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.
Soldiers pack into a Humvee at the end of the day to head back to the base. Fort Irwin sprawls over an area as big as the state of Rhode Island in the Mojave Desert of California.
New buildings on the outskirts of Medina Wasl. Originally comprised of a few shipping containers, the village has grown to include realistic facades of several mosques, many stores, and a working hotel and cafe.
Nadja, an Iraqi national who lives in the village during the two week long training rotations. About 20 Iraqis live in the village to recreate authentic language and customs for the training scenerios.
An amputee in full makeup before role-playing a casualty during a run of the Medical Trauma Lane. He role-plays having his legs blown off in a Humvee explosion four times a day.
Soldiers hunt for insurgents during a scenario in the village. A cameraman films the action from the turret of the mosque for later analysis.
Painted Rock at the entrance to Fort Irwin, covered with the insignia of units that have trained here.
The bathhouse at the outskirts of Medina Wasl.
New Technology Could Help Paralyzed People Turn Thought into Action New developments in thought-relaying research help give movement back to the paralytic community.
The Racket Over Rabbit: Whole Foods’ Newest Meat Causes a Furor Whole Foods falls down the ethical rabbit hole of selling coveted, controversial bunny meat.
Why Can't People Cozy up to Cuddle Capitalism? Despite their restorative and intimacy-inducing effects, cuddling services are increasingly coming under attack. Are critics simply out of touch?
An Overlooked Contributor to Climate Change: Leaky Pipes These tricked-out, air sensor-equipped Google cars are helping to identify dangerous natural gas pipelines.
Me No Want Cookie! Sesame Workshop puts the junk food industry on notice. The effort to re-brand fruits and vegetables for kids now has some cute, furry and iconic allies.
How Artists Got a Flock of Extinct Birds to Invade a Museum "Eclipse," now showing at MASS MoCA, commemorates the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon.
Parks We're Crushing On Hang out in a sick park (while at your desk) The coolest greenspaces—old and new—as spotted by an intrepid network of photographers around the globe
Your Groceries Don't Need Their Own Bus Seat, Thanks Facebook's Jet Burrows and the Analog Lab team have created the much-needed 10 Commandments of Transit.
Why This Teen-Created Police Accountability App Rules Five-O, a new police accountability app created by three Georgia teens, is the most comprehensive tool of its kind.
Exit Through the Riverbed Olafur Eliasson's new museum exhibit will leave you thinking and splashing.
How Do You Compete With a Flying Toilet? The Savvyloo toilet is a bold step forward in the world sanitation crisis.
Elementary Schoolers Imagine Street Carts of the Future These prototypes show how a group of students from Brooklyn think street vendors and mobile service stations should look in 30 years.