Planning History at JBCC

Planning at JBCC was a critical factor in the base's infancy. Time was short and the flurry of construction in 1941 was considerable. Significant thought went into the development of JBCC in the months prior to World War Two.

It is not really known, but the creation of the JBCC during the mid 1930s may have been as much for the purpose of creating jobs during the great depression as it was to improve training for the Massachusetts National Guard soldiers. A few basic facilities were constructed – a headquarters building, a medical infirmary and latrine buildings. Because these buildings were constructed in masonry, many are still in use. When National Guard soldiers came to Camp Edwards in the late 1930s, they erected tents for sleeping, eating and most other activities. This would shortly change.

In 1941, a massive construction project was undertaken in the months before our entry into World War Two. The first sewerage system and sewage treatment plant on Cape Cod was built, as well as a water supply system. Cells of self-contained military support buildings were constructed around a large quadrangle. Four lane highways were built from the new Bourne Bridge directly into the quadrangle, but convenient pedestrian circulation within the quadrangle was promoted and maximized. A hospital was built and rail service came into a major logistics area, convenient to the quadrangle. An airfield convenient to the quadrangle was also constructed. For its purpose as a major military base in a wartime situation, the planning for JBCC in 1941 was effective and brilliant.

Numbers of personnel at Camp Edwards during the war were in a constant state of flux. Upwards of 80,000 people at its peak lived and trained at Camp Edwards.


JBCC went into a period of slumber following the war. However, in the 1950s, the recently created US Air Force recognized JBCC's unique geographical location and decided to use it for long-range surveillance missions over the Atlantic . The Air Force acquired additional land and expanded what had been a small airfield. While the Army National Guard continued to train at Camp Edwards , JBCC became more popularly known as Otis Air Force Base. A number of new buildings, including new barracks, were constructed for this new military mission and the base flourished. On the other hand, most of the wooden buildings constructed in 1941 were not needed by the Army National Guard and the vast majority of them became vacant and started to deteriorate. The best of the buildings were used for military functions. Those vacant became a safety hazard and those that did not fall down on their own were demolished. Other than the air missions, the layout of functions and activity centers evolved based on what buildings were being used and maintained rather than from some thoughtful plan. As a result, many functions were spread over a wide area and interaction and communication occurred only by phone or by driving a vehicle from place to place. While JBCC is working to correct that now, the evolved layout continues to be the current situation.

During the 1970s, the US Air Force ended its long-range surveillance missions out of Otis AFB. However, the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 102 nd Fighter Wing had absorbed the USAF mission of air defense and patrolled a wide area off the east coast of the US from the Canadian border to New York City . The Air Force transferred all its facilities to the Air National Guard and the airfield was renamed Otis Air National Guard Base. The Army National Guard continued to train at Camp Edwards and, in the 1980s, developed a plan to expand training at JBCC with a number of substantial improvements. Right about this time, the environmental movement was growing and contamination in the soils and groundwater were discovered as a result of Army training during World War Two and Air Force long range surveillance missions. Because of these concerns, the 1980s expansion plan did not move forward. Federal, state and local governments, as well as a number of environmental organizations, rallied together for a cleanup program at JBCC. JBCC was designated a “Superfund” site and both Army and Air Force environmental agencies were deployed to JBCC to undertake cleanup. By the 1990s, cleanup activities were well underway and both the military and civilian communities were ready again to start looking at JBCC's future. A Community Working Group was formed by the Governor and it published its final report in 1998.

Planning for a new future at MMR

By 2001, a new way forward for the future of JBCC became reality with state approval of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for JBCC and a subsequent Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Governor and the Department of Defense regarding environmental protection procedures accompanying military missions and training. 2001 was also the period when the United States was under attack by organized terrorists operating under the protection of some rogue sites in the Middle East. Congressional funding, spearheaded by Congressman Delahunt, provided the opportunity to establish JBCC as a proposed regional training center for homeland defense and security. This study made a number of recommendations for improved training for both military and civilian public safety organizations.

Through military funding sources, a Camp Edwards Site Consolidation Plan (SCP) was developed in partnership with the homeland defense and security study. The SCP looked at the Army National Guard's physical facilities and proposed that a consolidation of facilities in a more concentrated fashion would allow for a more efficient operation of missions and training as well as improve the working and living conditions for Massachusetts soldiers. In addition to coordinating the SCP with the homeland defense and security study, it also integrated and updated the land use plan of the Community Working Group and also involved the planning of land use around the base with the surrounding municipalities and the regional planning agency.

Functions would be consolidated for the Army National Guard as well as new facilities to replace outdated structures. Many Army operations would be relocated from remote locations at JBCC into a campus like setting for operational and cost efficiencies. Furthermore, plans for the entrance gates for JBCC were incorporated into the SCP.

The Site Consolidation Plan (SCP) also addressed major entrance gate and traffic circulation along JBCC's boundary with the Town of Sandwich. Based on historic encroachment of residential development on JBCC's eastern boundary, traffic congestion at the Sandwich Gate and the location of the entrance gate outside JBCC property, a plan to relocate the gate westward and the creation of a buffer along the Sandwich boundary was incorporated into the SCP. This plan was endorsed by the joint planning efforts of JBCC.

