HMMWVs first saw combat in Operation Just Cause, the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989.
The HMMWV was designed primarily for personnel and light cargo transport behind front lines, not as a front line fighting vehicle. Like the previous jeep, the basic HMMWV has no armor or protection against chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats. Nevertheless, losses were relatively low in conventional operations, such as the Gulf War. Vehicles and crews suffered considerable damage and losses during the Battle of Mogadishu due to the nature of the urban engagement; however, the chassis survivability allowed the majority of those crews to return to safety, though the HMMWV was never designed to offer protection against intense small arms fire, much less machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. However, with the rise of asymmetric warfare and low intensity conflicts, the HMMWV was pressed into service in urban combat roles for which it was not originally intended.