U.S. Army Salinas Training Area
Camp Santiago on 12,000 acres at Salinas, Puerto Rico, is operated by the Puerto Rico National Guard. Though it has no permanent residents, the barracks at this National Guard facility can temporarily house thousands of troops. The facility accommodates brigade-sized or larger units for maneuver and specialized training. Camp Santiago was established in 1940 as a Puerto Rican National Guard training facility. Camp Santiago is used by special operations forces, the National Guard, and other military units. With about twenty-two armories and the Camp Santiago training center, the National Guard is the most visible military force on the island.
The federal government employs thousands of civilians at federal facilities such as the U.S. Naval Station at Roosevelt Roads, the Navy's Sabana SECA Communications Center, and the U.S. Army Salinas Training Area and Fort Allen.
At Camp Santiago, the U.S. Army now holds annual exercises to train officers and troops of the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Barbados. To provide training to CARICOM Forces in order to build unit cohesion and to support United Nations Resolution 940, U.S. troops conducted a Training program on Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico for coalition Caribbean forces. This training included civil action, crowd control, first aid, and security operations. The soldiers were engaged in multiple cell urban patrol training. The training took place on Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico prior to Operation Uphold Democracy.
Operation Tradewinds opened at Camp Santiago in the Salinas Test Area of Puerto Rico, about 22 miles (35 kilometers) south of San Juan. The exercise began on Monday, March 27, 2000 and was hosted by the U.S. Army Southern Command. The exercise was a training exercise of assistance and maintenance of order during a disaster. Five hundred troops from the small Caribbean nations of Antigua, Dominica, Granada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, plus the USA and the UK participated in the eight-day training exercise, which was also sponsored by CARICOM, the regional Caribbean defense system (Known in Spnish as Sustema de Seguridad Regional y la Comunidad Caribeza or SSRCC).
In January 1966 Colonel Alberto A. Nido, PRANG Chief of Staff for Air, approached Maj. Gen. Winston P. Wilson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, inquired about the possibility of constructing a range at the Army Guard's Salinas Training Area, located 35 miles on the south coast area. Two days later, Brig Gen. Salvador Roig approved a plan for this project and assigned Captain Gabriel I. Peñagarícano as project officer. The NGB budgeted $10,000 for this construction, this tight budget required a maximum in-house effort. The U.S. Army Antilles Command, caretakers of the Salinas Training Area, provided earth-moving equipment and personnel to level the target area. They also dug necessary holes for electric power poles, communications and strafing and skip-bombing targets. The range towers were donated by the air depot at McDill AFB ad transported directly to the range on C-123 aircraft. Once there, Major Fred Brown, a professional mechanical engineer, directed their assembly. Air Guardsmen -both officers and airmen- qualified in construction, surveying and engineering were recruited to measure and locate properly the tower targets, and the plotting board used for scoring hits on the dive bombing and rocket targets. On 23 June 1966 the Salinas' range was officially inaugurated with the attendance of Hon Roberto Sánchez Vilella, Governor of Puerto Rico, and other high government officials.