Alamogordo and the Military
Businesses and institutions that seek to expand their market by locating in Alamogordo, but are hesitant to rely on an economy that includes military service members, military spouses and Department of Defense employees as part of their employee or customer base, can be assured of the continued growing presence of Holloman Air Force Base, which is a mere five miles west of Alamogordo, and the Army’s adjoining White Sands Missile Range.
The efficacy of a modern American military is dependent upon a trained, educated and experienced force. Environments that mimic those of the U.S.’s most recent conflicts, particularly desert and mountain terrains and temperatures, are critical to training and preparing the American military. Both Holloman AFB and WSMR are located in the Tularosa Basin, a Chihuahuan Desert offering extensive training areas in an arid, rust-free environment, with extensive mountain ranges forming the east and west boundaries of the Basin.
But the value of Holloman AFB and WSMR extends beyond the natural environment. The adjoining location of Holloman AFB and WSMR provide a critical contribution to Army and Air Force operational readiness. WSMR is the Army’s largest piece of real estate in the continental United States, 2 million acres under restricted airspace from the ground to infinity. This area is the largest instrumented research and training site in the U.S. The vastness of the land, with the benefit of minimal municipal and civilian encroachment, make it a strategically ideal location for military installations, irreplaceable in today’s “not in my back yard” world.
A Proud History
Holloman AFB and WSMR, originally known as White Sands Proving Grounds, were the first home of America’s Missile Development Program. Opened in the 1940’s, the adjoining installations have given the DOD unparalleled abilities to test weapons systems, propulsion, missile development and more. This unique positioning of the two military branches allows for joint training opportunities not readily available anywhere else in the U.S.
Home to the longest high speed sled track in the U.S., (Mr. Shyne once watched a weapons test at the track that exceeded Mach Nine — 6,900 miles per hour — breaking the world record!) Holloman AFB’s missions include training pilots in the F-16 fighter jet and pilots and sensor operators for unmanned aircraft. Nowhere else in the country does the DOD have access to such a substantial amount of restricted air space. And with the prevalence of commercial airline routes crisscrossing the nation, there’s nowhere else in the country where a new installation could be established with comparable restricted air space.
For over 60 years WSMR was used exclusively to test and evaluate emerging weapons technologies. In the last decade, the Army expanded its mission at WSMR to include troop training missions. This mission expansion resulted in extensive new construction at Fort Bliss in nearby El Paso, Texas - greatly increasing the DOD’s value of Holloman AFB and WSMR, and increasing the DOD’s investments in the region. These investments include the construction of the William Beaumont Medical Center at Fort Bliss, a billion dollar hospital with the latest laser and robotic surgery technologies to treat active duty service members and veterans throughout the region.
Holloman AFB, WSMR and, by extension, Fort Bliss are key assets for the DOD. The installations’ land, testing capabilities, restricted air space and proximity to each other assure the long term growth of these military facilities, and assures continued opportunities for Alamogordo’s businesses, employers, employees and contractors.