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5 Ways ATVs and UTVs are Used in the Military

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You love hitting the trails or slinging mud on your off-roader, all in the name of fun. But, did you know that the military utilizes four-wheelers and side-by-sides for missions and day-to-day responsibilities? The sturdy frame of an ATV or UTV, plus the all-terrain mobility, makes these off-road vehicles perfect for army ground soldiers and the Marines. Polaris currently holds the contract with the U.S. military and produces military-grade RZR models for a number of operations. To learn more, ATV Trader has looked at the five ways ATVs and UTVs are used in the military.

1. Tactical and Combat

Military personnel carry out a number of tactical and combat missions that require vehicles with precision handling and speed, like four-wheelers and side-by-sides. Military-grade off-road vehicles are also more portable and easier to transport by small aircraft than jeeps or tanks. This is incredibly useful if you have to quickly drop an ATV or UTV in the middle of enemy territory.

Lightweight Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (LTATVs) are small side-by-sides that have been used by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF). These LTATVs can carry two operators and up to 500 pounds of equipment. Many LTATVs also feature run-flat tires to keep the vehicle moving at all times, as well as roll over protection for added safety.

There are even Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) ATVs, also known as M-ATVs, that are used by SOF, along with other U.S. forces like the Marines. M-ATVs are designed to protect soldiers against IEDs and small arms fire, while also remaining light and agile enough to operate on rough terrain.

2. Search and Rescue

Special forces will perform combat search and rescue missions on the ground using ATVs and UTVs to help people in danger. These soldiers require a vehicle with ample seating so there’s room for the rescuers and search victims, as well as any necessary gear or weapons. The Polaris MRZR Alpha 4 has a four-person capacity and an eight-speed transmission to quickly get in and out of locations once the rescue has been made.

3. Security and Patrol

Security and patrol covers a full range of military functions, including range support and perimeter patrol. In fact, U.S. Border Patrol agents use off-roaders to guard our country’s borders. Off-road vehicles can quickly maneuver various types of terrain, from rolling hills to rugged mountains, to complete their patrols.

4. Reconnaissance

Recreational riders relish the sound of their four-wheeler or side-by-side rumbling along wooded trails. However, military personnel prefer a quieter approach for reconnaissance missions, also known as recon, which typically involves scouting a location to obtain information. That’s why many SOF ATVs feature exhaust mufflers specifically designed to reduce the sound of the vehicle.

The military-grade Polaris MRZR Alpha can be equipped with counter unmanned aerial systems, along with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, in order to operate drones and other technology from within the ATV.

5. On-Base Duties

Not all military jobs involve top-secret operations. Similar to how farmers or those in the construction industry use off-road vehicles for work, military personnel perform regular maintenance and duties on base with the help of ATVs and UTVs. Four-wheelers and side-by-sides are great for towing heavy equipment around a base. Many UTVs have cargo capacities of up to 1,000 pounds, making it easier to transport gear and weapons than by foot.

Conclusion: Next time you go for a ride on your four-wheeler or side-by-side, think about a soldier or Marine doing the same. The speed and cargo capacity of ATVs and UTVs make tactical and combat, search and rescue, security and patrol, reconnaissance, and on-base duties easier for military personnel to do their jobs. 

While you can’t purchase the exact ATVs and UTVs that the U.S. military uses, you can browse the nationwide selection of new and used vehicles available at


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Arielle Patterson
Arielle Patterson

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