Convoys in un-friendly terrain
The purpose of a convoy is simply to get from point A to point B in a safe
manner. Thats where the simplicity ends. The process of planning, loading
and moving a convoy is fairly straight forward; it is what happens once
you get out of the gate that makes things complicated.
This review will cover the planning and execution of a convoy.
Additionally we will cover the responsibilities of each member and vehicle
in the convoy as well as contingency planning.
For the purpose of this paper we will take the convoy from a civilian
stand point. Since there are not armored vehicles available to the
civilian community we will refer to heavy trucks and industrial vehicles
as hardened and normal civilian trucks as soft.
A convoy comprises 2 or more vehicles. The heavier the better since they
can be used to push thru obstacles and improvised road blocks. Larger
industrial trucks such as heavy haulers or cargo trucks provide several
advantages. Height to give a better field of vision/fire and a higher
ground clearance are obvious benefits. But the added weight and heavier
construction make excellent battering rams or pushers. The hardened
vehicles form the front and rear vehicles.
The middle of the convoy is comprised of the soft skinned or light weight
vehicles. They are considerable more vulnerable than the others. This is
where cargo and the bulk of passengers will be found.
One last addition that may prove extremely useful to a civilian convoy in
a scout. A motorcycle can move quickly thru crowded streets or even off
road if need be. Being able to scout ahead and report unusual activity,
road blocks, congestion, or potential ambush sites could make a huge
tactical difference. They can also be used to move forward or to the rear
to guide in relief or aid.
A perfect convoy would have three dedicated people in each vehicle. The
driver, co-driver and gunner. These are the minimums that should be
considered for each vehicle. If you do not have enough people to staff
each vehicle in this manner you should seriously consider weather the
vehicle in question is mission critical (such as the cargo truck that is
going to haul the supplies or van to carry the passengers). In some cases
such as cargo trucks you may not be able to fit three people into the cab
of the truck so that they are still capable of effective performance of
their job. Remember that these are dire times and that you will need to
think outside the box. Can you cut a hole in the top of the cargo box near
the cab and put the gunner up there?
So what does each person and vehicle do in a convoy? Each person and
vehicle have VERY specific jobs to perform. We will cover them in detail,
1. Driver This persons biggest responsibility is TO DRIVE! You are not to
pass ammo to the gunner. You are not to work the radio or look at the map
while in motion. You are not to engage the enemy unless they are trying to
get your door open. Just drive. If you can perform other tasks while
driving, like drinking or eating then go ahead. But you dont get out of
the vehicle except to use the bathroom, and only for the minimum amount of
time necessary. If you are in the blocking force, you stay behind the
wheel. Most drivers carry a sidearm or short shotgun for defense within
arms reach if not on them. Their battle rifle is in the vehicle with them
usually behind the seat with their bugout bag. If possible smoke or other
hand held incendiary/AP devices are also within reach, BUT, remember that
what ever you throw out the window will go off next to someone else in the
back of your convoy.
2. Co-driver Your job is to read the map, watch what the locals and
vehicles are doing around you, fetch items for the driver and gunner. At
any time you are ready to provide first aid to them if they become wounded
and then relieve the driver or gunner if needed. You also relay
information to the rest of the convoy about road and traffic conditions,
or threats that lie ahead. It may seem that you have the easiest job, but
you need to think on your feet and will be constantly in action.
3. Gunner You shoot anything that poses a threat to the convoy. You
generally have the highest point of view and can relay information to the
co-driver, but it is also the most exposed. You convey the intent of the
convoy to the people and cars around you thru hand signals and the barrel
of your weapon. It is your job to dispense incendiary and AP devices, and
to signal their use to the other vehicles. You are the other person that
never gets out of position. If you need to leave the vehicle for some
reason the co-driver or a passenger will replace you. It is very important
to maintain your dedicate field of fire even while under attack unless
instructed other wise by the convoy commander.
1. Lead vehicle This is the vanguard of the convoy. They set the pace,
determine direction and provide a blocking force in case the convoy has to
breakdown. It is critical that the driver pays attention to what is going
on in front AND behind him. Constant communications between drivers is
crucial. Radio is best but a signal of light flashes or horn honks can be
worked out to convey basic signals to the other vehicles.
