Special Operations forces around the world are known for their high level of training that prepares them to conduct ‘irregular’ operations utilizing special tactics, equipment and vehicles.Through history, Special Operation Forces have modified vehicles, weapons and other equipment to help them meet their technical and tactical requirements. When Special Operation vehicles are mentioned, most people think about the infamous Willy’s Jeep used by US soldiers in the popular TV series ‘Rat Patrol’, the modified Land Rover commonly called ‘Pink Panther’ used by the British SAS or, most recently, the modified US Marine HMMWV’s used by Marine Recon forces in the HBO series ‘Generation Kill’. The complete history of these vehicles would require a sizable book. This book focuses on the design, evolution and use of Special Operations patrol vehicles by coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Images of coalition forces engaged in military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are beamed onto televisions around the world every day. Despite the significant media coverage of both conflicts, information and images of the vehicles used by Special Operations forces are hard to come by due to the low profile of Special Operation Forces missions. This book fills in some of the knowledge gaps regarding Special Forces vehicles used in Afghanistan and Iraq and helps give a good perspective on what has been used in the past 10 years of combat operations in both theaters of conflict.
‘Special Operations Patrol Vehicles Afghanistan and Iraq’ is book 179 in Osprey Publications New Vanguard Series.
The book is 48 pages and contains 41 color photographs, 6 single page artist plates and 1 double page artist plate. The Table of Contents is:
Operation Enduring Freedom 9
• An Overview
• Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles
• Ground Mobility Vehicles
• Quads and Bikes
• Pink Panthers, Bushmasters and Perenties
• The Supacats
• Dune Buggies, IFAVs, RSOVs, and Strykers
• Other Coalition SOF in Afghanistan
Operation Iraqi Freedom 30
• An Overview
• The Pandurs, Team Tank, and the War Pigs
• The Evolution of the GMV
• Covert Operations
The Rise Of The MRAP 41
The Future Of SOF Patrol Vehicles 45
The "Introduction" covers roughly pages 4 through 8. It talks briefly of SOF vehicles used in WWII by British LRDG and SAS units. It additionally touches on the LRDG development of the ‘mother-ship’ concept which were medium and large supply trucks that functioned as mobile supply points behind enemy lines and enabled extended range of SOF patrol vehicles. WWII use of the Willy’s Jeep by US and British forces is also discussed. Post WWII use of the SAS ‘Pink Panther’, US use of the M151 gun jeeps from Vietnam through Just Cause in 1989 and the Australians use of the 6 wheeled Jaguar Perentie LRPV. There is a brief discussion of Desert Storm, the development of the US Special Forces DMV (Desert Mobility Vehicle), the DPV’s, Unimog’s, ACMAT trucks and Defender 90 Land Rovers used by the SAS. The rest of the ‘Introduction’ touches on IFOR/SFOR use of SOF vehicles and then introduces the reader to post OEF/OIF invasion use of SOF vehicles.
The Operation Enduring Freedom chapter is broken down into 8 sub-chapters. The first sub-chapter "Overview" begins by educating the reader on the significant variables of the operating environment in Afghanistan. Some of the issues that influenced the selection of vehicles for use by Special Operations forces was the prevalence of mines leftover from the Soviet-Afghan war, the narrowness of some mountain trails that influenced the selection of Toyota Hi-Lux and Tacoma pick-up trucks, the evolution of IED use and SOF mission types.
The second sub-chapter covers Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles (NTV’s). The use of civilian pick-up trucks enabled SOF units to maintain a lower profile and were easier to get repaired prior to the establishment of allied bases to repair dedicated military vehicles. Most of the vehicles were heavily modified for SOF use.
The third sub-chapter covers Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMV). Discussion of the GMV in Afghanistan covers almost two full pages. Highlighted in the discussion is the differences from the GMV and its Desert Storm predecessor DMV. Weapons deployed on the GMV’s are briefly listed. International users of the GMV early in Afghanistan consisted of Canada and New Zealand. Development of the GMV-N began at this time as well.
The fourth sub-chapter covers Quads and Bikes. Highlighted here is the use of ATV’s and motorcycles by SOF units as a result of terrain restrictions. Specific models are mentioned such as the Polaris MV700 and the Kawasaki KLR250/650.
Sub-chapter five is Pink Panthers, Bushmasters and Perenties. This sub-chapter covers vehicles used by UK and Australian SOF units. Vehicles mentioned include the DPV 110 Land Rover (Pink Panther), Supacat HMT (Menacity), Land Rover Defenders and Land Cruisers, Jaguar-Rover produced Perentie LRPV and SRV’s, and the Australian used Bushmaster PMV.
The sixth sub-chapter "The Supacats" covers the vehicles developed by the firm Supacat to replace the aging ‘Pink Panther’ that was at the end of its service during Afghanistan. The initial winning design was codenamed "Menacity" but was actually the Supacat HMT 400. This vehicle design was ordered in limited numbers by USSOCOM. This same vehicle was adopted by Australia and became known as the Nary Special Operations Vehicle (SOV).
Sub-chapter seven is "Dune Buggies, IFAVs, RSOVs, and Strykers". This sub-chapter discusses the SEALs use of DPV (Desert Patrol Vehicles) dune buggies, Marine Special Operation Command Mercedes G-Wagen 290 GDT Interim Fast Attack Vehicle (IFAV), US Army Ranger Land Rover RSOV and its 4 variants. Briefly mentioned here is the use of Strykers by the 75th Ranger Regiment and Delta Force use of the Pandur Armored Ground Mobility System.
