It is located 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Barstow, in the Calico Mountains.
The National Training Center is part of the US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM).
From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the area began to grow tremendously as mining operations of all types flourished.
Soon railroads, workers, and businesses led to the establishment of the nearby town of Barstow.
By 1855 it became part of the route of the freight wagon road between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.
In the 1880s the area experienced an economic boom with the discovery of borax at Death Valley.This camp was later to become an important water and grazing place for pioneers crossing the Mojave Desert during California's settlement and gold rush.The California Gold Rush brought prosperous trade and unexpected trouble to the area.During the re-opening of the National Training Center in 1980, the OPFOR consisted of Re-activation of the 6th Battalion, 31st Infantry, "The Polar Bears," from the 7th Infantry Division, based in Fort Ord, California, and the 1st Battalion, 73rd Armor. Air support and air combat tactics came from USAF tactical fighter wings operating from nearby Nellis AFB and George AFB, USN attack and strike fighter jet squadrons from NAS Lemoore, USMC attack and fighter/attack jet squadrons operating from MCAS El Toro, and USMC helicopter light attack squadrons operating from MCAS Tustin.Once the US Army turned to regimental units in 1985, the OPFOR was designated the 177th Armored Brigade (SEP). When George AFB, MCAS El Toro and MCAS Tustin were closed as a result of Base Realignment and Closure Commission actions in the mid-1990s, USAF air support shifted to a combination of composite wings and fighter wings from Nellis AFB, Hill AFB, Luke AFB and Davis-Monthan AFB, and USMC air support shifted to MCAS Miramar (formerly NAS Miramar), MCAS Yuma and MCAS Camp Pendleton.From Bitter Spring the trail led 18.75 miles southwest climbing Alvord Mountain to cross Impassable Pass to descend Spanish Canyon and cross the plains to the location of Fork of the Road on the north side of the Mojave River where it met the Mohave Trail. Fremont, accompanied by Kit Carson, was the first member of the US Army to visit the Fort Irwin area.Captain Fremont established a camp near Bitter Springs as he pioneered a route that served travelers on the Old Spanish Trail, and later the Mormon Road, linking Salt Lake City to California.A fur trapper, Smith was soon followed by other pioneers traveling the Old Spanish Trail between Santa Fe and Los Angeles.The trail crossed the area on the eastern edge of Fort Irwin, between Salt Spring and the Mojave River.The OPFOR soldiers wore Soviet-style armor uniforms including black berets and Soviet-style insignias, and used M551 Sheridans visually modified to resemble BMP-1 vehicles and T-72 tanks. During the 1980s and 1990s, the National Training Center also showcased U. Army large-scale tactics to foreign military leaders from all over the world. The command centers of the large-scale battles were computerized in a central command post, where each battle was recorded, analyzed, and the results subsequently debriefed to participants.The OPFOR ran 15 training rotations a year against armored brigades from Active Component and Reserve Component U. The National Training Center and Fort Irwin continues to serve as the Army's premier training center.