US troops training in Utah for deployment to Afghanistan

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DUGWAY -- As the United States ramps up its military campaign in Afghanistan, Utah will play a key role in training troops.

Turns out, Utah and Afghanistan look a lot alike when it comes to terrain, mountains and deserts, and a lot of lonely dirt roads ideal for training soldiers.

Roadside bombs pose as big a problem for U.S. convoys in Afghanistan as they are in Iraq. That's why the 7th Special Forces Group Airborne, out of Fort Bragg, N.C., practiced its response to an IED (improvised explosive device) and other threats at Dugway Proving Ground.

A training field with the right environment looks a lot like Afghanistan. "The terrain, the mountains, the altitude, the changes in the weather," said Lt. Co. Jim Miller, battalion commander of the 7th Special Forces Group.

The Green Berets are highly trained, but they get updated training on situations they may run into when they deploy. Seven hundred soldiers are training over two months at Dugway, Camp Williams and Hill Air Force Base.

"We can exercise many, if not all, of our weapons systems and our operating requirements, whether it be short distance movements or long distance movements," Miller said.

In the months ahead, an unprecedented number of Army Special Forces will deploy to Afghanistan to battle the Taliban.

"Once they finish this course, they will take this training and take the lessons learned here and apply them in Afghanistan," said Capt. Edward "Judd" Sanford, of the 7th Special Forces Group.

These troops will then train and fight alongside Afghan forces. They will rout out Afghan government enemies, help build infrastructure for the Afghan people and give medical aid to thousands.

They say all of their work is done with the local people. "Everything that we do in Afghanistan has an Afghan face to it," Sanford said.

The 7th is on a regular rotation to Afghanistan. They say each time they return, they see improvements in the local forces. The Special Forces commander expects they will deploy late this year or early next year.



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