Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Twentynine Palms Base Unveils Massive Combat Center

The Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms unveiled a new urban training center Tuesday. The range is the same size of downtown San Diego and gives Marines the opportunity to practice tactics they will use on the battlefront in Afghanistan.

The $170 million project is organized into seven separate city districts, has two stadiums and about 1,560 buildings. Inside, some buildings are furnished and cover a 1,800 ft network of underground tunnels and spider holes where insurgents could be hiding.

"What you see now is a significant leap regarding our ability to train in the most realistic and most difficult environments we face today in this urban environment," Col. David Smith said at a press conference Tuesday.

The concept is called "immersive experience." The trainers at the base want troops to see, feel, hear and smell exactly what they're going to experience on the battlefront.

"Different role players will play different positions of authority and your standard civilian walking around," said Col. Kip J. Haskell. Troops will have to learn who they can trust.

Their leaders are veterans who have come back to teach the next wave of fighters. While the battle won't be easy, the buildings are at least giving marines a first-hand experience before they leave this desert for the next.



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