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

  • David Goldman / AP

    Photos of a Divided America

    For much of the past year, Associated Press photographers have been gathering images of the people and places at the heart of multiple issues dividing Americans this election year.

  • Benjamin Grant / Daily Overview / Amphoto Books / DigitalGlobe

    The Awesomeness of Earth from Above

    Can satellite images of our planet's varied terrain make humanity's impact apparent?

  • Wong Maye-E / AP

    Photos of the Week: 10/15–10/21

    Diwali lights in England, a pair of scary clown masks in Nicaragua, a rat stuck in a New York garbage can, a bioluminescent jellyfish in the Marianas Trench, a little Hitler, and much more.

  • 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.

Join the Discussion