News / Europe

British Soldiers Train for Deployment in Mock-Afghan Village

British soldiers from 1 Rifles, return 'fire' as they are 'ambushed' during a training session prior to deployment, at British forces' Stanford Training Area in Norfolk, England, 14 Jan 2011
British soldiers from 1 Rifles, return 'fire' as they are 'ambushed' during a training session prior to deployment, at British forces' Stanford Training Area in Norfolk, England, 14 Jan 2011

The British military has constructed a mock-Afghan village in the British countryside to give its soldiers a taste of the military and cultural challenges they will face in Afghanistan.  

Everyone is shooting blanks in a firefight to simulate an attack by Afghan insurgents, 8,000 kilometers from the front lines, on a special training ground in Britain.  

Operation Pashtun Panther is designed to get these British soldiers ready to head to Afghanistan in March.  The non-stop exercise aims to expose soldiers to everything they will encounter in Afghanistan.

Major General John Lorimer is head of strategic communications for the British military.

"We want to make training as realistic as possible, if we can give the soldiers an element of feeling 'I am in Afghanistan', when they get on and deal with some of these really tricky situations, it makes it more realistic and therefore it gives them a better chance of getting it right when they are in Afghanistan."

To help the soldiers feel like they are in Afghanistan, the military has built a mock-Afghan village in the British countryside.  There is a marketplace, with stalls full of plastic fruit and meat, a bicycle repair shop, a traditional Afghan cooking area complete with open fire, and high cement walls that form small alleys between the replica Afghan walled compounds.  

To complete the picture, the village, called Ishmaragh for this exercise, is populated it with about 120 Afghans who interact with the soldiers, so they get used to working in a foreign environment.

Second Lieutenant Andrew Steer says the cultural training will be as important as the traditional military exercises when he gets to Afghanistan.

"Yes, there will be a little bit of fighting, but I think the main reason we are out there is basically to provide security and rebuild, so I expect an awful lot of interaction with locals and trying to enable sort of construction and education," Steer said.

In addition to practicing interactions with Afghans, there is also a section about learning to work with U.S. forces.  American Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Bower is the liaison officer to the British training team.

"They are one of our biggest allies and  we have a lot in common because we have stood shoulder to shoulder for so many years," he said.

He says sometimes the biggest challenge is language.

"The stereotypes, both on our side of the fence and on the British side, of how we view each other really are not as true as we would think.  So as far as the cultures, we are very, very similar, but as far as the word usage, it is a lot different than people think,” Bower said. “Same words have different meanings."

The 600 soldiers on the exercise are trained to expect attacks from mortars, and to detect improvised explosive devices that might be planted on roads or in homes.  They have video surveillance, like drones might provide in Afghanistan

And real helicopters are used to evacuate the wounded.  Second Lieutenant Ross Hold is looking forward to deploying.

"It is a constantly changing environment and I am expecting it to be exciting,” Hold said. “I am expecting it to be challenging at times, but ultimately very rewarding."

Britain lost more than 100 soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010, about a third of the total number of British deaths in the nearly decade-long conflict.  It was Britain's bloodiest year.  That is why the British military considers this training operation essential.

You May Like

Disappointing Chinese Economic News Rattles Markets

Key stock indexes in London, Paris and Germany were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs