Monday – November 24, 2014
Yuma Proving Ground
The U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground is located within five miles of our campsite at the Imperial Dam, BLM, LTVA. Near the entrance to the Yuma Proving Ground there is an exhibit area that is open to the public. The exhibit area has several types of tanks, artillery guns and rockets that were used in WW II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. There are information displays that provide some history about the Yuma Proving Ground. The following information is provided from these information displays.
A brief history of the Yuma Proving Ground…
Camp Laguna was the first of the Arizona camps established as the Desert Training Center of World War II, and became the California – Arizona Maneuver Area. With the campaign in North Africa all but over, the training focus shifted to preparing Corps – sized units for future battles by immersing them into a simulated theater of war. From March 1943 to March 1944, Camp Laguna would be the temporary home to the 8th, 79th, and the 80th Infantry Divisions, as those units participated in the rigorous training afforded in the Desert Southwest.
1946 saw many studies conducted to review the lessons learned from the Nation’s wartime experience. Operations during the war were thoroughly reviewed to determine what had worked well, and what had not worked. Important material developments and the establishment of standards were crucial elements to the U.S. war-time success. It was noted that testing in the natural environmental settings of the desert and the arctic had been of great benefit, and had helped to reduce development time. The Korean War once again indicated the need for our Army to be ready to fight our Nation’s battles anywhere in the world. The answers to related to questions of material readiness would best be derived from Test and Evaluation. The Army reactivated the former Yuma Test Branch in April 1951 as the "Yuma Test Station," a Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Installation.
Testing in the natural environments requires a "laboratory in the field." An accelerated program of organization, preparation and construction was initiated to permit immediate use of the test facilities. These facilities would be used to conduct tests in an environmental situation approximating conditions of actual use under controls comparable to those governing good laboratory practice.
The Ordnance Test Activity was the largest and most active of the test activities, while testers from the Corps of Engineers, Quartermaster, Signal, Chemical, Medical and Transportation Corps, were also frequent tenants. Test facilities would include firing ranges, mobility courses, supporting laboratories, arms and ammunition labs (as well as manufacturing facilities), maintenance facilities, machine shops, etc., in order to support full-scale climatic testing as envisioned by the Army.
Following the scientific method, Yuma Test Station would provide complete information regarding the stresses and deficiencies that develop only under conditions of actual use.
During the administration of John F. Kennedy, then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara initiated a complete review of the Department of Defense with an eye towards gaining greater efficiencies. As a result of this review process, in 1963 the Yuma Test Station was re-designated as the Yuma Proving Ground. It is now known as U.S. Army Proving Ground.
The new designation came with increased missions and greater focus. Seen as a great place to test all year round, the core competencies of the Proving Ground were used as a baseline of capabilities as core missions were further developed. YPG remained as the premier test facility for investigations into the effects of the desert climatic environment. In addition, the testing of tube-launched projectiles was the perfect mission for extensive, fully instrumented test firing ranges. Yuma’s great weather made this the ideal test location for air delivery means. The varied terrain and harsh environmental conditions continue to tax to the limits of endurance (and beyond) of combat and automotive systems.
As the Yuma Proving Ground matured, aviation systems found the perfect test site on the ranges here. Tests of Surveillance Drones (today’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAV’s) and aircraft armament systems are put through the ringer.
Proof of concept testing, developmental testing and acceptance proof testing of production items continues apace at Yuma Proving Ground. The varied terrain here and the wonderful climatic conditions makes this site a training location of choice for many within the Department of Defense.
Rapid development of items needed by the Department of Defense to fight current wars is but one of the reasons YPG is recognized as an award winning Test facility within the Department of Defense Major Range and Test Facility Base. On any given day, there may be over one-hundred tests being conducted on the various test ranges, test courses and laboratory facilities. YPG conducts tests for friendly nations to the U.S., as well as all branches of the U.S. military services.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.
Exhibit Area Photos