23 August 2021

Future War Stories from the East: GALL FORCE: THE ETERNAL STORY (1986)


Both sides of the Pacific Ocean often regard the 1980s as the Golden Age of anime, especially, in the genre of military science fiction titles. In 1986, some of the greatest talents in the industry at the time came together to work on this 1986 OVA title. The talent of Gall Force: Eternal Story were themselves, veterans of MOSPEADA and went on to one of my favorite titles of all time: Bubblegum Crisis. In this installment of Future War Stories of the East, we will exploring and hopefully explaining the oddity that is Gall Force: Eternal Story (GFES)!

What is "Gall Force: The Eternal Story"?
This is a 1986 military science fiction OVA released in Japan on Saturday July 26th, 1986 under the name of "Garu Fosa" (ガルフォース). The name has translated from Japanese is "Gulfs" or "Galls" or "Gals" and "Force" Some sites have said that originally the OVA was going to be titled "Girl Force", but it sounded too funny and it was changed. The origin story of Gall Force is very unusual and involves some of the best in the business at the time. Originally, the entire franchise of Gall Force started off as a back-page photo-comic series in Model Grafix magazine called "Star Front Gall Force" that ran monthly from March 1985 to July 1986 (the same month as the OVA was released). Star Force Gall Force told the story of three Solnoids female warriors (Rabbi, Patty and Rumy) of the Star Leaf cruiser/carrier that are separate from their main fleet and forced to use all of their awesome mecha to defend themselves from the Paranoid fleet and Commander Dohn. 
The characters and mecha were garage kits that became packaged model kits of their own during the run with cartoon-like talk balloons in bad English. From the few imagines I've seen, there was a great deal of talent involved in Star Front Gall Force. However, there some conflict between sources about how Star Front Gall Force came to existence. Some sources claim that female space warrior characters were developed by Kenichi Sodona while working at Artmic studios for their client Model Graphix magazine. Other sources stated that noted writer/artist Hideke Kakinuma was inspired by the first Terminator film (seen more in The Earth Chapter) and created the genesis of Gall Force and partnered with Sodona to develop the photo-comic series for Model Grafix. Only after that did Artmic take notice of the concept and hired Kakinuma and Sodona to develop Gall Force has an anime property. Either way, Kakinuma and Sodona were the primary forces behind bring the garage model kits female warriors, mecha, and aliens into a military science fiction anime. The idea was to scratch build figures and mecha for the monthly magazine as part of a photo serials. It's a pretty cool idea. Similar stuff has run in other Japanese hobby magazines like Hobby Japan, but this idea was truly an anime fan garage kit make's dream come true. The Gall Force Star Front feature ran in the magazine on a monthly basis from March 1985 to July 1986 when the feature film came out. 

The Plot and Setting of Gall Force: The Eternal Story
The OVA literally opens up onto a massive space battle between two fleets of warships near a Earth-like world. We soon learn that one side of this fleet engagement is the (assumed) all-female human race called the “Solnoids” and the amorphic “Paranoids” are the other side, who can reorganize their bodies to take other shapes as needed or even inhabit mecha. While the Solenoid use technology that seems familiar to us and design that are also familiar to most Terran sci-fi cultures, the Paranoids seem to use organic technology. During the space battle, the audience learns that the focus of the Solenoid central fleet is to jump to the 9th Star System and protect the newly terraformed world called “Chaos”. This is to be the new homeworld of the Solenoid due to the loss of their own homeworld at the hands of the Paranoid. The audience also then learns the main focus of the anime, is the Star Leaf, an Kularis class cruiser/carrier hybrid 280-meter-long warship. This vessel carries space combat fighters and mecha, along with a massive mobile planetary base module called “Blossom”. Onboard the Star Leaf is 2nd in command Eluza, 3rd in command Rabbi, along the rest of the crew: Rumy, Pony, Catty, and Patty. The captain of the Star Leaf was on the flagship of the Solenoid fleet when the battle goes down and the order comes to jump to lightspeed to the planet Chaos. 
Just before the jump, a damaged space fighter crash-lands illegally onboard bearing an Ace Attacker and the star character of Gall Force: Lufy. From here, the OVA is told via the major issues the crew of the Star Leaf faces on their journey to Chaos and once on Chaos. During a stop to repair the Gravity-Canceller for the light speed drive, the Star Leaf is engaged by the Paranoids and Lufy defends the ship and is marooned with the ship is forced to jump away and she dies in the hands of one of the space combat Bronze-D class mecha. During this part of the OVA, GFTES descents into an ALIEN rip-off due to the joint Solenoid/Paranoid “Species Unification Plan”. 
This is the major focus of the OVA (and the sequels) going forward and this was a solution dreamed up by some elements within the two warring species to stop the death and destruction of the century-long war between them. It was envisioned that a 3rd race born of a combination of the Solenoid/Paranoid DNA would bring lasting peace, and one of the test subjects of the plan was the Star Leaf. When the creature emerged and stalked the crew, two Solenoids were impregnated: Eluza and Patty. Eluza died due to the experiment and Patty was able to carry the male baby to term in an pregnancy that lasted…a day? The baby grows rapidly and from the reaction of the crew, it seems that babies are not really a thing in the Solenoid society has we would learn in Stardust War.   
Due to damage suffered by the Star Leaf, some of the surviving crew abandons the Star Leaf for the Blossom and they land on the terraformed world of Chaos. Once there, the remaining crew members under Rabbi make a beachhead for the rest of the Solnoid fleet and watch the child grow into a teenage boy. After a few days, the Paranoid fleet shows and attempts to reclaim the child along with the elite Central Guard of the Solnoids military. During this, the remains of the Solnoid fleet arrive and a three-way space battle erupts and the Paranoids are defeated save for their planetary landing force that is attempting to gain access to the Blossom. 
When the Solnoid fleet refuses to withdraw and give Chaos to the Central Guard, a civil war breaks out and during this, Rabbi learns the truth. She overloads the terraforming generators and puts the boy and the youngest member of the crew, Rumy into an escape pod and sends them to a world called Terra. Once safety away, Rabbi destroys the aliens, the Central Guard, and themselves. The world of Chaos becomes a lifeless moon orbiting the blue and green world of Terra. We skip forward thousands of years and we seen that the 3rd race is humanity and the 9th system is the Sol System and the world of Chaos is Luna. This makes the baby of Patty and Rumy the mythological Adam and Eve characters from the major monotheistic religions of Terran society. Wonderful. 
Okay, there is elements of the story that I am skipping over and given how underboiled and overboiled some elements of the story are, Gall Force is terribly uneven and the link to the Adam and Eve myth of the Big 3 monotheistic religions is interesting to a point. Some have linked elements of
Gall Force: The Eternal Story OVA to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica story-arch and I can see it. Some have gone has far as saying that BSG for the SciFi Channel was inspired by Gall Force. When it comes to the two spacefaring civilizations that are war, we know very little. The commander of the Paranoid fleet, Dohn, has been part of the Gall Force franchise since Gall Force Star Front, and the design of the Paranoids is…odd and confusing, however, it is original. 
There is nearly nothing on their society or their motivations and the same is true of the Solenoids. We do not know or why the Solenoids are all females and if there are males in their society. We do know, thanks to Gall Force 3: Stardust War, that the entire Solnoid race reproduces via artificial wombs without the need or desire for sexually reproduction. However, the Solnoid bodies still carry the reproductive organs and the Paranoids used that for the plan to create a 3rd race. We also know that, thanks to Stardust War, that the Solnoids did not originate from their homeworld of Marcis, but from somewhere else in the galaxy. 
At some distant point back thousands of years before Gall Force: The Eternal Story, Marcis was colonized and terraformed by survivors of a world that ended in holocaust and the Solnoid civilization rose from those survivors...for this has happened before and it will happen again. 

The Historical Context of the Gall Force Franchise
For years, Gall Force: The Eternal Story remained in Japan and was only pirated to the shores of the West. So, I think we should discuss the mid-1980’s Japan anime industry and market at the time of Gall Force’s release. Advances in home media technology exploded faster in Japan than anywhere else and LaserDisc was a common form of home media more than the States and a majority of the OVAs from the 1980’s were in LaserDisc (LD) format. This was also a time in Japan that were Japan was of the key economies in the world and their technologically advancements shaped the world we still live in. This was the time of the “Bubble” as historians have coined it and from 1986-1991, the Japanese extended their economic power around the world with real estate holdings and business ventures. Those business ventures caused Japanese cars, personal electronics, and entertainment to reshape the world and people’s lives. No longer was the label “Made in Japan” to mean junk, but nearly on the level of “Made in West Germany”. I grew up in the 1980’s wearing Casio watches (I still do this every day with my G-Shocks!), riding in Japanese cars (still do as well), and watching anime and buying mecha toys and models. 
To my generation, Japan was not the bombers of Pearl Harbor, but the exports of cool toys, cartoons, and Martial Arts. Kids of my generation were turning Japanese and it was awesome. This was the time in which Gall Force came out. At this time in Japan, the OVA was dominating the anime market since studios and creators could create titles that was not dependent on selling the concept as an entire TV series, which was better for the bottom line due to the difference in the price tag. After all, if an OVA failed, it was one product and not an entire TV series that failed to catch fire. This was also the time when the home console market was strong and some anime titles got a tie-in video game on the Famicom system or gaming computer, like the MSX.   

Gall Force: The Eternal Story in the West
For clarity, there are four waves of Anime/Manga into the West. The 1st Wave came into US shores during he 1960s with Astroboy and Speed Racer and these were the primitive times before the advent of home media as we understand it today. The 2nd Wave of Anime into the West was the one that firmly established the iconic status of Anime/Manga and forged livelong fans like me. Arriving in the late 1970s with titles like Planet of the Battles and Starblazers, but really took to flame with ROBOTECH and Voltron, massive amounts of model kits, manga, and mecha toys. Around this time was advent of home media with formats like LaserDisc, BetaMax, and VHS. 
During this time as well, bootleg titles came from Japan to the west via independent sellers with all manner of quality and translation. These bootlegs and pirated titles were shown at conventions and even on rental tapes at special video rental shops and comic book stores in larger US cities (like Dallas!). The 3rd Wave of Anime into the West came in the 1990s with companies being setup to import titles properly,  cable and regular TV networks airing anime OVAs and series, along with stores carrying anime/manga titles like Suncoast Video in most US Malls. We are presently in the 4th Wave of Anime into the West and this represents the complete and total colonization of Anime/Manga into Western culture. This history of importation of anime directly impacts our discussion of GFTES. In the early days of the 2nd Wave, Gall Force: The Eternal Story was part of those pirated/bootleg titles shown at conventions and sold via back pages in magazines. In the 12th of the American Anime fan-zine called NOVA, there is mention of GFTES from the fan mail section that reads like a printed online discussion. That is only one year from when GFTES was released in Japan! That is most impressive. Around the same time, there was mention of Gall Force: The Eternal Story for sale in the market page in the December 1987 Starlog Magazine. Another pre-US-release example of GFTES came from the program of the 1989 San Diego Comic-Con, where a pirated copy of the OVA was screened for the audience. 
It would be firmly during the 3rd Wave of Anime into the West for Gall Force to be released by the US via Central Park Media's US Manga Corps label on October 20th,1993 on subtitled VHS media for $39 ($97 in today's money) and the much rarer LaserDisc was released on March 12th,1993 for $29 ($57 in today's money). By winter of 1994, US Manga Corps was advertising the coming release of the rest of the Gall Force OVAs in Animerica Magazine, and by the 2000s, the majority of the series was on DVD. The OVA was aired on SciFi Channel on November 9th, 1996 as part of their Saturday lineup. Due to this long history and coming at the right time, GFTES, has enjoyed a following by fans of anime that grew up during mostly the 3rd Wave. For many, it was their first anime and that instilled a certain about of nostalgia associated with the title. Despite this celebration and nostalgia, Gall Force is not currently in print, with the last DVD pressed in 2003 which has driven up the prices. It is uploaded to YouTube if you are interested.  
Why is Gall Force: The Eternal Story Considered Military Science Fiction?
In the 1986 OVA, the open scene is a massive space battle between two fleets of warships firing intense volleys of  missiles and DE weapons. Very soon we learn that this battle is between the Solnoids and the Paranoids and there has been an war going on between the two sides for nearly a century and cost has been high. So high, in fact, that both sides will lose their homeworlds and much of their civilization. All but one character in the 1986 OVA is a member of either the Solnoid or Paranoid military and the movie is packed with tons of warships, mecha, planes, vehicles, powered armor, and weapon of expert design. Much of the other titles in the franchise are the same, with military situations and the characters being in the service.  

Is Gall Force: The Eternal Story Worth Watching today?
Until I decided to discuss GFTES, I had only watched Bennett the Sage's review for Anime Abandon...and I wasn't impressed overall. While the OVA is well respected and beloved by Otaku on both shores, I found it quite uneven and disappointing, like a lukewarm Lasagna. The overall mecha design, character design, and some story elements were damn good, but the dialog and potholes are lethal to my sense of enjoyment. And the ever worst, was the technobabble and the names of nearly everything in the OVA. Most of the characters, planets, races, and ship names are the stuff of childish playtime. Seriously, I was naming ships and planets better when I was eight for RPGs than this damn thing made by adults. 
Sadly, the art was there, but the writing was not, and given the art I saw online, I really thought this would be better than it was. In this way, it reminds me of Super Dimensional Century ORGUSS, very cool designs and characters, but bad writing. Given that Gall Force: Eternal Story is the foundation for the rest of the works in the franchise, it doesn't have a good beginning, and the rest of the Gall Force films suffer as a result. However, if you are an Otaku and love 1980's anime military science fiction, give it a watch on YouTube for free and see if your mileage varies from mine. 

The Legacy and Impact of Gall Force
When Gall Force started off, it was a still-photo cartoon in the back pages of an model magazine in Japan in 1985. By the end of 1986, Gall Force was on edge of being a 1980’s franchise with art books, model kits, video games, and an OVA. For ten years, Gall Force was a franchise that was on that edge of greatness, and b 1996 is was over with an attempted remake. Despite the complete unevenness of the franchise, Gall Force: The Eternal Story is well-regarded, loved, and celebrated by people that were induced into anime during the 3rd Wave when Central Park Media released Gall Force OVAs on home media in the 1990’s. While I had missed the boat on Gall Force, there is a generation of anime-lovers that have a strong connection to Gall Force and for some, it was their first anime due to it being aired on Saturdays on the SciFi Channel. Today, there is still a loyal fan base and reviews of the property on YouTube…and there is a disconnect between the two. Many of the anime YouTube reviewers that discuss Gall Force: The Eternal Story praise look, but not the story and this disconnect is very interesting among the American Anime community. At the moment, the Gall Force property is in cold storage and nothing appears to be working on changing that status.  

