Alabama does not have the distinction of having the most military bases in the United States. That honor goes to California with 32 different installations, while Alabama only has 4.
Still, despite the low number of bases, Alabama can boast that its installations are a major backbone in the support of the United States Army. Three of its five military bases are Army bases; Fort Rucker, Anniston Army Depot, and the Redstone Army Arsenal. While technically closed, Fort McClellan Army Base is still used by the Army National Guard and the Center for Domestic Preparedness for the Department of Homeland Security.
Each of these Army bases has a unique and distinct purpose that serves the overall goal of the United States Armed Services. Here we provide you with a brief overview of the history, establishment and current use of each installation.
Fort Rucker Army Base
Fort Rucker Army Base is located primarily in Dale County, Alabama. Established on May 1st, 1942 it was named after Edmund Rucker. Edmund Rucker was an honorary general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The base was established during WWII and was one of the largest military installations at that time. Here, thousands of troops were trained and sent off to war zones during WWII, including the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).
Today, Fort Rucker is home to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. It is the most important helicopter Army base the United States has and is where all of the Army helicopter pilots come to earn their aviation wings. It also conducts testing of developmental aircraft in the Aviation Technical Test Center. A large part of the Army helicopter program includes warrant officers, and so in addition to the Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker also hosts the Warrant Officers Candidate School and the Warrant Officer Career College.
Anniston Army Depot
Established in 1940, ANAD (Anniston Army Depot) is located in Calhoun County, AL. Primarily used as a major munitions storage site during WWII, it is now where the Army does the final assembly, reset and overhaul of the IAV Stryker vehicle. The Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker, named for Medal of Honor recipients PFC Stuart S. Stryker (WWII) and SPC Robert F. Stryker (Vietnam), is one of the primary armored vehicles used by the United States Army.
In addition to the repair and testing of tanks, Anniston Army Depot also repairs, upgrades or restores infantry weapons. These weapons include the M16 rifle or the M2 machine gun. In the past, Anniston was also one of the seven depot sites where the United States stored its chemical weapons. All chemical weapons were destroyed at of September 2011, however.
Redstone Army Arsenal
Redstone Arsenal is located in Madison County, AL which is close to Huntsville, AL and was established in 1941 as a chemical weapons plant. It stockpiled such chemical weapons as phosgene, Lewisite and mustard gas and also produced small rockets during the war. After the war, the production of these items was halted and the Arsenal turned its attention to dismantling ordinances and storing chemical weapons.
The Redstone Arsenal would go on through many years and other wars to be a primary centre for the stockpiling and manufacturing of other types of munitions and missiles, including the establishment of the Provisional Redstone Ordnance School in 1952. After many name changes the school was eventually changed again to the Ordnance Munitions and Electronic Maintenance School in 2002 and then moved to Fort Lee in 2011.
Today, Redstone Arsenal is still the primary centre for testing and developing for the Army’s missile programs. It is home to many Army munitions programs including the Missile Defense Agency and the Missile Space Intelligence Center.
Fort McClellan Army Base
One of the earlier American military establishments, Fort McClellan has its roots in the Spanish-American War as Camp Shipp. It would remain a vibrant military installation through WWI and II until the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure when it was decided to permanently close the base. Still, the base does have its military uses and has areas that are operated by the Alabama National Guard for field training. It also hosts the Alabama National Guard Officer Candidate School.
Before its official closure, Fort McClellan was host to the Chemical Corps, the Military Police Corps and the Women’s Army Corps. It was a basic training facility as well and at one time housed over 10,000 military personnel. Today, what property not currently used by the Alabama National Guard or the Center for Domestic Preparedness has been restructured into a mixed-use development project.