3rd ID Training - Iraq comes to Georgia

3rd Infantry Division soldiers are getting specialty training in Iraq, without ever leaving Fort Stewart. Its all part of preparation for the soldiers trip back to the Middle East this May.

A disturbance outside a Iraqi city hall. Soldiers watching carefully, protecting the area, and themselves. Its looks all too real but these soldiers are still at Fort Stewart.

"What we created here is about as close as possible as they could face once they get into theater," according to Captain Jeff Lewis of the National Training Center.

Its all part of the 3rd Id Second brigade training. A mock Iraqi city has been created, right down to signs and Arabic speaking people. All for the National Training Center to put soldiers through their paces.

"We don't try to push so much this is the right way or the wrong way," says Cpt. Lewis. "Its really a self-discovery process."

Inside one building, soldiers sit down for a meeting with city leaders. Outside a crowd begins to gather and the situation starts to get tense.

The people making all the noise are actors. Iraqi Americans hired by the NTC to get soldiers ready -- by giving them the worst.

The crowd gets rowdier, the situation more active. Soldiers on edge. People gather yelling and chanting things like "Down with Bush" and "Go Home Yankees".

The platoon closes ranks. Just when everything seems to be over, disaster strikes, in the form of a mock suicide bomber.

The bomber released his blast in the middle of the crowd. Actors portray injured or dead bodies scattered throughout the field. One of them an American soldier caught in the crossfire. Its a reminder of the potentially real consequences they will face overseas.

"Its different because we're not in the desert, but it's the same," according to Colonel Terry Ferrell, Commander of the 3rd ID 2nd Brigade.

As the 2nd Brigade commander, Colonel Terry Ferrell wants to make sure all his soldiers come back alive.

He believes this training, before they leave, is the best way to do just that.

"Its evolving," says Col Ferrell. "It's state of the art technology. They've actually brought in capabilities that allow us to get in continuous training. Its all the latest capabilities and its all hands on."

After taking care of wounded, both soldier and civilian, the platoon leaves the scene a little wiser, and hopefully a lot more careful. Because soon the bombs will be real, and so will the casualties.

Normally the training would go on in the deserts of California. But because of the condensed deployment time, the NTC moved it to Fort Stewart. The Colonel and NTC say that other than location, nothing has changed, and their soldiers are getting the best training possible.

Reported By: Andrew Davis adavis@wtoc.com