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Claiborne Range

The Claiborne Bombing and Gunnery Range encompasses approximately 1,300 acres. It is located within the Kisatchie National Forest and is frequently used by park visitors for hiking, biking, and camping. This bombing and gunnery range was supported by England AFB, LA for many years prior to that base's closure. Claiborne Air Force Range was transferred to the Air Force Reserves on October 1, 1992, with logistical support to be provided by Barksdale AFB. It is in active use by A-10 aircraft of the 917th Wing (AFRES) at Barksdale. The portion of the Barksdale Air-to-Ground Gunnery Range included with the Former Camp Claiborne encompasses approximately 5,000 acres and is located within the Kisatchie National Forest.

The Army and the Air Force have used portions of the former camp for military training. England Air Force Base (AFB) used a rectangular tract of land measuring 1,300 acres until 1972 as an air-to-ground gunnery range. In addition, Barksdale AFB is using another portion of the former camp as a bombing and gunnery range. USAF reportedly cleared the range used by England AFB of ordnance after it was closed in 1972. Except for the currently active Barksdale Air-to-Ground Gunnery Range, the former Camp Claiborne is currently being used for camping, hiking, logging, and pasturing.

The former Camp Claiborne encompassed a total of 30,176 acres within Rapides, Parish, Louisiana. Rapides Parish in central Lousiana is bounded by Big Saline Bayou and drained by the Calcasieu and Red rivers. It includes part of Kisatchie National Forest (NE and W), Claiborne Range Military Reservation (W center), and U.S. Camp Beauregard (NE).

The camp was established in 1940 as a U. S. Army infantry training center. A total of approximately 500,000 troops was trained during the period of 1940 to 1945. Near the end of World War Il (WWII), Camp Claiborne also housed German prisoners of war (POWs). Training at the camp included the use of small arms, mortars, anti-tank rockets, artillery, and grenades. The camp was closed at the end of the war, and the majority of the land was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to become part of the Kisatchie National Forest. In addition to this land, a small portion of the former facility was transferred to private owners and Fort Polk.

Operation and Maintenance of Claiborne Bombing Range, Alexandria, LA consists of providing all personnel, equipment, training, tools, materials, supervision and other items necessary to perform maintenance, clearance, operations and administrative services at Claiborne Range. Includes scoring of air-to-ground, acoustiscore, simulated laser target and other scorable targets.

Spectrum Sciences & Software, Inc. is a small technical services and manufacturing corporation. One of the company's core business areas is bombing and gunnery training range operation, maintenance, and technology. The Operation and Maintenance of Claiborne Range involves a broad range of services. Operational responsibilities encompass:

  • Range Control Officer duties of air traffic management
  • Control of ordnance delivery by a vast spectrum of aircraft range safety and control of aircraft
  • Use of range facilities and movement of personnel within the range boundaries
  • Coordination of all range activities with military, local, state and federal authorities.

Spectrum has been tasked to develop mitigation plans for compliance with environmental regulations and to develop programs for the management of hazardous waste collection, storage, and disposal, including the storage and handling of Class "C" explosives. Range Operation and Maintenance tasks are conducted daily in an endangered species environment. Spectrum has also conducted briefings and demonstrations for a variety of agencies, groups and dignitaries.

Maintenance requirements include the design, location, layout and development of Tactical Target complexes, IR Target Complexes, run-in-line and strafe targets, and the design and construction of bomb, laser and infra-red targets. Maintenance responsibilities also entail the maintaining of range non-hard surface roads; firebreaks; cantonment carpentry, plumbing, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning; custodial maintenance of workshops, offices and tower facilities; electronics/communications equipment repair and calibration; fire protection; personnel and facility security; personnel and equipment safety; potable water testing; meteorological services; and range administration (reference library management, use of management information systems, completion of periodic reports, meetings, briefings, maintenance logs, etc.).

The U.S. Army Air Corps acquired a total of 1,582.98 acres for Kisatchie Precision Bombing Ranges No. 1 to 3 & Tent Site, also known as the Kisatchie Bombing Ranges or Winnfield Bombing Range, as sub-bases of Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 7 January 1941, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed to allow the Army use of three areas for practice bombing. Permits were issued. Due to the distance of these ranges from the main field, the base established a tent camp on the site of a former Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) on 17 May 1941 to operate and maintain the bombing ranges. Each of the three practice bombing ranges consisted of a cleared circular target with a 1,000 foot radius and three observation towers constructed of either steel or wood. At the tent camp, the Army added several permanent structures, including a mess hall, power house, bath house, water storage tank and wooden post fence of 1500 feet in length.

Barksdale Army Air Base declared the ranges and tent camp surplus to their needs on 11 December 1946. The Army declared the four properties surplus on 30 September 1947. The PBRs and the tent camp were relinquished to the USDA on 23 September 1949 and retransferred on 3 November 1949.

The Breezy Hill Artillery Range was operated under the Range Office, Camp Livingston, Louisiana as an infantry supporting weapons range. It was also used by troops stationed at Camp Beauregard and Esler Field. The military actively used approximately 18,650 acres, with most of the range activity concentrated in 15 areas. The army would bring trainees in for one and two week bivouacs. When the training was completed, the soldiers were sent to replacement depots. The site was used for artillery, mortar, anti-tank rockets, grenade and small arms training. There were mock villages and troop camp areas. The site was also part of the massive Louisiana maneuvers of 1940.

When World War II ended, Breezy Hill Artillery Range was declared surplus and beginning in 1946 the fee acres were turned over to the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation (FFMC) and offered for sale to the original owners, many of whom did repurchase the land. The property not repurchased, was turned over to the Forest Service. The remaining 33,981 acres on loan from the Forest Service were returned.

The majority of the former Breezy Hill Artillery Range is completely re-forested and forms a part of the Kisatchie national Forest. The Catahowla National Wildlife Management Area is also part of the site area. The majority of the human exposure element consists of Forest rangers and hunters. Two of the areas, areas 3 and 5, are marked with warning signs that these are no activity areas due to unexploded ordnance. Three areas are marked as extreme caution areas, no intrusive actions may be performed; however, timber cutting is allowed. These areas are numbers three, four and six. Area one, the site of a 1994 discovery of a Mark II grenade, is on private property and not part of the forest or management area. Right of Entry may have to be obtained.

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