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Iraqi village recreated at new Bragg training site

Posted March 3, 2009
Updated March 4, 2009

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— A mock Iraqi village is helping soldiers at Fort Bragg train for life on the front line without ever leaving the safety of North Carolina.

Designed by the Army and a private military contractor, the "Freedom City" village gives troops an idea of what they would face when confronting locals in Iraq and Afghanistan – and trains them how to build rapport with villagers.

"The guys come in here with the mindset of, 'We are crossing into a danger area, so we need to make sure we are well prepared,'" said 1st Sgt. John Condliffe of the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.

The mock village includes a bombed-out car along the side of the road and a building that resembles a mosque. People speaking Arabic – some are Iraqis who work for the U.S. military as interpreters – play the roles of villagers.

“It’s for realism,” said Bob Hyde, a representative of Alcoa, Tenn.-based Echota Technologies Corp. who helped design the village and various training scenarios.

On Tuesday, 1st Lt. Stephen Yackley, a platoon leader in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, sought the village leader in "Freedom City" to inquire about the location of any insurgents.

"At the same time, his soldiers, his platoon sergeant and squad leaders are walking through the area, and they're asking questions," Condliffe said.

Last July, the Army funded the creation of the 13.5-square-mile training area on Fort Bragg – the largest of its kind on any Army post – and the military and contractors spent several months building three mock villages, as well as roads and bridges resembling what troops would see in the Middle East.

"It's a lot the same," Yackley said of dealing with Iraqis and Afghans. "(You're) moving through the town, and the people are standoffish. But still, you can get them to give you some information if you show them you're not just a guy in a uniform with a weapon."


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  • roncorey1 Mar 11, 2009

    And the bloated and over-funded military/DOD industry just keep chugging along....deficit keeps growing and growing and growing...

  • discowhale Mar 4, 2009

    Forgive him NCPictures, he saw it on the CBS Evening News. And if Katie Kutipie says we run down civilians, it's true.

    I remember them crowing about a Viet Namese Village there during that war. And?

    It's the ONLY way to train effectively. you re-create the places you'll be as closely as possible. When I was in the Navy, we actually stayed ON THE SHIP to run drills.

    Doing casualty drills or man over board drills or practicing submarine hunting at the mall in El Cajon just seemed less effective.

    Who writes this stuff and WHY is it deemed news?

  • NCPictures Mar 4, 2009

    "How to build rapport? Don't run them down in your convoys and give lots of candy out..." ----john283594

    You, sir, obviously have no idea what kind of training is offered here. You must think that all soldiers are just thugs. How truly sad.

    Having been to a similar installation (no I am not military) you see that this type of training has everything to do with how soldiers interact with "locals" and very little to do with guns and weapons. Situations are set up so the soldiers learn how to act in case there is a threat and how to react in a non-threatening manner - in other words defuse the situation. IMHO it is outstanding training!

    Now sir, please do go and educate yourself on this topic. I find it so sad that few people actually know what is being done for the positive in the Middle East. I guess people would rather cling to tired political talking points, without really knowing the truth of the situation. Again, very sad.

  • Tax Man Mar 3, 2009

    Had a little Ho Chi Minh City at USMC Camp Pendleton, CA during the Vietnam war - was great for training and then when we lost the war the South Vietnamese refugees came there to live until they could be assimilated into San Diego and the surrounding areas. Maybe we could bring all the Gitmo detainees here and let them be the enemy for some real training!

  • john283594 Mar 3, 2009

    How to build rapport? Don't run them down in your convoys and give lots of candy out...