Wasn't there Sequels?
Gall Force was envisioned as a franchise after the success of
the first OVA and most of the original production team came back to work on the first trilogy. On November 21st, 1987, the next installment of the first trilogy came out: Gall Force 2: Destruction. This centered on the lone survivor of the Star Leaf, Lufy, who was found by another Solnoid warship and revived from being frozen in deep space after 10 years. We see the Solnoids destroy the homeworld of the Paranoids with the new System-Destroyer. With the space weapon of mass destruction possessed by both sides, the future of both sides looks bleak and Lufy goes to defend the 9th Star System and Terra with her new friends. The 3rd and final OVA in the Gall Force: The Eternal Story Trilogy was Stardust War. This is when the final battle between the Paranoids and the Solnoids will be waged and it seems that both civilizations will be lost. Both sides intend on using their "planet-destroyer" weapon ships and end it all with only stardust in its wake. This situation was told to the audience as MAD and it hit the audience with the anti-nuclear weapon message. In this OVA, we learn much of the history of the war and the races involved. With the final battle looming, Lufy and her friends go on a final mission to download the bulk of the Solnoid knowledge and send it to the moon of Chaos. The final ends with a Terran space mission to recover the data. 
Coming in 1989 was the Rhea Gall Force OVA (The word "Rhea" is from Greek mythology and she was the mother of the Titans)  and this told the story of a future Terra that is suffering under a robotic revolution due to the Terrans using the Solnoid knowledge and that technology turning on them. We see a character, named Sandy Newman, that is basically a carbon copy of Rabbi along with others that are designed to look like the ancient Solnoid warriors. All seems lost and the remains of human living in the ruins of the great cities decides to pack up and join the Mars colony and leave Earth to the machines. This story was inspired by Hideke Kakinuma's love of the Terminator film and we can see elements of the Future War of 2029 in these Gall Force OVAs. Rhea Gall Force would give birth to the second Trilogy: The Earth Chapter. This three films were released in the space of one year, ending in December of 1990. 
However, this is not the end of Gall Force. There was yet another installment in the ongoing story and Gall Force: The New Era picks ups after the Earth is liberated from the machines and it enters into the dystopia territory with some health BLADE RUNNER ripping-off with some megacities and cyborgs called "Yumans". Some 200 years after the events of the Earth Chapter, the Earth is rebuilding and recovering from the war against the machines with Mars supporting the reconstruction of the Earth. We see the characters of the original trilogy in a new setting on Mars and on Earth. It seems that a Catty survived and is guiding the new/old members of the Star Leaf to defend the old enemy. There were two episodes of Gall Force: The New Era released in 1991 and 1992. Then there was a four year gap for Gall Force and the intention by AIC with the last installment of the franchise was to reboot the series with Gall Force: The Revolution OVA with four episodes airing from 1996 to 1997. This was a retelling, in part, of the original 1986 story with characters of the same name. 
There were massive changes with the art, story, and the nature of the war. The Solnoids are now locked in a civil war between the "west" and "east" factions. This was never exported to the west, thank the gods, and it can be watched on YouTube with subtitles...which I did for the purposes of this article and I can tell you that while some of the mechanical art is outstanding, the character design is terrible and the cast looks more at home in an episode of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls than a military science fiction anime! It is honestly shit and it killed the Gall Force franchise. 

There was an American Comic?!
During the 1990's, Central Park Media was attempting to form their own media empire centered around imported anime and manga properties that they owned the license for. One of their ventures was the short-lived CPM Comics with titles based on their properties and one of these was a limited four-part series of Gall Force: The Eternal Story. Fellow Dallas-resident Bruce Lewis worked on this comic along with Starblazers: Magazine for Argo Press and it seems that this Gall Force comic was a very similar style and theme to the Starblazers: Magazine. There is so very little on this 1995 comic series on the internet and I cannot even tell you if the CPM Comic is an comic adaptation of the original anime movie or an original story set in the Gall Force: The Eternal Story universe. From the limited information, it seems there is not an proper Japanese manga in the Gall Force franchise. Given the cover art of the limited series, I am guess that it is a retelling of the OVA story with some fleshing out and improved dialog towards an western audience. The comics are available for just over the original asking price and again, since there is nearly nothing on these Gall Force comics by CPM Press on the internet, this is able all I can tell you. However, another property that CPM Press used was Project A-Ko, and I found a review of it and it seems that the series was an completely American comic and a new storyline and art that attempted to be within the anime style. 

The Gall Force Video Games
On December 10th, 1986, few months after the release of Gall Force: The Eternal Story, a vertical shoot’em up genre video game was released by HAL Laboratory for the Famicon disk system (FDS). Unlike the US NES that took cartridges, the FDS was an add-on to the original Famicon that allowed for more complex video games due to the size increase offered by these disks. Some of the more legendary titles on the NES were originally released on the FDS, like the Legend of Zelda and the Japanese-only sequel to Super Mario Brothers. The Disk System was released in February of 1986 with the Gall Force game being released in December of 1986. While the Famicon lasted for years, the apex of the FDS was a short-term add-on and never came to the States. The original Gall Force game is similar, to me, to Xevious, and you as Rabbi, pilot a space fighter to progress through shooting (space) Paranoids to release the other members of the Star Leaf after the level boss battles. It seems that the game was well enough received for two more games under the Gall Force name.  In 1986 and 1987, two more Gall Force: The Eternal Story tie-in games were released of the Japanese ASCII Corporation MSX line of home computer machines. One was called “Gall Force: Defense of Chaos” and it was another vertical shoot’em up with pilot switching. Then there was a graphic adventure game of the OVA for the MSX2 system in 1987 that looks playing of Stancher. Due to the Gall Force 1986 OVA not being exported to the US and the games themselves being on different media or machine types, none of the Gall Force titles came to our shores.

The Battle of the Sexes Among the Stars, Adam & Eve, and the Ending 
Two of the most discussed topics of Gall Force: The Eternal Story is that the entire story is framed around a war between an all-female society and an all-male society and how they cannot come to peace and need another race to end the war. To do this, they embarked on the Species Reunification Plan to form a child that could reproduce sexually with the Solenoids and form a 3rd race. Due to the uneven and under baked setting of the Gall Force franchise, we cannot assume that the Battle between the Sexes among the stars is completely accurate. To make things worse, we do not know the origin or source of the century-long war between the two societies. For these races being locked in this titanic death struggle that cost both races their homeworlds by the time of the sequel, there would be a damn good reason for the war at this genocidal level. 
Then there is the end of the story and the impact of that. We know that Gall Force: The Eternal Story was to be a stand-alone OVA that was to be the only entry into Gall Force. However, it made money and thus, the Gall Force franchise was born along with the confusion. Given the story of the 1986 OVA, the sequel was constructed oddly to fit within the events of the first film and the entries that came after were even worse and more stringy with their connection to the original Gall Force concept. Then there is the whole Adam and Eve element that I think this ending is a rather cool twist, but it is not handled well, especially considering the Chaos = Luna concept. Why the Solnoids would terraform a much small world for their new homeworld when Earth was right there? Given that Gall Force: The Eternal Story is liberally mining the mythological story of Adam & Eve, it is assumed that Terra was not populated with humans and this makes the case more compelling to settle on Earth and not the Moon.  

