- California State Military
- The California
State Military Museum
- Preserving California's
- Historic California
- Fort Irwin
- (Mojave Antiaircraft
Range, Camp Irwin)
- The Fort Irwin area is rich with history
dating back almost 15,000 years, when Indians of the Lake Mojave
Period were believed to live in the area. Indian settlements
and pioneer explorations in the area were first recorded when
Father Francisco Barces, 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 Indians 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, CPT John C. Fremont, accompanied
by Kit Carson, was the first member of the US Army to visit the
Fort Irwin area. CPT 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.
- In the 1880's the area experienced an
economic boom with the discovery of borax at Death Valley. From
the late 1800's to the early 1900's, 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 Roosevelt established
the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range, a military reservation of approximately
1000 square miles in the area of the present Fort Irwin. In 1942,
the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range was renamed Camp Irwin, in honor
of MG George LeRoy Irwin, commander of the 57th Field Artillery
Brigade during World War I. 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 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.
- 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
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 a National
Training Center. The National Training Center was officially
activated October 16, 1980 and Fort Irwin returned to active
status on July 1, 1981.
- 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, 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 battle field. 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 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.
Officials from many countries have visited the National Training
Center and use it as a model to build their own training centers.
As in the past, Fort Irwin pits soldiers against a harsh environment,
but now adds a determined and formidable opposing force. As during
World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm, the National
Training Center and Fort Irwin continue to train units to fight
and win on the battlefield.
- Fort Irwin's famed
Rock Pile. Units that have trained here for decades have added
their insignia to this monument near the post's entrance
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