Picture Show: Iraq in the Mojave
Army soldiers prepare to role-play insurgents during the Medical Trauma Lane. The green straps are part of a complex "laser tag" system worn by every soldier, role-player, and civilian in town.
A mock-Iraqi village serves as a U.S. Army training facility in the Mojave Desert
The photographer Peter Bohler recently toured the Fort Irwin training facility in California's Mojave Desert, where a mock-Iraqi village has been "populated" by role-playing Iraqis to help soldiers practice their Arabic and prepare for situations they'll face overseas. It's a stunning recreation, and a source of income for a number of Iraqi refugees. As troop withdrawals begin, and as the United States shifts its military focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, this fort, too, will see a shift to Afghan role-players and scenarios. For now, however, we offer a glimpse at the fort as it's been.All captions by Peter Bohler.
Warning: This feature contains a few violent images that, while not real, may not be suitable for children, the faint of heart, or some work environments.
Soldiers wait in their tank before a nighttime attack on a mock Iraqi village at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. There are now about a dozen mock villages spread out across the desert.
Erica Smith role-plays an Iraqi civilian at the village of Medina Wasl. During the day, 300 soldiers and civilians create a bustling village. Many are spouses of soldiers stationed at Fort Irwin.