Chances are, if you’ve seen at least one Mission: Impossible flick, you’ve envisioned yourself racing the clock on some kind of special tactics operation as the last line of defense to save the world.
What guy hasn’t thought of what it’d be like to play out the role of a top-secret military agent? Even if it’s just to be able to hang out with some beautiful co-star like Rebecca Ferguson, who’ll be revising her role as Ilsa Faust in the next Mission Impossible installment.
But as I recently learned during an exclusive excursion with Chevrolet and former members of the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force team, action movies like The Bourne Identity (as entertaining as they are) don’t come close to giving you a true sense of what it takes to pull off a special ops mission.
‘FRIEND OR FOE’
The Chevy event, held at The Range Complex (TRC), a tactical training facility in North Carolina, included everything from experiencing a simulated hostage rescue mission where live ammunition was being fired to us personally trying our hand at shooting a practice target some 800 meters in the distance with a long-range rifle. Trust me, pulling something off like that requires a lot more skill than just pulling a trigger - especially when you consider elements like the number of hours a special field operative might have to wait in scorching desert heat for that one and only shot to take down a moving target a mile away, with only a fraction of a second to get it done.
Just having a chance to go through a few shooting exercises, trying to eye a perfectly still metal breast plate through a gun scope when the temp is only around 80 degrees, gives you an entirely new perspective on why the most extreme level of discipline is such a fundamental part of special military operations.
But the overall tactical experience was more specifically focused on highlighting how the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban often serve as the most trusted tools for some of the U.S.’s most elite special forces and secret service teams.
This wasn’t your typical car event where a bunch of guys sit around swapping stories about how fast they drove some vehicle on a straightaway or how many people stopped to snap selfies with a car they were testing. Though, with 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque on tap, paired with a hot new trim package called the “Midnight Edition,” it’s clear the all blacked-out 2017 Tahoe and Suburban trucks (showcased at the event) are capable of holding their own in those ranks as well.
Still, those highlights pale in comparison to experiencing how a team of real-life “Jason Bourne” operatives might typically use one of the full-size Chevy SUVs to pull off something like a high-stakes hostage rescue in the dead of night, using nothing but infrared night goggles to navigate the truck in unfamiliar territory.
It was a pretty humbling thing to take in first-hand, be it having the chance to personally drive a Tahoe in a simulated covert mission. Or riding shotgun with a former Delta Force member barreling one of the SUVs across open terrain when it’s pitch black, at speeds up to 100 mph. Namely, because the scenarios give you an entirely new level of appreciation for the kind of life-and-death situations that our special forces put themselves through routinely to keep America safe, that are far more intimidating than anything depicted on the big screen.
But also, in that the experience gives you an entirely different feel (literally) for how important it can quickly become for a vehicle to live up to all the talk about its capabilities, to a degree that the average person has likely never experienced - and hopefully, never will.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
What makes the Chevy SUVs so popular with special military teams like Delta Force, where a member’s personal gear can cost more than the actual truck? The basic makeup of the vehicle – especially when driving a new Suburban or Tahoe equipped with the more off-road capable ZL1 package that comes equipped with a unique suspension system, off-road tires and skid plates to protect the vehicle’s underbody when traveling across rugged terrain.
“It’s like a tank that you can quickly maneuver in and around stuff,” said one of our special tactics instructors, who we were required to quote anonymously to protect their identity, given that some are currently involved in high-risk civilian security initiatives.
At times, the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban can serve as a special op team’s first and last line of defense, explained former Delta Force commander Jim Reese, one of the co-founders of TRC, which also serves as a training facility for special military officers stationed at the nearby Fort Bragg Army base.
“For what we do, we need something that works, that can move, that when it gets hit with bullets or somebody runs into it, it still goes,” said Reese, who also operates Tiger Swan, a global security company with branches spanning from Iraq to Latin America.
Sandor Piszar, Director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing, says the kind of entrust that organizations like Delta Force put into their vehicles, speaks to why the Suburban and Tahoe continue to be so popular.
“Chevy has been the best-selling full-size SUV brand for 42 years,” explained Piszar. “And one of the reasons why, is we build a capable dependable vehicle with the right technology for a variety of customers - from families who are driving across the country for vacation to elite special forces who are counting on their Tahoe or Suburban to be a critical tool in getting their missions done.”
But Reese, who detailed how a Tahoe once helped save him and his commander during an insurgent ambush in Baghdad, probably sums up the appeal of the Chevy SUVs best when he speaks about their reliability on covert missions. “We use the motto, ‘Brilliance in the Basics.’ We don’t need something fancy,” explained the special tactics expert. “We need something that works every time and something we can depend on.”
It’s kind of hard to top those kind of accolades when boasting about an SUV’s pure capabilities.