Technical (fighting vehicle)

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A technical is a type of improvised fighting vehicle, typically a civilian or military non-combat vehicle, modified to provide an offensive capability. It is usually an open-backed civilian pickup truck or four-wheel drive vehicle mounting a machine gun, light anti-aircraft gun, recoilless rifle, or other support weapon.

The term technical describing such a vehicle appears to have originated in Somalia. Barred from bringing in private security, non-governmental organizations hired local gunmen to protect their personnel, using money defined as "technical assistance grants". Eventually the term broadened to include any vehicle carrying armed men.[1] Technicals have also been referred to as battlewagons,[2] gunwagons,[3] or gunships.[4]

Among irregular armies, often centered around the perceived strength and charisma of warlords, the prestige power of technicals is strong. According to one article, "The Technical is the most significant symbol of power in southern Somalia. It is a small truck with large tripod machine guns mounted on the back. A warlord's power is measured by how many of these vehicles he has."[5]

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Combat history

Such improvised fighting vehicles date back to the first use of automobiles, and even earlier, to the horse-drawn tachankas mounting machine guns in eastern Europe and Russia. During World War II, various British and Commonwealth units, including the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), the No. 1 Demolition Squadron or 'PPA' (Popski's Private Army), and the Special Air Service (SAS) were noted for their exploits in the deserts of Egypt, Libya and Chad using unarmored motor vehicles, often fitted with machine guns and cannons of various types. During the 1960s, the popular American television series The Rat Patrol echoed the British SAS and LRDG use of the Willys Jeep, this time fitted with a single 0.50 calibre Browning machine gun. A minor 70's era TV show 'Bearcats' popularized a fictional 19th century fighting car.

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