from a Twitter fan page of the group, note the use of the phone app PACT timer at the beginning of the clip.


    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]