Fort Allen Army Base is a United States Army Installation located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. Established in the years just prior to US involvement in World War II, the base has also been a hub of Untied States Navy communication centers. Today, they are no active duty units stationed at the base, but it serves an active role in the training and education of United States Army Reserve and Puerto Rico Army National Guard soldiers on the island. A majority of Fort Allen’s facilities are dedicated solely to the training of soldiers with a few being used for administrative, temporary lodging, support, storage and maintenance.
In 1941, the United States Department of The Army began expressing interest in establishing an additional US military installation in Puerto Rico. Losey Army Air Field, an existing air field near Juana Diaz was already in full use, but additional assets in the area were needed. Losey Army Air Field was named for aeronautical meteorologist Captain Robert M. Losey, who unfortunately was to become the first US combat death of World War II after being killed by German bombs in Norway.
The 32nd Fighter Squadron, 20th Troop Carrier Squadron, 4th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 417th Bombardment Squadron, 36th Fighter Group and the 23rd Fighter Squadron all found a home in the area during World War II. The base was then transferred from the control of the United States Army Air Corps to the regular Army and renamed to the Camp Losey in 1949. The facility was renamed to Fort Allen in late 1950 and would provide operational support for US and NATO troops in the Korean War.
In 1963 the United States Navy took control of Fort Allen and US Naval Radio Station was constructed at the base. Additionally, the world’s largest radio telescope facility at the time, the Arecibo Observatory was opened. The next twenty years would see the base become a bastion of United States Navy communications in the area with the addition of a nearby high frequency transmitter site in Isabela. In 1979 both the high frequency transmitter site in Isabela and the nearby area of Sabana Seca would both be attacked by terrorists.
Activity at Fort Allen quickly outgrew the capacity of the base and, in 1980 operations were moved to the newly established Naval Communication Station Puerto Rico. The following year, a US Immigration and Naturalization Service processing station was erected at Fort Allen to deal with the influx of Cuban and Haitian refugees fleeing conflict in the area. Over the next few years, control of the base was transitioned to the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, who had already been using the base for training for the past several years.
In 1983, Fort Allen began gaining large permanent units, including the 35th Signal Battalion and other components of the United States Army Reserve. Two years later, the Puerto National Guard Language Center moved to Fort Allen, further boosting its size. The early 1990’s saw almost 600 ships stationed in the Fort Allen area as a result of technological leaps in communication and radio technology that allowed Army and Navy units to greatly expand mission capacities. In 2007, Fort Allen saw several units, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Present day Fort Allen continues to be a stronghold of communications and operational support for the Fort Allen Armed Forces Reserve, Puerto Rico National Guard, United States Navy and the United States Army Reserves. There are also several detachments at Fort Allen that operate to support the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.
Despite being primarily an education and training facility, Fort Allen does have several other recreational and multi-use buildings. The base boasts a pool, barracks, security office, barber shop and a chow hall.
Youth Challenge Program
Established in 1999, the National Guard Youth Challenge Program at Fort Allen is a community outreach program geared towards at risk youth. The program provides a structured program for high school dropout’s ages 16 to 18. National Guard personnel help instill discipline, values, life skills and education in hopes of giving the youth a new track on life.
Fort Allen is home to a number of both Army Reserve and Army National Guard units. The base also regularly plays host to US Navy units.
Current United States Army Reserve Units include the 276th Ordnance Company, 35th Signal Battalion, 613th Military Policy Company, 941st Quartermaster Company and the 807th Signal Company.
Current Fort Allen United States Army National Guard units include the 219th Quartermaster detachment, 192nd Support Battalion (C Company) and the 240th Military Policy Company.
Fort Allen also houses the retention office of the United States Army Reserve, Armed Forces Reserve Center,180th Division and the US Army Reserve 8th Multifunctional.