Saturday, November 29, 2008

Convoy!


If we ever have to use our BOVs (Bug Out Vehicles) for real we will wish, we will hope that we have some friends along. Friends with their own BOVs. Let’s face it, when the balloon goes up, Murphy shows up. Having spares and buddies is always a good thing when Murphy is lurking in the shadows.

If we ever have to use our BOVs for real – we will want to convoy. I use the word as a verb and a noun. More than one vehicle equals a convoy. It may consist of you driving the BOV while the spouse drives the "daily driver"; it could include friends or team mates - the bottom line is you are travelling together in multiple vehicles from Point A to Point B.

Convoying allows you to carry more stuff, provide for better security, respond to Murphy better, and so on. But, like everything else – you have to think it out ahead of time (we call this planning) and then you have to rehearse. Merely reading about it on an excellent blog will not a Convoy Leader make.

The Routes
So right off the bat you need to know where you are starting from, where you are headed to, and what routes (primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency) you may take to get there. Study those routes well. If possible, drive them now while it is nice and safe. Note chokepoints, danger areas, slow bits, fast bits and so on.

Identify along your routes things like gas stations, eateries, hospitals, military bases, airports and so on. Try to avoid cities like the plague. Identify indicators that would signify a change in route and locations where you could switch from one route to another.

Mark these things on maps. You will need one map set per vehicle.

The Vehicles
Sure, you’d like to have uparmored HumVees and mine-resistant vehicles but you are stuck with SUVs, pickups and Mom’s Corolla. Deal with it. Decide now who is going and what they will drive. Based on what you have, you can determine your movement formations and load plans.

If you had 5 vehicles in your convoy you could have a formation something like: Scout car ½ to one mile out front followed the main body consisting of a Lead vehicle, Front Security, Precious Cargo vehicle (people or stuff), Rear Security.

You may want a scout vehicle out front. The Corolla would work well here –it’s inconspicuous and can drive up to a mile ahead of the convoy proper and report on conditions, warn of road blocks and so on. This vehicle should be “clean” – no heavy artillery. Mom and Pop and a couple bags would be great. We’ll get to communications later.

You will want in the convoy proper to have lead and rear security. These are vehicles with firepower (and the best trained operators you have) on board. These are the guys that will respond to problems.

SOPs
You will need SOPs (standard operating procedures) for responding to all kinds of problems: flat tire or mechanical break down, road block, comfort stop, gasoline stop, overnight stop, hostile action, dealing with authorities, light traffic, heavy traffic, and so on and so on. YOU have to decide what you need to plan for. Then sit down and think it out. Come up with a couple different response options and go practice them. Decide on the ones you like as a group and make them your SOPs.

Not every situation will require you to put rounds down range but every situation will require you to ensure 360 degree security. Don’t just pull off the side of the road and let everyone gaggle together in a clump… Keep the vehicles spread out but close enough together to control the convoy and keep eyes open all around. You may want to move away from the vehicles – you may not. Think about it now.

You will need a bump plan. Actually, you will need several. They should be written down. If Mike’s blue Suburban becomes inoperable where are the occupants going to ride? What stuff is getting switched over to other vehicles? What stuff is getting dumped out of those vehicles to make room. Decide now – 0230 in the rain with bad guys shooting at you from across the highway is no time to have a pow wow.

Duties
Every vehicle has a driver. The driver’s duty is to drive. Period. Every vehicle should have at least one other person. We call this person the TC but it doesn’t matter. The TC is in charge of the vehicle and makes the larger decisions. The driver drives and makes immediate decisions (swerve left now!). If there are only two people the TC reads the map, directs the driver, works the radio and pulls security (looks around and is prepared to respond). It is better if there are more people in the vehicle. It is best if all the TC has to do is read the map and stay situationaly aware and someone else can work the radio. In this case, the TC would be in the front passenger seat and the radio operator can be behind the driver. Everyone should have a piece of the pie around their vehicle to watch while moving and while stopped.

“Unity of Command” is a military principle. “There can be only ONE!” is the battle cry from a cool movie. The point remains. You need one person in charge of the convoy. Pick your leader now. Decisions will have to be made. Some will have to be made and followed immediately – without debate and discussion. If you want to live. Choose wisely.

Communications
Have multiple redundant communications between all vehicles. CBs, FRS, 2-meter, cell phones. Have scanners and radar detectors. Have brevity codes so instead of saying, “HEY, there are dudes with rifles shooting at us from over there, just left of the blue sign” you could shorten that to “Contact LEFT – 10 o’clock”. Instead of “we need to stop for gas” you could just say “chocolate milk”. Have a code word to switch frequencies.

For routine information you will attract less attention if you use innocuous phrases (like “chocolate milk” than if you sound like a military convoy on the FRS.

Devise signals to use when there are no communications working – flashing lights, hand signals – be imaginative but keep it simple.

Gear
Everybody likes gear talk. Every vehicle should be in good repair – if you plan to bug out in it, keep it in good shape. Every vehicle should have basic vehicle stuff – working spare, jack, fluids and so on. Maps, commo and first aid in each BOV. Food and drink. Never separate a person from their BoB – their BoB rides with them no matter what. Never leave a BoB behind to make room for something else.

You should have some serious recovery gear in the convoy – somewhere in the middle or towards the rear. Winches, tow straps, chains, shackles, saws, bolt cutters, come-alongs, crow bars and so on. You should know how to use this stuff.

Consider carrying spare fuel. Decide where you want to carry it.

Once all this is decided, come up with load plans for each vehicle. What goes where in each vehicle? If you are really good standard things (like first aid) will be in the same place in each BOV. Draw a diagram for each BOV showing this and practice loading it to standard.

If you stop overnight only remove the minimum gear necessary - you may have to leave in a hurry. Keep everything packed up that you are not using. Never separate a person from their BoB.

Rehearsals
Practice everything from loading your BOVs to linkups, to actual movement to SOPs and so on. After each practice conduct an AAR (after action review) and discuss what you did, what went right, what went wrong, and so on. Ensure everyone participates.

Go back and relook your plans and operations. Tweak them and rehearse again. When you have to bug out for real you don’t want the journey to be your first rodeo.

Conclusion
Think it through.
Make a Plan.
Rehearse the plan – the WHOLE plan.
Make needed adjustments.
Come up with alternate plans.
Rehearse again, and again.

I’ll see ya out there.

And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor. - Numbers 20:22
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If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

3 Comments:

At 29/11/08 22:48, Blogger Jon said...

Great blog. It gave me a lot to think about.
Jon, From Illinois

 
At 30/11/08 14:03, Blogger Bustednuckles said...

A very good post.
If anyone has ever been on a camping trip with lots of friends and family you have a good idea of just how often Murphy likes to show up unannounced.

One flat tire turns into a cluster fark.

 
At 1/12/08 07:01, Blogger Alex said...

Very good coverage of convoys: a simple sounding, but extremely difficult to execute prolem. There are so many contingencies that can occur that you cannot learn from reading, you have to develop battle drills and continuosly practice. Seriously - how do you react differently to a legal (Police) checkpoint/ambush or an illegal (Criminal) checkpoint/ambush; is the road blocked or unblocked; is your vehicle in the kill zone, through the kill zone, or not yet into the kill zone; is there anyone still in the kill zone; do you have to mount an assault force to fire and maneuver onto the OF (oposition force) to rescue your family and friends who are captured or pinned down in the kill zone; where is the last designated RP (rondevous point); who is in charge of each section of the now dispersed convoy. There are lots of video clips on YouTube of SHTF during convoys in Iraq - use them as learning tools and Practice, Practice, Practice.

 

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