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Actors Give War Games a Touch of Realism

A cast of 40 local people is hired to portray the angry citizens of an Arab town protesting the arrival of a force of U.S. soldiers.

November 12, 2002|From Associated Press

VICTORVILLE — Forty actors drafted to portray protesters shouted "Go home USA!" in a mock confrontation with 350 soldiers descending on a fictitious Arab town, a scene troops could face in a war with Iraq.

The Army's 1-14th Cavalry Squadron, based at Ft. Lewis, Wash., was training Friday for urban warfare at the Southern California Logistics Airport.

The mission was to keep peace and purge a terrorist cell.

About 40 civilian actors gathered by a local casting company were paid to play citizens whose mood about the Americans ranged from eagerness to please to hostility.

The scene was played out in the abandoned housing area of the former George Air Force Base.

Soldiers were on the lookout for snipers.

"One man with a rifle can have a devastating effect on our troops," Lt. Col. Jim Cashwell said.

Despite all the technology, the training centered on soldiers' interaction with people.

During the protest, an actress ran into the street and fell between the soldiers and the mock protesters.

"This is the conflict of the future," Cashwell said.

Before the mock protest, an unpiloted military aircraft planned for use during the urban warfare exercise crashed into an unoccupied airport building.

The 9-foot-long Shadow 200 drone, worth $350,000, crashed as it was taking off about 8:30 a.m.

"This was just an unfortunate accident," said Maj. Joseph Shannon, who is based at Ft. Lewis.

Shannon said four other Shadow 200s were available for their urban warfare training. The training program is to end this week.

Shannon said the cause of the crash was under investigation.

In battle situations, the Shadow 200 flies ahead of soldiers to detect enemy troops, tanks or other hostile forces or units, Shannon said.

It relays that information via live video or radio back to field commanders.

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