FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, Jan. 19, 2007) - Learning to clear a building of insurgents and enemy combatants is an essential skill all Soldiers must master to survive in today's war on terror.

No matter what their military occupational specialty, whether they're combat or combat support, Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will have to operate in urban environments.

Basic Combat Training Soldiers at Fort Jackson are learning these skills in challenging and realistic scenarios at the Military Operations on Urban Terrain site, or MOUT.

MOUT sites East and West, located on the far eastern portion of the installation off Johnson Rifle Road, are mock Iraqi village complete with double-story buildings, C-shaped buildings and buses. The site is large enough for two company-sized units to train on simultaneously.

"I really like this site because it is realistic and provides BCT Soldiers with challenging buildings to clear," said Capt. Daniel Milo, commander, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment.

The buildings are tan-colored freight containers configured to resemble an Iraqi neighborhood with alleys, roads and other realistic features.

With Soldiers playing the parts of insurgents hiding inside the buildings, squads approach the building, cordon it off and enter. The double-story and C-shaped buildings provide the most challenges.

"Double-story buildings are difficult to address, especially for BCT Soldiers, because you don't know what is upstairs," Milo said. "This is why we go from top to bottom instead. Stairwells produce the most casualties."

The C-shaped buildings are also difficult to clear because of the number of windows and places an enemy could fire from.

"When we mess up here, they show us what we did wrong," said Pvt. Lolita Market, Co. D, 2nd Bn., 13th Inf. Reg. "We need to learn to do things correctly before we are deployed because then it will be too late to do something over again."

When using the site, BCT Soldiers learn how to clear buildings, evaluate casualties, search prisoners and send them to the rear as well as perform first aid.

While most units use the site during their seven-day Victory Forge training exercise, some units use it during their three-day Field Training Exercise.

"I am surprised a lot more units don't use this site for their three-day FTX," Milo said. "By having my Soldiers here for their three-day, they are ready to go full speed when it comes time for Victory Forge. They know the layout and how it is set up."