MMR joint land use study

In 2003, the Department of Defense funded the towns of Sandwich, Falmouth, Bourne and Mashpee to work with the military at JBCC to plan for land use on and around JBCC's boundaries. The Cape Cod Commission was retained as the consultant for the this Joint Land Use Study. Two working groups were assembled. One was a technical group, comprised of municipal planners and JBCC professional planning and engineering talent. The other, a policy group, was comprised of elected municipal officials and base commanders. In addition to the specific recommendations for both JBCC and the surrounding towns that came out of this study, an important result was the fact that both the military and civilian surrounding communities sat down over a period of a year and worked together to create the plan. This last result opened the door for implementation of the specific recommendations, many of which have been enacted since the release of the study's report.

During the early part of this decade, considerable planning and some implementation has occurred. In the latter half of the decade, a few other initiatives have involved some specific planning efforts. During the past few years, transitioning to renewable energy sources has spanned the mentalities of every area of human society. The military has not been immune to this. Both the National Guard's federal and state authorities have established directives and guidelines that require military organizations to move quickly to renewable energy resources. JBCC has developed an alternative energy planning policy and has established a JBCC Energy Committee to initiate efforts and plot progress. Currently, there are specific plans moving forward to erect wind turbines at JBCC. Furthermore, JBCC is working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on a broader energy independence project that would look at not only wind turbines but also conservation and solar energy. In addition to reducing the cost of energy and the military moving away from fossil fuel energy resources, there is an additional persuasive reason for JBCC energy independence. JBCC is the center of emergency readiness for southeastern Massachusetts and the adjacent waters. During a man-made or natural disaster, the National Guard and the Coast Guard will need to respond. Better energy independence will allow them to operate more effectively if it is not dependent on electrical service outside JBCC that could be compromised during an emergency situation.

In 2005, the federal Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) Commission made decisions that had a fundamental impact on JBCC. The air defense mission of the Air National Guard's 102 nd Fighter Wing was relocated to the western part of Massachusetts. A new Air National Guard remote intelligence mission was identified for JBCC. While there will be little change to the personnel strength at JBCC as a result, the provision of base services has been affected significantly. Without a flying mission, airfield management passed from the 102 nd Fighter Wing to the US Coast Guard Air Station. Furthermore, the issue of operating infrastructure services at JBCC (roadway maintenance, water, sewers, fire protection, communications and electrical service), currently operated by the Air National Guard, required future planning because the USAF is not expected to pay for these services forever. Some of these services have already been transferred. The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency has joined the JBCC team to assist it in identifying new missions and to seek solutions to the coordination of base services. The Army National Guard is expanding its training mission with new facilities and new, pre-mobilization responsibilities. Training of soldiers at JBCC has already increased and will continue to do so as new and renovated training facilities come on line. It is a new era for JBCC that has a bright future.

Tactical training base (forward operating base)

A number of new training facilities have been developed in the past two years at Camp Edwards by the Army National Guard. One is a Tactical Training Base that replicates a Forward Operating base that would be a normal assignment for soldiers in a deployment. It is a living and working environment that soldiers would experience in an area of hostile action. This pre-mobilization training facility would give the soldiers the experiences of how to live and operate efficiently in a wartime environment. Learning how one of these facilities works when at war will help them to function more efficiently and safely when they have to experience the real thing.


Another new training facility is the Mobile MOUT. This mock village, created out of shipping containers, creates the dynamics of a small urban village that soldiers might have to neutralize in a hostile environment. Training situations are created by the trainers that the soldiers have to work through, including obstacles, actors posing as friendlies and unfriendlies, outdoor and indoor confrontations, and overall coordination of unit maneuvers. The mobile nature of the shipping containers allows the village to be reconfigured from time to time in order to create different experiences. The Mobile MOUT is intended for a non-live firing experiences. However, laser simulations and simunitions (wax-based bullets) are acceptable for use at this training facility.

Shoot house

The Shoot House is a standard training facility in the Army's training manual. This is a live-fire training facility and it gives soldiers the experience of carrying real ammunition in their weapons as they proceed through a training activity. The Shoot House simulates a building that soldiers would have to clear in an urban hostile engagement. The walls and roof are designed to absorb bullets from the weapons in order that no bullets would penetrate or exit the facility. The Shoot House at JBCC is an excellent example of joint funding. The Army National Guard (Department of Defense) funded the ballistic roof and supporting structure. The US Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security) funded the walled interior of the facility. A few other Army National Guard facilities that have been completed in the past few years are a new medical facility and a an explosive ordinance disposal building. Other buildings that have been constructed at JBCC include a new Fire Station that includes the base fire department, the Army National Guard fire training facility and the Barnstable County Sheriff's emergency dispatch facility. The Air National Guard is currently renovating existing buildings for its new intelligence mission and is currently designing more permanent new buildings for this mission.

Links To Planning Web Sites:

Cape Cod Commission website, JBCC Joint Land Use Study

American Planning Association (APA)

Mass. Chapter APA

Mass. Dept. of Housing and Community Development

Town of Sandwich Planning Office

Town of Bourne

Town of Falmouth Planning Office

Town of Mashpee Planning Office


Massachusetts National Guard
Environmental and Readiness Center

Building 3468
Beaman Street
Camp Edwards, MA 02542

Office hours 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Fax: 508-968-5144


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