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So You’re the Convoy Commander. What Now?

So You’re the Convoy Commander. What Now?

WALT BECKMAN
Directorate of Assessments and Prevention
Ground Division
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama

Convoy planning and operations are complex and must never be taken lightly. This article highlights your responsibilities as a convoy commander.

Who’s in charge?

The convoy commander is first in command, leads the convoy, and is responsible for mission planning, preparation and execution activities. As the convoy commander, your duties include:

  1. Determining task organization, convoy configuration, and personnel and vehicle responsibilities.
  2. Conducting planning and coordination and issuing the convoy operation order (see Appendix A in Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 4-01.45, Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Tactical Convoy Operations).
  3. Reviewing intelligence reports and briefing convoy personnel on the capabilities and activities of relevant threat and non-threat actors along the planned routes.
  4. Supervising pre-combat checks (PCCs) and pre-combat inspections (PCIs), including equipment, safety, fire control and accountability procedures.
  5. Maintaining internal and external communications, controlling movement and conducting appropriate actions upon contact.
  6. Specifying work priorities for returning convoys, such as refueling, vehicle maintenance, intelligence (S-2) debriefing, weapons maintenance, vehicle parking and messing.

What is a tactical convoy and what do you need know?

A tactical convoy is a military operation used to securely move personnel and cargo by ground transportation. A situational understanding of the operational environment, including the information environment and friendly and enemy force dispositions and activities, is necessary to know how adversaries and other relevant entities likely will react to a convoy. For example, during military engagement and security cooperation operations where engagement with the local populace is paramount, convoys adopt a less aggressive posture. Convoys maintain an aggressive and unpredictable posture and are prepared to react to enemy contact during major combat operations because enemy tactics favor engaging soft targets, lines of communication and supplies.

Where do you go for guidance?

For starters, check out ATP 4-01.45, which provides information on convoy organization, command and staff support for convoy operations, planning considerations, movement, danger areas, action and battle drills, and post-convoy actions. It also includes appendices for a convoy mission package, pre-combat checklists, reports, risk management, training and standard operating procedure guidelines, and convoy actions at the halt.

When do you start the planning process?

As soon as you receive the mission/warning order (WARNORD), the convoy planning process should begin by analyzing the mission and the unit’s capabilities, conducting a risk assessment, and notifying headquarters if additional assets are required. In addition:

  • Issue the WARNORD to subordinate leaders with key information to maximize preparation time.
  • Gather intel from you’re intelligence and operations officers and information about your desired route and surrounding area.
  • Build your tentative plan using mission, enemy, terrain, troops, time and civilian (METT-T/METT-TC) considerations.
  • Publish your timeline, including time for PCCs, PCIs and rehearsals.
  • Analyze task organization requirements for the specific mission and identify shortfalls based on common-sense troop-to-task analysis.
  • Factor in things such as civilians/local nationals and how they may affect the convoy movement.
  • Complete your pre-movement preparations such as refueling, rearming and loading.
  • Finalize your plan by conducting your convoy briefing to include:
    1. Issuing the WARNORD
    2. Convoy mission order
    3. Ground transport request/transportation movement request
    4. Ground transport order or transportation movement order
    5. Convoy manifest
    6. Strip maps
    7. Communications smart pack
    8. Fire support asset availability list
  • Issue the convoy briefing and have your subordinate leaders back-brief you to ensure they understand it or if you missed something important.

Supervise, supervise, supervise!

Remember, you and the assistant convoy commander cannot accomplish planning requirements without subordinate leader assistance. You can delegate supervision of preparatory tasks in priority order, but you remain responsible for all preparations. Here are a few additional planning considerations you may need to consider:

  • Actions on the objective
  • Employment of gun trucks
  • Operations security
  • Accountability of sensitive items
  • Recovery plans
  • Risk management
  • Vehicle configurations and load planning
  • Counter improvised explosive device plans
  • Medical support
  • Dispersing medics throughout the convoy
  • Dedicating aid and litter teams
  • A casualty plan
  • Rally points... and the list goes on

Why?

We do all of this for mission accomplishment and the safety and welfare of our troops. The keys to successful convoys are thorough PCCs, PCIs and rehearsals. Rehearse convoy drills after the convoy brief. Schedule the convoy brief so subordinates have a minimum of two-thirds of the overall time for preparation using the one-third to two-thirds rule.

Successful convoy operations require detailed planning; supporting and adjacent unit coordination; appropriate levels of force and communication; contingency plans; and rehearsals, PCCs and PCIs. In this article we only scratched the surface. When you are selected to lead a convoy, take it seriously. Use the ATPs, seek assistance from leadership, utilize all available assets, task organize, remember to conduct those PCCs and PCIs, and do a thorough rehearsal prior to starting point.

  • 17 March 2021
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 18382
  • Comments: 0
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