Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms
Near Twentynine Palms, California in the United States
MOUT Training during ITX - 210407-M-LO635-1132.jpg
US Marines conducting an integrated training exercise (ITX) at MCAGCC Twentynine Palms during April 2021
MCAGCC Twentynine Palms is located in the United States
MCAGCC Twentynine Palms
MCAGCC Twentynine Palms
Location in the United States
Coordinates34°13′54″N 116°03′42″W / 34.23167°N 116.06167°W / 34.23167; -116.06167Coordinates: 34°13′54″N 116°03′42″W / 34.23167°N 116.06167°W / 34.23167; -116.06167
TypeTraining center
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Marine Corps
Controlled byMarine Corps Training and Education Command
WebsiteOfficial website
Site history
Built1952 (1952)
In use1952 – present
Garrison information
Major General Austin E. Renforth[1]
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: NXP, ICAO: KNXP, FAA LID: NXP, WMO: 690150
Elevation625.1 metres (2,051 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
10/28 2,442.9 metres (8,015 ft) Perforated steel planking (PSP)
Airfield nameStrategic Expeditionary Landing Field (SELF)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[2]

The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), also known as 29 Palms, is the largest United States Marine Corps base. It was a census-designated place (CDP) officially known as Twentynine Palms Base located adjacent to the city of Twentynine Palms in southern San Bernardino County, California. As of the 2000 census, the base had a total population of 8,413. The zip code of the base is 92278; base housing's zip code is 92277. The base covers a total area of 596,288 acres (931.7 sq mi).

The CDP was discontinued prior to the 2010 census.

Recreation & Fitness

Wood Hobby Shop, Auto Hobby Shop, Bowling, Community Center, Golf Course, Family Parks, Skate Park, Movie Theater, Beach Facilities @ Camp Pendleton, Outdoor Adventures Center, Swimming Pool, Recreational Equipment Checkout & Rentals, and Sports / Gym facilities.


From 1942 through July 1944, during World War II, the airfield at Twentynine Palms was utilized by the U.S. Army Air Force for primary flight training. What is now the "Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center", was taken over by the Eleventh Naval District, headquartered in San Diego, as Naval Auxiliary Air Station Twentynine Palms, in July 1944.[3][4] After the war, its future was uncertain. Then, on August 20, 1952, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Headquarters issued Post Order 343 creating the Marine Corps Training Center, Twentynine Palms.

The United States was embroiled in the Korean War. As the need for live-fire training grew along with the swelling ranks, it became obvious that more ranges were needed. Pendleton's Marines looked northward, and happened upon the abandoned Condor Field, a World War II Army and Navy glider base located in the vicinity of what is now mainside.

The base was redesignated on February 6, 1953, as Marine Corps Training Center, Twentynine Palms. By February 1, 1957, it grew to base status and was again redesignated as Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Only 70 Marines comprised the detachment at the center. Manned by Marines from Camp Pendleton, its primary mission was to prepare the new base for the arrival of permanent personnel. By mid-December, 1952, a fresh 3rd Marine Division, with assistance from the 12th Marine Regiment, conducted the first large-scale, live-fire field exercise aboard the new base. The exercise gave Marines a glimpse of the facility's potential and foreshadowed the large-scale combined arms exercises for which the base is now known.

In 1976, under the command of Brigadier General Ernest R. Reid, Jr., work began to add an expeditionary airfield to the base's growing infrastructure. When the first C-5 Galaxy landed in August 1978, it was apparent that the air-ground capability of the base was complete. Following completion of the expeditionary airfield, its name was changed to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center on October 1, 1978, and changed yet once more to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) on February 16, 1979. It was also during this time that plans for the Combined Arms Exercises were conceived. Supplanting an earlier exercise known as Desert Palm Tree, the new CAXs were remarkable in two respects: the practice of combined arms, and live-fire and movement during the exercises were unprecedented in scale. Just as noteworthy was the creation of a Tactical Exercise Control Center with the primary purpose of controlling, instructing and critiquing the exercises. In the words of base historian, Col. Verle E. Ludwig, USMC (Ret.), "Twentynine Palms was to be a permanent 'combined-arms exercise college' for all of the Marine Corps."

On October 1, 2000, after 21 years as MCAGCC, the command was redesignated as Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Twentynine Palms, California. This redesignation accompanied a change in policy that placed MAGTF Training Command under the auspices of Training and Education Command, Headquarters Marine Corps, MCCDC, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. This arrangement simplifies what was occasionally a complicated chain of command. The expeditionary airfield and surrounding spartan accommodations for visiting units was nicknamed "Camp Wilson".[5]

The base is currently home to one of the largest military training areas in the nation. The program known as Mojave Viper[6] has become the model of pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment training. The majority of units in the Marine Corps will undergo a month at Mojave Viper before deploying to Iraq or a mixed training venue using the Mountain Warfare Training Center (south of Lake Tahoe) for Afghanistan. Live fire exercises, artillery, tank, and close air support training are used for training, in addition to the sprawling "Combat Town," a 274-acre (1,110,000 m2) fabricated Middle Eastern village, complete with a mosque, native role-players, an "IED Alley," and other immersive touches.

