Camp Atterbury is getting a new name.
The military installation near Edinburgh in southern Johnson County has been known as Camp Atterbury since it was built in 1941 for World War II.
But the installation soon will be known as Atterbury-Muscatatuck or the Atterbury-Muscatatuck training site, garrison commander Col. Ivan Denton said.
Local military officials want to integrate the post more closely with the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Jennings County, a former state hospital that’s been transformed into a city-like setting where soldiers from all over the world come to do realistic urban training, Denton said.
Here’s a closer look at Camp Atterbury’s shifting mission:
What: The post was activated in 2003 as a mobilization site for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Camp Atterbury has since deployed more than 175,000 service members and civilians.
Troops withdrawals: Camp Atterbury has been mobilizing fewer soldiers after the United States stopped combat operations in Iraq and withdrew forces from Afghanistan. The post once prepared 20,000 soldiers a year for combat, but that number has shrunk to a projected 5,000 this year.
Inactive mobilization site: The post will become an inactive mobilization site next year but could be called upon to mobilize soldiers again in the future.
New mission: The main focus will be on training National Guard units from Indiana, northern Kentucky, western Ohio and eastern Illinois.
Other duties: The post will continue to train defense contractors, State Department employees and Department of Defense employees. Camp Atterbury also will continue to stage large homeland security and NATO-led training exercises, such as one that brought in soldiers and fighter pilots from Germany and other European counties last year.
Growth: The post plans to increase activity in the areas of homeland security, unmanned aerial drones and cyber warfare.
“Our intent is showing Indiana as having a single U.S. Army National Guard site instead of two,” he said.
Treating the locations as a single facility could help preserve the amount of federal funding for training, staffing and facilities, Denton said.
The Department of Defense recently created a dozen joint operations by merging nearby military installations as part of its ongoing base realignment and closure initiative. Fort Lewis and the McChord Air Force Base in Washington state, for instance, combined to form Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck already were under the same command and deeply intertwined in their operations, Denton said.
Soldiers who come to Camp Atterbury for training typically hop into humvees and head down Interstate 65 to train at Muscatatuck at some point. The 1,000-acre site has been designed to simulate any city anywhere in the world.
Service members, police officers, emergency responders and homeland security officials can train in about 70 buildings, including a school, a hospital and small factories. The simulated city has homes, underground tunnels and a rail yard with a partly derailed train so they can practice rescues.
The training site has grown and gotten busier in past years, and that is not expected to change, even as mobilization decreases at Camp Atterbury, Denton said.
During large training exercises, military units often will stage at Camp Atterbury and then train at Muscatatuck. The command posts will be at the military installation near Edinburgh, while soldiers will go from room to room hunting for the enemy or rescuing dummies from rubble at the training site near Butlerville.
They sometimes take helicopters from Muscatatuck back to Camp Atterbury during simulated medical evacuations to field hospitals.
“The two are really one and the same, and that’s what we’re trying to show,” said Maj. Lisa Kopczynski, Camp Atterbury’s spokeswoman.
For instance, Denton is responsible for commanding Muscatatuck as well as Camp Atterbury.
“The National Guard has been integrating the two, and we want to take it to the next step,” he said.
Local military officials have asked the U.S. Army National Guard to change the name of the facilities to Atterbury-Muscatatuck, he said. They’re also using that name in their own communications, he said.
“You won’t see us changing signs immediately,” he said. “But internally, we’re already trying to use the Atterbury-Muscatatuck language.”
Denton said it was to soon to know what other ways that Atterbury and Muscatatuck would be more closely integrated.