Military


McGregor Range

McGregor Range, New Mexico, is an integral part of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Center and Fort Bliss (USAADACENFB).

McGregor Ranges include McGregor Range, Meyer Small Arms Range, SHORAD Range, and Orogrande Range. Each of the ranges has an appropriate complement of range support facilities. McGregor Range Base Camp is the home of the USA CAS Battalion. In addition to housing the battalion, organizational support facilities, and all range control functions, McGregor Range Base Camp can billet and mess over 700 personnel. Orogrande Base Camp has 2 dining facilities, a single maintenance facility, and the ability to billet 800 personnel.

McGregor Range Complex contains 26 air defense missile firing sites (both static and field) which support training, annual service practice (ASP) and tactical missile firings for U.S. and allied units. Within the McGregor Range complex, there is the capability to support the extended range firings of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). In the northern area of McGregor Range is Wilde Benton air strip. Wilde Benton is a 7,800 foot hard-packed surfaced airstrip capable of handling aircraft up to and including C-130 and C-17. There are six Nap-Of-the-Earth (NOE) helicopter training courses that are used to train pilots on low-level tactical flying under varying tactical conditions. The Cane Cholla helicopter gunnery range provides helicopter pilots the capability to conduct realistic tactical gunnery and flight training.

Meyer Range Complex consists of 18 firing ranges for small arms familiarization and qualification. Two of the ranges are equipped with the Remote Electronic Target System (RETS). Meyer Range Complex also contains grenade ranges, an NBC chamber, a light anti-tank range, an individual tactical training (ITT) range, and a pistol qualification range. SHORAD Range has 16 firing points for forward area air defense and laser weapons systems. This range also supports combined arms operational testing.

The area encompassed by the current boundary of McGregor Range includes approximately 608,385 acres of withdrawn public lands and 71,083 acres of Army fee-owned lands within Otero County, New Mexico . McGregor Range also includes 18,004 acres of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands, which are used by the Army in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the USFS and the Department of the Army (DA) Fort Bliss. There are also Army fee-owned in-holdings within the Lincoln National Forest. The USFS lands are not part of the withdrawal application. The range is surrounded by lands administered primarily by the BLM and USFS to the north and west, with pockets of privately owned lands to the east which are used for ranching. To the south and west, are withdrawn and Army fee-owned lands in El Paso County, Texas, and Otero and Doņa Ana counties in New Mexico.

McGregor Range is located in Otero County, New Mexico. The exterior boundaries of the McGregor Range land withdrawal encompass 678,108.15 acres. On October 4, 1999, President Clinton signed the Defense Authorization Bill, which included the renewal of the McGregor Range Land Withdrawal from public use. This encompassed 608,384.87 net acres of public lands. The withdrawal of McGregor Range was deemed necessary for national security purposes. U.S. military strategy requires armed forces that are trained, equipped, and ready. The McGregor Range, an integral part of the Fort Bliss Range Complex, supports the training of Fort Bliss units. The withdrawn lands of McGregor Range are needed to provide sufficient space to conduct realistic and challenging military training for our nation's military forces; develop and test future concepts for fighting wars; and support allied military education and training programs.

Mission activities conducted on McGregor Range include training to maintain the operational readiness of active duty, reserve, and National Guard units through various training, operations and field exercises, and testing.

While some training land is located within the Main Cantonment Area to support unit and classroom training near the administrative and maintenance facilities, the majority of the FTXs associated with readiness training is conducted on the Fort Bliss Training Complex. Field exercises include various combinations of training, field operations, communications, command and control, simulated enemy contact, camouflage, smoke generation, and weapons firings. With five air defense brigades assigned to Fort Bliss, use of McGregor Range training areas is paramount to maintaining combat readiness. This includes use for tactical deployment, air defense operations, and air defense firing sites for missile firings. Other typical use of the Fort Bliss Training Complex includes the Mobilization Army Training Center (MATC) for 5 to 10 weeks per year to support training of reserve and National Guard units. U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Hawk training also is conducted on the range complex. Throughout the year, FTXs are conducted on McGregor Range by units that are located at Fort Bliss and at other Army and service installations.

