Optimum army truck strategy

(I have too many blog post drafts ready to go, well into December. I'll thus publish this and maybe another in addition to the regular Saturday rhythm.)

Years ago - in ancient times before the Great Pandemic - I visited a small exhibition of old firefighting vehicles. Beautiful red & chrome trucks with special firefighting payloads. They were oldtimers, but in fantastic condition because they stood in firefighters' garages for decades.

I mean this literally. Most firefighting vehicles are hardly moving, like ever. There was a 1950's firefighting truck which had run only about 15,000 km until it was retired. 

currently on offer: 42,656 km at 35 years age

For comparison; a logistics company can easily get 400,000 km out of a comparable vehicle in eight years.

The demands are thus very different. Firefighters don't need to care about fuel efficiency or durability in terms of kilometres driven. They need to care about longevity; seals and rubber components need to be either fine for decades of service or easily replaceable. Corrosion is not really a concern because they park their vehicles indoors.

Armies are similar to firefighters, save for the indoor parking. Some truck types remained in service for four decades, and not just the model; the individual trucks lasted that long.

A look at a platform for used military vehicles provides some anecdotal confirmation:


At the time of writing I see examples ranging from a 1988 4x4 truck with 2,014 km to a heavier 1993 4x4 truck with 130,198 km. A 1996 IVECO EuroTrakker is one of the heavier and more-used vehicles, 1996 and 85,910 km.

So basically the civilian businesses drive trucks much and wear them out in a few years, while the government rather has trucks in the inventory for training and 'just in case we need them when shit happens'.

This parallel existence of both philosophies is extremely wasteful. Here's an alternative truck strategy:

  • Talk to manufacturers of civilian trucks and tell them to keep longevity in mind.
  • Buy civilian vehicles after they've run about 200,000 km in less than 10 years. 
  • Repaint them, modify the cab, install what payload the military needs.
  • Keep using them for another 30 years, adding only up to 150,000 km.*
  • Repair them when possible with spare parts recycled from spent civilian vehicles. Using a COTS** design has the benefit that you have an easy spare parts supply.

It should be mentioned that the construction site vehicles that would be most suitable for military use (due to 6x6 or 8x8 formulas) do not drive quite as much as logistics vehicles, but the concept still works with them.

The IVECO Trakker range has plenty 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 models for civilian uses that are also reasonable choices for military uses, for example. Up to 200,000 km Trakkers can be had for much less than 100,000 € despite the current price peak for used motor vehicles.


The standard cab types are VERY similar to civilian Trakkers. Low budget armies might not be able to afford "tactical" trucks and instead make do with 6x6 and 8x8 "logistical" trucks, which have a little less off-road ability. Most army wheeled vehicles only need as off-road ability for hiding inside woodland or bypassing craters/wrecks on a road anyway. They don't need super gymnast suspensions. 

I strongly suppose that the army bureaucracies with tight budgets and no national truck manufacturers to subsidise by government contracts could benefit greatly from such a strategy.




*: Such vehicles are usually fine for 400,000...500,000 km. 

**: Civilian off-the-shelf

edit: fixed typos, inserted picture


  1. And who does already operate like this? I could imagine that some African force might have figured out these cost benefits. If not, what are the reasons against it?

  2. AFAIK several armies use second hand trucks, but usually they're from other, wealthier armies or were delivered during a hot conflict by a de facto intervening power.

  3. Look, I see three possibilities
    1) I'm wrong, and it's not a optimum concept for tight budget forces
    2) It's being employed and I'm just ignorant about it
    3) The way I depict it in this blog post is about right.

    I'm a lone blogger with limited interactions with experts and insiders. I may very well be wrong about stuff. Always keep that in mind.
    I would be outrageously good if only 1/5th of such blog posts of mine would hit the nail considering how many full-time professionals I appear to tell that they're doing their job wrong.

    1. Your humility is much appreciated. Neither do I have deeper insights.

  4. I think there's some comments that can be raised here:
    the army would start with equipment that has seen quite a bit of use.

    I think it might be a challenge for some armies, to find enough trucks this way, that are truly similar (armies want standardization)
    Western armies don't really want to buy old stuff.

    Suggested consideration:
    army-civilian partnership: rotation system.
    a vehicle pool is established with vehicles that can relatively easily be used for military purposes.
    Military gets a group of vehicles; of different ages. Say, 50% lightly used ('lightly' used: in the context of mileage of supply trucks); 25% medium used; 25% heavily used.
    every few years, the 25% oldest get replaced by new (lightly used) ones?
    25% 'oldest' will eventually end up as vehicles that were second-hand, but relatively lightly used... sell these back to civilian market.

    During crisis (crisis here = WAR) situation, army can call upon vehicle pool.

    The vehicle design would need to be compatible with getting the military stuff added/removed at a not too expensive cost of course...
    and managing changes to the design over time will be a challenge for sure.

    However: I think it is unlikely to happen anytime soon for Western forces.
    This type of thinking goes against the typical mindset I fear.

    1. The quantity of 6x6 and even 8x8 trucks needed by an army is miniscule compared to the quantities in use in the civilian economy.
      The mil spec trucks were already swamped by the available civilian trucks in the 30's and even during WW2.
      I suppose your scheme is unnecessary for 6x6 and many other vehicles and it won't help with the other (specialist) vehicles.

      Let#s use rounded figures. 190k troops in Germany, might need 70k motor vehicles. Of these, about 40k are similar enough to civilian vehicles to be suitable for a civ-mil transition.
      There are 3.2 million diesel-powered trucks in Germany.
      The military may want to replace its trucks once every 30 years, so about 13k would need to be taken in per year. That's a tiny amount compared to about 400k new trucks per year.

      My scheme might cause an increase of used 6x6 and used 8x8 prices, of course.