Military Base Guide: Fort Irwin, California
Fort Irwin, California, is a short drive northeast of Barstow, California, between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Located in the high desert, Fort Irwin is home of the National Training Center, and the focus of this Army installation is “realistic joint and combined arms training focused on developing soldiers, leaders, and units of America’s Army for success on the 21st-century battlefield,” according to the Department of Defense.
Over 20 thousand soldiers, civilians, and contractors work at Fort Irwin.
Fort Irwin History
From its earliest days in the 1940s, when it was known as the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range, Fort Irwan has occupied an important place in Army operations.
This post was originally a thousand miles wide, established by President Franklin Roosevelt, who issued an order “withdrawing from public use” that 1000 miles of land.
Briefly deactivated for a time, the Fort returned to service during the Korean War. It was then known as the Armored Combat Training Area, but in 1961 it was redesignated as Fort Irwin.
After another deactivation and reactivation, the area was named the home of the National Training Center (NTC), formally opened in 1980.
Currently, Fort Irwin is not only home to the NTC, it’s also responsible for Fort Irwin Garrison, which provides support services, including base housing, emergency services, public works, social services, etc.
Fort Irwin Surrounding Area
Fort Irwin is a part of San Bernardino County, California. This is an area considered to be a major transportation hub for the Riverside-San Bernardino metro region.
It’s an area well-known for its ghost towns, including Calico Ghost Town, roughly 15 miles away.
This is an area rife with Route 66 nostalgia, too. Fans of the great outdoors will want to see the Rainbow Basin Natural Area. If you love Americana, don’t miss the Western America Railroad Museum and the Mojave River Museum.
Because of its location, day trips to surrounding cities are a must. You can visit a variety of locations, including LA, Long Beach, Riverside, Anaheim, and Santa Ana.
Fort Irwin Mission and Units
Fort Irwin serves under US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and is responsible for the National Training Center, featuring 10 training periods a year with as many as 5 thousand troops from other bases rotating in and out of the area for training.
Important missions and units at Fort Irwin have included:
- 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment
- 1st Squadron, 11th ACR
- 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR
- 203rd Military Intelligence
- Detachment 6, 57th Wing
- NTC Support Battalion
- Operations Group
- Support Squadron, 11th ACR
Fort Irwin In-Processing and Check-In
If you are relocating to the National Training Center on PCS orders, report to the NTC and the Fort Irwin Replacement Detachment during normal duty hours.
Those who are unaccompanied soldiers E5 and below may be assigned temporary housing while in processing. If you arrive in the Fort Irwin area after duty hours, report to the Command Duty Section.
There is a Mandatory Newcomers Briefing each Friday at the NTC Replacement. Family members are encouraged to attend, but all “newly arrived soldiers” must attend the Key Leader Newcomers Briefing.
You must hand-carry your leave forms, finance records, medical and dental records, and five copies of orders for all check-ins.
Related: Prepare for Your First PCS Move
Fort Irwin Child Care
One Child Development Center provides child care at Fort Irwin. There are also options for on-post care using the Family Child Care program. Demand may be high for child care at the Fort; contact the Fort Irwin CDC as soon as you have orders to the base. Call 760-380-9441 or 760-380-9443.
To sign up for CDC care, you must provide paperwork including:
- Family Care Plan
- Pay information (Leave & Earnings Statement)
- Medical Action Plans
- Two emergency contacts
- Shot records
CDC care options include Full Day care for children six weeks to five years old, before-and-after school care for kindergarteners, and part-day care options are offered from 9 to noon.
Read more: Military Child Care
Fort Irwin Housing
Housing at the Fort is offered via a public/private partnership; Michaels Management Services administers the housing on-post.
According to the DoD, on-post housing ”is often not immediately available upon arrival,” and waiting lists may apply. Consider applying at the Fort Irwin Housing office 90 days before you travel on PCS orders.
The DoD advises those PCSing to the area that due to on-post housing being privatized, “the full Basic Allowance for Housing amount appears on the LES as an entitlement and is simultaneously subtracted as an allotment paid to Michaels for rent.”
PCS and TDY Lodging
Temporary lodging here is limited. This is considered a remote location for a military base; the on-post Landmark Hotel is the only hotel within 40 miles of the Fort. Because a great deal of military training is done here, TLF rooms are often in high demand.
