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    Fort Irwin, CA History

    The pre-military history of the Fort Irwin area goes back 15,000 years; once this was the home of Indians of the Lake Mojave Period. Although archaeologists have unearthed remains of cultures thousands of years old.

    The military history of the area begins in 1844 that a member of the U.S Army, Captain John C. Fremont, established a camp in the area. Settlers moving to California suffered a variety of threats, including hostile Indian people, bandits, and rustlers, and the Army was ordered to provide security where possible. From the late 1800's to the early 1900's, the camp saw a variety of changes. It was a major supply center for pioneers during California's gold rush, a safe point for settlers during the Indian Wars, and a witness to the the boom of mining operations with the discovery of borax (a mineral chemical commonly used in many compounds, including detergents, ceramics, fire retardants, cosmetics, and enamels).

    At the beginning of World War II, President Roosevelt ordered 1,000 acres in Southern California's High Desert to be established as the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range. It was renamed Camp Irwin in 1942, after Major General George Irwin, distinguished artillerist of World War I. During WWII, the camp was used for anti-air gunnery training, and to house a small number of Italian prisoners of war.

    After the war, Irwin was deactivated until 1951, when the Armored Combat Training Area (later renamed Army Armor and Desert Training Center) was established at the camp. In 1961, it became a permanent installation and was renamed Fort Irwin. Once again, in 1971, the fort was deactivated, and used by the Army National Guard as a Reserve Component Training Center. It reopened in 1981, when Fort Irwin was chosen as the site of the National Training Center.

    The National Training Center is where realistic battlefield training missions are carried out, and soldiers are prepared and taught how to navigate the stressors of the battlefield. Unlike most regular training centers, the facilities of NTC are able to support live Brigade level force-on-force exercises. To further these invaluable learning opportunities, NTC gained an additional 133,000 training acres in 2000. Presently, Fort Irwin continues to uphold its reputation as the Army's lead training center.