FAQ Follow On:Twitter Google+ Facebook Tumblr subscribe by RSS or Email

A Replica of Afghanistan in the Mojave

|

Afghanistan can be found just 120 miles northeast of Los Angeles, California -- well, an approximation of Afghanistan at least. In the Mojave Desert, the U.S. Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin is home to several mock villages built to create realistic training environments for troops due to be deployed overseas. Two of the largest "villages" have been used to represent several fictional towns in Iraq and Afghanistan, with names such as Medina Wasl, Ertebat Shar, Razish, and Medina Jabal. Units undergo training scenarios, exposing them to a realistic version of their "worst day ever," surrounded by military and civilian actors portraying Afghan locals, police, and insurgents. Simulations include the detonation of IEDs, rocket attacks, suicide bombings, as well as practice with crowd control, interaction with locals, and providing aid. The mock combat includes exposure to realistic horrific injuries, with real-life amputees portraying victims who have had limbs blown off, complete with gory prosthetics and fake blood. The photos here show a few of these villages during several different training missions over the past few years. [33 photos]

Use j/k keys or ←/→ to navigate  Choose:
A computer operator watches screens displaying live interior and exterior images of the mock village before him during a training exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, on February 20, 2013. (US Department of Defense/EJ Hersom)
A computer operator watches screens displaying live interior and exterior images of the mock village before him during a training exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, on February 20, 2013. (US Department of Defense/EJ Hersom)
Center of "Medina Wasl," a mock Iraqi village used to train troops in urban warfare at Fort Irwin's National Training Center in California. (CC BY SA Jarek Tuszynski) #
U.S. soldiers from Fort Irwin take part as mock Afghan locals at a simulated Afghan Village on the National Training Center, on August 20, 2011. The soldiers were acting as street vendors while soldiers from the 1-14th Cavalry, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Lewis, Washington, conducted a medical supplies drop-off and recruitment of Afghan police as training and preparation before deployment. (U.S. Army/Spc. Hanson Mendiola) #
The "hotel" in Medina Wasl, a mock Iraqi village used to train troops in urban warfare at Fort Irwin National Training Center. (CC BY SA Jarek Tuszynski) #
A replicated rocket propelled grenade hangs from a zipline prior to Soldiers entering training lanes at the mock village of Ertebat Shar at the NTC Fort Irwin, California, on August 10, 2010. (U.S. Army/Spc. Justin Snyder) #
A simulated improvised explosive device (IED) explodes during a mass-trauma training exercise at Medina Wasl, a training village at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Giancarlo Casem) #
A role player attempts to convince Soldiers from the training unit to assist civilian victims of a simulated improvised explosive device during medical STX training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. (U.S. Army/Kenneth Drylie) #
U.S. Army soldiers provide first response medical treatment immediately following a simulated victim-operated IED explosion as a part of National Training Center rotation 11-10, at Fort Irwin, on September 18, 2011. (U.S. Army/SSgt Austin Pritchard) #
Soldiers from the 204th Base Support Battalion react to a role player with a simulated severe injury during an IED detonation exercise. (USAF/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson) #
A Bradley fighting vehicle rolls past a simulated village at Fort Irwin, California, on February 24, 2013. (US Department of Defense/EJ Hersom) #
Google Map aerial view of the village of Ertebat Shar/Medina Wasl on Fort Irwin. Link to map here. (© Google, Inc.) #
Role-playing villagers leave after becoming angry with an army unit for not meeting their medical needs at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin. (US Department of Defense) #
Empty road leading away from Medina Wasl, at Fort Irwin National Training Center in California. (CC BY SA Jarek Tuszynski) #
The "mosque" at Medina Wasl, a mock Iraqi village at Fort Irwin National Training Center in California. (CC BY SA Jarek Tuszynski) #
Sunset on the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. (U.S. Army/Spc. Grant Larson) #
Google Map view of the mock village of Medina Jabal on Fort Irwin. Link to map here. (© Google, Inc.) #
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles district, sent a five person team of engineer professionals to Fort Irwin to assess damage after a resent monsoon storm hit the fort, on Aug 26, 2013. The mock village of Medina Jabal suffered extensive flood damage. (U.S. Army/Brooks O. Hubbard IV) #
