What do you find on a 100,000-acre US Army training facility tucked deep in the backwoods of Louisiana where 44,000 Army and National Guard soldiers visit over the course of a year? Well, how about “18 faux Iraqi towns, complete with mosques, schools, and hundreds of other buildings (detailed right down to kebab stands and street signs in Arabic)”, filled with 1,200 Arab Americans who’ve been bussed in from out of town to act as “Iraqi mayors, imams, journalists, humanitarian aid workers, and ordinary citizens,” in this Army play town referred to in Wired as 'Baghdad, USA'.
Throw in a 500 person support staff, a dozen Apache and Blackhawk combat helicopters, 30 tank-like Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and 1,000 jeeps, Humvees, with commanders on the ground [who] get video feeds from simulated surveillance planes flown over 3-D maps of the battlefield” -- oh, and don’t forget about the squad of in-game journalists who write three newspapers a day, a radio show, and fabricate a bunch of media stunts for added confusion –- so, altogether, you’ve got nothing less than a mock version of war-torn Iraq designed for the purpose of being re-controlled, tamed, civilized American-style where hostile cities become a “Theater of War” on their way to being adopted by First World military order.
It’s a new model war game based on some of the most realistic simulations of urban warfare possibly created anywhere in the world. This article from Vince Beiser takes us on a tour of the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, and a sim battle city made in the image of the 'War on Terror', where gaming meets real life combat and fantasy sieges of seedy Arabic dens are practiced for the Pentagonal art of military occupation.