March 2, 2011

The Toyota War

From Wikipedia, about Kaddafi's 1980s invasion of Chad to the south, which led to classic battles between Libyan tanks vs. the impoverished black country's Toyota pickup trucks:
The Toyota War is the name commonly given to the last phase of the Chadian–Libyan conflict, which took place in 1987 in Northern Chad and on the Libyan-Chadian border. It takes its name from the Toyota pickup trucks used as technicals to provide mobility for the Chadian troops as they fought against the Libyans.[6] 

The War Nerd explains what a "technical" is:
Habre's rebels took it from the Libyans in a battle which might've been the debut of one of the major new weapons systems of the late 20th century, the "technical." If you've read up on Somalia, you know that a "technical" is just a Toyota 4wd pickup with a big machinegun or grenade launcher welded onto the bed. 

Wikipedia goes on:
The 1987 war resulted in a heavy defeat for Libya, which, according to American sources, lost one tenth of its army, with 7,500 troops killed and 1.5 billion dollars worth of military equipment destroyed or captured.[7] Chadian losses were 1,000 troops killed.[5]

... Apparently formidable, the Libyan military disposition in Chad was marred by serious flaws. The Libyans were prepared for a war in which they would provide ground and air support to their Chadian allies, act as assault infantry, and provide reconnaissance. However, by 1987, Gaddafi had lost his allies, exposing Libya's inadequate knowledge of the area. Libyan garrisons came to resemble isolated and vulnerable islands in the Chadian Sahara. Also important was the low morale among the troops, who were fighting in a foreign country, and the structural disorganization of the Libyan army, which was in part induced by Gaddafi's fear of a military coup against him. This fear led him to avoid the professionalization of the armed forces.

21 comments:

Fred said...

"Technical" referred not to the vehicles, but to the militiamen in Somalia. The origin of the term was that NGOs had to hire militiamen to protect them from other militiamen, and they itemized the cost as "technical expenses".

Lars said...

I guess that's why Gaddafi is using, and the rebels are so afraid of, black African mercenaries.

Anonymous said...

Any history nerd will be reminded of the revolution in military tactics that the chariot brought to the Middle East and North Africa more than 3,000 years ago. Archers would shoot from chariots pulled by horses.

As for Kaddafi's goons being whipped by the Chadians - words fail me here.

Mac said...

One must give the Chadians credit for not being struck with hubris. Supposedly during the Toyota War, a Western journalist or military observer told a Chadian Army officer something to the effect, "You know your tactics wouldn't work against a first rate army?" To which the Chadian officer replied, "No, but then we weren't fighting a first rate army were we?"

Anonymous said...

Funny it should be called "The Toyota War" is Toyota trucks the most salient thing about this conflict? Rreally?

Anonymous said...

Between archers on chariots and gunners on Toyotas there is Russian Tachanka: an American Maxim machine gun on a horse cart.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Chadeans discovered Moshe Dayan's secret to success: fighting Arabs.

Anonymous said...

Technical == "Rat Patrol"

Truth said...

Wait, no mention of "g" or the Chadian "superior intellect" yet?

Anonymous said...

The .50 caliber Browning machine gun is the longest serving gun in US military history. Not only is it still in use but there is nothing on the horizon to replace it. It seems to be perfect. Nothing smaller can tackle armor and nothing bigger is as mobile.

A Toyota truck is also close to perfection. At least when I shop for a used truck the Toyotas always sell for a premium. Someone must think they're the best too.

All motorized vehicles are prey to aircraft. Even battle tanks cannot resist an air attack. So the "mechanical" operates by stealth. From above it just looks like just another truck, while on the ground a 50 is a match for anything up to a tank.

A Ma Deuce on a Toyota is a very sophisticated weapons system rather similar in spirit to the AK-47 - reliable, easy to service, and cheap.

Albertosaurus

Peter Kang said...

"Looks like the Chadeans discovered Moshe Dayan's secret to success: fighting Arabs."

LOL, nice one. Gunners on Toyotas might be the equal of the over hyped Israeli army.

SGOTI said...

Back in the day we basically hijacked an entire session of the Cavalry Leader's Course talking about the Chadian Toyota tactics.

The class was led by one of the better small group leaders I ever had- fun, fascinating, and professionally stimulating discussion.

Time has an article about the war and tactics as well:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,921683,00.html

Anonymous said...

I never heard about this war. I am very surprised that the Libyans were so unsuccessful given their advantage in armor. According to wiki, they lost 800 tanks and APCs. If the Libyans are representative of the other Arabs, no wonder the Israelis seem to have a field day with them when they engage in conventional war. I am not talking about their recent war in 2006. I am talking about their classic battles in the past where the IDF routed the larger Arab armor formations.

The Arabs seem to be more succesful when they engage in guerilla style tactics. They seem to get clobered when they try to use modern Western tactics.

ATBOTL said...

"between Libyan tanks vs. the impoverished black country's Toyota pickup trucks"

Actually, it was a battle between Libyan tanks and advanced American and French anti-tank guided missiles.

elvisd said...

I remember when all those early Afghan war footage was coming in, and I thought how Toyota was getting the best free advertising possible. All those dudes piled onto one of those trucks going up the side of the mountain, hundreds of miles away from a dealership, parts, etc. Dodge Ram Tough, my ass.
Toyota has been the truck of the third world for decades for their reliability. I remember those awesome little Datsun trucks from around '79-81, too. I've seen many half million milers of those guys.
If you tried getting a Chevy to perform under those conditions, you'd blow pittman and idler arms every 5000 miles.

Has to be said...

"Looks like the Chadeans discovered Moshe Dayan's secret to success: fighting Arabs."

Not really. Everywhere else Arabs fought black Africans - Sudan, Western Sahara, Eritrea vs. Ethiopia - it had been pretty much one-sided slaughter.

Anonymous said...

Albertosaurus, For maximum bang for buck, mount your .50 caliber Browning on a chopper.

Interesting that the Toyota has its rivals. I am thinking here of the British Landrover primarily. In the South Africa/Angola situation, Toyotas were distinctly enemy and looked amateurish (ie, civilian) compared to the custom brown Landies.
Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

That Time article was pretty good.

"Later Berdabali drives his visitor to nearby Wadi-Fami, where 400 government soldiers equipped with only six tanks and 21 Toyotas defeated 3,500 Libyans and rebels last September. How did they do it? "We just charged them, that's all," says the commander. "

LOL @ Arabs.

Truth said...

"Actually, it was a battle between Libyan tanks and advanced American and French anti-tank guided missiles."

Since when is Libya in the tank-building business?

Mac said...

"Toyota has been the truck of the third world for decades for their reliability. I remember those awesome little Datsun trucks from around '79-81, too. I've seen many half million milers of those guys"

I believe Iraqi soldiers and police often use Toyota pickups in lieu of or with APCs. Hell, I think US forces (SpecOps mainly) in Iraq or Afghanistan have used Toyota pickups.

I remember those Datsun pickups vaguely. A friend of mine used to have an early '80s model Nissan or Toyota pickup. Looking at the thing from the outside, you'd think it was going to fall apart. But it never failed to start. I was told once if you bought a Toyota pickup, the body might wear down but that engine would run like a deer. I now drive a Tacoma.

Anonymous said...

"A Toyota truck is also close to perfection. At least when I shop for a used truck the Toyotas always sell for a premium. Someone must think they're the best too."

There was a whole segment of a Top Gear episode about six years ago about proving just how resilient they are. It was interesting viewing.