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Chapter 6
Health Considerations, Movement Security, and Civil Disturbances


6-9. This section addresses convoy operations in a counterinsurgency environment. Convoys are planned and organized to control and protect vehicle movements. They are used for the tactical movement (personnel, supplies, and equipment) of combat forces and logistic units. Movements made during a counterinsurgency operation face a variety of potential threats, including local individuals, IEDs, and insurgents. Leaders continually assess the insurgents' tactics and implement measures to counter them. Soldiers conducting movement security operations remain vigilant at all times. (See FM 3-90 and FM 55-30 for troop movement doctrine.)


6-10. Key to the success of convoy operations is ensuring all personnel and equipment are properly prepared. All Soldiers in the convoy must have a task and purpose, and know what to do on contact during execution of convoy operations. 6-11. An important leader check is to review all actions, including their timing, to avoid setting patterns. Enemies use such patterns to predict friendly actions and plan attacks. Integrate this review throughout all operations, including after-action reviews.


6-12. Consider the following when planning and preparing for convoys:

  • En route recovery.
  • Ambulance/medical coverage. (Most ambulances have radio communications, to include casualty evacuation procedures.)
  • Disperse combat lifesavers throughout convoy.
  • Designate responsibilities such as aid and litter teams.
  • Prepare a rest plan for drivers.
  • Use window screens to deflect grenades.
  • Implement security measures to prevent pilferage from the convoy.
  • Arrange for escorts--military policy, infantry, or other.
  • Disperse key personnel throughout the convoy. Cross-load equipment.
  • Identify and verify convoy signals.
  • Identify en route reference points and available fire support.
  • Coordinate for air cover (rotary-wing security, close air support, mobile interdiction and radio frequencies and call signs).
  • Prepare an air guard plan.
  • Prepare a deception plan.
  • Submit a closure report at destination and upon return.
  • Perform a reconnaissance of the route if possible (air reconnaissance is the preferred method).
  • Determine threat capabilities and potential courses of action (to include a mine overlay from higher, regional or local headquarters, if available).
  • Civilian considerations along the route.
  • Establish phase lines/checkpoints along the route to monitor progress of the convoy.
  • Determine choke points along the route--bridges, open-air markets, over-, and underpasses?
  • Know whether vegetation grows next to and away from the road and thereby provides concealment.
  • Determine insurgent convoy attack patterns. Base this assessment on S-2 input and pattern analysis.
  • Vary supply convoy SP times (by no more than 1 hour sooner or later) to keep insurgents off balance.
  • Describe and verify the vehicle abandonment plan. Include how long to wait before stripping and leaving a disabled vehicle or trailer. Prepare a transfer-loading plan for the cargo.
  • Establish the condition criteria to abandon a vehicle. Establish when to destroy it, burn it, or leave it.
  • Arrange seats in the back of trucks to allow Soldiers riding to face out.
  • Increased convoy speeds (such as 50 miles per hour) limit movement up and down the convoy line.
  • When the roads are only one or two lanes wide, civilian traffic will impede any adjacent movement.


6-13. Execute a mission briefing two hours before the SP time. Include--

  • Tactical brief--enemy and friendly situation update from S-2.
  • Convoy execution matrix (all drivers get strip maps).
  • Safety brief--use risk management and risk reduction (mitigating measures).
  • Vehicle dispersion and distance intervals during operations and specific battle drills.


6-14. Battle drills associated with convoy operations may include--

  • React to civil disturbance (not blocking the route).
  • React to potential opposing force (blocking the route).
  • Air attack. Artillery/indirect fire.
  • Sniper fire.
  • Ambush.
  • Mines, booby traps, and IEDs.
  • Mechanical breakdowns.
  • Procedures for towing and being towed. React to traffic jams--partially and fully blocked roads.
  • React to debris on the road--garbage, dead animals, other objects/trash that can be used to conceal IEDs.
  • MEDEVAC procedures (see Appendix H).


6-15. Rehearsals include--

  • Battle drills. Describe expectations for everyone. Describe who does what in each situation.
  • Routes. Paint routes and terrain features on a large piece of canvas to allow drivers to "walk" the route prior to departure.
  • Casualty evacuation. Establish what happens to casualties. Ensure aid and litter teams are designated and know what to do. Ensure security teams are designated, assigned cardinal directions, and rehearsed.
  • Communications. Includes audio, visual, and radio. Ensure all know the back-up plan if primary communication fails. Can cellular phones be used effectively in an emergency? Ensure redundant means of communication are available and all know how to use them.
  • Primary and secondary frequencies. Ensure all know the call signs and frequencies for close air and fire support.
  • Security forces. Ensure roles and responsibilities are understood and rehearsed.
  • Response/reaction forces. Ensure leaders know the location of response/reaction forces. Ensure all know the call signs and frequencies for them.


6-16. Leaders must know how to position vehicles within the elements. Regardless of size, all columns, serials, and march units (see FM 3-90) have four parts: scout, head, main body, and trail. Each of these parts has a specific function.


