FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, Aug. 1, 2008) -- A mock Iraqi village is located in the heart of Fort Jackson -- complete with a mosque, a cemetery, a mayoral office and street signs in Arabic.

Basic Combat Training Soldiers train in the Military Operations on Urban Terrain site to get their first taste of what to expect during a future deployments in Iraq.

While training at the MOUT site, Soldiers learn how to navigate rooms and clear buildings, said Staff Sgt. Yamekeia Thompson, a drill sergeant with Company F, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.

The unit takes a "crawl, walk, run" approach to training at the MOUT site. Last Friday, during the crawl phase, Soldiers learned how to enter and secure a room, following step-by-step instructions from their drill sergeants.

The exercise became harder as other elements, such as stairs and "dead spaces" -- areas of a room that are not clearly visible -- were introduced.

"Dead spaces and stairs are some of the most dangerous aspects of clearing a building," Thompson said.

After the Soldiers learned the basic tasks, they moved on to conducting a clearance, step-by-step, without immediate help from the drill sergeants.

The unit will return to the MOUT site this week for more advanced training, as part of its Victory Forge exercise. This time, drill sergeants will introduce stressors to add realism to the training.

As part of the exercise, Soldiers have to clear buildings while encountering civilians and enemies -- portrayed by role players -- in addition to dodging simulated small arms fire, grenades and improvised explosive devices. Soldiers will have to deal with distractions coming from loudspeakers playing Arabic recordings.

"The principle is very realistic," said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Adkins, drill sergeant with Co. F, 3rd Bn., 34th Inf. Reg. "We integrate different scenarios into it during the Victory Forge stage."

Learning the basic steps it takes to effectively clear a building is essential, but Soldiers are also encouraged to be creative in their approach, since every situation they will encounter downrange is unique.

"The most difficult aspect is for the Soldiers to learn to think outside the box," said Staff Sgt. Edward Cummings, a drill sergeant with the unit. "We teach them the basic concept, but they have to engage themselves to figure out the situation."

Pvt. Anthony Carter, Co. F, 3rd Bn., 34th Inf. Reg., appreciates that the realistic training at the MOUT site. He said he knows it is an important part of preparing him for being deployed.

"The techniques we learn here could be very helpful if we ever deploy," he said. "The drill sergeants know what they are talking about, they're very good teachers. This will really help us when we go to Iraq."