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Camp Ashland, Nebraska is an Army National Guard facility located near Ashland, Nebraska, along the Platte River. The camp has been in use by the Nebraska National Guard for more than 100 years. It was first established in 1906 after the Spanish-American War as a rifle range, in order for Nebraska Soldiers to have score their target practice. At the time, the owner of the land rented part of her farm to the state of Nebraska for $994.05. The state constructed ranges and conducted "encampments" (now known as annual training) at the site and renewed the lease option. The Federal government purchased the land in 1916.[1]

When troops from Nebraska returned home from World War I in 1919, the camp had fallen into disrepair. Repairs were conducted using Federal funds, and in 1923 annual trainings once again occurred at Camp Ashland. During this time frame, the camp developed rapidly. An administration building was constructed, along with a wooden boxing ring. In 1930, Memorial Hall was dedicated, and served as the Camp's primary administration building for decades (currently known as Building 50). During the 1930s the boxing ring was rebuilt by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) into a concrete arena with a 3,000 person capacity. Eventually, the firing-range operations were moved to a location 130 miles southwest, currently known as Greenlief Training Site, near Hastings, Nebraska.[2]

It is currently home to the 209th Regional Training Institute (RTI), which consists of Headquarters (HQ), 209th RTI, 1/209th RTI (NCO Academy), 2/209th RTI (OCS/WOCS), 3/209th RTI (88M), and Camp Ashland Training Site Command (CATS). Year-round training is conducted at Camp Ashland, and it is considered one of the midwest's most important military training centers, with 80,000 to 100,000 service members training at the camp every year. Each weekend can see anywhere from 300 to 1000 troops at the camp, above and beyond the service members attending schools there.[3] Access to the camp is restricted to the public and only authorized personnel and those with United States Department of Defense (DOD) identification are allowed to enter. Camp Ashland has remained a primary training site for the Nebraska National Guard throughout its history, and has also been used by other branches of the active United States military, other state National Guard units, and for military joint force training exercises with units from other countries. The camp has been used by many other groups, such as the Civil Air Patrol, JROTC, and Boy Scouts.

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HQ 209th RTIEdit

Headquarters (HQ) 209th RTI's mission is to provide leadership and support for the subordinate battalions of the 209th RTI, and also for Camp Ashland Training Site Command (CATS).

1/209th RTIEdit

1st Battalion's mission as an NCO Academy is to facilitate Soldiers' training needs by providing tactical and technical training. The current primary course for 1st BN is the Basic Leader Course (BLC), which is taught at the 209th RTI to active duty U.S. Army Soldiers, Army National Guard Soldiers, and Army Reserve Soldiers.

2/209th RTIEdit

2nd Battalion's mission is to conduct the Officer Candidate School (OCS) and Warrant officer (United States) Candidate School (WOCS). OCS and WOCS graduates go on to become leaders as officers in the United States military.

3/209th RTIEdit

3rd Battalion's mission is the operation of the 88M Medium Transportation Military Occupational Specialty Training (MOS-T) Course as set forth by the U.S. Army Transportation Corps in Fort Lee, Virginia. This course is provided to members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve who are reclassifying to the 88M MOS (United States military occupation code for Motor Transport Operator). The 88M course consists of two phases, each phase is two weeks in length, and are generally taught consecutively for 28 days. During Phase I, students are taught in the operation of M1083 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) five-ton trucks, and M915 tractor trucks with coupled M872 trailers. During Phase II, the students are taught in the operation of M1120 HEMTT Load Handling System (LHS) trucks, along with the M1076 PLS trailer. The 88M MOS-T course has been taught at Camp Ashland since 2008.

CATSEdit

Camp Ashland Training Site Command (CATS) covers both Camp Ashland and Greenlief Training site, provides lodging and logistical support for both sites, along with facilitating scheduling for training events at the two sites. CATS also facilitates semi-private, cabin, recreational-vehicle, and campground lodging for current and former military and DOD members.[4]

2019 Flooding Edit

Camp Ashland is located in a flood plain by virtue of its proximity to the Platte River. Due to previous flood issues, the military has steadily increased the camp's flood protection plan over the years, from a five foot high protective berm/levee, to 3 foot high flood-control barrier doors following a 2015 flood that caused $3.7 million in damage.[5] In March 2019, however, historic flooding ravaged Camp Ashland, causing unprecedented damage. On March 14, 2019, the Salt Creek (Platte River) flooded from the southeast side of the camp, sweeping through with mud and debris. Salt Creek itself crested at 22.11 feet depth.[6] Then, two days later, the Platte River itself broke through the protective levee on the east/northeast side, bringing an even larger flood of water along with more debris and heavy amounts of sand and mud across the camp. In all, 51 of the 62 buildings on the camp were heavily damaged or destroyed, and the entire camp was left looking like a war zone. It was the worst disaster in the camp's 100-year history, with water cresting along the camp anywhere from 5 to 7 feet (well above the flood-control doors), facilitating the need for extensive repairs to nearly every area of the camp. Any scheduled training that could still be conducted was moved to alternate locations, with many training events ending up cancelled. The only buildings on camp to escape significant damage were those built on stilts in 1997. Currently Nebraska military representatives would like to expand that plan to so that any replacement buildings would also be raised on stilts.[7][8]

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