COMBATT Program Nears Decision

The military is going to decide within the next six months whether or not to go ahead with the Commercially Based Tactical Truck (COMBATT) program which would utilize slightly modified civilian pick-up trucks to replace many Humvees for light duties.

The program aims to reduce U.S. Army costs by using modified production pickups for light tactical transportation needs. The U.S. Army currently relies on expensive Humvee (the military version of the civilian Hummer H1) for those purposes. “You don’t need a Humvee just to run around the base,” Wend reasons. “We want the Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Wend says the U.S. National Guard needs to replace some 5,000-10,000 Humvees that have been shipped to the Middle East.

Declining to provide specific dollar figures, Wend pegs the cost savings of replacing a Humvee with a COMBATT pickup at 25%. Retail pricing for a Hummer H1 begins at roughly $101,000 while a Chevy Silverado begins at less than $19,000.

Wend says sharing research and development expenses also can save money. “That way the technology isn’t exclusive to the military,” says Wend. “And we can bring technology to the marketplace faster.”

A decision regarding COMBATT has been slowed because the Army added requirements for the pickups. For example, the pickups must be 4-door crew cabs and have an on-board generator. Eventually, the duty of COMBATT pickups could be expanded to the battlefield.

I see some advantages to this. We’ll see.


  1. Expanding the COTS (Commercial, Off-the-shelf) concept to vehicles makes perfect sense. It’s done wonders for much military purchasing of electronics, and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t for cars. Even a special military version of a light pickup (a GI Joe rather than Eddie Bauer version) would probably come in at less than half the cost of a military H1. It’s really the same general principle behind your pet B767 idea. Also, just think how much money the car makers could make selling the same thing to the status conscious urban warrior/conspicuous consumer.

  2. Just FYI many small special forces already use modifed Toyota Tacomas in Afghan with lots of success.

  3. The Army was using (and the Guard has inherited many of them) many K-size Blazers and 2- and 4-door Chevy pickups (some duallys) for general light hauling and some staff-puke transportation tasks. They all have Diesel engines; when the HumVee was selected to replace the Jeep, one of the primary reasons was to get rid of everything that runs on MoGas so it could be eliminated from the inventory. At the same time, all the sedans, vans, etc, got ditched to be replaced by per-trip use of G-rides and rentals. Typically, groupthink said, ‘Let’s simplify even more and use Hummers for everything!’, and from that point forwards transportation has become more complicated and difficult. As far as the light trucks go, I have found the pickups (more so than the Blazers, which are devilish hard to climb in & out of with LBE and have the interiors restricted to a ridiculous degree when they have radios mounted) to be wonderfully suited to general use (DUH, they’re pickups!) including the ones with slat seats & backrests, which are great for small-unit troop transport, and one we converted to a rolling range ‘tower’ with its own PA system and sort of a deer/quail type elevated seat. These trucks are all getting pretty long in the tooth and need replacement. All this in mind, the baseline for any pickups to augment the Hummers would have to include the more expensive Diesel engine, although the interiors of the purpose-built military pickup is so spartan (vinyl on the floors, vinyl on the seats, no dash & door upholstery, cardboard headliner, no radio, no a/c, no airbags, hard plastic steering wheel) that it should offset that a bit. All the military junk (rifle clamps, radio shelves, etc) is installed as MWOs, not by the truck builder. Also, they arrive for their WMOs in a sort of semigloss OD; the camo paint is applied at Depot or at the unit shop. Last point; the lack of acceleration particular to the Diesel engine, the high center of gravity commensurate with off-road ground clearance, and the vulnerability of the tires, unless the run-flat capability is added, sort of mitigate against the pickup being used in the fast-attack mode, or for use as a support weapons carrier.

  4. The price of the COMBATT truck will be further driven down by the Purchase by Fish, Game, and wildlife; Ranchers; ‘Rock Climbers’; and certain civilians. Heck, I’d buy one just to park in my front lawn to piss off all my democrat neighbors.

  5. The Army Reserve, Army NG, and Active Duty Army do have a lot of CUCV vehicles, however they are getting worn out pretty badly. I do have to make my plug for using GM vehicles for this project. I know for a fact that some of these vehicles have rolled over exploding grenades, and still gotten their crews to safety. I can’t imagine the utility that such vehicles would add to my unit. We have to drive a humvee if we want anything, and that’s a lot of gas for a few miles. The concept is sound, and they’re working on alternatives, I just don’t want to see it take ten years. My unit just got some nice little John Deere 6 wheel ( I think they’re called Gators) vehicles for moving things around the motor pool, encampment, wherever. They’re nice, but you couldn’t drive them to our next AT or whatever. I think we’re going to load 1 or 2 on a 5 ton to bring along.