Did the Gall Force Trilogy Inspire the Reimagined Battlestar Galactica?
After watching the original Gall Force trilogy, I am left wondering if some of the concepts of the first Gall Force trilogy influence or directly inspired some of the core concepts in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Okay, there is no direct evidence or a quote from the showrunners, but there are some damn strong connections, especially in the 3rd and final entry in the original trilogy: Stardust War. To me, lacking a primary source on this, but given the amount of chatter online and my own conclusions, I think that someone involved with the Battlestar Galactica show did indeed watch and absorb some of the concepts from Gall Force. Some have stated that the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica is an influence on the creators of Gall Force as well. 

Next Time on FWS...
It is believed by many of Star Wars fans that the Kenner Star Wars original trilogy toyline was a smash hit on every front and it dominated...however, there are some casualties in the Kenner line that are often forgotten by modern audiences and collectors. The two Kenner lines that died an early death were both oddly sized: the 1978-1980 12inch doll line and the tiny Micro Collection line of 1982. In the next installment of Military Sci-Fi Toys, we will exploring and explaining one of the most interesting and bluffingly Kenner toylines of the Golden Era of Star Wars Toys!

06 August 2021

The Motorpool: The Technical

When we examine the weapons of war from the first conflicts over hunting grounds to the modern era, we see a flow of civilian technology and tool that are repurposed for use in war. This is the "swords into plowshares" concept. It also works in reverse as well, where military technology flows into the civilian realm or "swords into plowshares". This can be seen in camping equipment, your GPS systems, and your tactical clothing. After all, a rock can be used to ground wheat, be shaped into a cutting tool for the butchering of meat, or be fashioned to a weapon to bash your enemy's skull open. The concept of transforming a civilian vehicle or transportation system into a platform for combat can be traced back to chariots, the Russian "Tachanka", and the wagon forts. Then that brings us to the truck-based rapid assault gun platform of modern warfare...commonly known as the "Technical". Open disclosure: I am a current Toyota owner and I likely will never drive anything else. 

A Word about the Photos Used in the Article
In this article, FWS will be using photos of various groups on both sides of conflicts, like the Libyan Civil War, the Somali Civil War, and the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. FWS does not endorse either side of these conflicts, especially those with murky "freedom fighter" labels. From an American POV, I will be including some images of the HiLux gun-trucks used by AQ and Tablian forces used in Afghanistan. This is due to their importance of the history of the Technical. However, I am firmly anti-AQ and anti-Taliban as they are the enemies of my people. Anyways, on to the article!  

The Terminology of the Technical
When discussing the modern warfare Japanese-constructed mounted machine gun light cavalry chariot that has been one of the most iconic symbols of all types of asymmetric conflict in the Middle East and Africa along side the AK-47, there is an odd term that sums up these mobile gun platforms: Technical. According to the number of articles I read up on the subject, the term “Technical” was applied to these machine gun trucks around the time of the 1990’s Somali Civil War. According to Counterterrorism expert David Kilcullen, when nongovernment organizations and the UN went into the seven-shaped eastern African nation, these groups could not bring in any armed protection detail. 
To solve this issue, the NGOs and UN used “technical assistance grants" to hire guards and drivers. This use of the TAG to fund these guards and drivers became the label “technical” and that became applied the type of armed vehicle they used, the almighty Toyota HiLux. This was term was used by the news media covering the Somali Civil War and the US involvement and entered into the common usage. While the most common term for the armed pickup truck, there are others, including: mobile gun platform, gun truck, Portee, non-standard fighting vehicle (NSFV), an improvised fighting vehicle, battlewagons, battle-trucks, battle-utes. For this purpose of this article, we will mostly use the term Technical.

The Difference between: Technicals, Gun-Trucks, and Portee
With the realm of armored and armed non-standard tactical vehicles that are used by irregular and regular forces, there are some terms associated with these vehicles that are similar, but not the same. Generally, most people use the term "gun-truck" and "technical" to
 describe the same type of vehicle used in modern warfare, but, again, these terms are technically used to described difference vehicles of war. Technicals are civilian pickup trucks (utes) and SUVs retrofitted to serve as heavy weapons support for irregular forces in the Middle East and Africa. this term has been used as a catch-all for these types of vehicles used in these types of conflicts. Another term is Gun-Truck and this term originated with plans being made by the British government to defend the United Kingdom against the incoming Nazi invasion. 
To overcome the lack of armored vehicles needed, the British outfitted their military lorries (trucks) with crew-served military-grade weaponry to act has mobile heavy weapon platforms. These were also used by both sides of the conflict during World War II as well, especially during the North African phase of the war. During the Vietnam War, US soldiers in the field armed and armored military trucks to serve as gun-trucks for defensive purposes with creative (and awesome) names. Speaking to the intensity of serving on one of the Vietnam War-era gun-trucks, Specialist 4 Larry Dahl was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in 1971 while serving on a gun-truck. This tradition has continued into the War in Afghanistan and Iraq with US and Iraq1 forces modifying military trucks with the Mad Max treatment to provide security to conveys. 
Lastly, we have the term "Portee" which is a French word for "scope" or "range". Originally used to describe horse calvary being transported (mechanized?) via train or truck. This term was recycled by British Commonwealth forces in North Africa for military lorries modified to mount artillery pieces. This term died out after World War II, but the concept of mounting artillery pieces to military vehicles and even Toyota HiLux trucks continues to be seen in Syria and Libya. For the purposes of this article, FWS will be covering all three NSTVs.     

What is and What is NOT an Technical and the “Why” of the Technical
One of the more difficult elements of discussing military equipment is the proper names and what defines those names. With the common usage of the term Technical means a heavily armored civilian pickup truck that is often used in more regional and low-intensity conflicts, there can be some bleed over to other military vehicles. Basically, Technicals are 4x4 pickup trucks, utility vehicles, and cargo vehicles, modified to serve as ad-hoc personnel carriers, mobile gun platforms, fast-attack/raid vehicle, artillery support, ambulances, and scouts. While most associate the Technical being utilized by nonregular forces, rebels, terrorists, and freedom fighters; there are Technicals in service within the armed forces of nations, like the US Special Operations Command, the Mexico Federal Police, the former regimes of Baath Party Iraq and Syria. 
The reason that these groups turn to Mad Max armed utes is out of necessity for the most part. Given that the bulk of all Technicals are based on commercially available trucks and SUVs, it makes sense to use what is on-hand for their purposes. In addition, the groups that use Technicals do not have the funding to field tanks, military light utility vehicle (MLUV) , self-propelled artillery, or APC/IFVs. What they have are Toyota HiLuxs and lots of them. In the case of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the Technical were more economical and easier to repair/maintain than their limited supply of old Soviet tanks that had rare parts and drank fuel. Toyota utes were better with fuel, had more access to spare parts, and more people could work on them. Also, these 4x4 pickups could traverse the unforgiving landscape and the tight quarters of the villages. Even when nation-states have access to whatever they want, like in the case of the United States, Technical can be used to maintain a low-profile for special operations and eyes-on intel gathering. 
So, then what is NOT an Technical? Oddly, the progenitor of the Technical, the World War II Jeep. During the 2nd World War, the LRDG and the SAS used the new American Willys MB or “Jeep” mount raids on Italian and German targets that undercut the axis ability to press the attack on British North Africa. David Sterling’s idea was for a desert force that could ride at night, strike, and melt back into the desert before the enemy had a chance to mobilize and destroy the small force. While British cargo trucks had worked, the new Jeep opened up the concert that much further. 
With twin Vickers machine-guns on the hood and a heavy-mounted machine gun in the rear, the Jeeps of the LRDG and SAS were pink grim reapers. While the gun-loaded raider Jeeps of the elite British forces of the North African desert were the prototype of the Technicals and their mission today, the Willey Jeep was designed from the ground up to be a military light utility vehicle. Its civilian application would come later on and modern-day Jeep Wrangler is very rarely used as a foundation for a Technical. For the most part, MLUVs are designed for the ground up to be military vehicles and while they be very similar to Technicals, the MLUVs are Technicals. Vehicles like the US HUMVEE, the Soviet UAZ-469, Israeli AIL Storm, the JSDF Mega Cruiser, and others are MLUVs that can work in the same tactical environment as a Technical. However, they do appear military and are not low-profile, and were purpose designed for combat.

