Perspective: Last training stop before Iraq
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — As the war in Iraq nears its four-year anniversary and the nation debates its future, Marines from across the country prepare at Twentynine Palms for the rigors and grim realities they'll face: Reacting to hidden roadside bombs that explode without warning. Helping wounded comrades, sometimes bloodied and severely injured. Patrolling a street and not knowing if the locals speaking a foreign language are friends or enemies.
It's all part of Mojave Viper, an extensive training program that re-creates the war and life in Iraq so that every Marine is fully prepared before deploying.
Using two mock Iraqi towns and as many as 500 former Iraqi citizens and other role players, troops experience everything from the enemy's tactics to interacting with local residents.
By year's end, officials estimate 50,000 Marines would have completed Mojave Viper since its September 2005 inception.
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