Technicals: Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles from the Great Toyota War to Modern Special Forces
Modern warfare within the last few decades has seen some remarkable (and sometimes deeply disturbing) changes. For the most part, combat in this century is no longer a matter of state-versus-state conflicts with large standing conventional armies facing off. It has instead devolved into much more local, sometimes tribal skirmishes with small, highly mobile forces either fighting other similar units or challenging large state armies with hit-and-run tactics which are oddly reminiscent of how American citizens fought against the much larger and better equipped British forces during the American Revolution. In a sense, what goes around comes around.
Osprey Publishing through the excellent writing of Leigh Neville and Peter Dennis’s art examines an aspect of this new style of warfare not very well documented up to this point – the use of armed commercial vehicles, which serve as a cheap and highly mobile “cavalry” for these insurgent forces. In this very well-illustrated book, Neville takes us from the origins of this concept during World War 1 through the Desert Rats of World War 2 to the first real utilization of these “technicals” during the Somali campaign in the 1990s and beyond. The availability of cheap, readily-available commercial off-road vehicles with suitable cargo beds plus the proliferation of mostly Russian and Chinese heavy MGs and anti-aircraft guns has created something relatively new in the annals of unequal warfare. Some of these conflicts have seen so much use that they’re actually named for the suppliers, like the “Great Toyota War” – a term that the auto manufacturer now deeply regrets.
Neville’s book is chock-full of new and fascinating illustrations, showing the immense diversity of these weapon systems and their users. Major conflicts are detailed out, explaining not only their use but the tactics that have evolved around them. As these vehicles have proliferated, many have gone from a simple off-the-showroom floor look to weapons using “hillbilly armor” and other modifications to create a strange “Mad Max” fleet of warrior mounts. For the modeler intrigued by modern combat, this is a real treasure trove of ideas. Meng, among other kit manufactures, has responded to this interest with several models, and I suspect we will see more to come. In the meantime, these would be terrific scratch-building projects that should be relatively simple to make and certainly look different.
However you may personally feel about these new weapons of war, they are an ongoing fact in conflicts all over the world. Neville and Osprey Publishing give us a unique glimpse into this rapidly evolving tool of insurgency forces from the Middle East to Africa and beyond. It makes for fascinating reading and certainly you’ll be hard pressed to go through this book and not get a great modeling idea or two. This is a truly valuable resource for anyone interested in modern warfare, and I cannot recommend it enough. My ongoing thanks to both IPMS/USA and Osprey Publishing for giving me a chance to learn so much about this riveting subject.