Each year Joint Training Exercises (JTXs) are held at Fort Bliss. The most notable of these is the Roving Sands exercise. Roving Sands is a JTX coordinated by the Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (USJCS), scheduled by the U.S. Atlantic Command, and sponsored by FORSCOM. This JTX is the only exercise that actually plans and executes multi-service integrated air defense operations that involve all four military armed services. Participation in Roving Sands has increased from approximately 10,000 personnel in 1994 to 18,000 in 1996 and 20,000 in 1997, and includes troops from the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany. Field training was conducted for approximately 2 weeks following a 1-week deployment period, and concluded with a 1-week redeployment of forces. In 1998, the Roving Sands exercise was reduced in scale from previous years because of the build-up of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. In April, approximately 5,000 to 6,000 troops gathered in the El Paso area for the exercise. A process to select exercise sites on McGregor Range has been incorporated in the planning of all Roving Sands exercises. The site-selection process emphasizes avoidance or minimization of adverse impacts to breeding birds and mammals, threatened or endangered species, soil, water supplies, historic resources, and other significant resources. Ground activities are limited to established training ranges, and sites that have been cleared for historic resources and endangered species on McGregor Range.

Each year following Roving Sands, a live Firing Exercise (FIREX) occurs. This FIREX is the largest density of missile firing at McGregor Range and usually lasts for 1 week, with over 6 units participating. In addition to the Army ADA brigades, USMC, German, and Dutch units typically fire 4 types of missiles in the following approximate quantities: 8 to10 Hawk missiles; 14 to 15 Patriot missiles; 56 to 60 Stinger missiles; and 8 to 10 Roland missiles.

Danish, Belgian, German, Japanese, and other allied air defense units have conducted annual service practices on the Fort Bliss Training Complex for over 30 years. The Japanese Self-defense Force (JSDF) uses McGregor Range for training with the Hawk and Patriot missiles. During 1996, the JSDF participated in their 32nd consecutive Annual Service Practice (ASP), which was held from August through December. In 1996, the JSDF deployed 17 Hawk units and fired 17 missiles with 634 Japanese soldiers participating in the Hawk firings. The JSDF deployed 24 Patriot units to McGregor Range and fired 30 Patriot missiles. A total of 833 Japanese soldiers participated in the Patriot firings. The JSDF training with Hawk and Patriot missiles is expected to remain an annual constant for the foreseeable future. Allied units may fire other weapon systems consistent with range capabilities.

The White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) uses the Fort Bliss Training Complex for limited tests. Operations directed by Test and Experimentation Command (TEXCOM), Air Defense Artillery Test Directorate (ADATD), U.S. Army Missile Command (MICOM), and WSMR Office of Test Directorate (OTD), use Training Areas (TAs) 3A through 7D with restricted airspace R-5107A and the SHORAD and Orogrande ranges within restricted airspace R-5103. WSMR may also use McGregor Range as a secondary safety zone for some tests. Four tests of various equipment systems were conducted on McGregor Range during 1996. The Force Development Test and Experimentation (FDTE) for Patriot Advanced Capabilities (PAC-3) configuration was held February through March 1996, on McGregor Range, Orogrande Range, and the Doņa Ana Range-North Training Areas. A Follow-on Operational Test and Experimentation (FOTE) of the Patriot PAC-3 system was conducted during May and June 1996 on McGregor and Orogrande ranges, and Doņa Ana Range-North Training Areas. An Initial Operational and Test Evaluation (IOTE) of the Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle-Enhanced (BSFV-E) also was conducted during May 1996 on McGregor and Orogrande ranges, and Doņa Ana Range-North Training Areas. The system under test included four BSFV-E firing units. They were deployed within a forward area air-defense concept, with the mission of providing low-altitude air defense to a simulated heavy maneuver force. During October and November 1996, an IOTE of the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) was conducted on Orogrande Range. The test was conducted to verify the operational effectiveness and suitability of the JTIDS Class 2M terminal that supports Army air and missile defense units mission needs, and its inter-operability with Air Force and Navy elements using Class 2H terminals.

Major field exercises such as Roving Sands make use of most, if not all, training areas on McGregor Range depending on the training objectives of the exercise. The Roving Sands JTX is an integrated air defense exercise that focuses upon communications and interoperability of U.S. service and allied units. The exercise includes air-to-air combat scenarios and air-to-ground attacks. The JTX Roving Sands is conducted annually in spring or early summer for approximately 1 month, and uses most of the range for a variety of ground and air activities. During this period, very little nonmilitary use is permitted. Live-fire activities are performed for approximately 1 week and usually result in periodic closure of New Mexico Highway 506 during the exercise.

