Sunday, June 24, 2007

Marines, Army to train for Iraq at U.S.-built combat center in Israel

Above and left: Baladia is designed to be like a typical Arab town of the region. Built entirely from scratch, it features 1,100 buildings at a cost of $45 million. It includes a town center, shops, a grand mosque, a hospital and even an 'old town' quarter with five-foot thick walls as well as miles of paved main streets and narrow side-streets. But it also can be easily reconfigured by mission planners to represent specific towns. There will be faux inhabitants and enemy fighters played by Israeli soldiers in authentic garb. Although it is located in the Negev desert in Israel and will be used initially by the Israeli Defence Forces, it is actually an American project. The entire "town" has been constructed by the United States army corps of engineers and paid for mainly through US military aid to Israel.

BALADIA CITY, Israel — In a new, elaborate training center in the Negev desert, Israeli troops — and someday, U.S. Marines and soldiers — are preparing for the wide range of urban scenarios they may confront.

Here, at Israel’s new National Urban Training Center, the Israeli Defense Force’s Ground Forces Command is preparing forces to fight in four theaters: Gaza, Lebanon, the West Bank and Syria...

“Combat units from platoon up to brigade level will train in an environment that simulates the real urban battle,” said Brig. Gen. Uzi Moskovich, commander of the NUTC and its adjacent National Ground Training Center, Israel’s downsized version of the Army’s force-on-force training facility at Fort Irwin, Calif. “Enemy forces will fight according to their respective combat doctrines, and the civilian population will behave in ways typical of their particular community, religion and culture.”

Moskovich said Baladia City would eventually host Army and Marine Corps units for training before they head to Iraq.

Read the rest at Marine Corps Times