Monday, June 28, 2010


The World's 18 Strangest Military Bases

The world's hodgepodge of military bases run the gamut from hazardous mountaintop forts to seemingly impenetrable underground bunkers. Then there are bases on remote islands tracking objects in deep space and high-tech laboratories probing the most lethal microbes in existence. The design of a base needs to address the immediate needs of a military while still being versatile enough to remain useful as threats and technology evolve.

Qaasuitsup, Greenland

Thule Air Base sits within 800 miles of the Arctic Circle, making it the northernmost U.S. military installation. Among the many challenges posed by the region's climate is that the base's port is only accessible for three months each year, so major supplies need to be shipped during the summer. The base may be frozen and remote, but the 12th Space Warning Squadron operates an early warning system for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles from Thule, while the 21st Space Wing is in charge of space surveillance operations.

Dugway Proving Ground
Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah

Within two months of the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside the first 127,000 acres of Dugway Proving Ground in Utah's Great Salt Lake Desert. Over the past 60 years, the site has expanded to nearly 800,000 acres, roughly the size of Rhode Island.

Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia BIOT, Chagos Archipelago

This joint U.S. and U.K. operation is situated on a tiny atoll about 1000 miles from India and tasked with providing logistical support to forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

How It's Unique: "There's a certain amount of logistical difficulty" with ultra-remote facilities like Diego Garcia, Schulz says, and shipping materials can be costly. Diego Garcia's remoteness, though, allows it to be a key hub for tracking satellites, and it is one of five monitoring stations for GPS. Additionally, the island is one of only a handful of locations equipped with a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system for tracking objects in deep space. As an atoll, the land itself is rather oddly shaped, too. From end to end, Diego Garcia is 34 miles long, but its total area is only 11 square miles.

I've actually been to this place - S.L.

HAARP Research Station
Gakona, Alaska

HAARP, or the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, is a collaborative project involving the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army and the University of Alaska. Researchers at the facility use a powerful high-frequency transmitter and an array of 180 antennas to temporarily disrupt the ionosphere in hopes of yielding potential communications and surveillance benefits.

Forward Logistics Base

Siachen Glacier, Kashmir

For more than 25 years, India and Pakistan have been battling for control of the nearly 50-mile-long Siachen Glacier. Both sides have set up military installations in the imposing Karakoram range, where 3-mile-high mountain peaks are the norm.

Cheyenne Mountain Complex

Cheyenne Mountain Complex Air Force Station, Colorado

This iconic underground base has been inspiring science fiction writers and awing engineers since 1966. Located nearly a half mile under a granite mountain, the labyrinthine facility is run by Air Force Space Command. The base earned its place in pop culture when the television version of Stargate made Cheyenne Mountain the HQ of cosmic time travel.

Devil's Tower Camp


Certain geographic locations will never lose their strategic importance. Case in point: Gibraltar. British control of the territory dates back to 1713, when Spain ceded the land in the Treaty of Utrecht. Nowadays, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment watches over the territory from its Devil's Tower Camp headquarters.

Joint Defence Space Research Facility Pine Gap

Lingiari, Australia

Near the hot, desolate center of Australia, just outside of Alice Springs, is the Joint Defence Space Research Facility Pine Gap. Australia and the U.S. agreed to build the compound in 1966, but desert flooding, blistering heat and a lack of paved roads slowed initial construction efforts. The site officially opened in June 1970 and has been a joint U.S./Australian operation since.

U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

Fort Detrick, Maryland

Anthrax, Ebola virus, plague and monkeypox are just a few of the deadly microbes handled by researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, commonly known as USAMRIID. Over the years, the institute has made significant contributions to the development of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments that have both military and civilian applications.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville

Jacksonville, Florida

The new Hangar 511 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville is the largest hangar in the Navy's inventory, capable of storing 33 P3-C Orions, four C-130 Hercules and a helicopter unit. In the coming years, the hangar will be instrumental in housing the P-8 Poseidon and its 120-foot wingspan.

Raven Rock Mountain Complex

Adams Country, Pennsylvania

This notoriously cryptic facility is built under Raven Rock mountain near the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The site was birthed during the Cold War and goes by many names, including Site R and the underground Pentagon.

Temporary Deployable Accommodations

Iraq and Afghanistan

Temporary Deployable Accommodations, or TDAs, are the brainchild of global engineering firm KBR. These on-the-fly facilities can be large enough to host 600 troops and take less than a month to set up.

Edwards Air Force Base

Edwards, California

America's first jet, the Bell P-59, made its debut flight on Oct. 1, 1942 at Muroc Dry Lake, now known as Edwards Air Force Base. A mere six years later, at the same site, Chuck Yeager busted through the sound barrier in a Bell X-1, marking the first time an aircraft had traveled faster than the speed of sound. Today, Edwards is home to the Air Force Flight Test Center and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, both of which are molding the future of aviation.

