Soldiers get training in faux Middle Eastern town in Hoke County
Posted June 27, 2011
Fayetteville, N.C. — A 10-acre site in Fayetteville has become an imitation Middle Eastern village for military intelligence training.
Reservoir International of Fayetteville is located just off N.C. Highway 211 near the McCain community. It provides advanced training and simulations for Army personnel.
"I can tell you it's probably the most realistic training you could get here at Fort Bragg," said 82nd Airborne Capt. Christopher Lareau, who recently took the First Brigade Special Troops Battalion for a training exercise there.
The town features goats and cinder-block homes.
"Nothing is done in English out here," Reservoir International Director of Operations Darren Beal said. "Using an interpreter adds a whole other level of complexity when having a conversation."
During exercises, soldiers don't fire guns. Instead, they have to rely on their other skills while interacting with Afghan-American role players. In one scenario, soldiers meet with a village elder to develop a rapport and, in turn, get intelligence.
"It's all about relationship building," Lareau said.
Soldiers spend five days living at the site, immersed in the culture.
"It's a surprise to realize at the end of the week, I'm going to go ahead and get back in my car and drive home," Lareau said.
Before the village could be built, Hoke County lawmakers had to issue a special-use permit for the land, which was zoned for residential- agricultural uses.
The site is on Boundary Line Road, named because it forms the boundary of the sprawling Fort Bragg reservation.
Beal said the company wanted a site as close to the post as possible. He said, as a civilian company, it could not build the training village on Army property, even though soldiers will be using the facility. Beal said the company has provided training to soldiers at sites run by the Army on Fort Bragg.