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Building Afghanistan on Salisbury Plain

January 5, 2012 8:20 AM
By Trevor Carbin

Wiltshire Council officers have approved a number of planning applications for compounds meant to resemble Afghan courtyard buildings. They will be used by troops undertaking training before going to Helmand.

The applications were submitted by Landmarc Support Services Ltd on behalf of the MoD.

Landmarc said that :

"In mid-2010, the military strategy in Afghanistan changed to concentrate more troops in smaller areas, placing units in towns and villages hence military operations are primarily conducted in an urban environment. The current geographical locations and positioning of the existing buildings, and in most cases the complete lack of suitable facilities on the training area, is unable to realistically mimic the laydown found in theatre and is therefore severely detrimental to pre-operational training which is vital to saving lives. To provide as realistically as practically possible, a training scenario mimicking that found in theatre with sufficient population densities and spatial distances between population centres, there is a requirement for 50 Afghan style compounds. These simple compounds comprise...a dwelling and walled courtyard arrangement, and it is this that is needed to replicate the pattern of civilian life found in Afghanistan."

Containers representing dwellings will be surrounded by hoardings. The hoardings will be taken down when not in use, and the whole lot will be removed when the Afghan mission is completed.

The applications were for a variety of sites in different parishes around the Plain, though they're within the established training area and not generally visible from public areas.

When training takes place support troops and civilians will play the role of native Afghans.

An example in Bishopstrow parish is at: