FORT IRWIN • Training for soldiers preparing to deploy for combat can get fairly rigorous.
But when you add triple-digit-topping temperatures to training exercises involving pyrotechnic explosions, realistically wounded soldiers and villagers yelling in Arabic while ducking for cover, you've got pretty extreme conditions.
That's why a film crew is shooting scenes of soldiers training at Fort Irwin for an episode of the Military Channel's show "Toughest Jobs." The episode highlights jobs that push people to physical extremes with the focus at Fort Irwin on heat due to its location in the Mojave Desert, according to producer Brendan Moran of San Francisco-based production company Indigo Films.
The segment will be part of four one-hour-long episodes that will air on the Military Channel, an affiliate of the Discovery Channel, sometime in early 2010.
Moran and cameraman Luke Sauer explored the streets of the fort's simulation Iraqi village, Medina Wasl, talking to soldiers and gathering footage of the town mosque and villagers dressed in traditional garb and selling wares — all while taking note of how heat affects soldier training.
Sauer said he was focusing on getting shots of anything that conveyed heat: waves rising above the asphalt, villagers crowded together, dust plumes kicked up by tanks roaring across the desert.
The main event hit the scene when a platoon of soldiers from Fort Stewart, Ga., rolled into the village for a medical trauma exercise where rocket-propelled grenades criss-crossed the streets, injuring soldiers and civilians and generally wreaking havoc.
Moran and Sauer focused in on soldiers scrambling in and out of armored vehicles, rescuing injured comrades and shooting back at enemy fire — all under the midday desert sun.
Capt. David Fittro of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the soldiers who role-play as Iraqi villagers and insurgents, told Moran he's seen the hot weather cause soldiers to lose focus and, for example, compromise security.
"You'll see the heat and fatigue become a factor," said Fittro, noting that full armor regalia — or "full battle rattle" — generates even more heat.
The crew will also be shooting Friday for a program called "Top Ten Show" which highlights innovate military tools, gear and vehicles that have significantly changed warfare, according to Etric Smith, Fort Irwin media coordinator. They will be filming two tanks — the M113 and the M1A1 — used on base.
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