What do you do with a frontier Army post when you’re finished exterminating those annoying Native Americans? Train military spooks, of course!
A now-declassified 1997 “white paper” described Fort Huachuca’s mission as “to derive information collected from and provided by human sources that penetrate an adversary’s decision-making architecture for data regarding capabilities (strength and weaknesses), vulnerabilities, dispositions, plans and intentions.” The same paper described the goals of these activities as being “to conduct non-lethal strikes at decisive points to deter hostile action, impose order, protect the force, or compel an adversary or ally to do our will.” In plain English, Fort Huachuca is where the Army trains its spooks, tests eavesdropping and surveillance equipment, and conducts information and electronics warfare exercises.
Fort Huachuca was established in 1877 as part of the wars against Native Americans and in 1886 was the base of operations for the campaign against Geronimo. In 1913, it became home to the 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers.” Its current mission began in 1954, when control passed to the U.S. Army Signal Corps. In 1971, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center was relocated to Fort Huachuca and its transformation into an intelligence and electronic warfare facility began in earnest.
Fort Huachuca is one of those places you don’t drive by; you have to work to get there. Located at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains, it’s located approximately 70 miles southeast of Tucson and 16 miles north of the Mexican border. Fort Huachuca covers more than 70,000 acres and more than 17,000 personnel and their families live on or near the base. Much of the airspace above the facility is restricted.
Fort Huachuca, Huachuca City Map Photo Gallery
What’s There: If it has anything to do with signals intelligence, eavesdropping and surveillance, electronic warfare, or military communications, it’s here. The U.S. Army’s Intelligence Center, Signal Command, Information Systems Engineering Command, the 11th Signal Brigade, the Electronic Proving Ground, and the Military Affiliate Radio System are all based here. In addition, intelligence operations for the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard are also at Fort Huachuca. There’s even an Army Intelligence Museum on the “Old Post” section that’s open to the public.
Key Facilities: The U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground for electronic warfare occupies a large portion of Fort Huachuca’s total area. According to official Fort Huachuca literature, “eye-hazard lasers,” GPS “exploitation, deception, and denial” systems, and artificial intelligence systems based on neural computer networks are all tested here.
Secret Stuff: While the signals intelligence, eavesdropping, and surveillance activities here are supposed to be deployed only against hostile military forces, they can be easily used to monitor civilian communications and activities. Since any sort of military activity in a foreign na-lion would require keeping track of civilian as well as military communications, it’s not too far-fetched to assume some monitoring of civilian communications, at least for practice, might be going on al-teady at Fort Huachuca. In other words, be careful what you say on your cell phone around here.
The GPS “exploitation, deception, and denial” technology developed here has all sorts of interesting future implications as GPS technology becomes increasingly common in cars, trucks, and other
Scanner radios will likely receive numerous unusual signals, including data, signaling, tones, and encrypted voice communications.
Military aircraft will be active in this area. There is a possibility prototype and still-secret aircraft will be tested against the electronic warfare systems here. However, most of these tests will probably be conducted at night and the mountains will restrict your viewing of the test ranges.
Getting a Look Inside: The “Old Post” area of Fort Huachuca is open to the public and has several historic buildings along with two museums. The Fort Huachuca Museum covers the history of the U.S. Army in the Southwest, and is worth visiting just for the exhibits about the allblack “Buffalo Soldiers.” The Army Intelligence Museum was, perhaps prophetically, built as a morgue in 1887. Its exhibits mainly deal with military intelligence activities in the safely distant past (World War II, etc.); if you’re looking for more contemporary stuff, you’ll be disappointed. The Army Intelligence Museum is open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free, although a $2.00 donation is suggested.
The Old Post area is far removed from the areas of Fort Huachuca where training, testing, and development activities are conducted. Unfortunately, most test and development activity takes place in areas shielded from public view by mountains.
Unusual Fact: The key training facility here is Nicholson Hall, a modern 76,000-square-foot training facility for courses in electronic warfare. It is named for the late Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Nicholson. Quoting from official Fort Huachuca literature, “on 24 March 1985, LTC Nicholson was killed in the former GDR performing a daring and sensitive mission.” What daring and sensitive mission was Col. Nicholson performing and why was he in the former East Germany? Sorry; that’s classified information.
Getting There: The easiest way to reach Fort Huachuca is from Interstate 10. Take Exit 302 and head south on State Route 90. When you reach Fort Huachuca, follow the signs to the Old Post area and museums. Do not attempt to enter the facility except through the indicated gates!
Roads to Fort Huachuca, Huachuca City.
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