MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center opened its newest, live fire, full immersion, training area at Range 220 with a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 25, 2011.
The 274-acre Combined Arms Military Operations on Urban Terrain range complex is composed of 1,560 buildings and is roughly equivalent in size to downtown San Diego. It was designed to allow Marines to practice and refine the complex and dangerous tactics while being deployed to urban settings around the world, according to a Combat Center release.
Although service members have been training on sections of the complex for some time, the completion of the facility makes it the Marine Corps’ largest training range, said Col. David A. Smith, the program manager with Training Systems, Marine Corps Systems Command, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
“This is absolutely a great investment and a great training venue, not only for the Marine Corps, but other branches and our allies,” Smith said. “This is the jewel in the crown so to speak. It’s a great cap off to [the Combat Center], which is already a great training base.”
Smith added the advantages of the new range will bear fruits when the Marines are overseas. The complex will be able to support elements from a small 12-man squad up to a full Marine Expeditionary Brigade and all of its supporting units, about 15,000 Marines and sailors.
“The CAMOUT facility gives us the opportunity to train on a larger scale than before,” Smith said. “The facility is oriented toward urban training, giving Marines a chance to train in everything from platoon and squad tactics, to room clearing and humanitarian assistance.”
With realistic settings such as classrooms, markets, hotels and other businesses, complete with role-players, Marines will experience the difficulties they will face during deployments as they communicate, coordinate, maneuver and operate in urban settings. Besides what they can plainly see, Marines will also be on the lookout for escape tunnels, hiding places, weapons caches and other dangerous spaces as they search basements, “spiderhole” hiding places, almost 1,900 feet of underground tunnels, a manmade riverbed and dozens of courtyards and compounds, according to the Combat Center release.
“The facility has been in the works close to nine years now,” said Brig. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III, the Combat Center’s commanding general, “Before this there was no facility like this in the Marine Corps,” he said. “This is a very unique facility for the Marine Corps and the [Department of Defense].”
The building is touted by its makers as one of the largest of its kind in the DoD. Clardy said the facility, which is one of the largest in the DoD, is not just an investment in training.
“This place will certainly accomplish our mission of bringing Marines back alive,” said Clardy. “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”