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May 21, 2019

Did You Know About the "Toyota War"?

Former Nissan Philippines President Toti Zara may have coined the term, “Pickup Wars” to coincide with his company’s confidence during the launch of the Navara in 2015, but did you know there was such as thing as the “Toyota War”?

Also known as the “Great Toyota War” or if you prefer, in Arabic, “حرب تويوتا‎”, the Toyota War is actually the last phase of the Chadian-Libyan conflict that took place in 1987. It was coined for the Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser pickups used by Chadian troops as they fought against the Libyans. Four hundred of these pickups were supplied by the French Air Force, some of them armed with anti-tank guided missiles. This turned the tide of the war with Libya suffering a heavy defeat with more than 7,500 men killed to Chad’s 1,000.

Chad’s win over Libya in this conflict helped cement the Hilux’s reputation as the unnoticed weapon of guerrilla warfare.

Newsweek ran a story in 2010 detailing why the Hilux has become so popular in conflict zones around the world.

“The Toyota Hilux is everywhere,” says Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger and now a fellow of the Center for a New American Security in an interview with the magazine. “It’s the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It’s ubiquitous to insurgent warfare. And actually, recently, also counterinsurgent warfare. It kicks the hell out of the Humvee.”

Originally intended as a lightweight truck for recreational use, militant groups soon discovered other qualities of the Hilux that made them so adept on the battlefield.

Counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen notes that aside from the Hilux’s longevity, another factor is the ground clearance. “They cover the ground incredibly well,” he says. “They are often used by insurgent forces as a modern version of light cavalry. They move weapons into positions to fire, and can also shift people around very quickly, with a quick dismount. The Hilux is perfectly designed for that. I’ve seen 20 people and a mounted weapon on one,” he says to Newsweek. It’s become so intertwined with insurgency groups that at one point, US intelligence experts say the sight of a Hilux at the Pakistani border could be a sign that they’re dealing with Al Qaeda.

It must be pointed out that Toyota doesn’t deal with any of these militant group, and that they honor any and all trade sanctions in place. In fact, they have procedures in place to protect supply chain integrity including the policy of not selling vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities.

That said, they cannot stop these insurgencies from acquiring brand-new Hilux trucks through backdoor channels such as through a third-party or middleman (the same could be said about Kim Jong Un’s Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman Guard). It’s come to a point that some fraudsters have come up with imitation products as well.

Though there are other body-on-frame pickup trucks available, security experts agree that the reason why these rebel groups prefer the Hilux is the same why a majority of Filipino buyers tend to gravitate towards them: parts are easily available and mechanics know how to fix them.

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