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In U.S. Mojave Desert, Afghan and Iraqi 'Villages'

Fort Irwin, a U.S. Army base, is situated in California's Mojave Desert. The sweeping desert complex is home to the National Training Center, where thousands of soldiers have been sent for special combat exercises before being deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. The center includes two mock villages, Medina Jabal and Medina Wasl, that are meant to simulate Afghan and Iraqi urban environments. Jabal and Wasl are used to recreate real-life war scenarios, with soldiers often playing the roles of local villagers or learning how to respond to rocket attacks, suicide bombings, and combat injuries.

California's Fort Irwin and the National Training Center, a major training area for the U.S. military located in the Mojave Desert. Nearly 9,000 people live in Fort Irwin full-time. 
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California's Fort Irwin and the National Training Center, a major training area for the U.S. military located in the Mojave Desert. Nearly 9,000 people live in Fort Irwin full-time. 

The National Training Center is used to simulate a wide range of situations that the U.S. military may face in combat. Here, soldiers walk through an entryway clouded by smoke.
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The National Training Center is used to simulate a wide range of situations that the U.S. military may face in combat. Here, soldiers walk through an entryway clouded by smoke.

U.S. soldiers from Fort Irwin pose as Afghan street vendors in Medina Jabal, one of two mock towns constructed at the training center to simulate urban combat environments. 
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U.S. soldiers from Fort Irwin pose as Afghan street vendors in Medina Jabal, one of two mock towns constructed at the training center to simulate urban combat environments. 

Soldiers respond to the simulated detonation of an improvised explosive device and sniper fire during a readiness exercise.
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Soldiers respond to the simulated detonation of an improvised explosive device and sniper fire during a readiness exercise.

A computer operator watches screens displaying live interior and exterior images of the village.
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A computer operator watches screens displaying live interior and exterior images of the village.


Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard train in Medina Jabal ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan. 
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Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard train in Medina Jabal ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan. 

National guard soldiers react to a simulated car bombing in Medina Jabal. 
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National guard soldiers react to a simulated car bombing in Medina Jabal. 

A panoramic shot of Medina Wasl, a mock Iraqi village that is part of the National Training Center complex.
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A panoramic shot of Medina Wasl, a mock Iraqi village that is part of the National Training Center complex.

Medina Wasl began with just a few shipping containers but grew to incorporate a mosque and a working hotel.
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Medina Wasl began with just a few shipping containers but grew to incorporate a mosque and a working hotel.

An explosive is detonated as part of an urban warfare training exercise.
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An explosive is detonated as part of an urban warfare training exercise.


A member of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division interacting with soldiers posing as Iraqi citizens during a training exercise in Medina Wasl. 
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A member of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division interacting with soldiers posing as Iraqi citizens during a training exercise in Medina Wasl. 

Soldiers acting as local villagers leave after becoming angry with an Army unit for not meeting their medical needs.
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Soldiers acting as local villagers leave after becoming angry with an Army unit for not meeting their medical needs.

A hotel in Medina Wasl. 
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A hotel in Medina Wasl. 

A Canadian Army soldier, posing as an insurgent, takes aim at an enemy position during a training exercise.
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A Canadian Army soldier, posing as an insurgent, takes aim at an enemy position during a training exercise.

Soldiers acting as insurgents meet in Medina Wasl to organize their strategy for a simulated battle exercise the following day.
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Soldiers acting as insurgents meet in Medina Wasl to organize their strategy for a simulated battle exercise the following day.

Army medics pull a "wounded" comrade to a Humvee after a simulated IED attack. 
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Army medics pull a "wounded" comrade to a Humvee after a simulated IED attack. 

Storms in September 2013 swept through the Fort Irwin site, toppling a Medina Jabal structure filling some of the buildings with up to four feet of mud.
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Storms in September 2013 swept through the Fort Irwin site, toppling a Medina Jabal structure filling some of the buildings with up to four feet of mud.

A U.S. Air Force air traffic controller drives through an empty battlefield at Fort Irwin looking for a location to call in fighter aircraft to attack tanks simulating an enemy threat.
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A U.S. Air Force air traffic controller drives through an empty battlefield at Fort Irwin looking for a location to call in fighter aircraft to attack tanks simulating an enemy threat.

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