First scouted in 1869 and known as Camp Wichita, Fort Sill has a rich history in Oklahoma. Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan who was behind the formation of the Army base, named it after a West Point friend, Brigadier General Joshua W. Sill, who had been killed during the American Civil War. The Army fort played a large role in American and Indian politics in the late 19th century.
Updated: February 13, 2015
Oklahoma has two Army bases.
Fort Sill and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant Army Base.
Fort Sill is outside of Lawson in Comanche County – northeast of Oklahoma City. It encompasses 146 square miles with a population of approximately 53,000. Two major commands are there: Forces Command (FORSCOM) and Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
Fort Sill has a rich history of actively serving the country in campaigns dating from the 1830’s involving Indian relations to present day operations.
Ft. Sill’s role has changed and expanded over the years. From its beginnings as a fort important to the task of Indian relations, then, as settlers started populating the area, it became mainly an artillery training site. The School of Fire for Field Artillery was established in 1911 – continuing today as the U.S. Army Field Artillery School. The Army then established the School of Musketry in June of 1913, which then became the Infantry School. Ft. Sill became a part of aviation history in June of 1914 when the Army Air Service conduct a cross-country flight of 429 miles from the Henry Post Army Airfield at Ft. Sill to Fort Houston in Texas. Today, there is the Fires Center of Excellence as well as artillery schools and brigades and fires brigades.
Today, Ft. Sill has two neighborhoods on base. There are no schools on post; students enroll and attend schools off post; transportation to schools is available. The post pools and splash parks, a golf course, fitness centers, a movie theater and a full, well equipped library. The post also has a large commissary and Post Exchange as well as gas stations and eateries, banks, shopping malls, dental and medical facilities. The post also maintains a museum as well as outdoor recreation areas for camping and fishing. There is also temporary housing available with prior notice advisable.
Ft. Sill is a closed base with some areas, like the museum and rec areas, available to the public with ID at check-in at one of the three gates. Fort Sill National Cemetery is on post, as are other cemeteries – including one where Chief Geronimo is buried.
The post is one of five locations in the nation for Army Basic Combat Training (ABCT). In 2011, Ft. Sill merged with artillery units from Ft. Bliss, Texas as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). The post received National Historic Landmark designation December 19, 1960. On October 15, 1966, Ft. Sill was put on the National Register of Historic Places.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant Army Base (MCAAP) is outside McAlester in Pittsburg County. It encompasses 70.25 square miles in a rural area 102 miles south of Tulsa. MCAAP is a Defense Ammunition Center that performs mission ready related operations. It is a premier bomb loading facility. It is the only facility in the U.S. able to load small and large quantities of plastic bonded explosives (PBX). It is the largest DOD munitions storage.
McAlester’s other uses include having a reserve area, R&D of environmental protection and renovation, as well as training and logistical support and demilitarization and disposal capabilities.
Originally commissioned in May of 191 as a Naval Ammunition Depot, in 1977 control was transferred to the Army as part of the “Single Manager of Conventional Ammunition”.
These two bases’ dedicated service is a tribute to the United States Army.