Technically Speaking

The iconic technical vehicle is said to have earned its technical sobriquet during the famine in Somalia during the early 90s, though this might have been a continuation of the reputation it earned during the so-called Great Toyota War. That conflict (Ḥarb Tūyūtā or Guerres des Toyota), actually just one part of a conflict between Libya in Chad in northern Africa in the late 80s, was the first time we saw large-scale, widespread use of the technical truck archetype in modern warfare.

Technical vehicles are most often associated with irregular formations. When you hear the term technical in the context of warfare, particularly in the Middle East, your mind might conjure up images of raggedy-ass tribal militia members, left-hand wipers with bad teeth, and the movie Blackhawk Down.

Remember this guy’s entrance?

Militia member on a technical during the opening scene(s) of Blackhawk Down

Or the use of this technical gunner as a device to explain ROEs and the frustration felt by the men of TF Ranger?

A gunner in the back of a Somali technical opens fire on a crowd, Blackhawk Down opening sequence.

Popular culture aside, technicals are not solely the purview of savages anymore (if indeed they ever were). Nor are they always ad hoc affairs cobbled together in Mad Max fashion (though those definitely predominate!).

Many professional military and security forces use them, from gendarmerie type agencies to the US military (where they’re called NSTVs, or “Non Standard Tactical Vehicles). And while many of these are just up-gunned pickup trucks with insignia or uniform markings, some are specifically designed to meet particular criteria.

Mexican police technical vehicle

Qatari military technical truck

Special Forces technical truck

Of course, plenty of bloodthirsty savages and murderous assholes still use them too.

ISIS fighter on technical opens fire (unknown location or photo source).

Technical vehicle of the CDN drug cartel in Mexico

Although technicals by that name have only been in the public eye for the last 3 decades or so, similar tactical vehicles have been a component of warfare for far longer.

While not, strictly speaking, a technical vehicle, the vehicle below certainly fills that niche. This is a Rhodesian truck of the British South Africa Police (BSAP). It was been mounted with a 20mm Hispano cannon cannibalized from a de Havilland Vampire FB.9 fighter of the Rhodesian Air Force (RhAF).

20mm Hispano HS.404 from a

While technically classified (see what we did there) as an “Improvised Fighting Vehicle” (IFV), the wide variety of technical vehicle types allows them to be used in a broad array of tactical roles. We’ve seen them used to provide indirect fire and area denial, direct-fire and infantry support roles, anti-air and anti-armor, and of course counter-technical.

Scroll down for more information about the now-iconic (and ever more ubiquitous) technical vehicle.


No technical vehicle can be as awesome as the technical truck driven by Cookie Monster.