2. Number 2 This is where the convoy commander rides. Since the lead
vehicle is often destroyed in an ambush the commander has a better chance
of survivability and can better exercise command and control from this
position. The person responsibly for operating the radio back to the FOB
also rides here. This is the one vehicle that is generally full of mission
3. Cargo vehicles This is where the passengers and equipment are carried.
Here it is not uncommon to find the gunner pulling double duty as
co-driver. It is important to load these vehicles as full as possible to
help reduce the length and vulnerability of the convoy, so excess
personnel need to be relocated to the other vehicles.
4. Rear Guard This vehicle provides the blocking force from anyone trying
to get past the convoy while stopped, you keep people from passing the
convoy while moving, or if this is not possible you alert the rest of the
convoy what type and number of vehicles are passing. The gunner looks for
anything unusual in those vehicles and reports that up the chain as well.
These are the basic DOs and DONTs of convoy operations. Do
Do keep you route and destination secret as much as possible.
Do remain flexible and have secondary routes planned out.
Do make sure your vehicles are fully ready and capable to complete the
mission. If there is a doubt get another vehicle.
Do make sure your communications between vehicles and back to the FOB are
up and functional.
Do make sure you have the tools required to push or pull a broken down or
damaged vehicle to a safe area.
Do make sure that each person has gone thru a pre-mission check before
getting into a vehicle.
Do make sure that each vehicle has its own supply of food, water and ammo
for the crew and a supply of vital fluids in ADDITION to extra fuel.
Do carefully plan your load, and contingencies for having to cross load
people and equipment into other vehicles from damaged ones. You may have
to leave items behind in a damaged or destroyed vehicle and destroy both
to keep them from falling into others hands. Make sure you know what is in
each vehicle to make the cross load process quick and safe.
Do make sure that all gear stowed on the outside AND inside of the vehicle
is tied down. If you get hit with an IED or other vehicle you do not want
gear and fuel flying around causing further injury.
Dont talk about the mission, destination or FOB when stopped for rest or
service with anyone outside the convoy. If additional help or resources
are needed from an outside source the convoy commander will make that call
and address the situation.
Dont sacrifice convoy integrity for any reason. In other words the convoy
stays together at all times. Nobody gets left behind, and other than a
scout nobody separates from the convoy for any reason under normal
Dont let any other vehicles to get into the convoy while moving. Who knows
what they are carrying or what their intentions are.
Dont let anyone pass the convoy while stopped without notifying and
getting approval from he convoy commander. He will decide who can pass and
what their route is around the convoy.
Keep in mind that this is a mix of Military SOP and civilian feasibility.
Further details will be determined by local terrain and political climate.
There are a few other recommendations that you may consider for your use.
Try to maintain an official and authoritative appearance. It only takes a
second for people to think you are someone important and to get out of
your way for your route to open up. Also, bad guys are much less likely to
try to jump you as they know authorities are armed. If the vehicle looks
like it could be a state or federal truck (dark windows, lots of antennas,
NO BUMPER STICKERS and no rotting and damaged panels) they may be even
less likely to try to hit it as you may be some special unit. How far you
want to take the official appearance is up to you. I would not readily
endorse using red and blue flashing lights or phony decals to try to trick
your way thru a situation.
Dont be afraid to make structurally sound but creative modifications to
your vehicles. Brush guards (real ones made from heavy steel, not these
Pep Boys crap), winches, high powered lights, gun shields or armoring can
all be added or made modular so improve your chances of completing the
mission then going back to normal transportation. You dont have to look
like something out of Mad Max right off (see above), but as things
deteriorate socially it may become necessary to make heavier modifications
as time goes on.
Trailers can be made to carry equipment AND people. In this kind of
environment the basic traffic laws are going to be suggestions and getting
people and vital equipment/supplies to your FOB will be much more
important than breaking a traffic law.
If belt fed or high powered weapons ever became available mounting one on
a trailer or the back of a truck can be a great deterrent to bad guys.