It is advised to make reservations as soon as you get orders; call 760-386-4040 to reserve your rooms. This TLF is a privately run facility that tends to sell out for months at a time, and the next closest option is in Barstow, approximately 37 miles away.
Related: BAH Calculator
The nearest airports to Fort Irwin are more than 100 miles away each.
- Ontario, California: 120 miles
- Los Angeles: 175 miles
- Las Vegas, Nevada: 180 miles
Arrival by air at one of these locations will require additional consideration for transportation; discuss your arrival with your sponsor or contact your gaining unit Command Support Staff for assistance before PCS travel.
If you are traveling on TDY orders, you must arrange your arrival with those responsible for coordinating your training.
The DoD advises all new arrivals to call the Replacement Detachment “before your arrival to obtain detailed information about the best mode of transportation.” Call them at 760-380-4747 or DSN 312-470-4747
Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License
All vehicles operating at Fort Irwin must comply with California laws regarding emissions, window tinting, cell phone use, and insurance.
You must carry current insurance, ID, and a valid title to drive a privately owned vehicle on post. All drivers and passengers are subject to 100% ID checks and random searches.
California state law says all owners and drivers must “show evidence” the vehicle is insured for at least $18,000 for death or injury to any person, $50,000 for death or injury to more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage.
The schools that operate at Fort Irwin are under the jurisdiction of the California Board of Education via the Silver Valley Unified School District. These are not DoD schools but part of the California Public Schools System.
Silver Valley Unified School District has schools for those K-12 in several communities:
- Newberry Springs
- Fort Irwin
- Marine Corp Logistics Base Barstow
If you are PCSing to the Fort with a child in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), contact the Fort Irwin EFMP Program Manager at 760-380-3698 or DSN 312-470-3698 as soon as you receive orders to Fort Irwin.
To register or to learn more, contact the Fort Irwin School Liaison Office at 520-533-0874 or DSN 312-470-6880.
Colleges and Universities
Fort Irwin has a variety of on-post college opportunities online and in-person. Your options include Barstow Community College, Park University, Kaplan University, and University of Maryland University College.
California Troops to College Program
The Troops to College Program offers qualifying service members priority placement for enrollment in California State University “without having to compete with other eligible non-veteran prospective students”. Call 760-380-4218 for more information.
Related: Ultimate GI Bill Benefits Guide
Fort Irwin Contacts
Reception Campus, Bldg 109 Langford Lake Rd
Fort Irwin, CA 92310-1420
Important Fort Irwin Contact Numbers
- Barstow Barracks (760) 577-6494
- Barstow Base Operator (760) 577-6211
- Barstow Housing Office(760) 577-6707
- Barstow ID Cards (760) 577-6969
- Barstow Information and Referral (760) 577-6533
- Barstow Loan Locker/Loan Closet (760) 577-6533
- Barstow MCCS (760) 577-6733
- Barstow School Liaison Office (760) 577-6675
- Barstow Temporary Lodging (760) 577-6418
- Barstow Welcome Center (760) 577-6533
- Domestic Assault 24/7 Hotline: (760) 267-6792
- Emergency 911
- Ft. Irwin Child, Youth and Student Services (760) 380-2257
- Ft. Irwin Housing Services Office (760) 380-3576
- Ft. Irwin ID cards/DEERS (760) 380-3100
- Ft. Irwin Post Operator (760) 380-1111
- Ft. Irwin School Liaison Office (760) 380-6880
- Ft. Irwin Temporary Lodging (760) 386-4040
- Ft. Irwin Welcome Center (760) 380-4195
- Medical Appointments (866) 460-5305
- Sexual Assault 24/7 Hotline (760) 401-3074
- Child Development Center – Inner Loop (760) 380-1253
- Family Advocacy Program (FAP) – Army Community Service (760) 380-5467
- Family Center – Army Community Hospital (760) 380-4784
- FAP – Military Police (760) 380-4444
- ID/CAC Card Processing (760) 380-3100
- Family Child Care (760) 380-3502
- Personal Property Office (Inbound) (760) 380-5330
Read more: VA Home Loan Guide
Article image courtesy of Jarek Tuszyński.
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.