Before American soldiers are deployed to Iraq, they're given special training at the National Training Center on the Ft. Irwin Military Reservation, located in California's Mojave Desert. The National Training Center has constructed a simulated Iraqi village called Medina Wasl in the desert, where new soldiers battle "insurgents" (played by returning U.S. troops) and interact with "ordinary citizens" (many portrayed by Iraqi exiles who've ended up in the United States) as they learn the ins and outs of combat in the Middle East. Filmmakers Tony Gerber
and Jesse Moss
follow Lt. Col. Robert McLaughlin as he drums the art of war into his charges in Full Battle Rattle
, a documentary that offers a behind-the-scenes look at Medina Wasl, the soldiers who learn there, the people who organize the war games, and the people who've been hired to play-act at being the "enemy." Full Battle Rattle
received its world premiere as an official entry at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival.