Camp Blanding Joint Training Center
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Location: Starke, Fla.
Mission: To provide a world-class site where active, National Guard and Army Reserve forces can train varying-size units from squad/section to separate infantry and artillery brigades. Facilities exist to conduct individual and crew-served weapons qualifications, field training exercises, live-fire exercises, and navigation, maneuver, special operations training, airborne and amphibious operations. The center also provides tactical training opportunities for local law enforcement and other civilian first-responder agencies.
Camp Blanding Joint Training Center (CBJTC) near Starke is the National Guard’s premier training site in Florida. The 72,000-acre post provides resources to enhance joint, interagency and multinational training in support of our nation, state and communities. Named after former Chief of the National Guard Bureau Lt. Gen. Albert Hazen Blanding, the post has been an important training site for U.S. military members since World War II.
Camp Blanding is the primary training site for most of the state’s military units and the main combat arms brigade, the Florida National Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. It is also home to the headquarters and support companies of the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, the 211th Infantry Regiment and the 2-111th Airfield Operations Battalion (AOB) Aviation Regiment.
Camp Blanding also houses several non-flying units of the Florida Air National Guard, to include the 202nd Red Horse Squadron, 159th Weather Flight, Weather Readiness Training Center (WRTC), and the joint Army/Air Force 44th Civil Support Team. The base is also a training location for counterdrug units and law enforcement agencies in Florida and functions as the back-up Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the State of Florida.
Camp Blanding aspires to provide resources to enhance joint interagency and multinational training in support of our nation, state and communities. Camp Blanding’s vision is to be the premier regional training center, employing innovative practices and evolving technologies.
Camp Blanding is open 313 days each year for training; on average a typical reserve component training site is only open 173 days per year for training, and the typical active component training site averages only 242 days of training per year.
History: In 1940, Camp Blanding was leased to the United States Army as an active duty training center. The post was originally used by New England and Southern troops preparing for deployment overseas. However, during the course of the war, Camp Blanding served as an infantry replacement training center, an induction center, a German prisoner of war compound, and a separation center. From 1940 to 1945, more than 800,000 Soldiers received all or part of their training at Camp Blanding.
Facilities and capabilities: Camp Blanding Joint Training Center serves a wide range of customers, including – but not limited to – all components of the U.S. military, international forces, federal and state law enforcement agencies and others. Camp Blanding is committed to and capable of supporting both federal and state missions. Utilizing state and federal funds, the post continually searches for new ways to improve existing facilities, create new ranges and construct buildings to better support the needs of its customers.
As a result of the increase in training there has been a need for new facilities as well as upgrading excising facilities. Having quality facilities is important to Camp Blanding being able to provide quality training opportunities for these units and individuals.
On base billeting facilities can accommodate 3,000 personnel (i.e., one standard Army brigade consisting of four battalion areas). Each battalion area has company dining facilities, orderly rooms, officer/enlisted barracks, a supply building and a battalion headquarters building.
Training Areas include three major maneuver areas with a total of 55,000 acres of varied topography—planted pine plantations, swamps, oak hammocks, desert-like terrain—with the ability to support a Light Infantry Brigade plus one Battalion of aggressors. The Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) Collective Training Facility consists of 16 Buildings and a Bridge and Tunnel Trainer.
Ranges: Since 2001 several new ranges have been added to Camp Blanding’s range complex. These include two 32-lane, one 16-lane, and one 10-lane 25-meter zero range, two 10-lane and one 8-lane 10-meter zero range. Also added was an infantry platoon battle course consisting of four villages and a 13-mile live fire course; a modular shoot house for conducting live fire close quarter combat training and an automated combat pistol/MP firearms qualification course. Upgrades were also made to some to existing ranges to give them more capabilities. These include an upgrade to the targetry for M16 record fire range, automated multipurpose machine gun range and crew combat range.
Weapons ranges at Camp Blanding include: 50 live fire ranges capable of handling all weapons systems organic to a Light Infantry Brigade to include Mortars and Artillery; 5 Automated Ranges for small arms and handgun qualification; a Crew Combat Range; four Platoon/Squad Movement to Contact ranges (400 by 800 meters)
Virtual training and simulations: As the U.S. Army looks to augment its training by increasing the use of virtual training systems, Camp Blanding is greatly expanding its virtual training capabilities with the addition of several new facilities as well as upgrades to existing systems. Camp Blanding installed two Warrior Skills Trainers with the combat-redi system, a trainer which uses a virtual world where Soldiers man vehicles and weapons to interact with each other to prepare for overseas deployment. There is also a vehicle combat operation trainer which provides Soldiers a virtual way of operating in a convoy and using their weapons to engage hostile forces at the same time. Along with the two above system was an upgrade to the engagement skills trainer to the EST 2000. This is a virtual weapons trainer that can help a Soldier improve marksmanship skills.
Two additional training simulators at Blanding are the Hummvee egress assistance trainer and the MRAP egress trainer. Both of these trainers help Soldiers learn how to get out of a turned over vehicle. They use actual vehicle bodies mounted on a device where they can be rolled on their sides or upside down. Soldiers are given a class on how to exit an overturned vehicle and then are given the opportunity to practice what they learned.
Additional facilities: Other facilities that have been constructed since Sept. 11, 2001, to improve security and add additional capabilities to Blanding to assist in the training mission are: security building main gate; welcome center; physical fitness ½ mile track; physical fitness center; new ammunition supply point; new telephone office; new fiber optic lines; new physical exam station; troop medical clinic remodel; upgrade to power transmission system; upgrade to fencing at main gate; and air conditioning in all barracks and administrative buildings.
A new air-assault obstacle course and repelling tower were constructed and put into service in 2009. The obstacle course consists of ten obstacles of standard design. The repelling tower is a 150-foot tower with repelling on one side and a climbing wall on the other.
Large-scale military training capabilities: Camp Blanding has become a location for several units to conduct their pre-mobilization training. This training is a 21-day period of additional training conducted by the unit to prepare for mobilization in support of the global war on terror. The training consists of additional weapons training as well as weapons qualification. The units also train on the warrior skill tasks the Army determines as necessary for deployment. From October 2007 to June 2011, a total of 23 units conducted their pre-mobilization training at Camp Blanding. These units deployed in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Another training event conducted at Camp Blanding in support of overseas contingency operations is the Exportable Combat Training Capability, or XCTC. This is a 30+ day training exercise that immerses a unit in an environment like what they will face during their deployment. The training area or “box” is setup to resemble an area typical of the area of deployment. It will have several small to medium villages with personnel acting as civilians living in the village. These role players are assigned specific parts within the village and play off of the actions and reactions that they get from the Soldiers as they interact with them. An attempt has been made to make this training as realistic as possible to prepare the units for interacting with the civilian populations wherever they are deploying. In January 2009, the 32nd Infantry Brigade of the Wisconsin National Guard was the first to experience this exercise at Camp Blanding. In October and November 2010 the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team also had the XCTC experience at Camp Blanding and in 2011, Camp Blanding hosted two XCTC events.