Camp Morena support operations have sustained
Engineer efforts from the Army Guard, Air Guard, Reserve and
Active Duty units throughout the country. Camp Morena was built
was built as a horse cavalry post in 1940 for mountain and cold
weather training. Morena Reservoir
lies in the middle of 3,250 acres of chaparral, oak woods, and
grassland. In addition to these natural attributes, the newly
renovated park features some of the most modern camping facilities
in San Diego County. The lake is the highest (3000 feet) and
most remote of the city's reservoirs.
Once based near the ocean, Team Engineer
works out of Camp Morena in eastern San Diego County. The site
has a headquarters complex, barracks, dining facility, vehicle
maintenance sheds and helipad. Camp Morena supports the counterdrug
operations, as well as all other counterdrug operations in the
area. For example, the Camp houses and feeds JTF-6 units undertaking
counterdrug ops in this area, and provides facilities for the
medevac helicopter that supports the activities. The headquarters
staff runs Camp Morena. There is also a platoon that is dedicated
solely to road-building operations. And there is a platoon that's
dedicated just to fence building.
Located just inside U.S. territory, the
5-to-14-foot-high welded fences are intended to stop or significantly
delay both drug-bearing vehicles and individual smugglers attempting
to dash northward across the border. The roads, which spread
out just behind the fences, improve the U.S. Border Patrol's
ability to monitor the border and apprehend suspected smugglers
before they can disappear into nearby towns and cities.
The California Guard's engineer effort
on the border began in 1989, when the first troops began upgrading
the network of roads used by the Border Patrol. The success of
that first small-scale engineer operation quickly led to the
formation of Task Force Engineer. Among its first missions was
to plan and build a primary east-west patrol road along the border.
The mission was given to the Guard engineers, while active duty,
Guard and Reserve troops began construction of a fence along
the border under the management of the Defense Department's Texas-based
Joint Task Force 6. JTF-6 managed the fence building operation
until October 1996, when it was taken over by the California
Guard engineers. As the fence crept slowly eastward from the
Pacific Ocean, the Guard engineer troops kept slightly ahead,
improving or building roads as they went. Since 1990 Team Engineer
has helped construct, maintain or improve some 600 miles of road
along the border, in the process moving nearly 1 million linear
cubic yards of earth while adhering to all applicable environmental
regulations and guidelines.
The active duty California Amy and Air
Guard Counterdrug troops assigned to Team Engineer or Camp Morena
work on the fence project. It is undoubtedly one of the ugliest
fences ever constructed, emerging from the Pacific off of the
San Diego coast and coursing along California's border with Mexico
toward the Jacumba Mountains. Surplus corrugated steel runway
sections, welded to steel rails which are welded to steel pipe
that are sunk ten feet into concrete are purely function over
appearance. Running its length is a network of support roads,
which, like the fence, are still a work in progress. Both the
fence and roads are a marvel when one looks at the landscape's
drastic change from west to east. The makeup of the terrain becomes
more rocky, mountainous and the soil dryer and harder towards
the east. From an engineering standpoint, the fence and barriers
function extremely well. They were designed and built to create
a dry dam to force the drug flow into the ports of entry, areas
well in the control of the US Border Patrol and Customs Agents.
11th Cavalry Regiment and Camp Morena
In 1939 General George C. Marshall became
Army Chief of Staff. With war clouds looming over Europe, Marshall
knew it was only a matter of time before the United States was
drawn into another conflict overseas. In order to prepare the
60,000-man army, he began a program to get the men out of the
barracks and into the field for a year of "toughening up."
Tent camps were to be constructed and in turn various regiments
of cavalry and infantry would take to the field. By September
1940 General Marshall had convinced Congress to begin the first-ever
peacetime draft beginning in September 1940. In November 1940
the field rotation for the 11th Cavalry began.
The new camps for the Regiment were constructed
in San Diego and Imperial counties, near the Southern California/Mexican
border. Camp Seeley, near El Centro,
California and Camp Morena; near Campo were built simultaneously.
Camp Seeley was used for desert training, training the horses
to swim with rider up (mounted) and was the location of Regiment's
rifle and machine gun ranges. Camp Morena was for mountain and
cold weather training. The Regiment would rotate Squadrons between
the two throughout the year. It was later decided to establish
a single camp suitable to house the entire Regiment at one site.
Construction of Camp Lockett (named
for Colonel James Lockett, 4th Colonel of the Regiment) in Campo,
where "E" Troop had been posted in 1918, began in 1941.
Built by the Quartermaster Corps, it is generally acknowledged
that Camp Lockett was the last designated mounted cavalry camp
constructed in the U.S. Army's history. It remained a cavalry
post for the 10th and 28th Cavalry Regiments after the 11th gave
up its horses. Today the El Centro/Camp Seeley area remains the
home of the 11th Cavalry Horse Honor Guard (Historical) - "The
Led by Harold M. Rayner, (16th Colonel
of the Regiment) the main body moved from the Presidio of Monterey
to the Camp Seeley/Camp Morena duty stations. By this time the
Regiment had reverted to three troops (companies) per squadron.
The Regiment's HQ, First Squadron and Provisional Squadron were
based at Camp Seeley, while Second Squadron was posted at Camp
Moreno. In March 1941, some 700 draftees from Illinois, Wisconsin
and Michigan joined the Regiment. They were the first conscripts
to have ridden with the Regiment.
The Regiment underwent extensive training
until 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
On 10 December, the entire Regiment was ordered to occupy the
unfinished Camp Lockett. Those units based at Camp Morena made
the five-mile trek in short order. The Squadrons based at Camp
Seeley commenced what became the last "Forced March"
in U.S. Horse Cavalry history, completing the ninety mile march
over extremely rocky, mountainous terrain in one and a half days.
Once at Camp Lockett, horse-drawn artillery units occupied Camp
Seeley while its rifle range continued to be used by cavalry
units from Camp Lockett. Camp Morena was closed.
Immediately following the bombing of Pearl
Harbor, there were wild reports of Japanese attacks on the California
coast. Once at Camp Lockett, the regiment was posted along the
United States/Mexico border for the fourth time in its history;
this time to counter the rumored threat of enemy troops landing
in Baja California and marching north. Once the threat was proven
to be false, the 11th Cavalry Regiment was relieved by the 10th
and the 28th (Horse) Cavalry and stood down to await further
orders. They were supposed to ship out for Australia, but many
of the troopers came down with jaundice from the yellow fever
vaccinations, so they remained in California for the time being
Today, Camp Morena, as well as nearby
Camp Michael Mansoor, are sub-installations of Naval Base Coranado.