The last sub-chapter in the Operation Enduring Freedom is "Other Coalition SOF in Afghanistan". Here is discussed some of the more interesting and unusual vehicles used by other NATO and coalition SOF units. Some of the vehicles mentioned here are the Pinzgauer 6x6 Special Operations Vehicle (SOV), extensively modified Mercedes 290 G-Wagens and Land Rover 90 Defenders (WMIK). Of interest in this section is the mention that a lot of SOF units used loaned US HMMWV’s.
Next up is the Operation Iraqi Freedom chapter. It isn’t quite as extensive as the Operation Enduring Freedom chapter and only occupies about 11 pages divided into four sub-chapters. Like the Operation Enduring Freedom chapter, Operation Iraqi Freedom begins with sub-chapter one covering an overview of operations and geography in Iraq.
In sub-chapter one, the author does a good job of providing understandable contrast between the challenges of Iraq and Afghanistan. The story of "Operation Safari" is a very compelling account of early operations by several ODA’s and Kurdish Peshmerga groups around Mosul and Kirkuk. There is mention of Task Force Viking consisting of UKSF conducting Scud hunting operations, SAS seizing an airfield, and SBS operations against Bedouin and Iraqi anti-SOF patrols. In southern Iraq, SEALs and Polish GROM seized Umm Qasr. ODAs and SAS patrols assisted the British 1st Armored Division. The "Overview" section discusses many more operations and the vehicles used.
Sub-chapter two, "The Pandurs, Team Tank, and the War Pigs" discusses the use of General Dynamics/Steyr Pandur AGMS 6x6 vehicle, Pinzgauer SOV’s, GMV-S and NSTV by Delta Force. There is also discussion of operations by Rangers in GMV-R and Pinzgauer SOVs. A really interesting story conveyed in this sub-chapter is the use of M1A1 Abrams and HIMARs vehicles in support of SOF operations before conventional forces even entered the operational area. This team of armored vehicles became known as "Team Tank". Of interest to many readers will be the discussion of the re-introduction of "mother ship" mobile resupply vehicles by ODAs. The use of these "mother ship" resupply vehicles became known as the War Pig concept.
Sub-chapter three, titled "The Evolution of the GMV" focuses specifically on the evolution of the standard US military HMMWV into the family of Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMV). The GMV family consists of GMV-S for the Special Forces, GMV-R for the Rangers, the GMV-N for the SEALs and the GMV-M for MARSOC. There is very brief mention of a GMV-T Mobility Training Vehicle, GMV-SD used by JSOC and a GMV-ST for use by JSOC STS elements. GMV development and armament is discussed on roughly two pages.
The fourth and final sub-chapter of Operation Iraqi Freedom is titled "Covert Operations" and discusses some of the various operational responsibilities for the SOF units in Iraq.
Chapter three is "The Rise Of The MRAP." This chapter discusses the rise of the use of IEDs and land mines by insurgent forces resulting in the adoption of more heavily armored and better protected vehicles. The reader is familiarized with Category I, Category II and Category III MRAP's. SOF units primarily use Category I and II vehicles as Category III vehicles are specialist EOD and route-clearance vehicles. Some of the vehicles discussed in the chapter are: RG-31 Pathfinder, RG-33 (in both 4x4 and 6x6 configurations), and the Australian Thales Bushmaster. Also discussed here are some of the specific modifications that make the SOF versions different from the standard vehicles in use by conventional forces.
The final chapter is "The Future Of SOF Patrol Vehicles" and is very short chapter consisting of roughly one page of total text. This chapter does not discuss any specific vehicles but mainly discusses the challenges facing future operational requirements of SOF units as a result of the improvement in IED use by insurgents, the ability to now configure armor protection and the urbanization of combat operations.
Overall content of the book is excellent. It teaches you just enough about each of several vehicle types discussed. I really enjoyed reading about the vehicle types and how they were used in the different operations that were discussed. This detail is sometimes overlooked in vehicle discussions. The operational discussions, I feel, helps give you a better understanding of the why SOF vehicle development has progressed the way it has. The author does a good job of not losing the casual reader in mechanical details which helps keep you interested. The discussion of armament for each vehicle has a good balance as well. As a detailed oriented person, I would love to see a follow-up, in-depth book that discusses specific vehicles in greater detail.
The quality of the photographs in this book are very good and I found the selection of photos to be in-line and consistent with the flow of the text. The photo captions are detailed and seem to be accurate. The artwork ‘plates’ are high quality and very detailed. The artwork showcases some of the more obscure vehicles like the Chenowith DPV, the Pinzgauer 6x6 SOV and 2 different artist renderings of GMVs to name a few.
New Vanguard #179 Special Operations Patrol Vehicles Afghanistan and Iraq is an excellent book overall and I highly recommend it for any modern wheeled vehicle enthusiasts. Although the book can be vague at times, it is a great place to start to develop an initial familiarization with SOF vehicles used in the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters of operation. I was vaguely familiar with GMVs prior to reading this book and didn’t know really anything about any of the other vehicles mentioned earlier in this review. I feel the book did a good job of giving me a good overview of a majority of SOF vehicles being used. I definitely learned a lot from reading this book.
Highs: Very good assortment of nationalities and vehicles discussed. Good balance of technical discussion, sharp photographs and detailed captions.Lows: Reading the book left me wanting more information on some of the vehicles. I would like to see the book about 8 to 10 pages longer with a little more detail about each vehicle.Verdict: I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in modern wheeled fighting vehicles or modern SOF vehicles.
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About Brent Sauer (sgtsauer) FROM: MISSOURI, UNITED STATES
I began modelling around the age of 10. My first model kit was the U.S.S. Titanic. As I developed an interest in the military, I started building 1/72nd and 1/48th scale military aircraft. My interest then evolved into some 1/72nd scale armor. The first armor kits I built were 1/72nd scale Hasegawa ...