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The Desert Training Center (DTC), also known as California-Arizona Maneuver Area (CAMA), was a World War II training facility established in the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert, largely in Southern California and Western Arizona in 1942.

Desert Training Center
Part of United States Army
Southern California/Western Arizona
Desert training center - map.png
Map of Desert Training Center
Coordinates33°39′42″N 115°43′20″W / 33.66167°N 115.72222°W / 33.66167; -115.72222
TypeArmy Training Area
Site history
Built1942
In use1942–1944
Garrison information
Past
commanders
Major General George S. Patton, Jr., April–August 1942.
Desert Training Center map US Army 1943

Its mission was to train United States Army and Army Air Corps units and personnel to live and fight in the desert, to test and develop suitable equipment, and to develop tactical doctrines, techniques and training methods.

It was a key training facility for units engaged in combat during the 1942–1943 North African campaign. It stretched from the outskirts of Pomona, California eastward to within 50 miles of Phoenix, Arizona, southward to the suburbs of Yuma, Arizona and northward into the southern tip of Nevada.

HistoryEdit

 
Catholic Chapel at Camp Iron Mountain, WW2 era. Camp Iron Mountain is the best-preserved divisional camp today. Now preserved in Mojave Trails National Monument.

This simulated theater of operation was the largest military training ground in the history of military maneuvers. A site near Shavers Summit (now known as Chiriaco Summit) between Indio and Desert Center, was selected as the headquarters of the DTC. The site, called Camp Young, was the world's largest army post.

Major General George S. Patton Jr. came to Camp Young as the first commanding general of the DTC. As a native of southern California, Patton knew the area well from his youth and from having participated in army maneuvers in the Mojave Desert in the 1930s. His first orders were to select other areas within the desert that would be suitable for the large-scale maneuvers necessary to prepare American soldiers for combat against the German Afrika Korps in the North African desert.

Patton and his advanced team designated various locations within the area where tent camps would be built. The camps were situated so that each unit could train individually without interfering with the other. Airfields, hospitals, supply depots and sites for other support services were selected as was a corps maneuvering area. The plan was that each division and or major unit would train in its own area, and near the end of its training period would participate in a corps (two divisions or more) exercise in the corps maneuvering area at Palen Pass. Upon completion of the corps exercise, the trained units would leave the DTC, and new units would arrive to begin their training and the process repeated.

By March 1943, the North African campaign was in its final stages and the primary mission of the DTC had changed. By the middle of 1943, the troops who originally came for desert training maneuvers, were now deployed worldwide. Therefore, to reflect that change in mission, the name of the center was changed to the California-Arizona Maneuver Area (C-AMA or CAMA). The CAMA was to serve as a theater of operations to train combat troops, service units and staffs under conditions similar to those which might be encountered overseas. The CAMA was enlarged to include both a communications zone and combat zone, approximately 350 miles wide and 250 miles long.[1][2]

LineageEdit

  • Activated 1 April 1942
Radio message Headquarters, War Department, Washington, D.C.
  • Re-designated: California-Arizona Maneuver Area, 20 October 1943
War Department Memo W210-27-43, dated 18 October 1943
  • Closed 1 July 1944
War Department Circular 207, 20 June 1944

FacilitiesEdit

 
Camp Ibis, 607th Tank Destroyer Battalion, circa 1942
 
Training at Camp Iron Mountain, 1942

Army Divisional CampsEdit

Army DepotsEdit

Army AirfieldsEdit

 
Camp Goffs Army Field Train station, 1943
 
Camp Goffs Army Field, 1943

HospitalsEdit

Mohave Maneuver Area CEdit

 
Mohave Maneuver Area C, former Desert Training Center land
 
Mohave Maneuver Area C, river crossings training program in 1964

In May of 1964 part of the former Desert Training Center was reacquired for the site of Mohave Maneuver Area C. Mohave Maneuver Area C was used a training grounds for a two-week training program. The training program had large maneuvers and some river crossings training programs. Mohave Maneuver Area C was 781,452 acres located in the Mohave County, Arizona.[5]

Present day sitesEdit

Most of the sites can be visited, but some are difficult to reach. In most cases the only things that remain at the camp sites are streets, sidewalks, building foundations, patterns of hand-laid rocks for various purposes and trash dumps.

Monuments have been erected at some of the camp sites and there are areas within CAMA that are fenced off with danger signs warning of unexploded ordnance.

The General George S. Patton Memorial Museum is located near the former entrance of Camp Young.