The monsoon deluge toppled a structure of the training village Medina Jabal at the National Training Center, on September 2013. The interior of some structures in the training area were inundated with up to four feet of mud. (U.S. Army) #
Insurgency role players and trainers with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment meet to organize their strategy, on February 23, 2013, for a battle the next day with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, of Fort Riley, Kansas, at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin. (US Department of Defense/EJ Hersom) #
An observer-controller (left) documents activities for an after-action report after medics from the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, evacuate a casualty after a simulated improvised-explosive-device attack. (US Department of Defense/Donna Miles) #
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Amando Ortiz, Company C, 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, patrols the city of Razish, during a scenario at National Training Center on Fort Irwin, on March 20, 2012. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Renae Saylock) #
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Donald Urqhart, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller from Fort Lewis, Washington, takes cover behind a boulder while observing a mock Afghanistan village during a training exercise, on August 14, 2011, at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. (USAF/Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth) #
California Army National Guard Soldiers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry, move through a dry run of clearing a mock town, an experience intended to simulate what troops might see overseas, on May 19 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. (Army National Guard/Spc. Grant Larson) #
Citizens of Razish, role-players used to provide the town population at the National Training Center, react to nearby explosions during a training exercise at Fort Irwin, California, on March 17, 2012. The explosions were used to simulate artillery and mortar rounds being fired at the city. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Zachary A. Gardner) #
An insurgent, depicted by a Canadian Army soldier, takes aim at an enemy position during the Decisive Action Rotation at Fort Irwin, on March 17, 2012. The DA Rotation incorporates a hybrid threat environment of guerrilla fighters, insurgents, criminal elements and conventional forces. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Zachary A. Gardner) #
A pyrotechnic explodes at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, on February 23, 2013. (US Department of Defense/EJ Hersom) #
Staff Sgt Amanda Morgan and Michael Thompson, both of the 1344th Transportation Company of the Illinois National Guard, participate in an urban warfare training exercise at Fort Irwin, California. Morgan and Thompson evaluated a casualty and prepared to evacuate the wounded Soldier to a safe location. (Illinois National Guard/Sgt. Daniel Stinson) #
U.S. Army soldiers respond to a simulated victim-operated IED explosion, as a part of National Training Center exercise at Fort Irwin, on September 18, 2011. (U.S. Army/SSgt Austin Pritchard) #
A soldier from the 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, carriers a civilian role-player during a situational training exercise at the National Training Center. (U.S. Army/Spc. Brandon Bednarek) #
Sgt. Michael Martinez, left, and Spc. Steven Septien, both of the 1st Battalion, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, scout positions during practice for insurgent role-playing at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, on February 23, 2013. (US Department of Defense/EJ Hersom) #
An Iraqi policeman role-player protects civilians from mock insurgent attacks, on January 20, 2009, at Medina Wasl, an urban training site at the Army's National Training Center. (USMC/Cpl. R. Logan Kyle) #
Combat medics and members of a convoy security detachment, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, rush a wounded soldier to a waiting medic vehicle for treatment during medical combat and triage training in a simulated Iraqi village at the National Training Center, on May 1, 2008. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Rodney Foliente) #
Army Reserve Cpl. Mike Palmer provides security in Medina Wasl at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, on, May 30, 2010. (U.S. Army/Timothy L. Hale) #

Related links and information

Previous gallery | Next gallery | View All Back to top

Recent Entries

Join the Discussion

blog comments powered by Disqus

On Newsstands Now

Subscribe and SAVE 65%
10 issues JUST $2.45/COPY

The Atlantic Monthly

The real roots of midlife crisis, the curious case of Jesus's wife, when schools are too strict, the coming fall of Facebook, the new science of hit songs, and more