Andersen South Air Force Base (AFB), Guam
The Marines Corps' largest urban combat training facility is an abandoned Air Force housing complex known as Andersen South. In an ongoing effort to improve the training and readiness of Marines, in September 2001 the United States Marine Corps requested the transfer of a 1,750 acre parcel of land known as Andersen South Air Force Base (AFB), Guam, from the United States Air Force. In February 2002, Congress approved giving the Corps the 1,541-acre property. Andersen South isn't meant to replace facilities on Okinawa, but adds to the variety of training opportunities.
The land is considered excess to the Air Force. When one federal agency determines land to be excess, other federal agencies have the opportunity to assess potential value of the property to meet their requirements. The Commandant of the Marine Corps directed the Commander of Marine Forces Pacific to evaluate the potential training value of Andersen South for use by U.S. and Pacific-based Marine Units. Installations and Logistics division for the Marine Corps assumed responsibility as the real estate acquisition executive agent for the actual transfer and subsequent management of Andersen South.
A Marine Corps site survey team visited Guam in early June 2001 to conduct a training assessment of Andersen South. The initial assessment indicated that Andersen South provides a unique opportunity for an urban operations training facility for units up to the regimental level. The abandoned structures at Andersen South present an ideal Urban Terrain Environment.
Other types of training that can be done in this area include non-combatant evacuation operations, patrolling, land navigation, logistics and other operations. Because this is a new expeditionary training site for the Marine Corps, a full training package for it needs to be developed. Training is envisioned at the battalion level and below. Andersen South can be used by operating forces visiting from Marine Corps installations throughout the mid and Western Pacific as well as by Marine Expeditionary Units deployed in the region.
Andersen South fills a major deficiency in currently available urban warfare training facilities for the Marine Corps. The ability to train in an urban environment is paramount for the Marine Corps. Between 1975 and 1995, 21 of the 27 U.S. ground force commitments were in urban areas or a mix of urban and rural areas.
The compact urban training facility at Okinawa's Camp Hansen is a small section of one neighborhood - much smaller in scope than Andersen South. Andersen also beats hands-down similar facilities at Marine bases in the United States. The urban facilities at Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune are concrete block buildings. It gives you a city, but it gives you a 25-building city. You make one patrol through there and you know where everything is. Not so with Andersen South. The former housing complex has 360 buildings, ranging from multiplex houses to dormitories. It's big enough to let an entire Marine infantry battalion train within its confines. That space and the network of roads lacing through the area give Marines a more realistic vision of what fighting house-to-house might be like.
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