BUTLERVILLE, Ind. — For American civilians serving in Afghanistan, the last stop before they ship out to Kabul or Kandahar is a dilapidated, vaguely foreboding institution that once served as a farm colony for “feeble-minded” boys, and later was a state mental hospital.

The Army and the Indiana National Guard have turned the windswept complex, known as Muscatatuck, into a simulacrum of a war-torn Afghan city, with a courthouse, a jail and a graffiti-smeared marketplace. While the table-flat farmland around here hardly evokes the Hindu Kush, this is where the government trains Americans who are part of the most ambitious civilian campaign the United States has mounted in a foreign country in generations — a “civilian surge” intended to improve the lives of Afghans.

Article by Mark Landler
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