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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora