Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base
Los Alamitos Army Airfield
The Joint Forces Training Center in Los Alamitos, has units of the California National Guard and Army Reserve. It also houses the Southern California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. Los Alamitos AAF is a restricted area. The airfield is completely fenced, gated and patrolled 24 hours a day. Access is limited to official business. Entry is controlled by keypad cipher locks.
The Joint Forces Training Base at Los Alamitos, CA is a "military oasis" -- surrounded by the urban sprawl and 12 million inhabitants of the Los Angeles basin, the 1,400-acre installation packs a lot into a relatively small area. Within its eight miles of perimeter fencing are more than 160 buildings encompassing about 1.5 million square feet of space. More than 45 tenant organizations call the small post home, and on any given day some 700 people -- military, civilian employees and contractors -- work at JFTB Los Alamitos. If they mobilized all the reserve-component units assigned to the installation, some 5,000 people -- military and civilian -- would report for duty. And, perhaps most important, Los Alamitos is home to the sole remaining military airfield in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County area.
The California Army National Guard [CAARNG] aviation units are based at the Mather Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) located at the former Mather Air Force Base (AFB) in Sacramento, the California Aviation Classification Repair Depot (AVCRAD) in Fresno, the AASF in Stockton, and the Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) in Los Alamitos. All sites include hangar facilities, aircraft parking aprons, and armories.
Opened during World War II as a naval air station, JTFB Los Alamitos became Army property -- licensed to the California National Guard for operations, maintenance and management -- in 1973. Commanding the base for California's State Military Department is a Brigadier General who oversees the installation's extensive infrastructure, civic interaction and environmental compliance, as well as coordination of the base's diverse tenants.
Most of Los Alamitos' tenant organizations are military, and most of those are Army. These include an active-duty military intelligence company and elements of a training support battalion, as well as the headquarters and several units of the California Guard's 40th Infantry Division -- the largest single Army maneuver formation west of the Rocky Mountains. JFTB Los Alamitos also boasts the airfield, a 200,000-gallon fuel farm, extensive storage areas for military vehicles, and a state-of-the-art UH-1 helicopter simulator complex used by aviators from throughout the western United States and Pacific basin. The National Guard's Civil Support Team 9, a 24-member weapons-of-mass-destruction team, also calls the base home.
The Army Reserve is also well represented. The installation is home to the 63rd Regional Support Command and such other units as a psychological operations company, a quartermaster company and a maintenance battalion. A detachment of Navy Reserve Seabees and two Marine Corps units -- an infantry company and staff of instructors and inspectors -- also are assigned to the JFTB.
Among the installation's five nonmilitary tenants are the state's Mediterranean Fruit Fly Eradication Program and California's Southern Region Office of Emergency Services. The latter agency is responsible for controlling all state emergency-relief efforts in Southern California, and it's no coincidence that JFTB Los Alamitos is a designated assembly area and air-movements center for disaster-relief operations. There are only two such centers in the state, Los Alamitos Army Airfield, and at Travis Air Force Base near San Francisco. The Office of Emergency Services has a 24-member staff and operates 24 hours a day.
The JFTB has performed its military-support role several times, most notably during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1992 the installation was the arrival and assembly area for law enforcement, National Guard and active-Army personnel involved in quelling the widespread rioting in Los Angeles. The 1994 Northridge earthquake also brought local, state and federal disaster-relief agencies to Los Alamitos, and the base was a staging area for agencies mobilized during the 2000 Democratic national convention.
Though home to a range of organizations, JFTB Los Alamitos is perhaps best known for its airfield. This is the largest Army airfield operated by the National Guard Bureau. The two all-weather runways are capable of accommodating all US military aircraft except the B-2 and B-52 bombers. And at one time or another virtually every type has come through here. That includes everything from F-18 fighters to Air Force One. Los Alamitos can accommodate up to 12 C-5 airlifters on the 1.4 million-square-foot main parking ramp, and can park additional aircraft on the inactive third runway. That's a significant capability, especially given the crowded conditions at local civil airports, and it makes Los Alamitos look more like an Air Force base than the typical Army airfield. The field has its own permanent residents as well -- California Army Guard UH-1, AH-1 and UH-60 helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft participating in the Mediterranean fruit fly spraying effort and three Army Reserve C-12 utility transports.
The more than 1,100 flights that arrive or depart from Los Alamitos AAF every month, combined with the incredibly crowded airspace over Southern California, mean that the field's control tower is one of the busiest both in the state and in the Department of Defense.
At any given moment there are scores of airliners and smaller commuter planes landing at or taking off from nearby Los Angeles International, Long Beach, John Wayne and Fullerton airports, as well as fixed-wing civil and military aircraft transiting the airspace near the base. Add to that military, police, fire department and TV news helicopters -- not to mention the occasional blimp -- and you have a very crowded piece of sky. Though our main job is handling the variety of military and civilian aircraft that use the base itself, they also handle commercial traffic in the immediate area."
One challenge is handling the different types of aircraft that may be in the area at the same time. But the most challenging thing is the noise restrictions in place here. Military airfields are usually surrounded by big open areas, but here you have houses that come right up to the fence next to the runway. So when an aircraft departs, they are directed over the freeway or out over the industrial parks. But with aircraft of all sizes and types coming in here, there is definitely some noise.
The mission of the Los Alamitos Army Aviation Support Facility is to provide the required equipment, facilities and maintenance technicians to support aviation units and personnel using the facilities. Aircraft are flown at five hundred feet AGL or above except for landings and take-offs or when conducting training in an approved tactical training area.
The Cleveland National Forest lies approximately 40 nautical miles east of Los Alamitos Army Airfield. This terrain flight area lies wholly within the Cleveland National Forest. The elevation of the training area varies from approx 400 feet MSL up to 5,000 feet MSL. It is bounded on the northwest by the MAL Sites, the northeast and southwest by the boundaries of the national forest, and to the southeast by the boundary between the national forest and Camp Pendleton. The terrain flight area has preplotted routes approximately 25 km long. The area has several open areas, but no landing is authorized in the national forest. This training area is used extensively by AASF Los Alamitos for both daytime and NVG flight training.
The Mountain Area Landing Sites [MALS] lie approx 20 miles to the east of Los Alamitos Army Airfield. A description of the sites can be found in the Area Planning 1 of the Flight Information Publications. Advisory control of the MAL Sites is under MCAS Tustin Tower. All aircrews must comply with any procedures or restrictions listed in the FLIP. The MAL Sites are used for confined area and pinnacle operations as well as terrain flight under day, night, and NVG conditions. These sites are used under the Letter of Agreement on file with the United States Marine Corps.
Surrounded as it is by the Orange County communities of Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach and Cypress, the JTFB cannot avoid disturbing some of its neighbors. When this installation was established during World War II it was in the middle of open farmland. Los Alamitos hasn't expanded, but over the years the cities around us have -- right up to the perimeter fences.
The JFTB also makes an effort to reach out to the surrounding civilian communities. Not only is the installation home to a Civil Air Patrol squadron, it also hosts periodic open houses, Fourth of July fireworks, 5- and 10-kilometer community fun runs and other events. One of the most prominent links between the JFTB and the greater civilian community is centered on the installation's Olympic-size outdoor swimming pool. Once sliding slowly into disrepair because of scarce maintenance funds, the pool is now the focal point of a collaborative effort among the base, the city of Los Alamitos and USA Water Polo. It is the centerpiece of a major aquatic training center and home to the U.S. national water polo team. The U.S. women's Olympic water polo team trained here before going on to win the Silver Medal at the Sydney Olympics, and the pool was the site of last summer's men's and women's water polo championships.
Construction is under way on a multimillion-dollar joint headquarters building for the 40th Inf. Div. and 63rd RSC, and a Close Combat Tactical Trainer. And a state-of-the-art Training Simulations Center now under development will be able to train company- through division-level staffs.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendatinos, DoD recommended to realign the Joint Force Training Base Los Alamitos by disestablishing the 63rd Regional Readiness Command (RRC) Headquarters, Robinson Hall, USARC and activating a Southwest Regional Readiness Command headquarters at Moffett Field, CA in a new AFRC. This recommendation would support the Army Reserve's Command and Control restructuring initiative to reduce Regional Readiness Commands from ten to four. Both the 63d Regional Readiness Command and the 90th Regional Readiness Command in Little Rock, AR would be disestablished and replaced by creating a new consolidated headquarters at Moffett Field, CA. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 270 jobs (170 direct and 100 indirect jobs) over the 2006 - 2011 period in the Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division, which would be less than 0.1 percent of economic area employment.
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