Magazine article National Defense

New Army Training Site Aims for Realism

Magazine article National Defense

New Army Training Site Aims for Realism

Article excerpt

Facility is designed to teach combat-vehicle crews to fight in crowded cities

In the early morning light, U.S. soldiers, part of a NATO force, assault the village. Snipers--fundamentalist Islamic rebels hidden behind parked cars, in apartment buildings and in church steeples--open fire on the advancing troops. Buildings are blown apart by heavy weapons fire. Flames erupt. Grenades explode, covering the area with purple, green and blue smoke.

A U.S. rank, an Abrams M1A2 firing as it moves, rams through a roadblock. A Bradley fighting vehicle wheels around the corner, disgorging its load of infantry, who rush through doorways, shooting as they go. Casualties--rebel and U.S.--fall where they are hit.

Finally, the rebels withdraw, and the shooting stops as suddenly as it began, leaving the air thick with the smell of gunpowder.

Kosovo? No. Iraq? No. This scene occurred in the green hills of Fort Knox, Ky., at the Army's new Mounted Urban Combat Training Site (MUCTS). The site is the only one of its type designed specifically to teach the crews of tanks and other combat vehicles to maneuver their vehicles through the often narrow and meandering streets of the developing world.

The $16 million MUCTS is intended to help U.S. troops train for the types of peacekeeping operations that they might encounter in places such as Kosovo, Chechnya and Somalia. Training missions at the site range from coping with urban unrest to mid-intensity combat.

The facility was dedicated earlier this year to the memory of the late 2nd Lt. Raymond Zussman, a World War II tank commander who won a Medal of Honor for his role in helping drive Nazi forces from a small town in France.

Sitting on 26 acres in a remote part of the base, the site has 21 structures, including churches, apartments, factories, offices, school buildings, soccer fields, an open-air market, public utilities, a complex system of European-style roadways and a small airport. During training sessions, the village is peopled with civilians, as well as rebels.

The facility can accommodate four company-sized units at a time, each operating in a different area, or a battalion-size task force, taking on the entire facility.

The complex is meant to give soldiers "the total impact of a broad spectrum of urban environments," said Maj. …

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