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TOPIC: Convoy Vulnerability.

DISCUSSION: UN convoys are routinely attacked by belligerents. Convoys are vulnerable to long-range fire from manpacked ATGMs and light, mobile, direct-fire artillery. The main threat for convoys is likely to be an ambush. Clearing routes, even by ground reconnaissance, is likely to be of limited value, given the use of remotely controlled mines, demolitions, and perhaps mines remotely delivered by multiple rocket launchers. In steep terrain with heavily wooded slopes, with careful preparation, it will always be possible to spring an ambush. The traditional answer of placing troops on the high ground will not serve to protect the convoys. Convoys will have to be task-organized to provide their own resources for protection and immediate counterattack. Large numbers of dismounted anti-tank weapons and automatic small arms can do considerable damage in a short-range ambush. Suppressive fire and infantry counterattack by the convoy escort and supporting helicopters is likely to be countered by the use of prepositioned smoke pots and antipersonnel mines to enable the ambushers to slip away.


  • All convoys should be escorted by an armor heavy advance guard force to detect ambushes, breach obstacles, detect mines, and to possibly deter attacks by belligerents.

  • Position the advance guard three to five kilometers ahead of the main body.

  • Consider using Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs) and helicopters to over-fly the route in advance of the convoy.

  • The main body should also be led by armored vehicles and every third or forth vehicle should be a fighting vehicle.

  • Minimize the use of trailers in the convoy. Trailers hinder the mobility of the convoy and its ability to react to ambushes.

  • A strong reserve force or rear guard should trail the convoy to respond if the convoy is attacked.

  • The rear guard should also be armor heavy to discourage attacks.

  • Convoys should be totally self contained. Convoys must have additional fuel, food, maintenance, recovery, medical, and their own indirect fire support assets.

  • Attack helicopters should be used to overwatch convoy routes and to assist the advance guard to force their way through belligerent checkpoints.

  • The convoy commander should be in the second or third vehicle in the main body.

  • Maintain convoy integrity and dispersion at all times.

  • Conduct a thorough IPB and route reconnaissance to determine the location of belligerent checkpoints.

  • Do not bring the main body of the convoy into the gauntlet of obstacles at belligerent checkpoints until the belligerents have permitted advanced guard of the convoy to move through the checkpoint. This gives the main body the flexibility to maneuver if attacked.

  • Have communications between all vehicles and have redundant communications between the advance guard and the main body.

  • Be aware that the belligerents may track the convoys along their routes and will want to verify the number of vehicles in the convoy at each checkpoint.

Back to Chapter 4: Table of Contents
Convoy Debrief Checklist

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