HOHENFELS, Germany--This month, a delegation of senior Ukrainian military officials visited the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, located on Hohenfels Training Area in Germany, to assess the progress their army is making towards establishing a combat training center of its own.
Under the mentorship of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, currently led by the U.S. Army's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Ukrainian military is working towards establishing a NATO interoperable combat training center by 2020.
Part of the tour was a briefing by JMRC staff at the Mounted Operations in Urban Terrain, or MOUT site. MOUT sites simulate urban population centers and facilitate realistic maneuver training.
Hohenfels Training Area encompasses eight of these fabricated villages.
"As with anywhere else, you have to look at the area where operations could be happening in the future and look at the types of buildings and the people that are in that area and try to replicate that as best you can," said Chuck Pinto, JMRC master planner.
MOUT sites at Hohenfels include sub-terrain tunnel systems, live role-players, and Wi-Fi cafés.
Role-players work in shifts allowing the replica villages to remain populated 24 hours a day during training rotations.
Wi-Fi cafés enable MOUT site villagers to disseminate information to neighboring MOUT sites through Tweets and news articles, simulating the information environment--a sometimes overlooked front on the modern battlefield.
JMRC staff stressed to the Ukrainian leadership the importance of thinking ahead about the intended use of MOUT sites before building them.
"As for the structure itself, it all depends on the type of buildings you want, your missions, the scenarios drive that," said Stephen O'Donnell, chief of civilians on the battlefield at JMRC.
If you're doing breaching operations you'll need to think about the construction and the cost of the doors, maybe using Plexiglas windows, O'Donnell explained.
If you want to be able to drive tanks through the town then you'll need to think about reinforcing the roads and the sub-terrain structure, he added.
O'Donnell is responsible for training the role-players hired to work on the MOUT sites.
"You need the people, but if you're starting from scratch you have to focus on the structure first, then you can start thinking about getting the people to occupy the structure; although it's less effective, even U.S. forces sometimes have to use soldiers as role-players," said O'Donnell.
When it comes to building their MOUT site, it's up to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense to determine where they think they'll be fighting in the future, said Pinto. Then, they can look at those areas and base their plans off that.