The Combat Role and Armament of the Technical
The combat role and the weapons of the Technical greatly depends on where the vehicle is, who is using it, and when. While Technicals are mostly associated with guerrillas, freedom fighters, terrorist groups; there are those Technicals that serve government military organizations and these differ from the Technicals used by irregular forces in both the vehicle itself, combat role, and the weapons. Technicals are used by irregular forces as a workhorse and a warhorse. In the battlespace, irregular forces use their armed trucks as personnel carriers, scouts, mobile heavy weapons platforms, mobile artillery platforms, raiders, direct assault vehicles, and mostly, for hit-and-run tactics. They can also serve within and along side tanks, horses, and de-mechanized infantry as seen in the North Alliance and Taliban conflict in Afghanistan. Technicals in the hands of regular government military organizations, like the US and the British, have often the same or very different combat roles. 
During the North African phase of World War 2, Commonwealth forces like the LRDG and the SAS used Technicals and Gun-Trucks to mount hit-and-run attacks on Italian and Nazi airbases. In modern warfare, Special Operations forces and intelligence agencies often use Technicals has low-profile vehicles to mount  missions or work with local forces without attracting attention as we have seen in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. When comes to arming these two types of Technical, they also vary. The ones owned and operated by governmental military organizations are armed with the standard weapons of that government, like the US Technicals using M249 machines guns, M2 .50, and the Mark 19 grenade launcher. However, Technicals fielded by irregular forces use all manner of weaponry, from Eastern Bloc machine guns like the DsHk to the AAA ZSU, light artillery pieces, to M40 Recoilless rifles, to even savaged missile pods off of attack helicopters! Some Technicals have been constructed to be used as rocket artillery platforms.              

