Taliban training video documentation is the gift that keeps on giving.
And in the true spirit of Christmastime generosities, the organization decided to release a new film — reportedly shot in Afghanistan — documenting their foray into cheer squad competitions.
Ditching their typical video recipe of highlighting immense monkey bar-traversing talents, the Taliban Commandos incorporated a bevy of choreographed stunts, dance moves and teamwork to challenge any and all cheer squads who stand in their way.
These guys are in it to win it and are here to p-p-p-pump you up, so bring it on. That goes for you, too, Rancho Carne High School cheer squad.
The routine has everything. Choreographed squad push-ups? Check. The most crisply-executed leap-frogging ever performed? Definitely. Death-defying, flaming hoop dives? You bet. Sword fighting with sticks? Hell yeah.
If only Will Ferrell exhibited such expertise in his short-lived career as a flaming hoop-diving mascot. “Let’s go Cougars!”
But would a routine with all the intensity in the world be sufficient to get the Commandos into spirit squad regionals?
Let’s break down their performance and find out.
WHAT THE JUDGES SAY
The Commandos make a statement right from the video’s get-go, rolling into their Afghanistan arena in Toyota trucks through an entry way worthy of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.
After a flawless vehicular dismount, the Commandos waste no time forming a group of two columns before proceeding to jog in circles.
“GO TEAM” banners, carried by two spirit squad members leading the formation, wave proudly in the mountain breeze, a striking move to intimidate any and all prep-school squads vying to earn the coveted title of “best.”
Seemingly unfazed following the grueling physical exertion of the jog, the Commandos break into lines of standing-leap-frogs, effortlessly vaulting from the shoulders of their brethren into the heavens, as if gravity’s tether was severed.
All the while, the Commandos' familiar cheer squad chant of, “We’re tried! We’re true! We’re leaping over you!” issues a fierce challenge to all competitors, as is Commando tradition.
The team then moves to the deadly, flammable portion of the routine, diving through the circular inferno — one-by-one — with the poise and grace of Greg Louganis.
The Commandos experience a slip-up, however, when shifting to the choreographed push-up portion of their routine.
Cover and alignment are botched, costing a half-point, but they quickly remedy the mishap by reorganizing the push-up group into the beginning "Y" stage of the Y-M-C-A — a crowd favorite.
More push-up formations are followed by more leap frogging, driving home the metaphor of jumping into first place — and into the hearts of crowds everywhere.
The Commandos then shift the push-up formation into a line, a sign of cheer squad solidarity designed to instill fear in the minds of any unfortunate souls standing opposite this human barricade of push-up bravado.
And it would have, had it not been for one commando — let’s call him Slacker Dan, pictured below — who struggled with both the strength and timing portion of the routine.
This misstep costs the Commandos dearly — a full point — and Slacker Dan is warned by the Commandos' captain.
Thankfully for the commandos — and Slacker Dan — the team manages to recover during the dance portion, executing a stick-sword fight routine so exquisite that Zorro himself would soil his black britches if he ever gazed upon such majesty.
More flaming hoop diving, meanwhile, brings the routine full circle before the grand finale: A choreographed interpretive sword dance in brand new Commando regalia.
The move would have cemented the team’s place in the cheer squad regionals, but oh no...
Out of sync with his cheer squad yet again, Slacker Dan’s sword maneuvering direction is significantly off, a devastating mistake.
Somewhere, the ghost of R. Lee Ermey is itching to slap Slacker Dan in the face, with screams of, “What side was that, Slacker Dan?!”
Sadly, Slacker Dan has been missing since the publication of the video. He cost the Commandos dearly, but they managed to earn a shot at regionals, narrowly edging out Channing Tatum and the “Step-Up” crew.
Look for the Commandos to make some noise on the big stage.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.