Lajes Field

Azores, Portugal
Lajes Field, on the small, Portuguese-owned Terceira Island, is an important refueling station for aircraft that can't clear the Atlantic Ocean in a single shot. In 1953, the U.S. established its first presence on the island when it positioned the 1605th Air Base Wing at Lajes. Today, the 65th Air Base Wing is stationed at the facility, providing support to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and to a variety of allies.

I've been here, too - S.L.

Nellis Air Force Base

Nellis AFB, Nevada

Nellis Air Force Base is a revered training facility and the location of the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center. The base has been operational since the 1940s.

Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility

Anniston Army Depot, Alabama

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency's Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility is one of six locations that stores chemical weapons. During the 1960s, 7 percent of U.S. chemical weapons were stashed at Anniston, including stockpiles of VX nerve-agent munitions.

Defence Training Estate Salisbury Plain

Wiltshire, England

The now defunct British War Office started snatching up land in this region of southern England back in 1897. Salisbury, location of the contentious Imber Live Firing Range, is still used regularly to put Royal Marines through the wringer.

Naval Submarine Base

Kings Bay, Georgia

Around 1980, the Navy began overhauling Kings Bay to be the East Coast location for Ohio-class nuclear submarines, a project that took nearly a decade and cost $1.3 billion, making it the largest peacetime construction project for the Navy at the time. Spread over 16,000 acres, about a quarter of which is protected wetlands, this submarine base is the habitat of 20 threatened or endangered species.



  1. Yea, you for got one...FAA Prohibited Airspace, Area 51...Groom lake?

    I have heard of that HAARP. It is also used to transmit messages into directly into your head...

    Yeeaaa...have you heard of Mad Cow disease? guessed it...HAARP GONE WRONG!

    Next they will be using it on PEOPLE!
    Remember Sirhan Sirhan?


  2. fALLsHI*MjAgEr said...
    "I have heard of that HAARP. It is also used to transmit messages into directly into your head..."

    This does explain a thing or two.
    (and I thought it was from drinking too much of the bong water)

    and now we know....jd

  3. my dad was in on the construction of diego garcia with the Seabees. they "zig-zagged" all the way from pearl harbor.which was strange to everyone,and they did a amphibious landing locked-and-loaded as though they would be under fire when they hit the beach.

    after the runway was in and planes started coming they told them the name of the island (not that that meant anything) and roughly where they were.

    I always thought that andros island was a strange the navy's area 51 or woomera range.

  4. What? No Globus II?

  5. Fascinating article, and I've been to some of those places too; Lajes, Diego Garcia, and one you may have missed; Adak, Alaska. ((It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there!")

    Nice also to see that my old airplane, the P-3A Orion BUNO 149676, was doing nicely, although that's probably a very old photo. Back when it was in the Fleet as a subhunter, it was fitted out in the VP-8 "Flying Tigers" livery, but this photo shows it with the MAD boom bobbed, and in DV colors. (The Navy requested a corporate jet for "Distinguished Visitors", and was shot down; no money for frivolity. So they gutted two P-3A Orions, refitted the interiors as flying limousines, and used them as flying Admiral's Gigs. I understand that they were quite luxurious. )

  6. sean:

    what about no. 51 in nevada.

    ex-no. 2 had a couple cousins, flight controllers in southern california.

    many years ago, at a family reunion in s. dakota i got them really looped, and they told me about stuff coming in so high and fast off the baja over so. cal. and into nevada that they could not believe it.

    hotter than the black bird.

    and, don't forget umatilla ordinance depot in umatilla, oregon just down the road 60 miles or so from me. lots & lots of nerve gas in little dirt igloos, the gas currently being incinerated in a little plant that can be seen from the freeway.

    so far, so good. laughing.

    john jay

    p.s. haarp is just one legacy of nicholai tesla, and one of the things that people aren't entirely sure that they understand entirely what tesla was up to. a genuinely bright fellow, in a league all his own.

  7. I spent some time at Dugway. The UTARNG artillery units used to use it quite a bit (they may still). Really good artillery ranges but it is just a mite desolate.

  8. I'm a little surprised Johnson Atoll didn't make the list.

  9. i've been to Dugway, for a day, back in the 80's: you had to have a Pro Mask, with war filters to get on base then.

    Hunter-Ligget is another hidey hole few know about, unless you were @ Ord or serve with the CA ARNG, then it is/was home away from home.

  10. redcic4. Spent a lot of time there 81 to 85 as well. Plus more time than I care to recall at Roberts.

  11. Not a bad list. A relative consulted to Dugway, so I can tell that you have a nice list. Many other stranger facilities exist in mostly plan view and not merely in the USA and not merely the USAF USA, and USN. One can check aerial imagery for double fences (also like prisons). Have visited a number of weapons labs and intelligence facilities.

  12. For those wondering about Area 51, Nellis Air Force Base is another name for Area 51. Area 51 is just a very well known nickname for Nellis Air Force Base.

  13. There are military bases in california and they are really active. They have done different kinds of activities. There are two join bases in there.