Across the United States exist hundreds of artificial cities devoted to simulating warfare in urban areas.

Medina Wasl VIllage AKA Ujen — extracted Google Street View panorama by Pat Ripton

National Training Center

These pseudo-cities were purpose-built as synthetic training environments for the U.S. military. As part of a broader and multifaceted institution of military hegemony at the end of the twentieth century, these constructed environments serve not only as training sites for U.S. service members preparing for austere environments when deployed, but as artifacts of the foreign interpretations that the Department of Defense has built from its campaigns over the last eighteen years.

Medina Wasl VIllage  AKA  Ujen —  extracted Google place image by Opposing Force (OPFOR) Role-Player, Doug Jacobs

Medina Wasl VIllage AKA Ujen — extracted Google place image by Opposing Force (OPFOR) Role-Player, Doug Jacobs

Razish VIllage —  Fort Irwin, California: Photo by Capt. Gregory Walsh

Razish VIllage — Fort Irwin, California: Photo by Capt. Gregory Walsh

This type of uncanny realism exists in several other ‘villages’ at NTC and has been applied to several other ‘premier training sites’ across the U.S. during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. As the threat complex and operational environments in each campaign changed, their synthetic training environments needed to reflect them accordingly. As geographer and theorist Stephen Graham has well put, “Rather than monuments to dynamism and growth, these 'cities' are theme parks for practicing urban destruction, erasure, and colonial violence”. He describes MOUT sites as a sort of Theme Park Archipelago” in the shadow of American territory. He continues, “constructed by US military specialists with the help of military corporations, theme-park designers, video game companies, Hollywood set designers and special-effects experts, they are training grounds for the targeting of real, far off cities”.[i]


[i] Stephen Graham, “Theme Park Archipelago”, in Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism (London ; New York: Verso, 2010), 183-187.