CAMP PENDLETON (KXAN) - Over the last decade, United States Marines have been sent to foreign cities where they are not always welcomed and where gunfire can erupt at any moment.
Ironically, one such place can be found in southern California.
"It is as real as you can get," said one Marine about the Infantry Immersion Trainer facility at Camp Pendleton.
A 120,000 open-air facility has the look of a Middle Eastern town complete with Arabic signage and multiple vendors setup in a neighborhood bazaar.
A smell generator even pumps in the aroma that one would encounter during an overseas deployment.
Such a true-to-life training ground gives Marines an experience that is hard to simulate in any other form of training.
"When you hear the gunshots and explosion, your body automatically goes into a different state," said Lance Corporal Travis Paine with 2 nd battalion 1 st Marines.
Last month, Paine's battalion was given a training mission to find intelligence located inside one of the immersion trainer buildings.
As they walked into the simulated town, the native townspeople greeted them in a variety of different ways.
Some jeered them, others welcomed them into their homes.
And then from somewhere in town, gunshots began ring out as the Marines began executing the training mission the same way they would in a real situation.
The townspeople are actors brought in for the training and to present Marines with the same dialogue or interaction they would find in a foreign setting.
Only two things separate the training scenario from the real deal. The bullets are blanks and cameras are setup around the facility so that a training exercise can be played back and reviewed by the Marines.
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