TA 8, at the southwestern corner of the range, is the only area other than controlled access FTX sites where off-road wheeled vehicle maneuvers occur. McGregor Range Camp, located in TA 8, 23.5 miles north of the main cantonment, is used for a variety of administrative, troop housing, and training functions. Enlisted barracks capacity for transient and permanent personnel is 1,154. Mobilization capacity is 1,154 for enlisted personnel and 66 for officers. Range Control functions are located at Davis Dome, near the range camp.

A series of firing locations for HIMAD missiles are located in the south part of the range on the McGregor Launch Complex. These are used for a variety of large and small air defense missile systems and may also be used for Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) firings. The direction of firings is usually from south to north. ATACMS firings are conducted about six times annually and impact in WSMR. ATACMS firings require temporary closure of U.S. Highway 54.

Small missiles are fired from the SHORAD and Orogrande ranges and Forward Area Weapons (FAW) Site 10, all located on the west side of McGregor Range in TAs 29, 30, and 32. Typical missiles include Stinger, Advanced Medium-range Air-to-air Missile (AMRAAM), Hellfire, Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW), and Chaparral. SDZs for these are contained within the Tularosa Basin.

Patriot missile live-fire exercises are the current activity that requires the most land area. The SDZ is designed to contain debris from missile intercepts, missiles destroyed in flight, and the impact of fragments. TA 32 contains the McGregor Missile Launch complex and Meyer Range and associated surface impact areas. Other impact areas include the Class C Bombing Range in TA 11, the areas east of SHORAD and the Orogrande complex and TA 31 that contains the MLRS target impact area. TA 10 at the northwest corner of the range includes a proposed launch point for a potential TBM target system for the Patriot. At present, Fort Bliss does not have the capability to use a TBM target for live fire exercises. This type of target capability is required in the future as threats posed by these systems (i.e., Scud) increase. Since all Patriot Battalions based in the continental U.S. are located at Fort Bliss, capability to employ a TBM target into the live fire exercises is being investigated. This type of target requires a SDZ extending from TA 10 south to TA 25 approximately opposing the flight corridor of the Patriot, in addition to the SDZ required for Patriot firing. The TBM target would overfly TAs 10, 11, 12, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, and 31.

The training areas on Otero Mesa and the Sacramento Mountains foothills support on-road vehicle maneuvers and dismounted training (training of soldiers on foot without motor vehicles), SDZ, and aircraft operations. TAs 15 through 23 on Otero Mesa contain controlled access FTX sites, primarily for communications and target engagement training involving the Patriot and Hawk systems. Controlled access FTX sites are field training sites where military access is subject to increased control and restricted to activities with limited ground disturbing effects. Examples include training involving wheeled vehicle movement off-road limited to entering and exiting the site, no site improvements, no clearing of vegetation on the site, and no digging on the site. Public access is not restricted at controlled access FTX sites in public access areas when not in use by the military. The Culp Canyon WSA in TA 12 may only be used for dismounted training with special approval.

Aerial gunnery missions are conducted by helicopters at Cane Cholla Aerial Gunnery Range in TA 32 and by fixed-wing aircraft at the Class C Bombing Range north of New Mexico Highway 506 in TA 11. Class C targets are located in the Class C Bombing Range only. The area immediately around the Class C targets (about 20 acres) is fenced to exclude livestock. Public access to areas north of New Mexico Highway 506 within the vicinity of the Class C Bombing Range is not permitted when this area is in use. An average of four to five sorties use this target daily. A sortie represents a flight of a single military aircraft from takeoff through landing. Paradrop missions are occasionally conducted on the range's Drop Zone in TA 8 and the Wilde Benton landing strip in TA 29. Low-altitude (less than 300 feet above the ground) tactical navigation by helicopters occurs in four Terrain Flying Areas on McGregor Range. Terrain Flying Areas 2, 3, 4, and a portion of 5 are designated for both day and night use. Terrain Flying Area 4 includes two NOE routes for very low-altitude, terrain-following helicopter training located in the northern portion of airspace R-5103B. All routes in this NOE course run in a west to east direction. The McGregor Range portion of Terrain Flying Area 5 is located over TA 8.

During DA/DoD-directed Operational and Development Testing and Experimentation of Air Defense Systems, visual or radar observation is required for radar certification and verification of Air Defense Systems. Aircraft fly scripted profiles at required altitudes to ensure background clutter is captured in the data for analysis.

The Army has determined that there are no suitable alternative sites to McGregor Range. Replacement of the infrastructure on McGregor Range, including two range camps (McGregor and Orogrande) and two missile complexes, would require a substantial new investment and is impractical due to the unavailability of comparable land and associated airspace elsewhere.

The lands would continue to be withheld from settlement, sale, location, or entry under the public land laws as they have been under PL 99-606. Nonmilitary uses of the land would remain largely the same. The Secretary of the Interior would continue to co-manage nonmilitary uses of the withdrawn lands, including hunting and recreation, wildlife habitat management, and grazing, with approval from the Army. However, the Secretary of the Army would retain the authority to limit public access to the range for military operations, protection of public safety, or national security requirements.

Grazing would continue to be permitted under 10 USC § 2667 on a noninterference basis with military missions. The Army has identified areas that have relatively low safety risk from prior military operations (e.g., ordnance and explosive hazards, and debris) and that have been opened up to grazing. These areas correspond generally with Training Areas 10 through 23. There are 14 grazing units totaling 271,000 acres.

Public access would only be permitted in areas that are considered safe and compatible with current and past military activity. On a weekly basis, the Range Scheduling Office would issue a roster of areas that are available for public recreational use. Public access to Training Areas 29, 30, 31, and 32 is never permitted due to potential ordnance and explosive hazards and debris in active impact areas. Both licensed antelope and deer hunts would continue to be conducted annually on McGregor Range. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish manages game species population while access for these hunts is in accordance with Army procedures. Hunting schedules are coordinated with the Army well in advance to ensure that they can occur without conflict with military missions.

Under PL 99-606, the public lands of McGregor Range were withdrawn from use under the mining laws, mineral leasing, and geothermal leasing laws. Any application to the BLM for exploration, extraction, or production of locatable minerals (such as gold, zinc, copper), salable minerals (such as sand and gravel), and leasable minerals (such as oil, gas, and geothermal resources) on withdrawn land, would require concurrence by the Army prior to BLM's processing and granting the application. McGregor Range is currently closed for locatable minerals and is expected to remain closed under the provisions of the BLM's White Sands Resource Management Plan, as amended by the McGregor Range Resource Management Plan Amendment.

The McGregor Black Grama Grassland Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) would continue to be managed to protect valuable biological resources and to study the ecology of undisturbed grassland. The ACEC is maintained and managed jointly through cooperative agreements between the Army, the BLM, and New Mexico State University. Culp Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) will continue to be managed under the BLM's Interim Management Policy and Guidelines for Lands under Wilderness Review to prevent impairment of wilderness value until Congress acts to determine its status.

New Mexico Highway 506 crosses the north end of the range, providing access from U.S. Highway 54 to small communities and ranches on the north and east side of the range. Permits are not required to use this roadway. Public access would continue to be provided along this route. However, the Army would restrict access along the route when military operations could cause unsafe conditions. Currently, the highway is usually closed for portions of 2 or 3 days each week during missile firings from September through November, and for portions of each day during a 2-week period following Roving Sands.

Centennial Range

A new tactical target complex on west Otero Mesa's McGregor Range opened for business in February 2002. Known as Centennial Range, the new target complex is used by Holloman's assigned aircraft and other US Air Force and Department of Defense users across the nation for air-to-ground training. The target complex is 2- by 4-miles,, surrounded by a 12- by 15-mile safety area. While the target complex is closed to the public, the safety area will only close when the range is in use. The range offers a realistic layout of simulated tactical targets similar to those that might be encountered in actual combat, such as an airfield; an industrial complex; radar, missile and gun sites; and artillery. The restricted airspace is large enough to allow different approach patterns and angles of attack on the target. No live ordnance will be used on this target complex. Construction of the target complex began in July 2000. Live munitions will continue to be dropped on the Red Rio live drop target on the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range. Access to the range is from established Military Training Routes, which permit low-altitude access to the target complex so that aircrews may conduct low-altitude navigation training enroute to their targets.

 



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list