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British troops take advantage of snow

LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- British soldiers have been taking advantage of the heavy snowfall in England to train in harsh environmental conditions like they'll face in Afghanistan.

While much of the United Kingdom has been struggling to dig out from the above-average snowfall, more than 2,000 soldiers from the British 19 Light Brigade are trying to make use of the excess snow ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan, the British Ministry of Defense reported.

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The soldiers, who also recently conducted training in Kenya, Belize and Germany, have been conducting Mission Rehearsal Exercises using the snow to replicate what the conditions are like in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan. Officials are simulating a "fictional" Afghanistan to replicate the ongoing challenges soldiers face in the volatile south of the country where a growing Taliban insurgency continues.

"The snow has mirrored what the soldiers will face in Afghanistan, not in terms of temperature, but in terms of the extremity of the conditions," Lt. Col. Nick Richardson, 19 Light Brigade spokesman, said in a statement.

"While the guys have battled with subzero temperatures this week, they will be working in an equally arduous environment during the summer. The conditions have pushed the guys on the ground to dig deep. … That's what will be asked of them in Afghanistan, so, although tough, these last two weeks couldn't have been better preparation."

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