Russian speakers allegedly role-played unruly mob stirred up by “Fakebook” and “Twatter” posts
US and UK military forces have held a joint exercise to practice interoperability and test their latest gadgets and combat techniques on terrain similar to the “Ukrainian steppe,” reportedly including war-gaming on how they would “pacify” mobs of angry Russian-speaking civilians.
The ongoing drills are being held in California’s Mojave Desert as part of the Pentagon’s “Project Convergence”, which was expanded this year to include participation by allies Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
The troops, including an elite British infantry regiment, practiced “lessons learned” from the Russia-Ukraine conflict while training on open desert landscapes deemed “similar to the flat terrain of the Ukrainian steppe,” the UK’s Times newspaper said.
The drills took place at Fort Irwin, a sprawling US Army base that includes realistic-looking mock villages built with the help of Hollywood set designers. In years past, Arabic and Afghan speakers were hired and brought in from the Los Angeles area to play the part of civilians. This time around, with the Russia-Ukraine conflict raging in Eastern Europe, most of the civilians were played by Russian speakers.
“The fake civilians even have their own social media networks – “Fakebook” and “Twatter” – on which they whip up an unruly mob by reporting any examples of US troops behaving poorly,” the Times said. “The soldiers must then pacify the crowds.”
The exercise marked the first time that members of the UK’s new Ranger Regiment deployed alongside the US 75th Ranger Regiment, according to a UK government statement. It allowed troops to test advanced technology – such as artificial intelligence, robotics and new drones – while practicing information-sharing procedures with their allies.
For instance, swarms of drones identified targets and British rocket launchers fired at enemy positions spotted by US F-35 fighter jets, the Times said. UK defense procurement minister Alex Chalk said the exercise demonstrated the progress that the British Army is making as a “more lethal, agile and expeditionary force, through key collaboration with our longstanding international allies and partners.”
Russia isn’t alone in drawing the attention of Western military planners. The Pentagon has identified China as the top threat to US national security. An earlier stage of Project Convergence simulated a conflict breaking out on a Pacific island.