To pre-expose deployment-bound troops to combatants' unconventional tactics, the Army has constructed vast simulations of wartime Iraq and Afghanistan. Termed “Theatre Immersion,” these sites feature entire towns bustling with costumed villagers. The largest facility is at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert. It is part of a long tradition of performance and war games, but never before has a military simulation worked to produce an environment with this kind of scale and attention to fidelity.

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