6-17. Two scout vehicles proceed three to five minutes in front of the main body. The scout's task is to ascertain road conditions and identify obstacles that may pose a threat to the convoy. When scout vehicles are employed, leaders plan to react quickly to an attack on those vehicles. However, conditions may not allow for the use of scout vehicles. If so, consider earlier convoys acting as scouts. Consider requesting the deployment and use of UAVs to reconnoiter the route.


6-18. The head is the first vehicle of each column, serial, and march unit. Each head vehicle has its own pacesetter. The pacesetter rides in this vehicle and sets the pace needed to meet the scheduled itinerary along the route. The leader at the head ensures that the column follows the proper route. He may also be required to report arrival at certain checkpoints/phase lines along the route. The head vehicle also looks for possible IEDs. When passing bridges, gunners first observe the approach and then the opposite side of the bridge. With the head vehicle performing these duties, the convoy commander has the flexibility to travel the column to enforce march discipline when the convoy speed is low. Use a heavy, well-protected vehicle as the head vehicle if mines or IEDs are expected.

Main Body

6-19. The main body follows the head vehicle and consists of the majority of vehicles moving with the convoy. The main body may be divided into serials and march units for ease of control. Vehicles in the main body are armed with crew-served weapons.


6-20. The trail is the last element of each march column, serial, and march unit. The trail leader is responsible for recovery, maintenance, and medical support. The recovery vehicle, maintenance vehicles, and medical support vehicles/teams are located in the trail. The trail leader assists the convoy commander in maintaining march discipline. He or she may also be required to report clear time at checkpoints or phase lines along the route. In convoys consisting of multiple march units and serials, the convoy commander may direct minimum support in the trail of each serial or march unit and a larger trail party at the rear of the column.

6-21. The convoy commander provides trail security and communications in case the trail party is left behind to make repairs or recovery. An additional technique is to establish a heavily armed and fast security detachment trailing the convoy by no more than five minutes. This time interval enables the security detachment to react and maneuver to an insurgent's flank to counterattack in the event the convoy is fixed or otherwise unable to maneuver against attackers.


6-22. The enemy may place IEDs at intersections where vehicles tend to slow down and bunch up. Ensure proper spacing at all times between vehicles, especially at intersections and turns.

6-23. When making turns, move the vehicle as far away from the curb as possible due to most IEDs being located on the inside turn.

6-24. Soldiers must maintain 360-degree security at all times.

6-25. Leaders must adapt quickly to the insurgents changing tactics to counter threats.

Note: Convoys must maintain 360-degree security and visibility of the surrounding areas. Attacks may occur after convoys pass a given location. Therefore, gunners must ensure rear security is maintained.


6-26. When threat conditions warrant, commanders harden vehicles before convoy operations.

6-27. Adding sandbags, armor plating, ballistic glass, and other protective devices reduces the vulnerability of a hardened vehicle to the effects of explosives and small arms fire. The primary purpose of hardening is to protect the vehicle's occupants from injury, although it may make certain vehicle components and cargo less vulnerable.

6-28. Consider the following factors in determining the method and extent of vehicle hardening when a threat to friendly forces exists:

  • Flexibility. Harden vehicles to provide the degree of protection required while maintaining maximum flexibility in its use. Harden the cargo beds of vehicles with sandbags to protect troops.
  • Weight. All vehicle hardening adds weight to the vehicle. This requires commanders to reduce the amount of cargo carried.
  • Availability. Consider the availability of suitable materials and the time needed to complete the project.
  • Types of Roads. Roads traveled may determine the amount of hardening protection needed. For example, hardtop roads generally present fewer hazards from mines than dirt roads.
  • Maintenance.
    • Vehicle hardening normally increases the amount of vehicle maintenance needed. If an excessive amount of weight is added, it may impact on the vehicle's mobility and operational capabilities.
    • Kevlar blankets are effective and minimize extra weight. Unfortunately, the excess weight destroys the tires and the drive train quickly. Operating with hardened vehicles requires leaders to emphasize preventive maintenance checks and services.


6-29. Strengthening the vehicle weapons platforms is an additional countermeasure against insurgent attacks. When convoys come under attack, the key to defeating and destroying the attackers is well-aimed, overwhelming fire. By adding to an already existing weapons mix/platform for a particular vehicle, Soldiers have the capacity to exponentially enhance their own force protection while destroying attackers. Modifications used during the Vietnam War may be seen at . Figures 6-1 through 6-6 (pages 6-6 through 6-9) show examples used during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

6-30. Where the situation allows, military police and other forces may be able to establish a security corridor along a supply route. This requires extensive patrolling along the route to identify potential ambush and IED sites. It has an additional requirement to search structures along the route and confiscate any weapons found. Active patrolling is a visible presence that becomes a deterrent to enemy action. In Operation Iraqi Freedom this technique was found to provide a measure of security for convoys that was not obtained simply by arming the vehicles.

Figure 6-1. Vehicle Hardening (Notice Sandbags)

Figure 6-2. Vehicle Hardening and Pedestal Mount

Figure 6-3. Gunner Shields to the Rear and Front

Figure 6-4. Armor Plating Surrounding the Gun Platform

Figure 6-5. Armor Plating Surrounding the Gun Platform (Also on Bed of the Truck)

Figure 6-6. Gunner's Shield and Camouflage for the Bed of the Truck

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