Music - "The Rifle Regiment March"
National Training Center
Fort Irwin, California
As of July 13, 2012
Fort Irwin provides realistic joint and combined arms training focused on developing Soldiers, leaders, and units of America's Army for success on the 21st century battlefield.
Fort Irwin is located approximately 37 miles northeast of Barstow, California midway between Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California. The High Mojave Desert's hills and mountains surround the installation.
Beautiful sunsets, blue skies, sunny days and wide-open vistas are some of the pleasures of the desert that give many a sense of freedom. However, expect the primary colors to be tan and brown
National Training Center Shoulder Patch
Fort Irwin & the National Training Center (NTC) is a major training area for the United States Military and is a census-designated place located in the Mojave Desert in northern San Bernardino County, California. Fort Irwin sits at an elevation of 2,454 feet (748 m). The 2010 United States census reported Fort Irwin's population was 8,845.
The base is part of the Installation Management Command (IMCOM). The opposing force at the NTC is the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Blackhorse Cavalry, who are stationed at the base to provide an enemy force to units on a training rotation at Fort Irwin.
Fort Irwin works within the R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex.
The Fort Irwin area has a history dating back almost 15,000 years, when Native Americans of the Lake Mojave Period were believed to live in the area. Native American settlements and pioneer explorations in the area were first recorded when Father Francisco Garces, a Spaniard, traveled the Mojave Indian Trail in 1796. During his travels, he noted several small bands of Indians and is believed to have been the first European to make contact with the Native Americans of this area.
Jedediah Smith is thought to have been the first American to explore the area in 1826. A fur trapper, Smith was soon followed by other pioneers traveling the Old Spanish Trail between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Bitter Springs, on the eastern edge of Fort Irwin, was a favorite stop over site.
In 1844, Captain John C. Fremont, accompanied by Kit Carson, was the first member of the US Army to visit the Fort Irwin area. Captain Fremont established a camp near Bitter Springs that served travelers on the Old Spanish Trail, and later the Mormon Trail, linking Salt Lake City to California. This camp was later to become an important supply center for pioneers during California's settlement and gold rush.
The California Gold Rush brought prosperous trade and unexpected trouble to the area. As California grew, and more travelers used the trails to enter the territory, raids and horse stealing became a problem. In 1846, the Army's Mormon Battalion patrolled the Fort Irwin area to control the raiding and horse stealing. During the Indian Wars the Army constructed a small stone fort overlooking Bitter Springs and patrolled the Fort Irwin area.
National Training Center Sign.
In the 1880s the area experienced an economic boom with the discovery of borax at Death Valley. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the area began to grow tremendously as mining operations of all types flourished. Soon railroads, workers, and businesses led to the establishment of the nearby town of Barstow.
The years following the Indian Wars were quiet militarily. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range, a military reservation of approximately 1,000 square miles (3,000 km2) in the area of the present Fort Irwin. In 1942, the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range was renamed Camp Irwin, in honor of Major General George Leroy Irwin, commander of the 57th Field Artillery Brigade during World War I, and it was subsumed into the Desert Training Center as one of its cantonment areas and some of its ranges. Two years later, Camp Irwin was deactivated and placed on surplus status.
Camp Irwin reopened its gates in 1951 as the Armored Combat Training Area and served as a training center for combat units during the Korean War. Regimental tank companies of the U.S. 43d Infantry Division from Camp Pickett, Virginia were the first to train at the new facility.
The post was designated a permanent installation on 1 August 1961 and renamed Fort Irwin. During the Vietnam buildup, many units, primarily artillery and engineer, trained and deployed from Fort Irwin.
In January 1971, the post was deactivated again and placed in maintenance status under the control of Fort MacArthur (Los Angeles), California. The California National Guard assumed full responsibility for the post in 1972. From 1972 to late 1980, Fort Irwin was used primarily as a training area by the National Guard and reserve components.
National Training Center
Soldiers move forward to search a building during training at the National Training Center. Long known for large-scale tank vs. tank battles, NTC now provides extensive training in urban operations as of September 1, 2005.
On August 9, 1979, the Department of the Army announced that Fort Irwin had been selected as the site for the National Training Center. With over 1000 square miles (2590 kmē) for maneuver and ranges, an uncluttered electromagnetic spectrum, airspace restricted to military use, and its isolation from densely populated areas, Fort Irwin was an ideal site for this facility. The National Training Center was officially activated October 16, 1980 and Fort Irwin returned to active status on July 1, 1981.
Troops from the 3rd Infantry patrol the California desert during a training mission.
Rock formation painted by units visiting Ft. Irwin
Since its activation, the National Training Center has witnessed many firsts. The first unit to train against the Opposing Force at the NTC were from 1st Brigade, U.S. 1st Infantry Division in January 1982. Infantry and engineer units first augmented the Opposing Force in 1984. June 1984 saw the first use of M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley fighting vehicles on the National Training Center battlefield. The first armored cavalry squadron rotation occurred in November 1984. Units from the 101st Airborne Division participated in the first light force rotation in March 1985. The 197th Infantry Brigade participated in the first extended rotation with brigade operations in June 1985. The first combined Light/Mechanized Infantry rotation took place in February 1990; the 7th Infantry Division (Light) from Fort Ord, CA and the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) from Fort Stewart, GA participated. The first MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) mission was conducted at the National Training Center Pioneer Training Facility in December 1993.
The National Training Center and Fort Irwin continue to serve as the Army's premier training center. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the National Training Center has transformed to focus on continuous counterinsurgency operations that reflect the ongoing and rapidly changing battlefield.
It is a common tradition for any military unit visiting the installation to paint a design on one of the large rock formations near the main gate. Units of all types and locations are represented.
Center of Medina Wasl, a mock village in National Training Center
Panorama of Medina Wasl
One of the unique aspects of the base is the presence of several mock "villages" which are used to train troops in urban warfare prior to their deployment. The villages are supposed to mimic real villages from Iraq and Afghanistan and have variety of buildings like mosques, hotels, traffic circles, etc. filled with Arabic-speaking actors playing villagers, street vendors, and insurgents. The biggest two are known as Medina Wasl and Medina Jabal, and are located several miles from Fort Irwin. Most of the buildings are created using intermodal containers like Lego, but some can be much more elaborate and are actually build using Iraqi building standards.
Fort Irwin is located at:
35°15′44.96″N 116°40′28.96″W / 35.2624889°N 116.6747111°W / 35.2624889; -116.6747111 . It has a total area of 2,579.77 kmē (996.055 sq mi), with only 0.3277 kmē of this area as water, according to the United States Census Bureau, however the CDP covers an area of 7.1 square miles (18.3 kmē), all of it land.