The History of the Technical: From Chariots, Model Ts, Silver Ghosts, the Jeep, to the HiLux
The dual use of a civilian tool for combat purpose is as old has our species and those species that led to us. After all, the use of stone tools pre-dates the Homo branch by over one million years, and the use of stones as weapons is likely even older. Animals that were used for labor and transport, were also used for mobile weapons platforms with all manner of projectile weapons. At around 1700 BCE, the chariot was developed for use in warfare by Middle Eastern city-states, as seen in Ur. The genesis of the Chariot was the ox-cart, making this likely the first "Technical" in history. By the time of the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and the Chinese civilizations, the Chariot was the mobile weapons platform of choice, being the spearhead of mobile warfare for thousands of years. 
Then came the "war-wagon" concept that lasted until damn-near the 20th century. During the Roman Empire, there was the Carroballista, which was cart-mounted crew-served heavy launcher for arrows and other projectiles that could be akin to the Portee. in the Middle Age of Europe that had its roots in 1st Century Chinese war-wagons and some used by the Romans. War-Wagons allowed for cover-and-protection for soldiers using crossbows and early firearms to provide fire support to infantry and cavalry units. These War-Wagons could be used to from Wagon-Forts or "laagers", which is a form of mobile fort system using mobile weapons platforms...there have been examples of volley-lines of Technicals used by the SAS during the desert campaign. During the conquest and colonization of the American West and the Long Trek colonization by the Dutch pioneers in Southern Africa, these settlers used wagons as fortifications and mobile weapons platforms as seen in the Battle of Blood River in 1838. With improvements to firearms technology and the spread of firearms, there was some...creative uses of animals and firearms as another example of the Technical concept: the Zamburak!
During the 18th century, there was the transformation of camels from transport and cavalry to mobile gun platforms with the invention of the Zeamburak or "wasp" in Persian. Small cannons were mounted onto the camels and the gunners would put the camels on their knees and fire the small cannons. The accuracy was not as good as the fear factor associated with charging armed camels. Even crazier was the use of hand-crank Gatling Gun mounted on camels. Another forerunner to the Technical as we understand it came just as the automobile was being developed...the armored train. These early Technicals were animal-drive with either projectile weapons or early chemically-propelled kinetic energy weapon. Then came the train, and it revolutionized travel and warfare as seen in the Franco-Prussian War. It does not take much imagination to outfit them for combat. Used in the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, the Boer Wars, and even both World Wars; the armored (and armed) train was the repurposing of a civilian mode of transport for military purposes, much like the Toyota HiLux. 
The armored train served more as a defensive transport rather than an offensive tool due to their ability to travel only on rails. They could securely transport troops and supplies, even in unsecured zones. Of course, the railroad tracks themselves could be targeted to haul and defend the train. One example of an offensive use of the armored and armed train was the railroad-based ICBMs used by the Americans and Soviet Union as a mobile launching platform to avoid counterattack by the other side. By 2005, these nukes-on-a-train were abandoned. 
World War One was the beginning of what we now call "modern warfare" with the bedrocks of modern military machinery present in the hell that was the first world war. Among these tools of the modern military was the automobile. While the trench warfare of the European front garners much of the attention, there was other battlefields of World War One like the Middle Eastern deserts that gave rise to heroes like T.E. Lawrence and . In service in those other battlefields of the First World War were armored and armored Rolls-Royce Sliver Ghosts and Model-Ts, they were employed to undertake the same tasks as the modern day queen of asymmetric conflict, the pickup truck. 
The idea was first invented by Royal Navy Wing Commander Charles Rumney Samson to serve as an armed rescue vehicle for pilots against German planes that would take the opportunity to machine gun the landing sites. With this success, Rolls-Royce switched over to full-time war production in the fall of 1914. The central concept of Technicals in desert warfare was established by the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor with his Light Armoured Car Brigade when he embarked on several daring missions in 1916 in the North Africa deserts. 
During an unsupported raid at Turkish/Senussi encampment at Bir Asiso that was 23 miles from friendly forces to quell Senussi forces that were attacking British Imperial forces in the region, he learned that some Royal Navy sailors rumored to be held as POWs at Bir Asiso by Turkish and local insurrection Senussi forces where actually held at another location. He would locate intelligence in the form of a letter in an abandoned car that the British POWs were actually held at Bir Hakeim in Libya, about 75 miles to the south of Sollum in Egypt, and some 120 miles away from his current position. This involved a untested vehicle overland trek across the deep desert many miles from friendly forces and resupply. Again, the unit endeavored to use their 1 Fords and 9 armored Rolls-Royce in a daring rescue mission that was new to warfare and would be patterned after some 30 years later by SAS founder David Sterling and the LRDG. The rescue was a complete success and not one British soldier killed. Duke Grosvenor was awarded the DSO for his deeds and he became the "model of modern desert father." Duke Grosvenor is also well known due to his decade long affair with Coco Chanel, the fashion icon of the century and one of the pillars of modern fashion. The other father of desert vehicular combat is the iconic T.E. Lawrence
Lawrence was so impressed by his  Rolls-Royce drop-top Sliver Ghosts he used in the desert, he declared that the Rolls-Royces were "“More valuable than rubies in the desert.” With this fleet of 9 Rolls-Royce, he mount desert hit-and-run operations during the Arab Revolt of the Great War with the target being Ottoman Empire and German forces. There has been some work done to discover the identity of the Rolls-Royce used by TE Lawrence, and recently the vehicle has been discovered to be chassis number 60985 and was constructed in Manchester at around 1909. 
The original owner of the Blue Mist 
was Fletcher F. Lambert-Williams, would died in 1912 onboard the Titanic and then Rolls when to the 7th Earl of Clonmell and it was sold in 1916 to Aileen Bellew and after her marriage to a British diplomat, the vehicle was shipped to Cairo. It was there that the vehicle came into the serve of the Crown for Lawrence's mission. While it seems odd for a Rolls-Royce car would be used in the deserts of the Middle East in combat roles, they were some of the most relability vehicles on the planet at the time and they were modified for off-road/overlanding work. The fate of the Blue Mist was to be sold off for parts after the years of hard service. Lawrence would go on to say: "Great was Rolls, and great was Royce! They were worth hundreds of men to us in these deserts.” 
Another interesting example of the forerunners to the Technical pickup trucks was invented during the Russian Civil War erupting around 1917 to the 1920's (The Reds vs. The Whites) by a real character named Nestor Makhno: the Tachanka. Basically, the Tachanka is a crew-served horse-drawn cart that was used as a mobile gun platform that normally used the PM M1910 machine gun firing the 7.62x54R and is based on the Maxim's design. Used by other nations around the same time, the Tachanka were a intermedium step between the chariots of old and the emerging automobiles of the first modern war.
After the Great War, it was clear that the future belonged to the machine gun and motorized transport, and the modern nations of the world moved to design purpose-built light military utility vehicles along side building upon civilian made vehicles as well. The British Army continued to construct and field armored Rolls-Royce cars and they served for years after in battlefields across the world. It should be said that while the practice of modifying civilian, like the almighty truck, into gun-carrying war-wagons continued, there was development of purpose-constructed vehicles for various military roles like the Dr. Porsche designed VW Kubelwagen, GAZ-64, the Imperial Japanese Kurogane Type 95, and the Willys MB "Jeep". 
Volumes have been written about the war-changing Jeep and its critical role in aiding the allies in winning one of the most wars in human history. In July of 1941, Captain David Stirling was able to form a specialized unit of hardened desert Commandos called the Special Air Service, who would be falling from the sky to wreck havoc on the Italians and Germans. It was soon discovered that vehicles could serve the commandos of the SAS better than the risky parachute missions. Operating at the time was the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) that was founded by Major Ralph Bagnold and designed to carry out daring desert raids, recon, intel gathering missions, with expert navigators and modified vehicles, including the Willys MB Jeep. 
Both the LRDG and the SAS used the purpose-designed military vehicle to attack and destroy German and Italian targets, especially airfields, to prevent the fall of Egypt with blazing machine guns and hardened breaded men with balls of steel. The Jeep was used later in Europe by the SAS and Pop's Private Army as well. Much as been written at the time and since of the success of the American vehicle and its desert adventures and the WWII Jeep was connected to the later Technicals by way of mission and purpose, but not by design. The military 2nd World War Jeep is a purpose-built military vehicle, Technicals are civilian utes retrofitted for modern wars. 
After the 2nd World War, the light military utility vehicle was firmly established and the Jeep became the founding father of this classification of military vehicle and the prototype for the civilian SUV. The Soviet, Japanese, and British all developed their own Jeeps and the US military continued to field Jeeps in various forms until the Humvee was adopted in 1983. One of the interesting quarks of military vehicle history is that while the Jeep founded the LMUV classification and elements of the Technical, the more modern civilian Jeep is hardly used as a Technical, and the modern Jeep finds itself more doing battle at Malls, Starbucks, and in the hands of the off-road/overlanding community in the back country of America.
One of the key conflicts that shaped the modern Technical was the overall Chad-Libyan Conflict of the 1970s-1980s, with one period of this boiling conflict in 1986-1987 becoming known as the "The Great Toyota War". In the post-war era, Africa was divorced from its European colonial governments and ties, causing for a period of great change and great conflicts from the 1960's to the 1980's. When Libya came under the grip of Muammar Gaddafi after a coup, Libya seized the resources in the Aouzou Strip, which was the property of Chad at the time, and there was a deal made for the Aouzou Strip between the two government for millions of dollars. However, the Chadian government was replaced and Gaddafi's Libya funded and supported Chadian rebel groups that were supportive to Libya. Soon, the stage was set with Northern Chad became more or less under the control of the the Libyan backed rebels and Southern Chad was supported by France. From 1983-1986, there was switching political structures, battles, and continued stress on Libya and Chad. During this time, elements of the French military supported the Chadian forces with basic and rugged arms and supplies, including hundreds of Series 70 Toyota Land Cruiser utes and the French anti-tank missle, the MILAN. The Candian forces mounted the MILAN missiles, 105mm recoilless rifles, an various heavy machine guns onto the beds of the Series 70s.     
It was then that the Great Toyota War began and altered the way that these Toyota pickup trucks are viewed by the world and military organizations. In January of 1987, the mobile Chadian forces at the helm of their Toyota mounted a series of daring assaults on Libyian bases with the help of French air support. While the Libyan forces had tanks, the Toyota were able to outflank, outmaneuver, and outrun the heavier Libyan units. Even minefields were outsmarted by the bravery of the Chadian drivers and Japanese engineering. When the Toyota trucks were driven at 100 KPH, they were moving too fast for the mine to activity and destroy the pickups. This allowed for the Chadian forces to gain the upper hand and destroy tanks and aircraft on the ground with the help of French jets. After a string of defeats at the hands of the Chadian forces and the Toyotas, the Aouzou Strip was returned to Chad and the war ended shortly after. 
This brief war of the late 1980's demonstrated the fearsome abilities a pickup being used as a mobile weapons platform and soon, the Toyota-based Technical would be a feature of modern warfare. At the time of the Great Toyota War, the Soviets were in Afghanistan and the Mujahideen were pushing back against the invaders. During this conflict, the Toyota utes were again used as personnel carriers and mobile fire support platforms. The Soviets, much like the American and British some 20 years later, used the Land Cruisers and HiLux trucks to blend into the locals, however, the use of Technical was more widespread in the Soviet-Afghan War than with the Americans. 
Simply put, the Technical was no match for modern airpower, but they were still used by all sides in the Post-9/11 Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tribal regions for all manner of roles in war and peace. Western Special Operations unit bought local or imported Toyota and Mitsubishi pickup trucks to serve in their covert mission profiles in the conflict. Interestingly enough, some of these Toyota pickups were not the overseas HiLux or Land Cruiser variety, but actually Toyota Tacomas (Tacos) bought in the US and shipped to the warzone. These are so popular with the Special Operations community that Toyota as a staff that work directly with US Special Operations to outfit specialized versions of the Toyota Tacos. Technicals have featured heavily in the internal conflicts in Syria and Libya with the groups like ISIS and the Taliban using them as more or less "official" parts of the arms organizations due to the abilities of the Toyotas and their cheaper running costs verse traditional armored vehicles. The widespread use of Toyotas by groups like ISIS and the Taliban has caused some bad PR attention and heartburn for Toyota. How are groups like ISIS getting their new Series 70s and HiLux utes? Most are bought in more stable nations in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, and exported to ISIS via the black market. The Middle East, in general, is the number one market for vehicles like the Land Cruiser and the HiLux. 
The conflict that gifted these modern Japanese machine gun chariots was the still-continuing Somali Civil War that began in 1991. After the fall of Genera; Siad Barre's powerbase in the majority of Somalia outside of the capital Mogadishu, the major tribes and clans of Somali formed a number of groups and widescale war raged across the nation with a massive famine that forced the UN to become involved. One of the tools of these armed clan fighters was the pickup truck that were mostly Toyotas. It was here in Somalia that the armed pickup truck gained a name that has come to define all of these Mad Max like gun-trucks of the Middle East and Africa. Given their grim effectives and place in those geographic regions, the Technical has gone on to become a official military vehicle of governments that can or cannot fund proper LMUVs. I end this historical section with this quote: "The Toyota Hilux is everywhere,”  Andrew Exum, former Army Ranger and fellow of the Center for a New American Security, told Newsweek. “It’s the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It’s ubiquitous to insurgent warfare."

