In the early 2000s, the video game Command & Conquer: Generals included a playable terrorist faction which could build kamikaze suicide trucks from factories to blow up opponents on the cheap. At the time the concept struck the author as not only a distasteful caricature but also simply ridiculous. After all, if you’re strong enough to have factories, why would you expend lives and vehicles on suicide attacks?
But years later, however, armored kamikaze trucks—also known as VBIEDs, for Vehicle-Based Improvised Explosive Devices—were mass-produced and used on an industrial scale by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. And these suicide trucks were no cartoonish joke, maiming or killing thousands of people in Iraq and Syria.
Suicide bombers have been called “poor man’s cruise missiles”—an attempt by lightly armed insurgent groups to deliver massive and relatively precise firepower against their enemies using non-military resources that can be easily scrounged.
ISIS efforts with VBIEDs intended to give them (human) guidance, make them deadlier (by carrying hundreds of pounds of explosives) and harder to stop by incorporating heavy armor plates.
Parked truck bombs are of course an old and lethal ploy used both in terror attacks targeting civilians as well as by insurgents to ambush routine military patrols.
However in the context of battlefield operations, it becomes difficult to arrange for enemy troops to approach within lethal range of a truck bomb.