During World War II, the Allies famously tricked Hitler into believing that the First United States Army Group would invade France at Pas-de-Calais. The real invasion, of course, came at Normandy, and the First United States Army Group did not take part—mostly because it didn’t actually exist.
Fake military units aren’t the only thing the military is good at inventing. Sometimes it invents entire nations. When the U.S. Army trains for battle, it strives for immersion and realism. To help prepare soldiers for the overwhelming nature of invading a country where the language is unknown and the culture is mostly alien, the U.S. Army invents fully realized countries, from international dynamics to currency. Here are a few fake countries where the United States is prepared to fight.
1. The People’s Republic of Pineland
Image credit: U.S. Army
Invaders from the north beset the country of Pineland, located on the continent of Atlantica. There have been reports of a local strongman named Jose Cuervo, who is known to capture and torture local guerrilla fighters, and there is general discord among the local militias. Wanted terrorist Keith Mohammed is noted to be in the area. Because Pineland has been a stalwart ally of the United States—fighting alongside us during World Wars I and II, Korea, and Iraq—a U.S. Army Special Forces “A-Team” (ODA-914) has infiltrated the country to organize the guerrilla forces into a formidable army.
Atlantica itself has an interesting history.
It’s a bit over a thousand miles east of North America, and was first discovered by Saladero Indians of Venezuela. Eric the Great settled the land in 1342, and the English, Spanish, and French would arrive during the Age of Discovery. Ultimately, England would conquer the continent and divide it into three distinct territories: North Atlantica, Appalachia, and Pineland. Unlike the America-friendly Pineland, the United Provinces of Atlantica (previously: North Atlantica) would eventually side with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The region would seem to be marked by instability and unrest.
All of this is part of Robin Sage, the final phase of Special Forces training, where soldiers put their highly specialized training to the test. Those who succeed will earn the right to wear the coveted green beret. Based on reports of the exercise, the exact conditions of the war simulation seem to vary, reflecting actual, ongoing U.S. Army Special Forces missions and the lessons learned from conflicts around the world. And Pineland is serious business. The training area is 4,500 square miles across ten counties. Local communities are integrated into the mission. It has a flag (yellow, gray, and red, with LIBERTY printed at the top, and 1870 on the bottom), a national anthem (“This is the land of the tall pine tree / where all of us used to live so free...”) and a currency (the don, denoted by orange and yellow bills that resemble Monopoly money, and signed by Seymour Bombs). And yes, there is a real dollar-to-don exchange rate.
Notably, a precursor to Robin Sage was fought not in Pineland, but in Erehwon, with Special Forces pitted against the Erehwonian Army. Erehwon, of course, is “nowhere” spelled backward.
2. The Island of Aragon
Image credit: GlobalSecurity.org
The Island of Aragon is roughly six hundred miles east of Atlantica, and is divided into three distinct nations: People’s Democratic Republic of Acadia, the Republic of Cortina, and the Republic of Victoria. Cortina is rich in natural resources and vital to U.S. interests, but is highly unstable due to political corruption, ethnic strife, and right wing insurgencies. The Cortina Liberation Front, a domestic terrorist organization, is supported by the PDRA and has recently stepped up its violence. Their goal is to overthrow the Cortina government. The United States isn’t going to let that happen. Joint Task Force Cortina, comprised of conventional land, air, and sea elements, as well as special operations forces, has been sent to the area. They’ve been ordered to help with the counterinsurgency, provide security, and offer humanitarian aid where it’s needed.
This simulated invasion is one scenario used during the three-week field training exercise at the U.S. Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Where Robin Sage’s Pineland is designed around twelve-man Special Forces teams, JRTC brings together diverse elements from the whole of the U.S. Army, with units ranging from light infantry to Apache helicopters. Thousands of soldiers train at once on the 100,000-acre facility dubbed “the Box.” It’s one of the most technologically sophisticated training simulations in the military, employing 900 cameras that record everything, real-world sound effects, carefully employed pyrotechnics, and GPS tracking on pretty much everything.
