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Grafenwöhr Range Operations plans/operations chief Maj. Donald Mills outside Range 307’s new assault building — the largest U.S. Army shoot-house in Europe.

Grafenwöhr Range Operations plans/operations chief Maj. Donald Mills outside Range 307’s new assault building — the largest U.S. Army shoot-house in Europe. (Seth Robson / S&S)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — A giant “assault building” under construction here will be the largest U.S. Army shoot-house in Europe when it opens this summer.

Grafenwöhr Range Operations plans/operations chief Maj. Donald Mills said the three-story, 10-room building would open at Range 307 about the same time soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment arrive in Germany.

“We have had MOUT (military operations in urban terrain) sites in the Army as long as I can remember, but this is one step further,” Mills said of the 5,800-square-foot assault building.

Conventional MOUT sites or shoot-houses are usually single-story bullet-proof structures about the size of a small home where soldiers can practice storming and clearing rooms: skills called on daily in the battles against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Large MOUT sites at nearby Hohenfels are mostly blank-fire complexes, although many are being converted to handle simunition — ammunition with reduced range and lethality and less likely to damage the buildings, Mills said.

The Grafenwöhr assault building — where soldiers will be able to fire conventional bullets from M-16 and M-4 rifles — replicates a larger building such as a factory that soldiers might be required to clear, he said.

“We are integrating live fire into the urban environment with this assault building. This structure would replicate your average building in today’s contemporary operating environment — any commercial-type building that you would find in an urban area,” he said.

The assault building includes two-inch wooden walls backed by quarter inch steel plates that can stop 5.56 mm rounds.

It has ordinary windows but they can be protected by sliding wood and steel shutters during live-fire training.

The building also includes a ventilation system, rubber padding on upstairs floors and access to a roof-top balcony. Units from squad or platoon up to company size can train in the building, Mills said. “You can install pop-up targets inside along with stationary targets and targets representing civilians on the battlefield,” he added.

The assault building is part of a project to convert Range 307 from a Bradley fighting vehicle range, where gunners practiced engaging pop-up troop and vehicle targets, to an infantry range.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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