Every unit deployed to Iraq has developed a list
of convoy battle drills that worked in its particular situation.
Units in Iraq have learned through experience that what worked
in the open terrain between Samarra and Tikrit proved to be
completely dysfunctional in the urban conditions of Baghdad.
The need to be aggressive and the ability to take the fight
to the enemy are constants in all effective battle drills.
Merely closing up and running away may minimize casualties
today, but, in the long run, leaving attackers alone will encourage
them and ultimately result in increased friendly casualties.
A commander also has to accomplish his convoy’s mission.
The problem facing commanders is deciding which battle drills
will be most effective for the local terrain and road conditions
To provide a framework for evaluating which battle drills are
more suitable to a particular convoy mission, commanders should
consider four principles. These principles are not listed by
priority; different tactical situations will determine their
relative importance for each mission. An effective convoy battle
drill is one that, for a specific situation, will—
Minimize friendly casualties.
Maximize enemy casualties.
Leave no abandoned equipment.
Allow the convoy to accomplish the mission.
So what factors should a convoy commander consider
in deciding which battle drills apply to his mission that
day? Some factors that influence the effectiveness of a particular
battle drill can be determined by asking the following questions—
How many vehicles and Soldiers are in the convoy?
How many crew-served weaponsómounted and hand carriedódoes the convoy possess?
Does the terrain allow the convoy (both cargo trucks and gun trucks) to drive off the paved surface?
Does the convoy have the means to communicate while dismounted?
Is the terrain the convoy will traverse flat and open, rolling hills, or urban?
How critical is it to the receiving unit that the supplies the convoy is delivering reach it on schedule?
Where along the route can the convoy commander call for help, and where are the communications dead spots?
How proficient in their various battle skills are the Soldiers in the convoy?
How skilled are the leaders and Soldiers at recognizing which battle drills they should execute for any given situation?
What should be apparent is that a single convoy may need
three or four different battle drills to be prepared to react to improvised
explosive devices (IEDs) and small arms fire, depending on the conditions
along its route.
Soldiers in a convoy must have a clear vision of the expected
hazards along different portions of the route. The convoy commander must
communicate to the Soldiers in the convoy which battle drills will apply
and when each will be in effect. It is the job of commanders and staffs
to make sure that the Soldiers in a convoy have the knowledge and equipment
they need to be successful. Soldiers in a convoy have the best chance
of success if the staff of each unit involved in the convoy does its
part in a coordinated brigade operation.
To help commanders and staffs obtain information they can
use to improve their convoy battle drills and operations, I offer on
the following pages my assessment of some Web sites that provide convoy
tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Captain Christina A. Polosky is the senior logistics analyst for
the brigade support battalion trainers at the National Training Center
Fort Irwin, California. She has bachelor’s degrees in history and
political science and a master’s degree in teaching from Virginia
Commonwealth University. She is a graduate of the Transportation
Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course,
Combined Arms and Services Staff School.