Precast concrete is a very versatile material. It’s been proven to be an excellent choice for architectural projects, renovations, environmental efforts and even Olympic stadiums! As if those purposes weren’t varied enough, precast is even being used for military situations. Smith-Midland Corporation was awarded an honorable mention in the 2011 NPCA Creative Use of Precast competition. What was Smith-Midland nominated for? Its work at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base — a simulated Afghan village. The village was actually built to train Marines for real-life battles in the future!
Smith-Midland Corporation’s project was officially called the Military Infantry Immersion Training Village, located in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In total, 23 different-sized, prefabricated buildings were created using precast concrete. These buildings were designed to make up a simulated Afghan village and included a mosque, sheik’s home, hardware store, police station and even a café. The buildings were constructed within a warehouse. The biggest building was the mosque at two stories tall, and the smallest was the sheik’s house (11’x11’).
The project is noteworthy already, but a few more innovations are worth mention. First, the buildings were all constructed within an old warehouse (constructed in the 1940’s). The builders had to use a specially designed forklift to avoid getting caught up in the electrical wiring and mechanical equipment descending from the ceiling.
More interestingly, the mock village was made as realistic as possible to give the Marines the best simulation they could manage. So, all sorts of atmospheric elements were included: aromas of meat and cider were floated into the area. The concrete was tinted in a ruddy, earthy pigment to look similar to “mud huts” in Afghanistan. The floors were made of dirt. Videos inside the school building projected a scene of children in a classroom, and there were roadside bomb obstacles to be dealt with.
It’s amazing to see how much can be done with a little precast concrete and a lot of creativity! And it’s great to know that precast is helping our nation’s soldiers prepare for dangerous situations. Hopefully with this extra bit of training, more of our Marines will return unharmed, and more missions will be completed successfully!