Indian Island: Army exercise resembles Iraq set-up … ‘just substitute the trees with sand’

INDIAN ISLAND — About 500 U.S. Army active duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers are camping out on the beach as part of an exercise to deliver munitions to the Indian Island ordnance base.

Ammunition and bombs are usually delivered to the base by commercial carriers, but the Department of Defense is doing the work itself through next week.

The work has turned normally tranquil Naval Magazine Indian Island into an area teeming with military personnel.

Coiled concertina wire lines pathways outside camouflage and olive drab tents.

Men and women in full battle gear and M-16 rifles strapped to their backs walk through mud.

Inside, the exercise headquarters acts like a finely oiled machine with radios and maps set up on easels.

Several large white tents serve as barracks. Bunks are crammed inside, and the latrines are pit toilets lined in a row.

For the reservists and National Guard troops at the island, this is the “two weeks a year” of training mentioned in recruitment commercials on television.

A few of the troops are able to compare the scene with an Army bivouac in Iraq.

“This is exactly how you live over there,” Maj. William Ritter said Wednesday.

“Just substitute the trees with sand.”

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