Fort Irwin


The National Training Center (NTC), located at Fort Irwin, CA, is the only instrumented training facility in the world that is suitable for force-on-force and live fire training of heavy brigade-sized military forces. The realistic training provided at the NTC assures soldiers are adequately prepared to protect and preserve US interests here and abroad. Each month the NTC provides 4000-5000 soldiers, from other installations, the essential training opportunities necessary to maintain and improve military readiness and promote national security. The evolving sophistication of military equipment and advances in technology require a comprehensive battlefield that realistically simulates the tempo, range, and intensity of current, and future conflicts.

The National Training Center is the Army's premier heavy maneuver Combat Training Center (CTC). As large as the state of Rhode Island, the fully instrumented NTC allows live Brigade level force-on-force exercises to be conducted numerous times each year. The depth and width of the battle space gives brigade elements the unique opportunity to exercise all of its elements in a realistic environment. Commanders must be able to communicate through up to eight communications corridors, evacuate casualties over forty kilometers, and navigate at night in treacherous terrain with few distinguishable roads. Other environmental conditions such as a forty to fifty degree  temperature range, winds over forty-five knots, and constant exposure to the sun stresses every system and soldier to their limit.

Fort Irwin is located approximately thirty-seven miles northeast of Barstow, California in the Mojave Desert midway between Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California. The installation is surrounded by desert hills and mountains. Natural vegetation is sparse and consists of mesquite, creosote, yucca's, and other low growing plants. Beautiful sunsets, blue skies, sunny days and wide open vistas are some of the pleasures of the desert and give many a sense of freedom.

The entire reservation encompasses more than 642,000 acres of training area, with the northern boundary less than two miles from Death Valley National Monument. The San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains extend in an east-west path seventy-three miles southwest of Bicycle Lake. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, oriented north to south, are to the west. Elevations in excess of 10,000 feet are common in these ranges.

The Fort Irwin area is rich with history dating back almost 20,000 years:


·          Pinta Indians lived in the Fort Irwin area 19,500 years ago. Several springs on post served as watering holes for Indian hunting parties.

·          The Old Spanish Trail cut through the reservation en route   to what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bitter Springs was one of the stopovers.

·          Captain John C. Fremont was the first member of the Army to visit Bitter Springs. Accompanied by Kit Carson, he passed through the present reservation in 1844.

In 1846, the Army's Mormon Battalion was stationed in  

·          the area, with headquarters near the Cajon Pass.

·          In 1860, the Army returned to the Fort Irwin area. During the Indian Wars a unit patrolled the general area and established a base camp on a hill overlooking Bitter Springs. They constructed a small stone fort there.

·          In the 1930s General George Patton used the area as a maneuver site for tanks and other armored vehicles.

·          In 1940 President Roosevelt established a military reservation of one thousand square miles where the main area of Fort Irwin is now located. It was named the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range. In 1942 the name was changed to Camp Irwin in honor of Major General George Leroy Irwin (possibly a “cousin”?), battle commander of the 57th Field Artillery Brigade.

·          Fort Irwin was deactivated in 1944, but was reopened in 1951 during the Korean War.

·          The post was designated a permanent Class I installation in August 1961, and renamed Fort Irwin. During the Viet Nam build up of our military many types of units, but primarily artillery and engineer, were trained and deployed directly to Southeast Asia.

·          In January 1971 the post was again deactivated and placed in the maintenance status under control of Fort McArthur, California. In 1972 full responsibility for the post was assumed by the California Army National Guard. Despite deactivation, the post has served as a training site for the National Guard and Army Reserve elements since World War II.

·          On October 16, 1980, the National Training Center was officially activated there following years of planning and studies by the Department of the Army, Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces Command and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

·          On July 1, 1981, the fort was again reactivated as an active U.S. Army installation and designated the National Training Center.


Army tactics were originally structured around equipment that could effectively engage an enemy at ranges of one to twelve miles. Today's Army equipment effectively engages an enemy at ranges up to sixty miles away. Also, the pace of tactical operations has increased from ten miles per hour to more than twenty-five miles per hour. A modern tank can now reach speeds of more than sixty miles per hour. Our military forces’ experience in the Desert Storm operation confirmed the need to train heavy mechanized units in larger, brigade-sized assemblages. Modern tactics involve a more diffuse, faster moving Army. The new generation of sophisticated equipment and technology will allow it to move faster, endure greater distances and engage more enemies.

The Cold War may have been more dangerous, but the current geo-strategic environment is much more complex. The next generation of threats to U.S. security may come from a divergent array of sources; regional instabilities, terrorism and rogue nations. The ability to fight and win on any battlefield anywhere in the world for the foreseeable future is essential to the mission of the U.S. Army of the 21st Century.

The result is a greater number of soldiers and equipment spread over larger land areas. It was obvious—some twenty years ago—that the lands at the NTC were not adequate to realistically support the changes in distance and pace of equipment, along with the training needs of future brigade-sized units. The designation of the Army National Guard Mobilization and Training Equipment Site was changed to Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) in 1998, and  is currently being enlarged. It is a twenty million-dollar facility that was approved by President Clinton in December 2000 (H.R. 5666). The expansion will provide Fort Irwin with additional areas of operation for heavy force-on-force maneuvers. The value inherent in such flexibility cannot be overstated. Realistic training is at the very heart of the NTC. Today, it is considered to be the premier training site of the U.S. Army, as well as Marine Corps mechanized units.

                                                 Researched from various sources on the Internet –Ed.                    


From The Gipper:

-“Here’s my strategy for the cold war: We win, they lose.”

-“Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have made a difference in the world. Marines don’t have that      problem”

-“It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

-"Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the U.S. was too strong."

-"I've wondered what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress."

-"The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the Federal Government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination."

-"Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."

                                           Ronald Reagan   1903—2004