General Motors is locked in a pitched battle for the soul of the American pickup market, and if it has its way, those pickups might just help America win battles in the real world. 

To that end, GM Defense has put together what it calls the Infantry Squad Vehicle, which is a Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 stripped down to its fundamental architecture and then up-fitted with both in-house custom hardware and commercially available equipment.

This platform has undergone more than 10,000 miles of off-road evaluation, GM Defense says, making the ISV an ideal candidate for further development as a military-grade light vehicle. 

Chevrolet's mid-size off-road pickup donates its frame, a 186-horsepower turbodiesel 4-cylinder, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and its Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve shocks. It's then kitted out with a custom troop transport cabin (we use that term loosely) protected by armored underbody plates and body work.

To meet U.S. Army requirements, the ISV is built to be light enough to be sling-loaded from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and small enough to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook. It can fit nine troops and their gear, and still reach highway speeds both on-road and off. 

GM isn't the only domestic pickup builder looking to throw its hat in the defense vehicle ring. Jeep announced last week that it has partnered with Humvee builder (and former sister brand) AM General to develop a Gladiator derivative for similar purposes. 

Like GM's Infantry Squad Vehicle, the Gladiator Extreme Military-Grade Truck (XMT) is essentially a civilian model with various custom-built and commercially available accessories as demonstrations of the underlying capability of Jeep's midsize pickup.

AM General says that the Gladiator platform is flexible enough to meet just about any customer demand. If the military marketplace sees a need for the vehicle, production could begin the last half of next year.

The XMT would be offered in gas and diesel versions with various versions tailored for personnel transport, command and control, and other purposes.

GM's prototype has been selected for assessment by the U.S. Army, the company says, giving it a leg up on Jeep and AM General in the defense contracting space.