The Box

A couple years ago, Venue had a pretty neat photo-essay of the training going on at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, CA.











While NTC is the most famous “box,” as a practical matter, the maneuver area of just about every training site* is commonly referred to as “the box.” That distinguishes it from the cantonment and administrative areas of training ranges. Interestingly, the training areas on ones home station are never referred to as “the box” but rather as “downrange” or simply “the field.”

As noted in the Venue article, the last decade has seen the Army shift its emphasis from training in open terrain or deep in the woods to the urban environment. In the Army, we call this MOUT, or Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain. And a lot of money has gone to making realistic urbanized training ranges. In my day, the Army approach to MOUT was to pretty much ignore it, and hope for the best. The “MOUT site” was generally nothing more than two, maybe three shells of two story cinderblock buildings.

Now, recognizing that quality training requires quality ranges, the Army has opened a new MOUT site at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, and it’s something else.


The AWG facility isn’t just for training in a MOUT environment. The Army intends to use it to try to look into the future, and see what tactics and techniques enemy forces will use to counter us, and devise solutions before we ever even face the enemy.