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During the opening days of World War II, General George S. Patton, Jr., was placed in charge of locating and developing an armored training facility in an unpopulated portion of the West. Patton and other officers were instrumental in designating over 18,000 square miles of the Arizona and California desert to prepare troops for the rigors of desert warfare in the forthcoming invasion of North Africa. Operating from 1942 to 1944, the Desert Training Center (DTC) expanded far beyond this original scope and in 1943 became known as the California-Arizona Maneuver Area (C-AMA), the largest military training ground in the history of military maneuvers.
Countless reminders of the massive facility exist throughout the California desert today. Maneuver areas, where entire divisions practiced attacking and defending huge land areas, can be seen. Tank tracks can be detected in a variety of locations. Divisional camps, measuring three miles long by one mile wide and housing over 15,000 men at one time, are marked with rock-lined walkways, and unit symbols are spelled out in white quartz. The facility also contained airfields, supply depots, railroad sidings, hospitals, and weapon ranges.
Bischoff blends the history and archaeology of this complex facility into a fascinating study that will serve as a model for research of these resources.