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Hundreds stage war games at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Saugus

Posted: July 13, 2013 6:33 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2013 6:33 p.m.

Members of the U.S. forces team hold a position as they take fire from air soft weapons in the hands of hostile forces on a hill above them during Army Birthday Combat Experience war games held at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

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Men and women in camouflaged gear huddled behind corroded cars or pressed themselves against crumbling facades, their conversations occasionally interrupted by the roar of a Humvee or the rattle of machine gun fire.

United States troops and soldiers from Russia and Chechnya were waging a pitched battle for control of a dusty town in rural Afghanistan.

To the victor would go the spoils: the location of a long-abandoned nuclear warhead left by the Soviet Union.

But much like everything else at Rene Veluzat’s Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Saugus, Saturday’s battle was fable and fun — a war game put on by hundreds military enthusiasts.

About 250 people from all over the country turned out for Saturday’s war game, where participants used airsoft guns to fire small, biodegradable BB pellets in a struggle for control of both the mock town and the nearby hills.

“This is like the real thing,” Veluzat said as he navigated a Humvee through the mock town that was turned into Saturday’s battlefield. “This is what you’d see.”

Veluzat’s ranch has often been used in film and television as a stand-in for areas of the Middle East and for the past several years has hosted war games as part of the Operation Lion Claws Military Simulation Series.

Saturday’s event, known as the Army Birthday Combat Experience, was meant to provide a look into the strategy and intricacy of military-style combat, according to event producer John Lu, who said the event attracts both civilians and active military personnel.

“This is not a bang-bang, shoot-shoot kind of scenario,” he said.

But it also provides a way to help those who experienced real combat, Lu said.

“We put aside some of the proceeds of the event to help soldiers in need and their families,” Lu said. “It’s a way for us to show our gratitude to those who served.”

Chuck Smalley said he came all the way from Phoenix to take part in Saturday’s event.

“I never got the chance to serve (in the military),” he said. “But I do this so I can show respect to those who did and help out.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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