Back in the 1990s, the vehicle of choice for the 75th Ranger Regiment was the RSOV. Produced by Land Rover, the Ranger Special Operations Vehicle met the criteria we needed in a wheeled vehicle. Helping us facilitate airfield seizures, the RSOV offered a team of Rangers rapid mobility.
The vehicle was quick and stealthy and used primarily for setting up blocking positions on major roads leading into an airfield.
Under its hood was a four-cylinder turbo diesel coupled to a manual transmission. As a “bike and Jeep” instructor, I spent most of the time teaching Rangers how to drive a stick. But it was the quiet engine and black paint scheme that allowed up to move around undetected.
The ability to mount an M2 .50 Caliber machine gun or an Mk-19 40mm grenade launcher on the open turret gave the team a good standoff range. The open cockpit of the RSOV allowed every member to provide 360-degree security while underway. Additionally, the TC, or right seater, had an M249 mounted on a swivel for that extra punch. Infrared headlights allowed us to drive full speed at night while using night vision goggles. Further, the RSOVs’ slender frame allowed the 75th Ranger Regiment to load these vehicles side by side on the C-141 and single file on the C-130.
Unfortunately, the modern battlespace is riddled with IEDs and the RSOV wouldn’t stand a chance. It had its place in time and I really enjoyed both driving and instructing in it. With the introduction of the wider C-17, up-armored HMVEEs have become transportable and offer the protection soldiers need in the current environment.
This article was originally published in October 2018. It has been edited for republication.