Technical (fighting vehicle)
A technical is a type of improvised fighting vehicle
Improvised fighting vehicle
An improvised fighting vehicle is a combat vehicle resulting from modifications to a civilian or military non-combat vehicle in order to give it a fighting capability...

, typically a civilian or military non-combat vehicle, modified to provide an offensive capability similar to a military gun truck
Gun truck
A military gun truck is an improvised fighting vehicle used by units of regular armies or other official government armed forces, based on a conventional cargo truck, that is able to carry a large weight of weapons and armor...

. It is usually an open-backed civilian pickup truck
Pickup truck
A pickup truck is a light motor vehicle with an open-top rear cargo area .-Definition:...

 or four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive, 4WD, or 4×4 is a four-wheeled vehicle with a drivetrain that allows all four wheels to receive torque from the engine simultaneously...

 vehicle mounting a machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

, light anti-aircraft gun, recoilless rifle
Recoilless rifle
A recoilless rifle or recoilless gun is a lightweight weapon that fires a heavier projectile than would be practical to fire from a recoiling weapon of comparable size. Technically, only devices that use a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles. Smoothbore variants are recoilless guns...

, or other support weapon.

The term technical describing such a vehicle originated in Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 in the early 1990s. Barred from bringing in private security, non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

s hired local gunmen to protect their personnel, using money defined as "technical assistance grants". Eventually the term broadened to include any vehicle carrying armed men. Technicals have also been referred to as battlewagons, gunwagons, or gunships.

Among irregular armies
Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

, often centered around the perceived strength and charisma of warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

s, the prestige power of technicals is strong. According to one article, "The Technical is the most significant symbol of power in southern Somalia. It is a small truck with large tripod machine guns mounted on the back. A warlord's power is measured by how many of these vehicles he has."

Combat history

Such improvised fighting vehicles date back to the first use of automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s, and even earlier, to the horse-drawn tachanka
The tachanka was a horse-drawn machine gun platform, usually a cart or an open wagon with a heavy machine gun installed in the back. A tachanka could be pulled by two to four horses and required a crew of two or three...

s mounting machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s in eastern Europe and Russia. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, various British and Commonwealth units, including the Long Range Desert Group
Long Range Desert Group
The Long Range Desert Group was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during the Second World War. The commander of the German Afrika Corps, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, admitted that the LRDG "caused us more damage than any other British unit of equal strength".Originally called...

 (LRDG), the No. 1 Demolition Squadron or 'PPA' (Popski's Private Army
Popski's Private Army
Popski's Private Army, officially No. 1 Demolition Squadron, PPA, was a unit of British Special Forces founded in Cairo in 1942 by Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Peniakoff DSO MC. Popski's Private Army was one of several raiding units formed in the Western Desert during the Second World War...

), and the Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS) were noted for their exploits in the deserts of Egypt, Libya and Chad using unarmored motor vehicles, often fitted with machine guns and cannons of various types. During the 1960s, the popular American television series The Rat Patrol
The Rat Patrol
The Rat Patrol is an American television program that aired on ABC during the 1966–1968 seasons. The show follows the exploits of four Allied soldiers who are part of a long-range desert patrol group in the North African campaign during World War II...

echoed the British SAS and LRDG use of the Willys Jeep
Jeep is an automobile marque of Chrysler . The first Willys Jeeps were produced in 1941 with the first civilian models in 1945, making it the oldest off-road vehicle and sport utility vehicle brand. It inspired a number of other light utility vehicles, such as the Land Rover which is the second...

, this time fitted with a single .50 caliber Browning machine gun. The 1970s show Bearcats! popularized a fictional early 20th century fighting car.

Western Sahara

Tactics for employing technicals were pioneered by the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Polisario Front
Polisario Front
The POLISARIO, Polisario Front, or Frente Polisario, from the Spanish abbreviation of Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro is a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco...

, fighting for independence against Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

 (1975–79) and Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 (1975–present) from headquarters in Tindouf, Algeria. Algeria provided arms and Land Rover jeeps to Sahrawi guerrillas, who successfully used them in long-range desert raids against the less agile conventional armies of their opponents, recalling Sahrawi tribal raids (ghazzis) of the pre-colonial period. Polisario later gained access to heavier equipment, but four-wheel drive vehicles remain a staple of their arsenal.

