How long can a military convoy stick together?

The convoy in Ukraine has now been there for almost a week. Given that a large percentage of the elements of the convoy are tanks, personnel carriers, and the like, how long can a convoy stick together? Are they sleeping in their vehicles or making camps by the side of the road? Either way, ISTM that it would be extremely demoralizing to just be sitting there.

I had no idea which was the appropriate forum for this question.

As a counterpoint, what was the process in Iraq - I imagine a group had a destination, would get there, and set up a protected camp with perimeter, tents, etc. And plan to be there for a while.

Demoralization aside, a convoy can stay in one place indefinitely as long as they have water, fuel, ammunition, rations, and are willing to obey orders. Yes, they are sitting ducks for bombardment, but the officers running the operation presumably know that.

I suppose at some point it makes sense to refresh the troops with new ones, and some equipment maintenance may be needed and become necessary, but it’s not usual for an attacking force to stop and hold the line during a counter-offensive, which may take many weeks.

The issue with the Ukraine convoy is that these are young, inexperienced conscripts who have had limited training and no idea they were going into a war. If they are demoralized for being stuck there for a week you really can’t blame them, but deserting isn’t that good of an option unless they never want to see their family again.

My point is - it’s one thing to say “we stop here for an extended stay” where they would set up a bunch of tents and a mess haul tent every 1 mile or so of the convoy, have a means for vehicle repairs and refueling, etc.

That would imply a whole different level of comfort than “sit in your truck and each cold rations out of the packet for the next many days”. Would a company of infantry in a troop truck be even carrying a camp stove or similar? How good are the sleeping bags for warmth in freezing conditions outside? Apple Weather indicates it’s around freezing in Kyiv.

(How good is the battery in a truck that’s likely been sitting in storage for 5 years or more?)

Welcome to the world of a military overland campaign. Soldiers have been griping about how they’re not going anywhere fast since at least the days of Roman legions, and you maintain morale by bitching about the food, finding clever ways to skirt the ‘grooming standards’ rules, and needling some poor sod about how ‘Jody’ is at home fucking his girlfriend/wife until he cracks.


From what I’ve read and heard, the convoy is not well equipped for the kind of delays they are seeing. Rations are poor, water is scarce, and most of the men are sleeping in their vehicles in subfreezing temps with their engines running to keep warm. Whether this is accurate or exaggerated by the Western press is hard to know, but it’s hard to believe that the Russian military wouldn’t have planned for some kind of delayed deployment. Keep in mind that it rarely goes as smoothly as the planners think it will.

While I’m inclined to read news reports from Western sources through the jaundiced eye of favorable bias, on the ground reporting by Al Jazerra (which has become a go-to since Reuters and the BBC have significantly gutted their foreign news reporting) seems to confirm the difficulties, which frankly aren’t surprising because many of the troops were apparently told that they were just on maneuvers up until the point that they were actually directed to cross the border.

I would caution that there are cultural differences in US and Russian military culture that also make give the appearance of unintentional ill-preparedness; the US and other Western nations have all volunteer professional forces that are generally well provisioned whereas the Russian army is largely conscripts with less than a year of experience and that may be thrown used as initial fodder with the assumption that when they get desperate they’ll loot and steal causing further disruption, which is frankly the way European land wars used to be fought. Not that I think Russia has some massive contingent of elite troops that they’re holding in reserve but they can for certain throw a lot of bodies into the grinder, albeit at the expense of diminishing enthusiasm of the Russian public who are not going to be excited about losing so many young men to a war nobody asked for.


WAG, but they can stay there indefinitely as long as they have food, water and are warm enough not to freeze.

Once a few Javelins hit, though, and they realize their vehicles are no protection, awake or asleep, they are going to feel much worse, morale-wise.

If they are running their engines, why aren’t they driving?
I would think that any rations or ammo (not that they are using any) could be air dropped to them.

The nice thing about javelins is that you can fire and run like hell, but even truck drivers have guns. I would thing you’d have to get through guards with infra red imaging, radar, and perhaps air cover to get close enough to shoot.

The convoy is stopped, and they can’t go anywhere. If they keep their engines running there is at least some heat inside the cab to keep them warm. Some vehicles up ahead have apparently run out of fuel running their engines for so long.

Normally that would be the case, but the Ukrainian air force is apparently still in control of the western air space at this point.

Do we have any idea why? Perhaps they are going to use artillery to smash the cities before they send troops in.

AFAIK Ukraine has been successfully destroying/disabling the most forward vehicles. Add to that the ones that have mechanically broken down or run out of fuel, and there you are. It’s a 40-mile long convoy. Until they can clear the way they are stuck where they are. They aren’t all troop carriers.

Don’t javelins have both longer effective range than guns, and the capability for indirect fire from behind cover?

Of course, the convoy presumably has javelins, too, or something that fills the same role, but they won’t know where their targets are until too late.

I recently re-watch HBO’s show “Generation Kill” about the US invasion of Iraq, which was based on a book written by an imbedded reporter. It shows all this, and more, of course.

One point they made was how, every time they had a chance, the guys were doing maintenance on the vehicles. Stop for a few hours? Take a dump, eat, then try to fix that goddamned fuel pump/filter/machine gun mount that keeps breaking, for fucks’ sake.

We have little visibility of what is going on there, but I can def. see a small group of ukr. soldiers broadsiding at the convoy from 1km away with a cal.50 machine-gun at night, just to get everybody up and out of their sleeping bags and to fuck with their minds … just nuisance fire …

there is a lot one could do (without breaking a sweat) to really bring the quality of life (and morale) down there fairly easy.

I’d also have tractors tow mangled up russian tanks and armored vehicles (prop up a couple of bloated cadavers for added drama) in places where they would later on drive by … again just to fuck with their minds

I have no deeper knowledge, but I’d be surprised if something like that is not happening.

or just take

Does a convoy like this generally bring its own fuel supply sufficient for the entire trip, or do they plan on raiding local gas stations? If the former, how much of a reserve do they plan for? And how do they protect the tanker trucks, which would presumably be vulnerable to incendiary weapons? And if the latter, once the convoy is slowed down sufficiently, it presumably wouldn’t be difficult for the defenders to actively deny gas stations near the convoy’s route.

I’d be surprised they pull up at the local Shell station to top up … I’d even go as far as to say the Ukr. probably blew up any stations along the way … bear in mind those are they guys who will shell kiev later on and kill thousands of civilians… or at least play a support role.

From an article I just posted on another thread, they have a range of 2.5 miles.

I think you are reading this convoy erroneously …

they are driving/standing - spread out over 40 miles on regular roads, that probably pass through villages and cities … so there is plausible “life” going on in their vicinity.

on the whole night-vision etc… smartest move is obv. to attack them during the day, as the ukr. seems to not have a lot of night-vision equipment, and the russians sure do … so broad daylight for to avoid this material disadvantage .

and you probably wouldn’t want to engage them with big pieces of machinery (which are also big pieces of targets) … but with a couple of elite-type units with shoulder-borne anti-tank weapons. Fire and duck/run … i cant really see them going full monty behind something as important as a single Ukr. soldier.