Hundreds of civilians role-play as villagers, acting as mayors and farmers and peddlers at local bazaars. Citizens of the Box broadcast a radio show, print three daily newspapers, and run a nightly news broadcast, all of which reflect the ongoing “war.” The 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) acts as the Opposing Force, or op-for. These soldiers live in the field for weeks at a time, eating and sleeping in their camps and villages. Like indigenous forces the military will encounter in the combat zone, the op-for is extraordinarily familiar with their terrain, and knows exactly how to use it to inflict maximum “harm” on soldiers in training. It’s an unfair advantage, but it’s designed to be that way. The goal for soldiers training at JRTC isn’t to win—that’s an almost impossible task—but to learn from their mistakes.
Image credit: U.S. Army/The Economist
The Middle Eastern nation of Attica has seen better days. The radical Islamic Congress of Attica seeks to destabilize the Attican government and install an oppressive theocratic regime. Meanwhile, the Ellisian Army has sent in mechanized elements as precursor to a full invasion. The Islamic Brotherhood for Jihad would like to establish a terrorist base of operations in the region, from which it can launch transnational attacks.
To deal with this, the U.S. Army has been deployed to work alongside Attican security forces to stop the insurgency, secure Attica’s porous borders, strengthen its tenuous state, and deny haven to terrorists. Working against the U.S.-Attican alliance is the Wolf Brigade, an eight-man cyber-warfare cell capable of disrupting communications and networked electronics.
The crisis in Attica is part of the Network Integration Evaluation, a bi-annual exercise at White Sands Missile Range that evaluates military communications hardware in the field. The hostile forces represent al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, and the Iranian special operations Quds force. The training simulation is indicative of the kinds of wars the U.S. Army expects to fight in the future—hybrid wars, not against single states, but against multiple, loosely affiliated actors with a common enemy in the United States. The Network Integration Evaluation also puts the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical to the test. The WIN-T is a command-and-control system that allows critical information to be sent across the battlefield through such devices as Nett Warrior field-capable smartphones.
4. The People’s Democratic Republic of Krasnovia
Image credit: GlobalSecurity.org
During most of the Cold War, the United States may have known no greater threat than the People’s Democratic Republic of Krasnovia. The threat of war was ever-present. The neighboring Republic of Mojave was a staunch U.S. ally, but a bitter enemy of the Kingdom of Parumphia—a close Krasnovian ally. Tensions were further heightened by the Parumphian Peoples’ Guerrillas, which wanted Parumphia to re-unify with the Krasnovian Motherland. (The nearby Baja Republic remained neutral.) While years were marked by highs and lows and the occasional bullet fired in anger, tensions were most heightened when uranium was found in the Mojave, prompting Krasnovia and Parumphia to mount a joint invasion. The United States intervened, not only to help a partner in the region, but also because there was little doubt what the Krasnovian-Parumphian alliance would use the uranium for: weapons of mass destruction.
The scenarios for war with Krasnovia (“Everyone’s enemy!” and an obvious stand-in for the Soviet Union) varied over the years. Bitter wars were fought at Fort Irwin and the National Training Center in California. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Krasnovia fell as well, to be replaced by breakaway republics presenting a new set of threats in Eurasia.
Image credit: High Desert Warrior
The Defense Department expects future threats in Eurasia to look a lot like the war in Attica—hybrid, with conventional forces, criminal forces, terrorist forces, and intelligence services working together to topple governments and repel external threats. Such countries as Donovia, Gorgas, Minaria, Atropia, and Ariana are each in some way either a vital U.S. interest or a belligerent state. History suggests that a military confrontation between any of the countries could easily engulf the entire region in total war.
If that were to happen, Gorgas and Atropia would call upon its allies in the West for help—specifically, the United States. Both countries face threats from Donovia, which has seen a surge in regional influence with the rise in oil prices. Gorgas is still reeling from a 2008 war against Donovia, and Atropia’s natural resources keep it at perpetual risk. (Its Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is highly vulnerable to attack.) Meanwhile, Atropia also faces a threat from Minaria, a relatively weak country with ties to the Donovians. Minaria’s grudge against Atropia comes from a border dispute over Artzak province. (Atropia controls it, though its population consists mostly of ethnic Minarians.)
This simulation is part of “Decisive Action” training now being rolled out by the U.S. Army. The variables in this kind of regional conflict war-game can be shifted, and provide units with experience in everything from stability operations to high-intensity conflict operations.