Marines are practicing Iraqi urban warfare tactics here at home.
Using a simulated town, Marines (search) are training for various combat and related situations in preparation for deployment to Iraq. During the training exercises, 200 Marines portray Iraqi men and women — from religious leaders to terrorists.
Knowledge and speed are key to the exercises, since Marines often have little more than an hour in real life to put a strategy into place and secure a town. The goal of the simulation is to successfully fight a three-block urban war (search); one block may be for conducting humanitarian aid, another for conducting security operations and a third could consist of full-scale armed combat. Among other things, Marines spend a significant amount of time trying to recognize roadside bombs.
Military officials hope to build the Marines' confidence in such operations and save lives during real fighting.
"It's gonna prevent us losing lives when we go over there," said one Marine. "The missions we go on are going to be as real as possible ... they're [Marines] gonna fall back on the training we got here in the States so when we go over there, we don't even have to think about it."
About 1,000 Marines from Camp Pendleton (search) — many of whom have already spent time in Iraq — are in the final phase of training at the camp in Riverside; they're scheduled to be shipping off to Iraq next month.
Click here to watch a report by Fox News Channel's Trace Gallagher.