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Station updates largest simulated Afghan village

By Pfc. Sean Dennison | | January 27, 2011

The station’s range maintenance department completed major enhancements on its simulated Afghan village within target area 15 North on the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range in California, Jan. 20, 2011.

Al Brutus insurgent village, created in August 2009 and named after the call sign of Maj. Cesar Freitas who died in a 2007 Search and Rescue helicopter crash, is now currently the largest Afghan training complex on the Yuma ranges.

“In order to satisfy current theater tactical training procedures that mesh with training and readiness requirements, Al Brutus was created,” said John Gordon, range plans officer. “What began as 11 simple Afghan huts with no roofs and a few scattered insurgents has now been enhanced to reflect 36 Afghan-type houses with approximately 100 insurgents and multiple three dimensional steel and wood targets providing the ultimate appearance of a full scale village.”

Working in tandem with TRAX International, range maintenance Marines began constructing multiple updates to Al Brutus Jan. 10. The area now boasts a wide range of targets, such as wooden representations of anti-aircraft artillery.

“The requirement for Al Brutus was generated by various local users . . . to train to theater-specific combat tactics requiring an Afghan-type village in which key targets could be designated, engaged and neutralized,” said Gordon.

The unique complex includes steel silhouettes representing built-to-scale insurgents, adding another element of realism to the training. Along with the building structures, Al Brutus familiarizes Marines with sights they might see while deployed to Afghanistan.

“While the steel targets provide longevity and are easily sustained, the ordnance restriction of 25-mm and below within the venue helps ensure the Al Brutus’ use for years to come,” said Gordon.

Al Brutus is able to accommodate the training needs for forward air controllers and both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. The complex also supports infantry units training for helicopter deployments and closer-air support.

The enhancement was also an opportunity for range maintenance Marines to shine.

“Range maintenance acts as my on-site technical advisors to ensure combat realism and fine-tuning construction requirements,” said Gordon.

The range is constantly changing, said Staff Sgt. Joshua Evans, range maintenance staff noncommissioned officer in charge. That way the users flying overhead can train in many different combat scenarios.

The enhancements meet requirements for major training evolutions such as the biannual Weapons and Tactics Instructor course, Enhanced Mojave Viper and Scorpion Fire.

“The continued noteworthy efforts of our range maintenance Marines working hand-in-hand with contracted personnel ensure not only mission execution but forward thinking in order to provide our fleet warfighters with the very best predeployment training,” said Gordon.

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