My job, at present is to basically be an actor. If you think about a civil war reenactment you will have a rough idea what I'm up to. Every day I dress up as an Iraqi civilian living in a province of Iraq. There are several of us (non-Arabic speakers) paired with native Iraqis. We act out scenarios in villages, roadways and towns to simulate actual daily operations in Iraq. Some of the villages are large others are just small groupings of huts. Sometimes we have just a handful of COB's (civilian on battle field, my job) sometimes we have several, plus the Iraqi's. The "villages" are buildings made up to look like traditional Iraqi villages. These are "built" and dispersed across a large military base. Sometimes the layout mimics an actual (real) area in Iraq. The Iraqi advisers tell me it is very realistic. Our language skills may be weak but the natives do most of the genuine communication, so the training is beneficial to the soldiers.
A typical scenario is a village "meet and greet". Sometimes we are a friendly village, sometimes hostile, or mixed. The soldiers never know for sure what our affiliation is or where our loyalties are. Sometimes even though we are a friendly village, there may be snipers, IED's or a suicide bomber. Every once in awhile we change loyalty just because.
One of the returning COB's told me about a scenario they had where the village changed loyalty without informing the army. What happened is the soldiers stopped in a friendly village to get intel. Which was all well and good except the fools forgot to get their assigned interpreter from the pool before beginning the mission. The friendly villagers were to give the intel and keep the soldiers from driving into an ambush. Since they forgot their interpreter they had no idea what was being said to them. (No one will ever speak English to a soldier when on location) When the unit moved out the villagers got more excited and tried harder to make them understand. The specialist standing guard in the back of the hummer freaked. His weapon was a 50 BMG mounted on the vehicle. He opened up on the friendly village "killing" everyone. For the rest of the months training every group of soldiers coming into the village were attacked, even though the village was marked "friendly". Pay backs, just like real life.
The way our "weapons" work is pretty simple. The rifles and machine guns are all real with adapters fitted on them to fire blank rounds. They also are equipped with a very expensive version of laser tag. So when they are fired they sound like real guns and they fire a laser beam. If the beam "hits" your receiver, it beeps letting you know you're dead. The explosives are talcum powder packed behind compressed air with a loud sound effect device. If you get hit with white powder, you're dead. In addition to the hummers and other transports they do fly overs while we are working. Its fun.
We were warned not to photo the Iraqi's, or the towns etc. The reason is that some of these guys are targets for terrorist attack. I've heard the story of two of the men and how they came to help train our troops. Both of them had family killed because they or someone in the family were suspected of helping Americans. They hadn't actually done anything. Neither one of these guys were in any way political prior to converting to help Americans. Now that they have joined us, they and/or their families (or what is left) are marked for death. Posting pictures would only endanger them. I had thought about posting pics of the area and talking about some cool stuff I've seen. I'm not going to do that either because that would give away our location and the exercise is still going on. I'll do a "Res Wanders" post after they have left.