book NTC Fort Irwin in detail
Special No.7
Robert Burik
Wings & Wheels Publications.
Published by RAK, Czech Republic.
ISBN 978-80-86416-72-4

104 pages all in colour.

Review by Terry Ashley

This title from Wings & Wheels Publications is number 7 in their Special Series and chronicles the activities at the US Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin situated in the Mojave Desert in California and is well known for the simulation of Soviet vehicles and tactics in training but has shifted emphasis due to the ever changing face of challenges especially in the current deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The soft cover 24cm x 29cm book has 104 glossy pages entirely in colour with the all English text kept to a minimum allow the maximum space for the high quality photos to show the many vehicles and personal involved in the NTCs operations.

The book is divided into sections rather than specific chapters with pages 2 to 5 being a brief introduction and describing the transition from the cold war footing to the current strategies with the text and photos of various VISMOD and BLUFOR vehicles of the periods.

"New Millenium", pages 6 to 20 gives a detailed overview of the current training facilities inside the 'BOX' (training area) with the emphasis on the Middle Eastern scenario with many small villages and mosques built to simulate the "local" scenery in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are again many smaller photos of the buildings as well as some vehicles and personnel including role players and pilgrims that add authenticity to the training.

"The OPFOR", pages 21 to 39 covers the period where the many modified VISMOD vehicles were used to simulate Soviet vehicle types used in the force on force training with these being based mostly on the M551 Sheridan, M113 and Humvee as well as fibreglass mockups of T-80s and other vehicles.

There are mostly photos of the vehicles with brief captions with excellent shots of the last Sheridans just prior to their retirement as well as the T-80s and BMPs based on the M113 chassis with modified Bradley turrets and BRDMs based on Humvees to provide a wealth of detailed shots of these current vehicles and their paint schemes that include some interior shots of the M113/BMP.

"Roleplayers", pages 40 to 45 describes the use of civilian Arab Americans contracted to provide realistic "local personnel" training with the many insurgent and hostage situations faced in the present deployments with again mostly photo coverage of the "locals" and training scenarios for an interesting insight into the current Army training.

"Hooah-BLUFOR", pages 46 to 82 describes the two BLUFOR battalions that are made up of the units rotated through the NTS for training with again the text is kept to a minimum with the emphasis on the photos of the vehicles and crews participating. The vehicles featured include 4 pages on the M2A2 Bradley, 4 pages on the M1A1 Abrams, 2.5 pages on the only Buffalo at the NTC, 8.5 pages on various Strykers, 7 pages on various Humvees, 2 pages with M113A3s and assorted shots of M978 HEMTT and M1083/4 trucks, M88A1s including some interior shots, M577s and finally 4 shots of the M9 ACE armored bulldozer.

The semi-close up photos offer good views of the vehicle details as well as storage and crew uniforms that offer plenty of modelling opportunities especially for the Strykers if you want to build a kit without the slat armour but still laden with more person gear to can climb over.

"Troops at NTC", pages 83 to 95 covers as the name suggests the many ground troops participating in the training, this is from the simulated training using the MILES system as well as live fire areas. The many photos show the different uniforms and personal gear as well as the weapons to good effect and will be very useful for those building dioramas. The photos also show the MILES webbing to good effect as well as the weapon attachments.

"UH-60", pages 96-97, two pages on overall shots of UH-60s on station including a UH-60Q ready for any real emergency.

"Painted Rock", pages 98 to 104 has shots of the many brightly painted "rocks" although many could be termed boulders. These are acquired from around the desert training area and painted in the unit colours of those attending the NTC over the years and deposited in the "rock pile" for a very colourful display as shown on the books cover.

This is a superb photo coverage of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin and associated vehicles and personnel. While there are only a few real close-up shots most photos are semi-close up allowing the vehicle or uniform detail to be clearly seen.

The range of current hardware included should please most modern armour fans and offers some interesting diorama alternatives for the respective kits.

Highly recommended.

Sample Pages
9 pages shown


Thanks to František of Wings & Wheels Publicationsfor the review book.

Page created July 8, 2008