The Future of the Technical: The SOCOM PB-NSCV Project
The benefit of Technicals in the recent wars has shown the West that there needs to be official next-generation Technicals in the inventory of Special Operation units. In February of 2018, USSOCOM embarked on the "Purpose Built Non-Standard Commercial Vehicle" (PB-NSCV) project that's aim is to develop a modular Special Operations vehicle that can appear, with some swappable body panels, like locally operated vehicles without compromising the needs of the Special Operators and their missions by relying on civilian-constructed vehicles that are not designed with the intend of warfare. Over $100 million is currently spent to operate the massive fleet of civilian SUVs and pickups used by SOCOM units and the PB-NSCV Project would save the taxpayers money by having the SOCOM operators use a common vehicle instead of various different vehicles that require different parts. This would also simplify logistical needs and training costs. In addition to the modular panels to obsure the vehicle, the vehicle that could come out of this project could better armored, armed, and fitted with integrated technical than a Series 70 Land Cruiser Ute. If this project makes to an actually prototype that passes the SOCOM testing, we could see more nation adapt this concept and thus, these could be the future of the Western Technical. It is likely that the Toyota gun-utes will be used on sandy battlefields until the sun exhausts its fuel...then maybe that could kill a Toyota HiLux...maybe.

The Makes & Models of the Utes of War

• Ford Ranger

• Ford Courier

• Mitsubishi Triton/L200/Raider

• Ford F-series of pickups (Rare)

• Some Dodge Ram pickups (Rare)

• Great Wall Wingle series

• Zhongxing Auto ZX series

• Toyota HiLux/Tacoma/Surf

• Toyota Land Cruiser J70 series Pickup/Ute

• Toyota Land Cruiser SUV Series 80, 100. & 200

• Nissan pickups (Rare)

• Some GM/Chevy Pickups (Rare)

Could Off-World Technicals Really Exist?
When humanity spreads out among the stars, there will be a need for extraterrestrial land vehicles that are rugged beyond what we understand in terrestrial terms. As we have seen in sci-fi with vehicles like the M-35 Mako, ND1 Nomad, and the Daihotai Tractor from ALIENS; there will be vehicles of all types in all different shapes to navigate the exo-solar environments seen. Now, their use as Technicals to defend the off-world colonies defends a great deal on the local wildlife, the condition of humanity, and if there are hostile alien species out there waiting for us. There will be off-world wheeled vehicles, but will be armed?   
Again, it goes back to if there is the need for an armed Mars rovers, but as we have seen with films like Ad Astra and likely coming with the Soviet/US lunar war coming in For All Mankind, there could be a need for armed lunar and Martian vehicles to deal with rogue human elements and hostile government forces. This problem could be much worse if we are dealing with resources critically needed by Earth and a lack of defenders at these sites. Pirates and government forces could mount an assault on these off-world facilities and/or colonies well before any reinforcements could make to the battlesite. This could mean that the settlers and local forces could have mount weapons on their tractors, rovers, and transport truckers, constructing off-world Technicals. After all, when you are lightyears away from friendly forces, you tend to get creative in your defensive solutions...an lunar rover with a DShK or a Gauss Gun anyone?    

The Technical and Sci-Fi
While the concept of the Technical has been around since the First World War, the realm of sci-fi has been slow to incorporate these war machines into futuristic wars on off-world battlefields. However, that changed when two events happened: tabletop RPG systems and the post-apocalypses genre. When RPGs came about, entire worlds have to be constructed with all manner of situations and vehicles, and thus, Technicals were inserted into these systems like TSR's Star Frontiers and even into West End Games Star Wars RPG. 
However, the greatest agent of change was the post-apocalypse genre setting and the vehicles that populated the wastelands after the bombs fell. With works like Mad Max and the many knock-offs that came about, people were designing post-WWIII vehicles with all manner of offensive weaponry to act as automotive pirates on the roads of the wastelands. Along with works mimicking Mad Max, there was the human resistance Technical seen in the first Terminator film in 1984 and started a trend of Technicals in all of the rest of Terminator titles and Terminator knock-offs as well. However, the pure form of the Technical is still more rare in sci-fi than other similar vehicles like futuristic armed LE/Police vehicles like from BLADE RUNNER and the light military vehicles like the UNSC Warthog.   

Examples from Sci-Fi 

The Human Resistance Technical from The Terminator Universe
On August 29th, 1997, Judgement Day ended the lives of 2/3rds of the human population by a nuclear holocaust triggered by the NORAD Defense Mainframe known as SKYNET. After a few years of nuclear winters and the surviving human figuring out what happened, SKYNET was preparing to remake the shattered world in his metal image...and thus, the war began. During the "hot" years of the war against the machines, the global human resistance used whatever they could to destroy the war machines of SKYNET, and that included the twisted remains of the world before Judgment Day. When it came to vehicles, the Resistance groups around the globe faced issues with getting vehicles back on the road and most of it had to do with fuel. Gasoline has a limited shelf life and by the time of the hot portion of the war, the Pre-War gasoline and diesel was unusable. 
While some places had the ability to pump oil out of the ground in oil-producing states and countries, most refineries were gone as well as most of the people with the training to operate these sites. Resistance groups turned towards other sources of fuel like ethanol and methane and in some cases, electric power. Given the damage done by the nuclear war, the nuclear winter, and the EMPs; there was much work that had to go into these vehicles. Some vehicles far away from the urban centers were in better condition, but scouting expeditions for these vehicles was risky due to the machines and humans. 
Much of the Technicals used by the Resistance were old cars and trucks that were used for mobile heavy weapons platforms and transporting of troops, some were even suicide cars designed to destroy the ground-based Hunter-Killer units. Some of the Resistance Technicals were heavily armored, like the old pickup trucks used by Conner's group to engage the aerial H-K units with Stinger missiles and heavy machine gun in either KE or DE. Some of these Technicals were nearly nothing but barely running rusted hulks with a plasma cannon, basic controls, a fuel tank. These were dangerous to the human operating them due to the high-temperature of plasma bolts. Even a near miss by a heavy plasma bolt could create a fire hazard by touching off the ethanol/methane tank. To help with fire, most Resistance Technicals had rags, blankets, or sand bucket to put out fires. In addition to the incoming plasma fire from the Machines, there was the conditions of the terrain in the Post-Judgement Day world. Roads were not clear of debris, boobytraps, roadblocks, SKYNET sensors, or extreme damage. Driving at high speed was rare in the Post-Judgement Day battlefield due to the high risk of running into vehicle-damaging debris. This was true of both sides of the war, and both sides used the conditions of the blackened cities to their advantage. 
At times, humans not allied to the war against the machines used their skills to capture Resistance vehicles and their crews. Often, they would keep the vehicles, and sell the Resistance members to SKYNET for food and medicine. If the Resistance crews were unlucky, these pirates would used the crews as entertainment and/or food as well. In the world of the Terminator franchise, Resistance vehicles that are Technicals have been around like the first film in 1984 and this was expanded on by the other films, comics, and video games with all being vehicles left over from the Pre-War world and used in a role like most Technicals seen on the modern battlefield.  