Libya-Chad War

In 1987, Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

ian troops equipped with technicals drove the heavily mechanized Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

n army from the Aozou Strip
Aozou Strip
The Aouzou Strip is a strip of land in northern Chad which lies along the border with Libya, extending south to a depth of about 100 kilometers into Chad's Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region for an area of 114,000 km²...

. The vehicles were instrumental in the victory at the Battle of Fada
Battle of Fada
The battle of Fada took place in northern Chad in 1987, and was a turning point of the Libyan-Chadian War.- Prelude :At the beginning of 1986 the Libyans controlled all Chad north of the 16th parallel...

, and were driven over 150 km (93.2 mi) into Libya to raid military bases
Battle of Maaten al-Sarra
The battle of Maaten al-Sarra was a battle fought between Chad and Libya on September 5, 1987 during the Toyota War. The battle took the form of a surprise Chadian raid against the Libyan Maaten al-Sarra Air Base, meant to remove the threat of Libyan airpower, that had already thwarted the Chadian...

. It was discovered that these light vehicles could ride through anti-tank minefields without detonating the mines when driven at speeds over 100 km/h. The vehicles became so famous that, in 1994, Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

dubbed the conflict the "Great Toyota War".


Technicals played an important role in the 1990s Somali Civil War
Somali Civil War
The Somali Civil War is an ongoing civil war taking place in Somalia. The conflict, which began in 1991, has caused destabilisation throughout the country, with the current phase of the conflict seeing the Somali government losing substantial control of the state to rebel forces...

 and the recent War in Somalia (2006–2009). After the fall of the Siad Barre
Siad Barre
Mohamed Siad Barre was the military dictator and President of the Somali Democratic Republic from 1969 to 1991. During his rule, he styled himself as Jaalle Siyaad ....

 regime and the collapse of the Somali National Army (SNA), it was rare for any Somali force to field heavy armored fighting vehicles. However, technicals were very common.

Mohamed Farrah Aidid
Mohamed Farrah Aidid
General Mohamed Ali Farrah Aidid was a controversial Somali military leader, often described as a warlord. A former general and diplomat, he was the chairman of the United Somali Congress and later led the Somali National Alliance...

 used 30 technicals along with a force of 600 militia to capture Baidoa in September 1995. After he was killed in clan fighting in 1996, his body was carried to his funeral on a Toyota pickup.

Proving their susceptibility to heavy weapons and their value as a military prize, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was able to capture 30 "battlewagons" during the defeat of warlord Abdi Qeybdid's militia at the Second Battle of Mogadishu
Second Battle of Mogadishu
The Second Battle of Mogadishu was a battle fought for control of Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. The opposing forces were the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism , and militia loyal to the Islamic Court Union . The conflict began in mid-February, 2006, when Somali...

 in 2006. That September, an impressive array of 130 technicals was used to take Kismayo from the forces of the Juba Valley Alliance
Juba Valley Alliance
The Juba Valley Alliance is a political faction of the Somali Civil War. It was the primary opponent of the Somali Patriotic Movement and the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council vying for the control of Kismayo and the Juba River valley, the area known as Jubaland.Following the...


On November 13, 2006, then President of Puntland
Puntland , officially the Puntland State of Somalia , is a region in northeastern Somalia, centered on Garowe in the Nugaal province. Its leaders declared the territory an autonomous state in 1998....

, General Adde Musa
Mohamud Muse Hersi
Mohamud "Adde" Muse Hersi is a Somali politician. He was the President of the Puntland region of Somalia from January 8, 2005 to January 8, 2009.-Biography:...

, personally led fifty battlewagons to Galkacyo to confront the Islamists. They were used a month later against the army of the Islamic Courts Union at the Battle of Bandiradley
Battle of Bandiradley
The Battle of Bandiradley in Somalia began on December 23, 2006, when Ethiopian and Puntland forces, along with Warlord Abdi Qeybdid fought the forces of the Islamic Courts Union defending Bandiradley...

 alongside Abdi Qeybdid's reconstituted militia.

