"WALKER: The Taliban have suffered much in the army, and they have the Afghans, and they have the non-Afghans. I was with the separate branch of the non-Afghans.
PELTON: And what is the non-Afghani branch called?
WALKER: It's called Ansar. It means the helpers.
PELTON: Is that the same as the 055 brigade and the...
WALKER: I'm not familiar with that.
PELTON: That's the term -- I was with the Taliban in 1995, and they were explaining, they had the 055 brigade, and then the...
WALKER: It has -- they have a number name. I don't remember the number."
The 055 Brigade was deployed primarily against Northern Alliance opposition in north-eastern Afghanistan. There its soldiers fought under a black banner known as the rayah. They were armed with light artillery, outdated Soviet T-62 tanks, multiple rocket launcher systems, and light infantry weapons (AK-47s and -74s, PK machine guns, RPG-7s etc). The Taliban prisoners told me that the foreign fighters had better weapons, better training and discipline (many had served in the armies of the home countries), and even uniforms (of a sort, this was Afghanistan after all). Their uniforms consisted of black turbans or Arab keffiyeh headscarves, camouflage jackets and pants, and Western style boots or sneakers (a rarity in Afghanistan where men wore robe-like shalwar kameez and sandals). They also had a well organized command structure.
The 055 fighters were in a class of their own in Afghanistan and were known as the cutting edge of the Taliban sword. My Uzbek Northern Alliance hosts told me of numerous occasions when the Ansars stormed their positions as shock troops for the Taliban. When the US invaded, these foreign foot-soldiers were deployed against Coalition forces."