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HOHENFELS, Germany — The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the first of the Army’s new modular brigade combat teams to train in Europe for a downrange mission.

Joint Multinational Training Command spokesman Maj. Eric Bloom said trainers have transformed the way they run mission rehearsal exercises to cater to the new type of unit.

For example, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels has developed training for the 173rd’s new Special Troops Battalion — a unit that was formed when the brigade transformed earlier this year.

During the exercise, 173rd units have fanned out around eight U.S. and German training areas in Bavaria with artillery training at Grafenwöhr and cavalry at Schweinfurt and Hammelburg — a German military operations in urban terrain, or MOUT, site.

The training also includes an air assault into the Bad Reichenhall training area at 10,000 feet in the German Alps to simulate the high altitude conditions in Afghanistan, Bloom said.

The exercise covers a large area that replicates Regional Command East in Afghanistan.

It relies on JMRC’s exportable instrumentation systems, which allow cameras and sensors to record action at remote sites and beam it back to observer controller teams at Hohenfels for use in after-action reviews, he said.

To add realism to the exercise, the Army contracted for 500 Arabic speakers.

While the 173rd was originally slated to deploy to Iraq, it is now going to Afghanistan; however, it was too late to change the contract.

Now to help the soldiers understand Afghan culture, the Army has brought in extra Pashtun cultural advisers to participate, Bloom said.

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