HOHENFELS, Germany -- Deep in the Bavarian hills, at a secluded military base 90 miles north of Munich, U.S. Army officers are training American and other NATO combat troops for the possibility of wide-ranging military interventions in a fictional country that bears an uncanny resemblance to the former Yugoslavia.
TC dozen interviews with U.S. Army officers on the Hohenfels base and in Macedonia, a reporter encountered constant references to the need for contingency training, at the very least, for possible combat actions in the Balkans.
"Put it this way," said Maj. Greg Gerovac, a senior task force analyst at Hohenfels. "The Third Infantry comes here and says, 'It would be prudent for us to be prepared to go to ex-Yugoslavia.' So we take real reports from our French, British, Canadian and Spanish allies who are down there, and we come up with something."
The conditions soldiers face on the mock battlefield at Hohenfels -- and the hypothetical political environment surrounding it -- "aren't something I dream up," said Lt. Col. John Angell, operations commander at the base, which is known as the Combat Maneuver Training Center.
"Ninety percent of it is based on live intelligence feeds from Bosnia-Herzegovina and what we read in the newspapers," he said.
Although much of the emphasis at Hohenfels is on "low-intensity" missions, the training also extends to full-scale engagements.