In August 2008, the Marine Corps submitted a land withdrawal application to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for approximately 422,000 acres (1,710 km2) contiguous to base as part of an ongoing study by the Marine Corps for possible base expansion, along with the establishment of corresponding special-use airspace, necessary to train a Marine Expeditionary Brigade at the Combat Center.[7]

Based units


Newest training facility is directly adjacent to Landers, California, seen here just before sunset.
Newest training facility is directly adjacent to Landers, California, seen here just before sunset.

Twentynine Palms Base is located within the Morongo Basin and the High Desert region of the Mojave Desert, in Southern California.[8]

MCAGCC Twentynine Palms is approximately 98 miles from the Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, which is located in the city of Barstow, California. It is also approximately 111 miles from the Barstow-Daggett Airport located in Daggett, California.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the base has a total area of 1.4 mi2 (3.7 km2). This area is all land with none covered by water. This area covers only the main cantonment, which includes the base housing; the entire installation is far larger, with 931.7 mi2 (2,413.2 km2) of surface area, all land. There was a resident population of 14,090 on this territory as of the 2000 census.

The terrain is consistent, with steeply sloped mountains and flat valleys running northwest–southeast, with elevations ranging from 1,800 to 4,500 feet (1,400 m) above sea level. The training area is also characterized with ancient lava flows, as well as dry lake beds and arroyos (or wadis) that fill quickly during rain, presenting the danger of powerful floods and washouts that can move armored vehicles. Many abandoned mines dot the terrain, as well as unexploded ordnance and shrapnel, making unauthorized travel in the training areas dangerous.

The climate is described best as arid and upland desert. Summer temperatures can peak at 120 °F and bottom at 15 °F in the winter, with an annual average of 67 °F. Precipitation averages to four inches (102 mm) annually, most often in the fall and winter months. Weather is generally clear and sunny days, with low humidity.


As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 8,413 people, 912 households, and 904 families residing on the base. The population density was 2,287.5/km2 (5,935.8/mi2). There were 1,006 housing units at an average density of 273.5/km2 (709.8/mi2). The racial makeup of the base was 70.3% White, 10.4% African American, 1.4% Native American, 3.1% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 9.5% from other races, and 5.1% from two or more races. 19.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 912 households, out of which 73.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 94.5% were married couples living together, 3.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 0.8% were non-families. 0.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and <0.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.4 and the average family size was 3.4.

The age distribution of the base is: 15.4% under the age of 18, 67.0% from 18 to 24, 16.8% from 25 to 44, 0.7% from 45 to 64, and <0.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 21 years. For every 100 females, there were 404.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 596.3 males. These statistics were consistent with the area's military status.

The median income for a household on the base was $29,500, and the median income for a family was $29,594. Males had a median income of $14,111 versus $17,014 for females. The per capita income for the base was $12,615. 12.1% of the population and 11.9% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 14.0% of those under the age of 18 and 0.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


In the California State Legislature, Twentynine Palms Base is in the 16th Senate District, represented by Democrat Melissa Hurtado, and in the 42nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jacqui Irwin.[10]

In the United States House of Representatives, Twentynine Palms Base is in the California's 8th congressional district, represented by Democrat John Garamendi.[11]

In popular culture

A futuristic version of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center is featured at the start of the movie Doom.

When the hit TV show Home Improvement was about to be sold into syndication, the producers decided to kick off the syndicated run with a brand new episode not shown on prime time. Much of that episode was taped in 1995 at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. The episode, titled "Tanks for the Memories", featured Tim and Jill racing tanks across the desert base.

In season 4 episode 32 of The Andy Griffith Show, the Camp Wilson Marine Base was used throughout the episode, from when the character "Gomer Pyle" joined the Marines.

It was featured in Terminal Lance comic #209; "All Your Base: 29 Palms" describing the horrible conditions of the base, saying it smelled of "sweaty shit", a reference to the open pond from the base waste water treatment facility. It is known to the local population as "Lake Bandini", after a local fertilizer company of the same name.[12]

In the 1996 film Independence Day, additional fighters are sent from 29 Palms, presumably from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.

The base is also known in military and veteran communities by the nickname "29 Stumps" after its desert location and lack of things to do in the general area, especially in earlier decades.

The area is mentioned in Robert Plant's song "29 Palms".

List of commanders

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (May 2021)

See also


  1. ^ "Commanding General, MAGTF Training Command, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center". Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  2. ^ FAA Airport Form 5010 for NXP PDF
  3. ^ Staff, “Navy Will Use Field At Twentynine Palms”, ‘’The San Bernardino Daily Sun’’, San Bernardino, California, Tuesday 18 July 1944, Volume 50, page 9.
  4. ^ "Naval Auxiliary Air Station Twentynine Palms (historical), CA – Area Other Places of Interest".
  5. ^ "Map — Google Sightseeing".
  6. ^ "Welcome to MCAGCC Twentynine Palms". Archived from the original on 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  7. ^ "Marine Corps submits withdrawal application to Bureau of Land Management". Division of Public Affairs HQMC Media Branch. 2008-08-19. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  8. ^ profile.
  9. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  10. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  11. ^ "California's 8th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  12. ^ Uriarte, Max. "Terminal Lance #209". Max U.
  13. ^ Goolsby, Denise. "Obama promotes Twentynine Palms commanding general". The Desert Sun.
  14. ^ a b "Turner relinquishes command of Combat Center to Jurney". DVIDS.
  15. ^ "Command of Caltrap transfers from Jurney to Bierman". 3rd Marine Division.
  16. ^ "Maj. Gen. Austin Renforth assumes command of Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center". DVIDS.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]