Tour de (special) force: How the Army and Chevy team up on the front lines


Get off the X.

That’s what you do when the shit goes down.

And in a vehicle, that means speed can be your friend.

That’s just one of the rules that Delta Force operators follow in wartime.

The “X,” in this case, is an attack, and if you are in a vehicle that is under attack, get off the X means get the hell out of there.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel James Reese, owner of The Range Complex

Retired Lieutenant Colonel James Reese, owner of The Range Complex

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Now-retired Army Lt. Col. James Reese faced the X on the infamous Route Irish that leads from downtown Baghdad to Baghdad International Airport in 2003. He was the Delta Force deputy commander of the task force in charge of hunting Baath Party officials and other high-value targets in Iraq then. He and his commander were returning from Baghdad when the red Chevrolet Tahoe the pair was in drove under an underpass and was hit with a spray of bullets, 52 of which made contact with the SUV.

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As he approached the American checkpoint, Reese was throttling down from 120 mph because, as he noted, “speed is security—the faster you go, the harder it is for someone to get you." A bullet ricocheted off the vehicle, went through his arm, and lodged in the steering wheel. Another bullet hit his commander in the back.

Reese immediately mashed the gas to get off the X, turned off the lights to make the truck harder to hit, and raced the final three-quarters of a mile to the checkpoint.

He made it and the two men got safely to medics. He had a hole in his arm, but otherwise he was OK. The vehicle and seat structure had slowed the bullet that hit his commander in the back to the point that it didn’t even break skin. It just stung.

Reese waited two days to tell his wife that he had been shot for two days—that stung more.

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

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2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

Enlarge Photo
2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

Enlarge Photo
2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Midnight Editions at The Range Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina

Enlarge Photo

Shooting and driving

After 25 years in the military, including 15 years in Delta Force, Reese is now retired, but he runs two companies as a private citizen. TigerSwan is a global risk management service, and The Range Complex is a Raleigh, North Carolina-based training facility that services government, military, law enforcement, corporate, and public clientele. Reese works with retired Delta Force operators in both endeavors.

Reese calls Delta Force operators the Jason Bournes of the United States Army. Its operators are more experienced than the Navy SEALs. According to Reese, the average age is 36 compared to 26 for members of SEAL Team 6. The team members of “The Unit,” as they call it, are trained in hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, demolitions and breaching, espionage, and executive protection.

“Our guys are the world’s leading surgical shooters. That’s a mandate for Delta. We are the only ones who train how to discriminate friend or foe because in a hostage rescue you have to determine who’s a friend, who’s a foe in a split second.”

Delta focuses on brilliance in the basics. “There is no such thing as advanced to anything, just perfect execution of the basics under stress,” Reese said. Delta operators work on the basics over and over again until they master them and then they work on them under stress. Stresses can include a lack of sleep, darkness, heavy breathing after running, and many other scenarios. It’s a certainty that they will be stressed when they are under fire in combat.


 
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