Preparing soldiers for combat
Houston County Courier - June 2008
At first glance, the son of a Crockett couple looks nothing like what you’d expect of an American soldier.
He wears long, loose-fitting Arab clothing, a scarf-like head cover, grows facial hair and lives in the desert in a small Arab village.
He stands with Iraqi natives as Arabic calls to prayer can be heard over loud speakers.
Army Pvt.2 James Barry Lowery, son of James G. and Pamela D. Lowery, is a highly specialized American soldier living in the Mojave Desert as an Arab for the exclusive benefit of other soldiers who are preparing for duty in Iraq.
Lowery and the 1,300 “opposing forces” from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, along with 250 Arab-speaking Iraqis, test and challenge soldiers for the likely situations they’ll face in the war zone.
“The training I am conducting here is for soldiers who are about to deploy overseas. My duties and responsibilities are to help provide as close to a real Middle Eastern environment as possible,” said Lowery, a 2005 graduate of Latexo High School.
Hollywood makeup artists use their industry’s most convincing fake blood on amputee actors to add to the realism of simulated roadside bomb attacks by role-playing enemy insurgents.
Lowery takes his Arab acting seriously with the goal of providing learned experiences that could help save American lives in Iraq.
“It is important to train and prepare soldiers before they go to the war zone so they have a more comfortable feel for what they are stepping into. I want the soldiers leaving here to be well trained and return home safely,” said Lowery.
The Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin is well suited to duplicate the natural environment in Iraq.
Situated near Death Valley, the center has 1,200 square miles of nothing but desert wilderness where approximately a dozen simulated Arab villages have been built.
Each village has a different look and feel, providing different situations to learn from for the soldiers who will soon be walking village streets in Iraq.
“The training environment here consists of small villages, desert terrain and the people like me who each have a role as some type of Middle Eastern person. We learn some of the Arabic language and have simulated weapons and explosives to help create the feel of being in Iraq,” said Lowery.
For the moment, Lowery will work as an Arab civilian or enemy combatant, but he has a traditional Army background.
“I’ve been in the military for a year. I attended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and advanced individual training to become a track vehicle repairer in Maryland,” said Lowery.
At first glance Lowery’s family or friends may not recognize him in Arab wear, but his efforts as an actor are likely to help save lives of fellow American soldiers headed to the war zone.