Peace Time: March 19, 2003

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One of the major problems with urban warfare (fighting in buildings and streets) has been having a decent place to do it. The U.S. Army and Marines have built training areas for this, at great expense. These training areas video most of the action, the better to critique the troops after they are "killed." And special building materials are used to allow the use of low power training bullets and practice hand grenades. While having these facilities is great for the units that can be brought in, there is still the hassle of shipping infantry units to them. One solution to the problem is portable urban combat trainers. Called "Mobile MOUT (Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain)." Shipping containers have been converted to modules that can be endlessly reconfigured for training. The containers are 8-feet wide by 9-feet high by 20-feet long and have movable walls that allow quick reconfiguration for whatever MOUT training is desired. The containers can also be joined side-by-side, or stacked to create multi-story buildings. There are also reconfigurable stairways (open or enclosed), allowing the troops to learn to deal with the tricky business of fighting up and down stairwells. 

The containers can be covered with brick, stucco, cinderblock or other facades to enhance realism. Plywood interior lining is realistic and enables the use of short-range (low power) training ammunition for live-fire scenarios. You can do a lot of training with just one or two containers, or build your own little town with up to 30 or 40 buildings composed of 100 or more containers. All the containers come equipped with cameras, microphones, motion detectors, smoke and smell generators. Everything is recorded in a digital format, both video and audio, for the after action critique. For this, two containers can be put together, with one providing a control room in the rear and the other a 30-seat theater, featuring 61-inch plasma displays, in front. The first two of these MOUT training containers has been sent to Afghanistan, so troops there can train. There is a lot of MOUT operations in Afghanistan, as Special Forces or infantry stage raids on compounds suspected of harboring Taliban or al Qaeda fighters. Each MOUT training container costs about $140,000 (if you buy a 15 container set). 

 


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