The Lunar Pirate Rovers from Ad Astra
In the half-baked 2019 Brad Pitt film Ad Astra, we have the best seen in the film displaying lunar vehicle combat between US Space Forces and lunar space pirates...Sweet Baby Jesus, that was an amazing sentence and an amazing part of the film. Filming lovingly and with as much scientific accuracy as possible, we seen this vehicular battle take place with the Lunar pirates firing rockets and micro-rail guns at the US forces with the US astronaut-soldiers returning fire with their own "Stiletto" rail-gun pistols. This means that Hollywood actually made a major motion picture with moon buggy Technicals (sort of) in one of the best space combat scenes of all time. 

The Vehicles from the Mad Max Universe
Throughout the Mad Max films that take place after the bombs fell, there are a number of modified civilian vehicles and commercial trucks to survival and pirate in the wastelands. Prior to Fury Road, the vehicles seen in The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome are armed with pneumatic dart guns and these could be loosely termed "Technicals". Then came Fury Road, where the dart was replaced with the gun as one of the armaments of Joe's WarBoys and their vast array of warcars. In the dozens of crazy vehicles in Fury Road, there are some former utes with guns that could not be feed in the pervious films. 
The empire of Immortan Joe comprised of the Bullet Farm city-state that was allied to Joe and supplied his WarBoys with guns and ammunition that people like Max could only dream about only a few years ago. The Bullet Farm was a former Lead mine in the Outback and those raw resources allowed for the empire of Immortan Joe to be fully stocked with bullets that made them a true power in the Post-World War III world. 

Rance Burgess's armed Hovercraft from Firefly "Heart of Gold"
In the next to last episode of Firefly, we see the Serenity gang defending a baby (and a whorehouse) from the greedy hands of local landowner and near-warlord Rance Burgess. In the episode, Rance Burgess attempts to use force to gain access to the baby he and his gang mount an attack on the whorehouse. Beside horses, Rance uses an armed hovercraft outfitted with an US M60D NATO 7.62x51mm light machine gun. 

The Resistance Scout Car from Half-Life 2
First off, let me say that I wasn't going to include this example, but I thought it may work as a Technical of sorts...Dune Buggies have been used by military organizations as armed fast scout vehicles and some have counted these armed civilian Dune Buggies as a form Technicals. Now, there are military designed and constructed Dune Buggies that are not Technicals. In the 2nd (and masterpiece) Half-Life game, you are given the use of the bare-bones, skeleton Dune Buggy Scout Car armed the Tau Cannon for operations on the coast in the "Highway 17" and "Sandtraps". 

The Various Combat Assault Vehicles from the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars
During the Galactic Civil War, the Rebellion military forces were always painfully behind the power of the Empire and it showed in difference between their fleets and their planetary forces. For the most part, the Rebel Alliance avoided ground combat situations when ever possible and when those times came, the hard logistically reality was that the Rebel Alliance could not match the Imperial ground forces. To put up a fight, the Rebel used hit-and-tactics with faster vehicles as one of their primary means of attack and rebellion. 
These Rebel CAVs were nearly all repulsorcraft (speeders) and were culled from all corners of the galaxy. Some, like the mothballed Imperial ULAV and the KAAC Freerunner along with the modified Mekuun heavy truck that served as a gun-truck; were former military stock updated by Rebel techs and engineers to serve another tour of duty. Now, these are the more "standard" vehicles of the Rebel Alliance regular forces...then there are those "irregular" force of the rebellion against the empire that use whatever to strike at the Empire and other associated forces. These irregular groups can be allied or related to the Rebel Alliance goals. At times, these are Rebel Alliance cells and they can and do use whatever to bring the fight to the Imperial overlords. Much of these armed speeders are more like futuristic Mad Max vehicles with all manner of weaponry. This includes stealing civilian vehicles, raiding Imperial storage facilities, and off-the-books dealings with manufactures.   

The Technical Vehicles from TSR's Star Frontiers RPG
 Cited as many to be the "space Dungeons and Dragons" by the company that published D&D, TSR; Star Frontiers was a feature in my childhood. Within the setting of Star Frontiers was the many types of vehicles that could be armored and armed for battle. One of the iconic vehicles of the setting was the "Explorer". This off-world exploration rugged wheeled vehicle was made by various companies and was seen all over space in the hands of all types of human and alien groups. The Explorer vehicle could be outfitted after-sale with armor and mounted crew-served weapons of various types. When TSR developed Star Frontiers, the designers left out the rules for adding armor and weapons to the vehicles that were used by the Star Law, treasure hunters, pirates, mega-corporations, and surveyors. 
This was solved in the 99th issue of Dragon Magazine with the article "Tanks a lot!". I found and read the article and it told of outfitting vehicles of all types with heavy lasers, heavy machine guns over 12mm, rocket launchers, 30mm cannons, and even artillery pieces! The article made mention of vehicular battles on alien worlds with some excellent art by B&W Jeff Easley in the article that was borrowed from the 4th Star Frontiers supplement: "Mission to Alcazzar", which had the cover-art done by the master himself, Larry Elmore.      

The Sixers Armed "Rhino" Transport vehicles from Terra Nova
In 2011, FOX aired a bold and very expensive show about a dystopia where the planet was used up and the only hope was time traveling back during the time of the dinosaurs and establishing a human colony, "Terra Nova". The series was bold, but not well written or plotted out and it failed to live beyond one uneven season. In the show, members of the 6th migration rebelled and left the settlement to live beyond the wire with the Sixers becoming the main threat to Terra Nova. Via raids, the Sixers had acquired Terra Nova vehicles, including the larger transporter vehicle, the "Rhino". The Sixers mounted crew-served weapons on these very preowned vehicles, making them look like futuristic Technicals.  

The "Spade" Civilian Vehicle from HALO: Reach
In one of the greatest HALO games of all time, you play as NOBLE-6 and you and NOBLE team take to defending the critical military planet of Reach from the godless horde of the Covenant. During the first investigation and encounter with advanced alien forces on Reach at the Visegrad Relay, NOBLE-6 and Jorge liberate a civilian flatbed truck from a local village and Jorge places his M247H Heavy Machine Gun on the cab and then Spade becomes an Technical! The Spade itself is a civilian truck built by TurboGen and was designed to be used by off-world farmers, especially given its methane-powered engine. While the Spade would make appearances in some background maps on HALO 4, it has not been a playable object. Oddly, this was the second example on the article and somehow I forgot to include it! Thanks to FWS readers for pointing this out so I could reinsert the Spade into the article! 

Next Time on FWS...
So, what happened when you cross 1979's ALIEN, with religious creation myths, along with classic space combat anime, topped with some of the best anime character and mechanical designers in the industry at that time? 1986's Gall Force: The Eternal Story! Until Anime Abandon's review. I'd never heard of Gall Force: Eternal Story, but it is within my wheelhouse of interests, especially since Gall Force is connected to one of my favorite animes of all time: Bubblegum Crisis. For the next installment of Future War Stories of the East, we will be exploring and explaining this uneven 1980's military science fiction OVA!