By Buddy Blouin
Bravery, training, and the ability to sacrifice are all noble attributes that help the American Armed Forces maintain its prestige, but even the bravest warrior in the world needs the right intel. America’s ability to gather intelligence, communicate effectively, and execute a plan are all major contributors to why we’ve been so successful. The last few decades have seen American forces dismantle terrorist organizations, thwart attacks, and stabilize regions otherwise torn apart by war. In many cases, a forward operating base was part of that success, as they help establish secure locations for our military and transmit vital data to those operating in the field.

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What Is a Forward Operating Base?

A forward operating base (FOB) is a secure military installation, most likely a base used to help with tactical operations in an area. These installations are temporary in nature and often supported by main operating bases (MOBs), which are permanent military installations that hold permanently deployed troops. The best examples would be the various military bases set up throughout the many wars fought by American Forces in the Middle East over the last several decades. Afghanistan forward operating bases were typically dusty camps in the middle of deserts and mountains used to help operations nearby. The use of a military forward operating base can vary due to a variety of factors. Some will have machine shops, communication stations, and supply caches. Others may have military hospitals or airfields, and there can be any number of combinations among these features. A popular design feature of an FOB is HESCO barriers, collapsible wire mesh containers covered in heavy-duty fabric. These barriers are used to block small-arms fire or explosives and can also be used to help stop flooding. Having a place to recharge, repair, and communicate is critical for mission success. FOBs provide troops with vital resources they need in a secure location much closer than permanent bases. This means faster access and clearer communication. Another important characteristic often found in FOBs is their access points. Part of ensuring that these military installations are secure is limiting access. An FOB will have an entry control point (ECP) to help prevent being overrun. ECPs will also control the entering and exiting of FOBs with various measures in place to help prevent and mitigate damage from explosives.

Your Experience May Vary

All FOBs are not the same, as each provides a different function. Some may lean more towards supporting maintenance, and others may focus on being a medical center, so it makes sense that each will have different features. But the conditions for each FOB can also vary depending on their locations. A forward operating base layout in one camp is unlikely to be the same as that of another. Similarly, the living situations are likely to be different. Some camps may have finer foods, while others have rations. One FOB may have running water and plumbing, while another may lack showers. These conditions will vary, which means your time working among them may, also.

FOBs in America and the Future

In the last several years, there has been a notable decrease in American Forces having a presence throughout the Middle East. While some troops maintain a presence as consultants, many have returned home, and the use of FOBs is at a transition period. There are future potential wars and conflicts that America is training for. These include potential threats in both Asia and Europe, both of which present very different outlooks compared to the conflicts the U.S. has found itself in over the last several decades. However, while FOBs in the future may look different, they are still poised to provide vital intel and support to military members. The landscape may change, but the need to overcome logistical issues doesn’t. There are also forward operating bases scattered throughout the U.S. These military installations are used for training, testing, missile defense, and more. While the full list of FOBs may never be known, as the military withholds classified information, here are the known forward operating bases in the U.S.:
  • CBP FOB Desert Grip
  • Donna Anna Base Camp/FOB
  • FOB Border Wolf
  • FOB Cannon
  • FOB Mailfoot
  • FOB Sentinel
  • Hedglen FOB
  • Lordsburg/FOB
  • Papago Farms FOB
  • San Miguel FOB
  • Sea-Based X-Band Radar FOB
The United States continues to improve its technology and capabilities to help train troops and prepare them with the best intel available. Even upgrades such as 5G are being implemented into FOBs to help bolster capabilities. American Armed Forces continue to rely on the forward operating base to provide secure areas that are crucial for getting the job done in otherwise hostile environments.

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Image: National Guard Bureau



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