Fort Irwin Military Reservation

Fort Irwin Military Reservation
Fort Irwin & The National Training Center
San Bernardino County, California
National Training Center SSI.png
NTC Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
Type Training Center
Built 1940
In use 1940–1942;
1980-10-13 – Present.
In use
United States Army
Controlled by US Army Training and Doctrine Command
Garrison COL Kurt J. Pinkerton[1]
BG Terry Ferrell[2]
Occupants 1942-08-14 - 1942-10-20
7th Infantry Division
Aerial view of Fort Irwin
Fort Irwin
—  census-designated place  —
Fort Irwin is located in California
Fort Irwin
Position in California.
Coordinates: 35°14′47″N 116°40′55″W / 35.24639°N 116.68194°W / 35.24639; -116.68194Coordinates: 35°14′47″N 116°40′55″W / 35.24639°N 116.68194°W / 35.24639; -116.68194
Country  United States
State  California
County San Bernardino
 - Total 7.053 sq mi (18.267 km2)
 - Land 7.053 sq mi (18.267 km2)
 - Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
Elevation[4] 2,454 ft (748 m)
Population (2010)
 - Total 8,845
 - Density 1,254.1/sq mi (484.2/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP Code 92310
Area code(s) 760
GNIS feature ID 2628733
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Fort Irwin Military Reservation

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).[4] 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 km²) 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.

Also, the Canadian Forces use the training facilities as well in order to prepare for its role in Afghanistan,[5] as part of their pre-deployment training

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.

Environmental practices

In 2009 the Army Corps of Engineers signed a contract with Irwin Energy Security Partners to build a $2 billion, 500-MW project of solar panels on Fort Irwin.[6]


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 km² (996.055 sq mi), with only 0.3277 km² 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 km²), all of it land.

Within its territory on its western side lies the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. The ZIP Code is 92310 and the reservation is inside area code 760.


The 2010 United States Census[7] reported that Fort Irwin had a population of 8,845. The population density was 1,254.1 people per square mile (484.2/km²). The racial makeup of Fort Irwin was 5,481 (62.0%) White, 1,086 (12.3%) African American, 103 (1.2%) Native American, 402 (4.5%) Asian, 120 (1.4%) Pacific Islander, 916 (10.4%) from other races, and 737 (8.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2,261 persons (25.6%).

The Census reported that 7,507 people (84.9% of the population) lived in households, 1,338 (15.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 2,371 households, out of which 1,532 (64.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,903 (80.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 133 (5.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 54 (2.3%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 13 (0.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 15 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 244 households (10.3%) were made up of individuals and 3 (0.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.17. There were 2,090 families (88.1% of all households); the average family size was 3.41.

The population was spread out with 2,992 people (33.8%) under the age of 18, 1,888 people (21.3%) aged 18 to 24, 3,727 people (42.1%) aged 25 to 44, 224 people (2.5%) aged 45 to 64, and 14 people (0.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23.9 years. For every 100 females there were 132.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 147.9 males.

There were 2,487 housing units at an average density of 352.6 per square mile (136.1/km²), of which 18 (0.8%) were owner-occupied, and 2,353 (99.2%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.3%. 71 people (0.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 7,436 people (84.1%) lived in rental housing units.

See also

  • Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC)
  • Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC)


  1. ^ "Col. Pinkerton assumes command of Fort Irwin Army Garrison," June 1, 2011
  2. ^ "Fort Irwin to Receive New Commander:Abrams to leave post Feb. 7," January 28, 2001
  3. ^ U.S. Census
  4. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Fort Irwin Military Reservation
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Baking in the Mojave Sun: US Army Awards $2B Fort Irwin Solar Farm Project", Defense Industry Daily, October 15, 2009
  7. ^ All data are derived from the United States Census Bureau reports from the 2010 United States Census, and are accessible on-line here. The data on unmarried partnerships and same-sex married couples are from the Census report DEC_10_SF1_PCT15. All other housing and population data are from Census report DEC_10_DP_DPDP1. Both reports are viewable online or downloadable in a zip file containing a comma-delimited data file. The area data, from which densities are calculated, are available on-line here. Percentage totals may not add to 100% due to rounding. The Census Bureau defines families as a household containing one or more people related to the householder by birth, opposite-sex marriage, or adoption. People living in group quarters are tabulated by the Census Bureau as neither owners nor renters. For further details, see the text files accompanying the data files containing the Census reports mentioned above.

External links

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