Copehill Down on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, may look like a typical English village, but on closer inspection something doesn’t quite look right. The architecture is rather German, and there is not a single living soul in sight. Copehill Down is actually a fake village built by the British army during the tail end of cold war to practice their urban warfare skills and close quarters fighting. Called a 'FIBUA' (Fighting In Built Up Areas) village, Copehill Down is just one of the handful of villages scattered around the U.K., Europe and the U.S.
Fighting in urban areas is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level. Presence of civilians is just one of the factors. The complexity of the urban terrain limits field of view while enhancing opportunities for concealment and cover for defenders including easy placement of booby traps and snipers. Besides, some civilians may be difficult to distinguish from the enemy.
Copehill Down was built in 1988 to resemble a German village in Bavaria, to provide troops with a simulated backdrop when training for operations in European theatres including the Cold War, the Balkans and Northern Ireland. In recent years the facility was expanded to include a Shanty Town made up of cargo containers stacked and laid out in rows of tightly packed streets, to provide an additional training area that more closely resembles the Army's current operation in Afghanistan and Iraq. A couple of train bogies, a destroyed helicopter, and some burnt cars were added just for good measure.
Access to Copehill Down is generally restricted, however the facility has been used for regular airsoft wargaming by certain British airsoft event organizers and Historical Reenactment societies, which take part in Private Reenactment Battles.
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