NECSUS, Spring 2017_#True

Text by: Emanuel Licha
Guest editors: Ilona Hongisto, Toni Pape, and Alanna Thain

Medina Wasl is the name of a small Iraqi town in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California. It is a mock village that forms part of the United States Army Fort Irwin National Training Center, through which troops transit before departing for theatres of operation such as Iraq or Afghanistan. The village was built and is operated by Hollywood professionals. The extras they employ to play the role of its inhabitants are largely part of the Iraqi Diaspora in the United States. In July 2009, I received permission from the Army Public Affairs Officer (PAO) to visit, film, and conduct interviews at Fort Irwin, which became the focus of my film Mirages. As I understood later, the reason why I was authorised to access this military facility is because the PAO decided to give me the status of a journalist since he could not find, as he explained, any article in the Rules of Procedure of the camp regulating the presence of artists and filmmakers. The circumstances due to this ‘misunderstanding’ allowed me to experience the way journalists are treated by the military.
Medina Wasl offers a fine example of a Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training facility. Usually far away from the actual terrain, these facilities reproduce the architecture of a given war or conflict zone, so that police or army forces can learn and rehearse combat techniques. The MOUT training facilities are conceived in an ever-greater effort to be as cosmetically close to reality as possible, allowing soldiers to familiarise themselves with the environment in which they will intervene during their missions. (...)
Read more on NECSUS website / Lire la suite sur le site de la revue NECSUS

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