Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

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Coordinates: 34°28′00″N 116°07′00″W / 34.4666667°N 116.1166667°W / 34.4666667; -116.1166667

The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), also known as 29 Palms, is the United States Marine Corps' largest base. It is a census-designated place officially known as Twentynine Palms Base, California located adjacent to the city of Twentynine Palms in southern San Bernardino County, California. As of the 2000 census, the base had a total population of 8,413. The zip code of the base is 92278.



On August 20, 1952, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Base Headquarters issued Post Order 343 creating the Marine Corps Training Center, Twentynine Palms. Two years before, the nation had become embroiled in the Korean War. As the need for live-fire training grew along with the swelling ranks, it became obvious that more ranges were needed. Pendleton's Marines looked northward, and happened upon the abandoned Condor Field, a World War II Army and Navy glider base located in the vicinity of what is now mainside.

The base was redesignated on February 6, 1953 as Marine Corps Training Center, Twentynine Palms. By February 1, 1957, it grew to base status and was again redesignated as Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Only 70 Marines comprised the detachment at the Center. Manned by Marines from Camp Pendleton, its primary mission was to prepare the new base for the arrival of permanent personnel. By mid-December, 1952, a fresh 3rd Marine Division, with assistance from the 12th Marine Regiment, conducted the first large-scale, live-fire field exercise aboard the new base. The exercise gave Marines a glimpse of the facility's potential and foreshadowed the large-scale combined arms exercises (CAXs) for which the base is now known.

In 1976, under the command of Brigadier General Ernest R. Reid, Jr., work began to add an expeditionary airfield to the base's growing infrastructure. When the first C-5 Galaxy landed in August 1978, it was apparent that the air-ground capability of the base was complete. Following completion of the expeditionary airfield, its name was changed to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center on October 1, 1978, and changed yet once more to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) on February 16, 1979. It was also during this time that plans for the Combined Arms Exercises were conceived. Supplanting an earlier exercise known as Desert Palm Tree, the new CAXs were remarkable in two respects: the practice of combined arms, and live-fire and movement during the exercises were unprecedented in scale. Just as noteworthy was the creation of a Tactical Exercise Control Center with the primary purpose of controlling, instructing and critiquing the exercises. In the words of base historian, Col. Verle E. Ludwig, USMC (Ret.), "Twentynine Palms was to be a permanent 'combined-arms exercise college' for all of the Marine Corps."

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