This is the Army's National Training Center, where since 1981 the service has helped its soldiers get ready for battles they might have to fight in the future. Until 2004, the training was focused on Cold War-era adversaries, but in the wake of 9/11, the Army re-engineered Fort Irwin's curriculum to prepare soldiers for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially because the base's terrain -- harsh desert and even harsher mountains -- has a lot in common with what soldiers might encounter in the Middle East.
Almost every month, a new brigade of around 6,000 soldiers rolls into the base, about 30 miles northeast of Barstow, Calif., for three weeks of training. The first two take place in mock villages against members of the Army's 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, a unit posted permanently to Fort Irwin that is tasked with playing the enemy. Those battles involve blanks, but a careful assessment of who is "killed" or "injured," and how the visiting unit does.
The last week involves heading way down range into the seemingly endless desert for live-fire target practice.
In this Army photo, taken last month, an "insurgent" fires a rocket-propelled grenade at members of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., who have come to Ft. Irwin for their training.
As part of Road Trip 2012, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman stopped in on Fort Irwin this week to find out how the Army trains the brigades it will soon be sending into the combat zone.
July 6, 2012 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: U.S. Army
| Caption by: Daniel Terdiman
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