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A technical is a type of improvised fighting vehicle, typically a civilian or military non-combat vehicle, modified to provide an offensive capability. It is usually an open-backed civilian pickup truck or four-wheel drive vehicle mounting a machine gun, light anti-aircraft gun, recoilless rifle, or other support weapon.

The term technical describing such a vehicle appears to have originated in Somaliamarker. It is thought to derive from use by the Red Crossmarker there who were often forced to bribe local militias to avoid being attacked and robbed. The money used for such bribe would be budgeted as a "technical expense" to hide its true nature. Technicals have also been referred to as battlewagons, gunwagons, or gunships.

Among irregular armies, often centered around the perceived strength and charisma of warlords, 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 automobiles, and even earlier, to the horse-drawn tachankas mounting machine guns in eastern Europe and Russia. During World War II, various British and Commonwealth units, including the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), the No. 1 Demolition Squadron or 'PPA' (Popski's Private Army), and the Special Air Service (SASmarker) were noted for their exploits in the deserts of Egypt, Libya and Chad utilizing unarmored motor vehicles, often fitted with machine guns and cannons of various types. During the 1960s, the popular American television series The Rat Patrol echoed the British SAS and LRDG use of the Willys Jeep, this time fitted with a single 0.50 calibre Browning machine gun.

Western Sahara

Tactics for employing technicals were pioneered by the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Polisario Front, fighting for independence against Mauritaniamarker (1975–79) and Moroccomarker (1975–present) from headquarters in Tindoufmarker, Algeriamarker. Algeria provided arms and Land Rover jeeps to Sahrawi guerrillas, who successfully utilized 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, Chadianmarker troops equipped with technicals drove the heavily mechanized Libyanmarker army from the Aozou Strip. The vehicles were instrumental in the victory at the Battle of Fada, and were driven over 150 km into Libya to raid military bases. 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 1984, Time dubbed the conflict the "Great Toyota War".


Technicals played an important role in the 1990s Somali Civil War and the recent War in Somalia . After the fall of the Siad Barre regime and the collapse of the Somali National Army , it was rare for any Somali force to field heavy armored fighting vehicles. However, technicals were very common.

Mohamed Farrah Aidid 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 in 2006. That September, an impressive array of 130 technicals was used to take Kismayomarker from the forces of the Juba Valley Alliance.

On November 13, 2006, then President of Puntlandmarker, General Adde Musa, 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 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 tanks, Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunships and fighter bombers employed by Ethiopiamarker.


In the War in Afghanistan , U.S. Special Operations Forces are known to use technicals for patrol of the rugged terrain and the nature of their clandestine operations. The Taliban also used technicals while they were in power.


Technicals were used by Iraqi forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Iraqi Republican Guard and Fedayeen emulated tactics of the Somali National Alliance with limited success, but were outmatched by Coalition 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.

Many military utility vehicles have been modified to serve as gun trucks 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 pickups (purchased from auto showrooms in the USA and modified before delivery) as well.


Janjaweed militias use technicals on their raids against civilian villages in Darfurmarker, Sudanmarker, as do the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (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 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 battles of N'Djamena.


Opposition forces have reportedly used technicals in the fighting for the Chouf District during the May 2008 clashes in Lebanon.

See also


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