Polaris MRZR: Army's New VehicleThe Polaris MRZR is helping our nation's military save money. We rely on our vehicles to go places far from civilization, places where there's no cell service, no AAA, and sometimes no help within a 100 miles. We're on our own. Saving money is a good goal for sure, but not at the expense of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, or risking our life. One place you may not want to go too far saving a dollar here and there is when it comes to gear and vehicles protecting our servicemen and combat troops. Of course, when it comes to the government, many products are built by the lowest contracted bid. Which is not always a good sign for something your life depends on. But that's the lay of the land. Around 1984, the U.S. military started switching to the HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or "Hummer"). These replaced any Jeeps, M151s or pickup trucks and Blazers the military had been using, as well as other vehicles that were strictly military in nature (such as the "Gama-Goats"). HMMWVs were built by AM General here in the U.S.A. They also built some Jeeps for the military and the Postal Service. The thing to remember is that when the HMMWVs came into service, they were an all around daily vehicle. They weren't intended much for combat, and protection for soldiers was light, or literally non-existant. It couldn't even withstand small arms fire. Eventually, due to casualties of some brave men and women, the military had the HMMWVs updated with more armor, bulletproof glass, and an armored turret on top. Some of these first new armor kits became known as "Frag Kits". These made the aging vehicles much safer, but with the added weight, made the HMMWVs more heavy, slow, and difficult to control. Suddenly the writing was on the wall, and a replacement was going to be needed. With IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) on the rise, the military started using more MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles to better protect soldiers. But that's a stop gap while direct replacements for the HMMWV are being built. The new vehicles are the JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle), made by Oshkosh. They're a worldwide company, but do make products here in the U.S., and are based in Wisconsin.
But the military continues to look at other vehicles to widen it's reach and capabilities. You know they always have a menagerie of vehicles at their command to do any amount of tasks required to get the job done in a military situation. Which brings us to the latest vehicle they're testing: a Polaris MRZR. Yep, that's right, similar to your own Polaris you hunt with or use to check out the back 40. The idea here is that it's fast, light, and can carry around 6 equipped soldiers. The Polaris weighs in at around 1,937 pounds. A little less than a Jeep MB, which came in around 2,453 lbs. from WWII. The Polaris lacks any real horsepower, but has a short wheelbase and enough ground clearance to get over most trail obstacles. The military hopes to move groups of troops faster than having them walking. Wait, what? This the 21st century. Why would are soldiers be walking any long distances to anywhere?
Of course, driving one around your ranch is a whole lot different than having bullets and rockets buzzing around your head. With no doors or protection, that's not something I would want to drive off the top of my head. Some pictures show the Polaris with a gun mount on the passenger side front. I don't know about you, but if I'm shooting at bad guys, I'm pretty sure they'll be shooting back. You might was well be wearing a t-shirt because I don't see anything to stop those bullets coming your way. The military will be testing some of these Polaris MRZR in some war game situations. I'm sure it's a capable vehicle, as long as it's far from combat. Every Army needs pack mules, and that's what I see here. So they might just work out (in non combat missions). I hope the soldiers give the higher ups plenty of feed back. I'm afraid the bean counters are going to win in the end though. But it's interesting to see that the military is going back to using a small, light vehicle that's so similar to the original 1940s Jeep (though not necessarily better).