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.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty

    The Beginning of the Battle for Mosul

    Thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops, supported by the United States, France, and Britain, are now in the early stages of a massive operation to retake the Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from ISIS militants.

  • Jim Cole / AP

    Fall Is in the Air, Part II

    One last overview of autumn

  • Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty

    A Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti After Hurricane Matthew

    The UN estimates at least 1.4 million Haitians are now in need of urgent assistance as clean water, food, and medicine are in short supply.

  • China Stringer Network / Reut / REUTERS

    Animals in the News

    It’s time once again for a look at the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet.

Join the Discussion