Reality of War - Convoy Drills and SVBIED Attacks

By Tom McDermott May 16, 2019

At the Cove, we use a range of sources to give you a window into the realities of conflict in the current operating environment. Recently we've shared a number of videos from all sides of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The aim of these short, tactical vignettes is to get you thinking about how you might need to react, and what TTPs you might need to develop, in order to win a similar tactical fight.

In this short, 30-sec video shared via Twitter user @bjoernstritzel, you can see what appears to be an Islamic State SVBIED attack on a convoy of Iraqi Army Humvees. The SVBIED driver approaches the column at speed. The Humvee drivers sight him and try to evade ... but he pursues to get himself in the most advantageous position he can before detonating. The veracity of the video isn't important: it is the tactical scenario we want you to think about.

So, imagine you were planning for and then commanding a light-skinned column of vehicles in an area with a high SVBIED threat. Think about the following:

  • What options would you have during planning to mitigate the threat.  In this situation, would a more heavily armed protection force (say of ASLAV or Land 400 Ph 2) been able to make a difference? Is our doctrine on this sort of threat specific enough to be helpful?  Armour doctrine discusses convoy escort (5.68 / 5.69), but how much would you need to innovate?
  • What would you consider to be the main 'indicators and warnings' of an attack like this? The drone flying overhead is often used by insurgent / terrorist organisations to collect footage for use as a propaganda tool - would its presence be a key indicator?  How quickly could you react?  Is there anything on the market that might help you spot it?
  • How important would route selection be in a high-threat environment?  Could you identify 'vulnerable points and areas' to avoid?  What ISR assets might be at your disposal to 'clear the path ahead'?  How would you control these?
  • How would you include this threat in orders and how would you articulate a robust and flexible plan to mitigate it?  What security measures would you put in place? What RoE would you need to put in place and how would you balance the risk of engaging an innocent vehicle?
  • A threat like this is insidious and designed to generate constant fear in your force ... damaging morale and cohesion.  How would you manage this, particularly with your younger soldiers?
  • Thinking bigger, why does Islamic State put out videos like this, and how do we fight the counter-narrative?

If you've seen something we should put up in, hit 'contribute'.  This is the way that we make our doctrine and our TTPs relevant to the character of the modern fight.



Tom McDermott

Tom McDermott is a serving Australian Army Officer and a student of strategy and military ethics. You can follow him on Twitter via the handle @helmandproject.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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