Special Forces use off-road motorcycles and quad bikes in Afghanistan

Source:  www.examiner.com


The following story was sent to a U.S. specialty toolkit manufacturer by an American soldier  who uses their toolkit packs for both racing here in the States and in Special Forces motorcycle reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan.


Off-Road Motorcycle Lessons Learned

The purpose of this memorandum is to establish lessons learned while utilizing off road motorcycles during combat operations in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Mobility: The use of off road motorcycles greatly increased mobility when operating in rugged terrain. The motorcycles gave us the ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance or position personnel in terrain that was inaccessible to GMV’s. (Ground Military Vehicles) We found that the motorcycles could even navigate terrain that was inaccessible to four-wheel drive ATV’s. Additionally, when utilized in conjunction with GMV’s, the bikes were able to provide improved visibility in all directions from the main formation of trucks during movement. They could dart up onto surrounding hilltops or run ahead of or back to the rear of the formation.


Mine Avoidance: The use of lightweight, off road motorcycles can aid in the avoidance of mines and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) in two main ways. First, because of the increased maneuverability and speed of the motorcycles, it is easier to stay off the commonly traveled roads, thus reducing the likelihood of encountering a mine or IED. Secondly, because of the light weight of the bikes, they are not likely to detonate pressure activated anti-tank mines.


TTP’s: (Techniques, Tactics and Procedures) When we used the bikes in a movement formation, our ODA (Special Forces Operational Detachment A) generally utilized two (occasionally three) bikes in conjunction with the rest of the GMV’s and HMMWV’s. This allowed the bikes to move as a buddy team if they needed to investigate something. Additionally, during the normal movement, we tried to keep the bikes out of the tracks of the trucks. During the dry season, the trucks kick up so much dust, that a vehicle traveling behind a truck can barely see. The bikes are able to sidestep the dust and parallel the roads. This also gives the individuals on the bikes a different perspective on the surrounding areas to assist in watching for ambushes/suspicious activities. Plus, if the trucks hit an IED/mine the individuals on the bikes are away from the road and less likely to be affected, allowing them to react to the contact in accordance with their team SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).

Additional TTP’s: We also had the opportunity to utilize the bikes on missions that did not include the trucks at all. We used two main ways of employing the bikes. We would use two or three bikes by themselves, or two bikes with two four wheelers, depending on the type of mission. For a recon, the bikes are usually going to be sufficient. Also, for sealing off an objective during a DA (Direct Action) operation, they can be excellent. They can even be ridden right off the tailgate of a Chinook to seal off the OBJ. (Objective)

Other considerations: These bikes run on unleaded gasoline, not diesel, so during planning, we had to plan for gas cans on the GMV’s with mogas (Motor Gasoline) Also, we usually carried spare parts on the trucks. Personally, I usually carried lightweight tool kit in my camelbak (backpack) for emergency repairs when we were operating alone. When we had the ATV’s, I increased the size and diversity of the tool kit.

Throughout the mission we were exploring more and better ways to utilize the motorcycles during tactical movements and planned combat operations. Our ODA (Operational Detachment A – Special Forces A Team) found them to be a very useful tool that increased both survivability and lethality during our tour. They gave us much faster mobility into areas that before were only accessible by foot. They increased our recon ability and allowed us to emplace blocking positions in a much more efficient manner than trying to do it by foot.

Additionally, knowledge and experience on these bikes gives us the ability to utilize whatever motorcycle we are able to acquire while deployed. This could come into play during any number of situations, including evasion. Riding a motorcycle is a skill that can be taught across the battalion and other teams can add this valuable tool to their skill set as well. 

(name removed for security purposes)
SFC (Sergeant First Class), USA
Intelligence Sergeant 

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