California Historical LandmarkEdit

California Historical Landmarks Marker at Desert Training Center sites reads:

Camp Pilot Knob - Imperial

  • NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP PILOT KNOB - Camp Pilot Knob was a unit of the Desert Training Center, established by General George S. Patton, Jr., to prepare American troops for battle during World War II. It was the largest military training ground ever to exist. At the peak of activity here at Pilot Knob, June-December, 1943, the 85th Infantry Division, and the 36th and 44th Reconnaissance Squadrons of the 11th (Mechanized) Cavalry trained here for roles in the liberation of Europe, 1944-45.[6]

Camp Young - Riverside

  • NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP YOUNG - The D.T.C. was established by Major General George S. Patton, Jr., in response to a need to train American combat troops for battle in North Africa during World War II. The camp, which began operation in 1942, covered 18,000 square miles. It was the largest military training ground ever to exist. Over one million men were trained at the eleven sub-camps (seven in California).[7]

Camp Granite - Riverside

  • NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP GRANITE - Camp Granite was established at this site in the Spring of 1942. It was one of twelve such camps built in the southwestern desert to harden and train United States troops for service on the battlefields of World War II. The Desert Training Center was a simulated theater of operations that included portions of California, Arizona and Nevada. The other camps were Young, Granite, Iron Mountain, Ibis, Clipper, Pilot Knob, Laguna, Horn, Hyder, Bouse and Rice. A total of 13 infantry divisions and 7 armored divisions plus numerous smaller units were trained in this harsh environment. The Training Center was in operation for almost 2 years and was closed early in 1944 when the last units were shipped overseas. During the brief period of operation over one million American soldiers were trained for combat.[8]

Camp Coxcomb - Riverside

  • NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP COXCOMB - Camp Coxcomb was established at this site in the Spring of 1942. It was one of twelve such camps built in the southwestern desert to harden and train United States troops for service on the battlefields of World War II. The Desert Training Center was a simulated theater of operations that included portions of California, Arizona and Nevada. The other camps were Young, Granite, Iron Mountain, Ibis, Clipper, Pilot Knob, Laguna, Horn, Hyder, Bouse and Rice. A total of 13 infantry divisions and 7 armored divisions plus numerous smaller units were trained in this harsh environment. The Training Center was in operation for almost 2 years and was closed early in 1944 when the last units were shipped overseas. During the brief period of operation over one million American soldiers were trained for combat.[9]

Camp Iron Mountain - San Bernadino

  • NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP IRON MOUNTAIN - Iron Mountain Divisional Camp was established at this site in the Spring of 1942. One of eleven such camps built in the California-Arizona Desert to harden and train United States troops for service on the battlefields of World War II. The first major unit trained here was the 3rd Armored Division followed by elements of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Armored Divisions. In all, one million men trained in the desert before the Training Center was officially closed in May of 1944. The most unique feature built at this camp is the huge relief map built into the desert floor. It can still be seen (1985).'[10]


Camp Clipper - San Bernadino

  • NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP CLIPPER - Camp Clipper was established at a site that reached from Essex Road to this location in the Spring of 1942. It was one of twelve such camps built in the southwestern deserts to harden and train United States troops for service on the battlefields of World War II. The Desert Training Center was a simulated theater of operations that included portions of California, Arizona, and Nevada. The other camps were Young, Coxcomb, Iron Mountain, Ibis, Granite, Pilot Knob, Laguna, Horn, Ryder, Bouse and Rice. A total of 13 infantry divisions and 7 armored divisions plus numerous smaller units were trained in this harsh environment. The Training Center was in operation for almost two years and was closed early in 1944 when the last units were shipped overseas. During the brief period of operation over one million American soldiers were trained for combat. The 33rd and 93rd Infantry Divisions were trained here.[11]

Camp Ibis - San Bernadino

  • NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP IBIS - Camp Ibis was established at this site in the Spring of 1942-one of eleven such camps built in the California-Arizona Desert to harden and train United States Troops for service on the battlefields of World War II. The 440th AAA AW Battalion was activated per General Order No. 1 at Camp Haan, CA on July 1, 1942. It trained at Camp M.A.A.R. (Irwin), Camps Young, Iron Mountain, Ibis, and then Camps Pickett, VA and Steward, GA. The battalion shipped out to England in December 1943 and landed in Normandy on D-3. The unit earned 5 Battle Stars and 2 Foreign Awards while serving with the 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 9th U.S. Armies, the 1st French Army and the 2nd British Army, 7 different corps and 5 different divisions. The 440th AAA AW BN was deactivated in December 1944.[12]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • Henley, David C. (1992). The Land That God Forgot: The Saga of Gen. George Patton's Desert Training Camp (revised ed.). Fallon, NV: Western Military History Association. p. 54. OCLC 76951993.
  • Lynch, John S. (1982). Patton's Desert Training Center. Ft. Meyer, VA: Council on America's Military Past. p. 56. OCLC 10132301.
  • Meller, Sidney L.; Army Ground Forces, Washington, DC, Historical Section (1946). History of the Army Ground Forces. Study Number 15. The Desert Training Center and C-AMA, (California–Arizona Maneuver Area). Ft. Belvoir, MD: Defense Technical Information Center. p. 132. OCLC 227994530.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at CMH.
  • USACE FUDS ASR's (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – formerly used defense sites – Archive Search Report)
  • Bischoff, Matt C. (2000). The Desert Training Center/ California–Arizona Maneuver Area, 1942–1944: Historical and Archaeological Contexts (Technical). Statistical Research, Inc. ISBN 978-1879442757. OCLC 45131829.
  • Bischoff, Matt C. (2006). The Desert Training Center/California–Arizona Maneuver Area, 1942–1944: Volume 2: Historical and Archaeological Contexts for the Arizona Desert. Statistical Research, Inc. ISBN 978-1879442955. OCLC 599896923.

External linksEdit