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SWJED
01-26-2006, 04:48 PM
25 Jan. San Diego Union-Tribune - Wartime Lessons (http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060125/news_1n25train.html).


... Across Iraq, U.S. military commanders discovered fatal flaws in their counter-insurgency tactics.

Back in the United States, the Marine Corps and Army set about devising more thorough, customized and realistic training programs. Some of their revamped methods will get a big test with the latest major round of deployments in Southern California. About 25,000 Marines and sailors, most of them from Camp Pendleton, will head to Iraq in the coming months.

The Army, convinced that its urban combat strategies are on track, has focused on beefing up its cultural programs. Hundreds of Arabic speakers now populate its training sites in Germany, Louisiana and California.

"We moved to another phase of operations in which the cultural aspect was important," said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Harms. "It is no longer close in and destroy the enemy. We have to build relationships with Iraqis on the street."

While the Army remodeled, the Marine Corps rebuilt.

The result is Mojave Viper, a little-known national training program based at Twentynine Palms. The monthlong course in urban combat and cultural awareness gives commanders unprecedented flexibility in tailoring training to best suit their units' needs.

About 8,000 Marines and sailors including Richardson's men have finished the course, which is held at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center on the Twentynine Palms base. Nearly all of the Southern California-based troops shipping out to Iraq for the next rotation are expected to be Mojave Viper graduates.

Though not battle-tested yet, the training system is being described in historic terms.

The program is "possibly the most realistic and comprehensive instruction ever introduced by the Marine Corps," said Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, who is leading Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Division back to Iraq. "Mojave Viper not only equips the Marines to meet the rigors inherent in combat, but it also imparts skills integral to the conduct of humanitarian operations so the Marines can best assist the Iraqis in fostering their new democracy."

He added: "The feedback I have received from my commanders . . . is very encouraging."

The last time around, Richardson and his battalion trained on a few acres at March Air Reserve Base with a handful of role players.

This time, the training is on a scale worthy of a Hollywood epic. It includes almost 400 buildings in two villages set on 252 acres of desert, as well as nearly 350 actors, including about 50 Iraqi nationals, who play out scenarios typically found in Iraq...

Strickland
01-30-2006, 03:41 PM
While all of these efforts are encouraging and will undeniably enable further mission success, arent these efforts focused specifically on Iraq, and potentially Syria and Lebanon? What do we do to train for environments at significant altitude such as in North Korea, Afghanistan, or Iran? How about jungle training for Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, or the Philippines? Where does all this training take place? Is this not an example of training for the last war you were in, instead of the next war?

Didnt the FBI already have a similar, admittedly much smaller, site aboard Quantico MCB called Hogan's Alley that permitted for the same training?

Brian B
01-31-2006, 03:53 AM
Had the same thoughts. Also had lots of questions about the QDR the more I think about it. Certainly we're addressing current threats and fights, but are we losing cite of what other fights might be out there and the training necessary for them?