In May 1964, U.S. Strike Command (STRICOM) launched the largest military war game since World War II. Known as Joint Exercise Desert Strike, this two-week training exercise simulated a nuclear air and ground battle between the mythical governments of Nezona and Calonia over water rights within the Colorado River watershed south of Las Vegas. Two joint task forces, Mojave and Phoenix, involving 100,00 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel, and utilizing over 900 aircraft and 500 tanks, were mobilized to fight for their respective governments. An important training innovation was the creation of an official war cabinet for each country to lend realism to the games and introduce a political dimension to the escalation of nuclear war requiring judgments about when nuclear or chemical weapons should be used. On May 25, 1964, the 1st Battalion "Tomahawks" under the command of Lt. Colonel Robert S. Dickson of the 501st "Geronimo" Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" - were parachuted 30 miles behind 'enemy' lines near this vicinity. Fulfiling their desert strike mission, they seized a critical pass held by 'enemy' armor units. An umpire halted the exercise shortly after contact with the enemy was made.
Desert Strike also led to new tactics for military river crossings on the nuclear battlefield. When Nezona invaded Calonia, instead of using a single concentrated troop crossing across the Colorado River, new tactics required numerous crossings along a broad front to diminish the effects of a theater-wide nuclear detonation. This training maneuver took place on more than 13 million acres of public and private lands in the California, Nevada and Arizona deserts at a cost of 54 million dollars, or 540 dollars per man.
This monument is dedicated to the Cold War Veterans who served here and especially for the thirty-two warriors who gave their lives during this exercise which in itself, contributed to the end of the Cold War.