Realistic training environments or reinforcing negative stereotypes?

Photo by LCpl Tommy Bellegrade, isafmedia

It has emerged today that the British army are using buildings that look like replica mosques on a North Yorkshire firing range. The Bradford Council for Mosques (BCM) have complained and demanded their removal. Since this story was first reported on the BBC news website this morning, the army have issued an apology for any offence they have caused.

When I read the original report earlier I saved the link and intended to blog about it later, since then Steve (@binky_2301) commented over on twitter, stating he felt it was “spectacularly stupid and insensitive” …this prompted me to question that response and encouraged me to take five to get this post down.

I suspect that there will be a lot of public support for Steve’s views, and the complaints of the BCM. However for me it is quite simply an overreaction. I don’t see how buildings that look like mosques, being used on a firing range for training soldiers about to go on deployment, can be seen as inappropriate. Research suggests that realistic training environments are essential for developing skills….I for one would like to know that anyone who is serving in the Armed Forces has received the best possible training to ensure that they make it home in one piece.

I think it says more about BCA’s attitudes that they make the leap from the army using these buildings on it’s own land, to train it’s soldiers to “conditioning the young British to say that mosques are a place where you are going to find danger and a place to target”.

Photo by Brian Hillegas

I think soldiers heading to conflict zones have a right to train in the most realistic environments possible.

Would love to know what you think?

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