By Brandon Beach, USAG Stuttgart Public AffairsAugust 1, 2008
STUTTGART, Germany - The Army has a term for urban combat: MOUT. It stands for military operations in urban terrain. With nearly half of the world's population living in cities, the enemy has found a convenient place to hide.
In Stuttgart, Soldiers learn the basics of close-quarter fighting at a MOUT site located on an urbanized training area near Panzer Kaserne. For Alexander McFeat, chief of the Stuttgart Training Support Center, the true benefits of a MOUT site, in terms of a Soldier's education, only go as far as its likeness to reality. In this case, the battlefield is modern-day Iraq.
Earlier this month, STSC completed a three-month project to update its MOUT site. The project, finalized on July 22, was funded by the GrafenwAfAPhr-based 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command for $126,000.
With a maze of challenges between them and entry, say, into a three-story building, Soldiers now confront such obstacles as pedestrian doors, walls of various heights and thicknesses, vehicle gates, corrugated-roof sheds and alleyways.
It becomes a dangerous game of corners. Training, though, gives Soldiers a chance to practice on-the-spot decisions, familiarize themselves with urban settings and sharpen mental reflexes.
"This is what they're [Soldiers] seeing downrange," said McFeat.
McFeat frequently meets with Soldiers returning from deployments to get a better grip on conditions that units face on the ground. What's immediately apparent is that no two houses in Iraq are alike. And every Iraqi seems to be his own architect.
"They build everything themselves. There's no rhyme or reason why one house might have eight-foot walls, and the house next door has four-foot walls," said McFeat. "One Soldier told me, 'You can go into a house, go up a set of stairs, and you get a concrete wall that doesn't go anywhere.'"
At the MOUT site, trainees learn such skills as crossing over walls, using ladders, maneuvering past windows, entering doors, clearing rooms and identifying potential threats.
"Now, there's one, two, three different places plus a roof you could be shot at," said McFeat. "It makes it a lot more challenging to get in without being seen."
The Limited Training Area here is the primary training center for Stuttgart-based Soldiers. In addition to the MOUT site, the LTA consists of an advanced mobility driving course, demolition range, M203 grenade launcher practice training ground, a Nuclear, Biological, Chemical chamber and various military encampments, known as bivouac sites.
Stuttgart is home to several deployable units that train regularly on the 1,109-acre LTA, including the 1/10th Special Forces Group [Airborne], 554th Military Police Company and Naval Special Warfare Unit Two.