Another Iwo Jima-related question: Do troops still train for specific battles?

I recall reading in Flags of Our Fathers that the marines who took Iwo Jima actually trained for more than a year for that specific mission. They went so far as to find a chunk of one of the Hawaiian islands that even had a volcanic hilltop similar enough to Suribachi and practiced storming it.

And ISTR that the Normandy troops underwent similar training for their landings. have troops since then ever trained for such specific missions (i.e., not “amphibious landing” or “urban warfare”, but “landing at Iwo Jima” or “fighting in the western streets of Falluja”)? Or do the commanders just hope their boys are good enough and just wing it?

The Califonia National Guard train on terrain that is similar to Korea near the DMZ.


Rangers train for several specific environments. I believe most special operations units do the same. I know Delta does.

Say what you will about the present administration. But when it comes down to fighting the actual war our professional military dosen’t take anything to chance and just “wing it”. That’s what it’s about when we say “Support Our Troops”. They are doing a damn good job, despite what you may think of the current admin. Hell, even the previous adim wasn’t all that great, but they had a professional military to make them look good.

Before Panama, we trained attacking specific targets over and over again. The Panamaniacs tried to follow all that was going on, but there was so much activity for such a long time that they did not know when the training ended and the invasion started.

All (American) forces rehearse before a planned operation. These can be simple walkthroughs or elaborate exercises.

Not trying to belittle our military or its practices in any way. I was just curious if they rehearsed for specific targets any more, or merely reinforced the basics of various genres of scenarios (encircling a generic city, securing a generic building, demolishing a generic bridge, landing on a generic beach, etc.) over and over so that the troops were prepared in a more general way for anything they might face.

I’ve been out of the USAF for almost 20 years now (Wow!), but for certain missions we trained directly against the specifics of that one target & route.

Most times we were just dealing with generics, ie airfield attack or desert warfare or close support in a forested environment, but for ciritical missions we’d go to great lengths to do it just like the real thing.

At that time combat simulation was in its infancy but the Holy Grail was to have high fidelity simulations of the actual target environment, including defenses, based of fresh reconnaisance. From my reading of the current trade press, that’s largely been acheived, although it hasn’t yet been widely deployed because it’s prety expensive.

In the context of ongoing combat, you don’t have time to rehearse the day-to-day stuff because you’re already busy all day fighting. If you had twice as many people (are you listening Mr Rumsfeldt?) you could spend alternating days rehearsing and executing.

For one-time raids, such as Libya or the Iran hostage rescue attempt, or the opening attack in a war, rehearsal is vital. But for most ongoing combat activiities, that just isn’t necessary.

I think that the marine corps uses a ghost town for MOUT operations.


Before the 1976 raid on Entebbe Airport, the Israeli army built a full-scale mockup of the terminal for the special op forces to train on. Apparently, it had been built originally by an Israeli company, so exact plans were available; a crack team of carpenters worked all night (they had all of 48 hours until the first hostage was to be executed) building a surprisingly accurate simulacrum out of plywood and canvas.

The IDF likes to do this kind of thing, if it has the time. There are any number of “Syrian fortifications” hiding on military training grounds all over the country.

In Panama, of course, US forces had the highly unusual advantage of actually being based next to many of their targets,* and being permitted by treaty to undertake training exercises in their vicinity. In 1989 I was living in the town of Gamboa when it was "practice captured’’ one night, a few months before it happened for real (fortunately after I had left for the US).

*Or in one case, within it. The Ft. Amador base was shared by the US and Panama, and the engagement consisted of one side of the base attacking the other across the golf course in the middle.

More than one case. Fort Amador of course, but also Fort Sherman and a number of less well-known facilities. Those people had no business fighting us.