There are three army bases physically located in New Jersey. The largest and most functional is Fort Dix. The other two are Fort Monmouth and Picatinny Arsenal.
Fort Dix, also referred to as the Dix unit is actually the Joint Base of Dix-Maguire-Lakehurst. In 1917, Fort Dix was combined with the Army and Navy facilities under which it received its name. Lakehurst, in Burlington County, is located south of Trenton, New Jersey’s state capital. In land mass, it is just over ten square miles and straddles Hamilton, Pemberton and Springfield Townships. There are a total of thirteen brigades attached to Fort Dix. It has mobilized demobilized and trained soldiers since World War I. The first female recruits took their basic training in 1978 at Fort Dix. Today, Fort Dix remains NJ’s premier military base and has trained soldiers for duty in Afghanistan.
Located just off Route 35 in Eatontown, New Jersey, Fort Monmouth has a history of ninety-four years of developing military communications for servicemen and for monitoring enemy activities. Fort Monmouth supported over 5,000 civilian and military jobs until its closing in 2005, due to budget cuts. Fort Monmouth was originally named Camp Little Silver and by 1917, the first 32 soldiers occupied the base. Little Silver is a town located near to Fort Monmouth. The parcel of land upon which Fort Monmouth was built was formerly a potato farm. The name “Fort Monmouth” became official in 1925. Since then, Fort Monmouth earned a reputation for researching and developing hi-level technologies that aided in military efforts. For example, Fort Monmouth’s team of researchers developed radar that detected enemy artillery and mortars. Fort Monmouth provided NJ with a huge source of revenue and employment for residents. In 2005, it was proposed to be relocated to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.
Picatinny Arsenal is located in Jefferson and Rockaway Township in Morris County NJ. Its chief operations are military research and manufacturing of gun powder, military systems, munitions and weapons. It was established in the 1880s on land known as the Middle Forge Tract. It encompasses a land mass of over 1,500 acres which includes Picatinny Lake and Lake Denmark. Picatinny Arsenal employed over 18,000 during World War II. Today, the number of employees is 5,000.
Many in New Jersey remember Picatinny Arsenal for the explosion that occurred on July 10, 1926, when lighting struck during a storm and caused a massive fire. Newspapers at the time reported that several million pounds of explosives had been detonated over two to three days. There were military and civilian casualties as a result of the explosion and fire.
At present, Picatinny Arsenal remains active in military research and development and has several related organizations to its credit. These include: JM&L LCMC, ARDEC, Garrison, PEO Soldier, Integration and Ammo. As a government owned facility, Picatinny Arsenal is the “Joint Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition.”