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A humvee, one of the Corps' most widely used vehicles, sits parked on the training grounds aboard the Combat Center.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya

Military Vehicles: Armored transportation increases combat performance

26 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

Modern-day military vehicles have become essential to mission readiness in the Marine Corps. Operating in different environments have prompted the Corps to seek out new vehicles, with new modifications and better efficiency. Here’s a look at some notable mobile machines that help get the job done..

The humvee, specifically known as the high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle,  is among the most recognizable military working vehicles. For decades, it has been a common sight in the U.S. military. From the sandstorms of Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, to the terrain of Somalia in Operation Restore Hope, the Marine Corps has had a reliable and mobile vehicle to assist in the mission.

Dating back to its conception in 1979, the humvee came to light as a vehicle designed primarily for personnel and light cargo transport. Eleven months later, the first prototype was being tested.

Humvees today exist in several variations. humvees equipped with snow treads transport personnel aboard the snow-covered grounds of Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., while humvee with expanded, modified rears and a large red cross offer a mobile station for anyone in need of medical attention.

The light-armored reconnaissance vehicle functions as a mobile transport that has been tailored for amphibious assaults. This eight-wheeled vehicle entered service with the Marine Corps in 1983, and saw combat during the Invasion of Panama in 1989. Service with it has continued during every major conflict since.

The LAV can reach speeds up to 62.5 miles per hour on land, and 7.5 miles per hour while engaged in amphibious operations.

The LAV can be equipped with an M242 Bushmaster 25 mm cannon, two M240 7.62mm machine guns, and two 4-barrel smoke grenade launchers. Three crewmembers: commander, gunner and driver, operate the vehicle while four passengers with combat gear can ride along.

Variants of the LAV include models suited with TOW missiles for anti-tank operations, and another installed with an 81mm M252 mortar system.


The M1 Abrams tank can be instantly recognized as a force to be reckoned with. Fielded in 1980 as the replacement for the M6 0A1 tank and named after Army General Creighton W. Abrams, the M1 Abrams tank is the Marine Corps' answer to armored firepower.

It takes a crew of four: commander, gunner, loader and driver, to operate the 67-ton tank. The 1,500-horsepower engine allows it to reach speeds up to 41.5 miles per hour. A combination of chobham armor and rolled homogeneous armor plating keep it in the fight.

The M1 Abrams tank also boasts a 120mm M256 smoothbore gun as its main cannon, a 12.7mm M2 Browning machine gun, and two 7.62mm M240 machine guns. It’s main cannon has been known to fire very accurately even while in motion.

The M1 Abrams tank was tested in combat for the first time in the Persian Gulf War, where it sustained little damage during enemy confrontations and was proven to be effective at ranges over 2,500 meters. In the years that followed,  the current M1A1 Abrams saw heavy usage in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, vehicles continue to help meet the needs of everyday operations in the Marine  Corps. With Marines developing technical skills as motor transport operators, tankers, and LAV crewmen, the future of military vehicles could be well within their reach.

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