Apparently the U.S. Government is prepared to do everything it takes to prepare our troops for battle. This includes hiring amputees to play wounded civilians in war games
. They're bussed down to Fort Polk, La., where the soldiers-in-training must also contend with fake Arab civilians, "smoke-making machines and an intercom system that pipes in 'recordings of screaming women, crying babies, barking dogs and other sound effects throughout the whole city,' and, coming soon, the simulated smells of "vomit, burning rubber, burning bodies, those kinds of things."
I was impressed by this account of one scene that occurred during the simulated warfare:
A Humvee and a convoy of trucks were attacked with a fake rocket-propelled grenade, causing a fake explosion that caused Cole Young, 71, who lost a leg in an oil pipeline accident, to lie on the ground with fake blood spurting from his amputated leg. A soldier came to give Young some fake first aid. But when he saw that Young's hand was under his poncho, working his blood-spurting machine, the soldier yelled, "He's got a (bleep) wire!" and started firing laser bullets into Young's chest. That caused the other fake civilians to start screaming, ``Murderers!" That distracted the soldiers, enabling a bunch of fake insurgents to sneak up and wipe them all out — "mowing down the troops as effortlessly," Tower writes, "as they might a herd of grazing cows.''
Which is, alas, not unusual: Time after time, Tower reports, the fake insurgents massacred the American troops in these games.
Grandma would no doubt say that the silver lining in that news is that the games are just ... well, games. In the real war in Iraq, America is kicking insurgent butt, says President George W. Bush.