However, forced into conventional battles in the War in Somalia of 2006–07, the unarmored technicals of the ICU proved no match for the T-55
The T-54 and T-55 tanks were a series of main battle tanks designed in the Soviet Union. The first T-54 prototype appeared in March 1945, just before the end of the Second World War. The T-54 entered full production in 1947 and became the main tank for armored units of the Soviet Army, armies of...

 tanks, Mil Mi-24
Mil Mi-24
The Mil Mi-24 is a large helicopter gunship and attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for 8 passengers. It is produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and operated since 1972 by the Soviet Air Force, its successors, and by over thirty other nations.In NATO circles the export...

 helicopter gunships and fighter bombers employed by Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...



In the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, U.S. Special Operations Forces are known to use technicals for patrol of the rugged terrain and the nature of their clandestine operation
Clandestine operation
A clandestine operation is an intelligence or military operation carried out in such a way that the operation goes unnoticed.The United States Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines "clandestine operation" as "An operation sponsored or conducted by governmental...

s. The Taliban also used technicals while they were in power.


Technicals were used by Iraqi military forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. The Iraqi Republican Guard
Iraqi Republican Guard
The Iraqi Republican Guard was a branch of the Iraqi military during the presidency of Saddam Hussein. It later became the Republican Guard Corps, and then the Republican Guard Forces Command with its expansion into two corps....

 and Fedayeen
Fedayeen is a term used to describe several distinct militant groups and individuals in West Asia at different times in history. It is sometimes used colloquially to refer to suicide squads, especially those who are not bombers.-Overview:...

 emulated tactics of the Somali National Alliance
Somali National Alliance
The Somali National Alliance was a political alliance formed in June, 1992 with Mohamed Farrah Aidid as its head. Its constituents included Aidid's breakaway United Somali Congress faction, the Somali Patriotic Movement and other southern factions. They were one faction in the Somali Civil War...

 with limited success, but were outmatched by Coalition
Multinational force in Iraq
The Multi-National Force – Iraq was a military command, led by the United States, which was responsible for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Multi-National Force – Iraq replaced the previous force, Combined Joint Task Force 7, on 15 May 2004, and was later itself reorganized into its successor, United...

 armour and aviation. In the aftermath of the invasion Technicals saw use by Iraqi insurgents for transporting personnel and quick raids against the Iraqi police forces. The insurgent use of technicals increased after the Iraq Spring Fighting of 2004
Iraq spring fighting of 2004
The Iraq Spring Fighting of 2004 was a series of operational offensives and various major engagements during the Iraq War...


Many military utility vehicles have been modified to serve as gun truck
Gun truck
A military gun truck is an improvised fighting vehicle used by units of regular armies or other official government armed forces, based on a conventional cargo truck, that is able to carry a large weight of weapons and armor...

s to protect Coalition convoys. The Humvee allows for weapon mounts by design, so it is not generally considered a technical.

The Coalition also supplied technicals to the Iraqi police. Private military contractors also use technicals, and the United States military used modified Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma is a pickup truck produced and manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation since 1995. The Tacoma was a compact pickup until a model redesign in 2005 when it was reclassified to a mid-size...

 pickups (purchased from auto showrooms in the USA and modified before delivery) as well.


The Janjaweed is a blanket term used to describe mostly gunmen in Darfur, western Sudan, and now eastern Chad...

 militias use technicals on their raids against civilian villages
Darfur conflict
The Darfur Conflict was a guerrilla conflict or civil war centered on the Darfur region of Sudan. It began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and Justice and Equality Movement groups in Darfur took up arms, accusing the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in...

 in Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur...

, Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, as do the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement
Justice and Equality Movement
The Justice and Equality Movement is a rebel group involved in the Darfur conflict of Sudan, led by Khalil Ibrahim. Along with other rebel groups, such as the Sudan Liberation Movement , they are fighting against the Sudanese Government, including the government's proxy militia, the Janjaweed...

 (JEM) rebel troops in defense of their areas of operations. Light vehicles such as technicals are often thought to be more mobile than armoured vehicles, but on one occasion an African peace-keeper driving a Grizzly AVGP
The AVGP is a series of three armoured fighting vehicles ordered by the Canadian military in 1977.The three vehicles are the Cougar, Grizzly and Husky....

 whose guns had jammed, succeeded in catching up with, ramming and rolling over a fleeing Sudanese technical whilst ignoring the technical's apparently ineffectual heavy machine-gun fire.


