Military


Camp Dawson Army Training Site
Dawson AAF

The Camp Dawson Army Training Site (CDATS) is located in Preston County, West Virginia near the Pennsylvania border. Military units from around the state as well as several other states use the Camp Dawson Army Training Site for various training and maneuver exercises. The Camp Dawson National Guard post is a remote training site for many Fort Bragg, N.C. Army units. This is probably the best place on the East Coast to get mountain area training. The area has a variety of slopes and small zones that make it difficult to land in a tactical scenario, but increase the knowledge the pilots and aircrew have of this terrain, and the knowledge they have of navigating through it.

Operation Metropolis is a training exercise executed at Camp Dawson, West Virginia during a six-week version course. Marines are given an objective of taking over buildings in order for other platoons to move through the town safely at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility. The training begins with Marines learning how to tie basic knots and climbing skills before moving on to rigging and traverse rope configurations. These fundamentals are used later in the course for climbing buildings, evacuating casualties and moving from one rooftop to another. The Marines also learn different techniques used to scale walls such as using a grappling hook or a pyramid stack in which they form a human ladder. From their field camp at "Old Calvert's Farm," recon Marines conduct various training, including rock climbing and mountainous terrain patrolling; skills.

The Navy Reserve Fleet Hospital Fort Dix Det 12 has a dynamic training program for both medical and non-medical Naval personnel, offering Hot and Cold weather field exercises at Camp Dawson and Fort Indian Town Gap, PA.

The Camp consists of four distinct tracts: The Pringle tract, Briery Mountain, Camp Dawson Proper, and Volkstone. The manganese plant located on Volkstone has been out of operation since 1985. All of these areas have been subject to a high degree of habitat fragmentation and degradation that has created a mosaic of habitat types including upland forest, riparian zones, reclaimed strip mines, and developed areas.

Briery Mountain Wildlife Management Areas (1,000 acres) is part of the U.S. Army's Camp Dawson complex owned by the West Virginia State Armory Board. Access is by Whetzell Settlement Road which intersects state Route 7 approximately 1.5 miles east of Kingwood. Terrain is moderate to steep, ranging in elevation from 1,880 to 2,880 feet. The area is almost entirely forested with mixed hardwood species, primarily in the pole timber stage. Turkey, deer, squirrel and grouse are the principal species available. There are no developed recreational facilities.

The Dawson AAF airport training range features two operational 5,000-foot runways, one paved and one dirt, with control tower and terminal building. The Dawson AAF was used as part of six weeks of intensive V-22 operational testing in 1998. A short period of mountainous operational testing was conducted at Camp Dawson. The flights took place at four different sites on the East Coast. The V-22 Multi-Service Operational Test Team (MOTT) completed a milestone to assess the potential effectiveness and suitability of the V-22 in the operating environment. The four test sites used because of geographic conditions as well as resources and support available for this testing are the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River site; Camp Dawson, WV; Marine Corps Air Station New River, NC; and Eglin AFB.

In 1999 the West Virginia National Guard was funded to review the feasibility of expanding Camp Dawson into a regional emergency responder distance learning facility.

The FY2002 appropriations legislation included $2 million added by Sen. Robert C. Byrd for initial studies and architectural design work on the Integrated Special Operations Training Facility at Camp Dawson. Under the plan formulated by Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, West Virginia's adjutant general [and former chairman of the state's Democratic Party], Camp Dawson would become the home of a National Training Center for Homeland Defense, at a reported cost of $400 million. There is a similar, though less elaborate, facility at the Army's Ft. McClellan in Alabama.

Camp Dawson's Thousand-Acre Woods area atop Briery Mountain, which encompasses 1,167 acres, would be the site of the proposed Integrated Special Operations Training Facility. It will include an urban combat set, indoor and outdoor firing ranges, a decontamination center, and buildings to practice high-rise entrance and exits. The abandoned Volkstone manganese plant, located on the Cheat River on Dawson's property, would be used for hazardous materials and sabotage training.

The state National Guard is establishing a National Training Center for Weapons of Mass Destruction at Camp Dawson. The facility will include a replica of a three-block urban landscape, where emergency workers from around the country can train for terrorism emergencies. A key component of the collaboration is preparing the emergency personnel who are the first to arrive on the scene of a terrorist situation. West Virginia University's Virtual Medical Campus and its high-speed telecommunications technologies will provide these "first responders" with medical expertise and access to on-line health care information from around the world.

The Dawson AAF airport training range would be adapted for hijack training, using surplus civilian jetliners.

Senator Byrd had already obtained $5 million for the Memorial Tunnel National Counter-Terrorism Facility in Kanawha County, to train emergency responders in dealing with chemical or biological attacks. The West Virginia Turnpike's abandoned Memorial Tunnel in southern Kanawha County, already under National Guard ownership, would be used to provide various underground training scenarios. The tunnel was part of the old West Virginia Turnpike system. West Virginia's Memorial Tunnel, near mile 76, was the first in the nation to be monitored by television. It opened November 8, 1954. Memorial Tunnel was abandoned when the Turnpike was 4 laned in 1987.

Ceremonies in June 2001 marked the completion of the RCAS hardware fielding at Camp Dawson. RCAS is an automation system to help do a better job of administering, managing, and mobilizing soldiers more effectively. RCAS links the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve into the total Army. RCAS supports daily operational, training and administrative tasks at all Guard and Reserve Echelons and provides timely and more accurate information to plan and support mobilization. But RCAS didn't happen over night. It took more than 15 years, millions of dollars and an Act of Congress to provide this program to the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. Many skeptics voiced their concerns over the many years that such a venture was unnecessary and impractical. The system that Congress authorized combined integrated hardware, software, and telecommunications in a secure mode. The system also provides vital electronic data links between Reserve Component units, and facilitate community involvement.

In March 2002, Camp Dawson opened its first new disaster center facility, the Robert C. Byrd Regional Training Institute. The $22 million building contains 183 hotel-style rooms, a dozen suites with queen-size beds, and an Olympic-size swimming pool.

 



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