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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Blythe in Riverside County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Desert Strike

 
 
Desert Strike Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, December 26, 2010
1. Desert Strike Marker
Inscription.  In May 1964, U.S. Strike Command (STRICOM) launched the largest military war game since World War II. Known as Joint Exercise Desert Strike, this two-week training exercise simulated a nuclear air and ground battle between the mythical governments of Nezona and Calonia over water rights within the Colorado River watershed south of Las Vegas. Two joint task forces, Mojave and Phoenix, involving 100,00 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel, and utilizing over 900 aircraft and 500 tanks, were mobilized to fight for their respective governments. An important training innovation was the creation of an official war cabinet for each country to lend realism to the games and introduce a political dimension to the escalation of nuclear war requiring judgments about when nuclear or chemical weapons should be used. On May 25, 1964, the 1st Battalion "Tomahawks" under the command of Lt. Colonel Robert S. Dickson of the 501st "Geronimo" Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" – were parachuted 30 miles behind 'enemy' lines near this vicinity. Fulfiling their desert strike mission, they seized a critical pass held by 'enemy'
Desert Strike Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, December 26, 2010
2. Desert Strike Marker
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armor units. An umpire halted the exercise shortly after contact with the enemy was made.

Desert Strike also led to new tactics for military river crossings on the nuclear battlefield. When Nezona invaded Calonia, instead of using a single concentrated troop crossing across the Colorado River, new tactics required numerous crossings along a broad front to diminish the effects of a theater-wide nuclear detonation. This training maneuver took place on more than 13 million acres of public and private lands in the California, Nevada and Arizona deserts at a cost of 54 million dollars, or 540 dollars per man.

This monument is dedicated to the Cold War Veterans who served here and especially for the thirty-two warriors who gave their lives during this exercise which in itself, contributed to the end of the Cold War.
 
Erected 2006 by E Clampus Vitus, Billy Holcomb Chapter 1069 and the 101st Airborne Division Association, in cooperation with the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management Palm Springs Field Office. (Marker Number 127.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, Cold. In addition, it is included in the E Clampus Vitus series list. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1964.
 
Location. 33° 43.823′ N, 114° 
Desert Strike Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, December 26, 2010
3. Desert Strike Marker
39.666′ W. Marker is near Blythe, California, in Riverside County. Marker is on Midland Road, 10 miles north of Interstate 10, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located at the Midland Long Term Visitor Area. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1000 Midland Road, Blythe CA 92225, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Blythe Intake (approx. 8.4 miles away); Palo Verde Irrigation District Diversion Dam (approx. 8˝ miles away); 390th Bomb Group (H) (approx. 8.6 miles away); Giant Desert Figures (approx. 9.1 miles away); In Memory of Hualapai Ancestors (approx. 11.1 miles away in Arizona); Pioneer Cemetery (approx. 11.7 miles away in Arizona); Ehrenberg Cemetery (approx. 11.7 miles away in Arizona).
 
Also see . . .  Armed Forces: Non-War Is Hell. Time magazine, June 5, 1964 article on the Desert Strike war games. NOTE - requires a subscription to read the entire article. (Submitted on January 4, 2011.) 
 
Plaque below the Desert Strike Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, December 26, 2010
4. Plaque below the Desert Strike Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 3, 2011, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. This page has been viewed 4,016 times since then and 259 times this year. Last updated on November 3, 2014, by Michael Kindig of Long Beach, California. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 3, 2011, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 28, 2021