Technicals have been used by both sides in the war in Chad, including at the 2006 and 2008
Battle of N'Djamena (2008)
The Battle of N'Djamena began on February 2, 2008 when Chadian rebel forces opposed to Chadian President Idriss Déby entered N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, after a three-day advance through the country. The rebels were initially successful, taking a large part of the city and attacking the heavily...

 battles of N'Djamena.


Opposition forces have reportedly used technicals in the fighting for the Chouf District
Chouf District
Chouf is a historic region of Lebanon, as well as an administrative district in the governorate of Mount Lebanon....

 during the May 2008 clashes in Lebanon.

Libyan civil war

During the 2011 Libyan civil war
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

, both regime loyalist forces as well as the anti-Gaddafi forces
Anti-Gaddafi forces
The anti-Gaddafi forces were Libyan groups that opposed and militarily defeated the government of Muammar Gaddafi, killing him in the process. These opposition forces included organised and armed militia groups, participants in the 2011 Libyan civil war, Libyan diplomats who switched their...

 used technicals extensively. Given the type of warfare that had been carried out in the conflict—wherein highly mobile groups of soldiers and rebels continued to move to and from on the desert terrain, retreating at a time and then suddenly attacking to regain control of small towns and villages in the Eastern rebel held parts of Libya—had led to the technical becoming a vehicle of choice for both sides.

Technicals had also been widely used by the rebels whilst setting up checkpoints. It also formed a vast percentage of the rebel inventory which was limited to light weapons, light body armor and very few tanks. Some medium flatbed truck
Flatbed truck
A flatbed truck is a type of truck which can be either articulated or rigid. As the name suggests, it has an entirely flat, level 'bed' body with no sides or roof...

s carried the Soviet-made ZPU and ZU-23-2
The ZU-23-2, also known as ZU-23, is a Soviet towed 23 mm anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannon. ZU stands for Zenitnaya Ustanovka - anti-aircraft mount.-Development history:...

 towed anti-aircraft twin or quad barreled guns, as well as recoilless rifle
Recoilless rifle
A recoilless rifle or recoilless gun is a lightweight weapon that fires a heavier projectile than would be practical to fire from a recoiling weapon of comparable size. Technically, only devices that use a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles. Smoothbore variants are recoilless guns...

s and S-5 rocket
S-5 rocket
The S-5 is a rocket weapon developed by the Soviet Air Force and used by military aircraft against ground area targets...

 helicopter rocket launcher pods. Some rebels have improvised with captured heavy weaponry, like BMP-1
The BMP-1 is a Soviet amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle. BMP stands for Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty 1 , meaning "infantry fighting vehicle". The BMP-1 was the world's first mass-produced infantry fighting vehicle...

 turrets and helicopter rocket pods, as well as lower-tech methods such as using doorbells to ignite rocket-launched ammunition. Rebel technicals have also frequently employed BM-21 Grad rockets. Rocket tubes were salvaged from damaged regime Ural-375D
The Ural-375D is a general purpose 4.5 ton 6x6 truck, produced at the Ural Automotive Plant in the Russian SFSR since 1961. The ZIL-157 was the standard Soviet truck until it was replaced by the Ural-375D, which became the standard Soviet truck in 1979. The Ural-375D was soon replaced by the...

 trucks and mounted on the backs of pickups, with the technicals able to fire anywhere from one to six rockets.

In popular Culture

Technicals are often seen in video games, most notably used by OPFOR forces in Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare series. They are often armed with
M2 Browning machine guns.

See also

  • Boghammar
  • Improvised vehicle armour
    Improvised vehicle armour
    Improvised vehicle armour is vehicle armour added in the field that was not originally part of the design or centrally planned.Improvised vehicle armour has appeared on the battlefield for as long as there have been armoured vehicles in existence. In World War II, U.S. tank crews welded spare...

  • LRDG
  • Portee
    A portee is a truck that carries a gun on its bed, such that the gun is not affixed permanently to the vehicle, can be quickly unloaded, and can be fired from the truck....

  • Toyota Hilux, a vehicle often used as a technical.
  • The Toyota War
    Toyota War
    The Toyota War is the name commonly given to the last phase of the Chadian–Libyan conflict, which took place in 1987 in Northern Chad and on the Libyan-Chadian border. It takes its name from the Toyota pickup trucks used as technicals to provide mobility for the Chadian troops as they fought...

    , so named for its use of Toyota pickup trucks as technicals

External links

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