The Yakima Training Center is a US military base dedicated to exposing trainees to realistic combat training and equipment use. The training center also supports Reserve Component Forces training for mobilization and post-mobilization courses. It is commonly referred to as “Yakistan” by troops due it’s dry, barren land and similar climate to Afghanistan.
History of the Yakima Training Center
The Yakima Training Center was conceptualized when the US saw the need for it to establish a maneuver area in the Pacific Northwest due to threats of impending war and possible attacks from Europe. For this reason, in 1941 just before the eruption of World War II, the Pacific Northwest units utilized the 64,752 hectares of land it leased from local landowners and used this as an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Range. It was only in 1942 that 64,752 Yakima saw its first construction of buildings, albeit temporary structures.
In 1951, the US Army sought to make the Yakima Firing Center bigger to meet the demands of its increasing training requirements. For $3.3 million, it bought another 105,706 hectares of land. During the 50s and 60s, the Yakima Firing Center functioned as a support base and hosted training exercises for Fort Lewis military units as well as for the Washington Army National Guard.
IN 1971, Fort Lewis activated the 9th Infantry Division, which marked the return of the Army to the Yakima Training Center. Throughout the 70s and 80s, the 9th Division together with the Washington Army National Guard held joint training exercises in Yakima. More importantly, the site was also used as an area to test fire and train units on the use of tanks tank gunner tests. Yakima also served as a site for testing new military equipment, which is still done today.
Since the US Army was able to develop more equipment with longer range and greater mobility, this further stressed the need for yet another Yakima expansion, that is why in 1987, the base acquired another 25,496 hectares of land at the price of $18 million.
The Yakima Firing Center was renamed as Yakima Training Center in 1990, which describes more accurately the mission and the capability of the military installation. The arrival of the Stryker Brigades coming from the 2nd Division further emphasized the need for Yakima Firing Center to increase its training levels.
Today, the Yakima Firing Center is central to familiarizing soldiers with new equipment and training them in supporting STRYKER units. The base is part of the STRYKER Center of Excellence.
Mission of the Yakima Training Center
Today, one of the most important mission of this army base is to introduce soldiers to the new equipment like the Stryker family of vehicles. It is also responsible for accommodating training for combined arms, joint and coalition forces training for both US and allied military units. It also serves as an ideal location to train for unit readiness.
Geographic Features of the Yakima Training Center
The geographic features of the base is wide and varied, which makes it a perfect training center for mobilization and post mobilization exercises. The base is also used as a training center for the Reserve Component Forces.
It has training areas that are modeled after urban areas, which is a very important feature of the base. There are an estimated 75% of people around the world who live in highly urbanized areas, and it is inevitable that some of the major battles and skirmishes that take place in combat occur in urban settings.
It also has a wide expanse of land that is perfect for semi urban places and rural settings, rough landscapes for maneuvering purposes. These are especially important in training with the Stryker family of vehicles that are designed for rough and urban settings. Most of the terrain in Yakima Training Center is composed of rough shrub-steppe. It is also for this reason that the base was used as a firing range and testing area for new guns and equipment of the US Army.
The Yakima Training Center was also cited in the European Parliament in 2001 as an important part of the ECHELEON system, which is a global surveillance network that is operated in the US by the National Security Agency. It consists of five sites around the world, and Yakima was shortlisted to be part of this group
Yakima Training Center Users
The frequent customers of the Yakima Training Center include Fort Lewis units, Army National Guard, Special Operations Command, Air Force and Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and even Federal Law Enforcement units. The base also hosted allied forces from Japan and Canada.
The Yakima Training Center is considered as one of the best military training installations in the American Pacific Northwest. The Main Impact Area as well as the Multipurpose Range Complex in the Yakima Training Center are used as hitting grounds for conventional and tactical weapons testing.
The Main Impact Area is used for tanks, infantry gunnery, and artillery, and the Multipurpose Range Complex is designed for both tank and infantry firing range. This firing range consists of hundreds of remote-controlled moving targets
Interesting Facts and Figures about the Yakima Training Center
- The Yakima Training Center covers an area of 1,710 square kilometers or 660 square miles.
- The base was originally conceived prior to World War II to provide a maneuvering site for the US in the Pacific Northwest to in answer to the growing threat from Europe.
- You can enjoy recreational activities in Yakima Training Center. These include Bird watching, hunting, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and even take advantage of the archery range on the installation. Parts of the base are open to the public.
- The largest exercise at Yakima involved 26,000 reserve, active, and National Guard that converged on the installation site for the joint training exercise called BRAVE SHIELD. This happened in 1976.
- The site contains some of the most advanced support systems for range training, including high-tech Wash Rack Facility, Expanded Ammo Supply Point, and an expanded maneuver area.
- In 1965, one of the largest air and ground exercises was conducted on the site. It was called YAKIMA ATTACK