Military Spotlight

Written by Douglas Towne Category: Valley News Issue: February 2012

During World War II, the remote western Arizona desert proved an ideal place for the U.S. Army to test a bizarre weapon designed to blind and baffle the enemy. Camp Bouse was a top secret base established in 1943 as part of the California-Arizona Maneuver Area to prepare tanks and troops for the war in Europe. Commanded by General George Patton, the base accommodated 5,000 soldiers and was

located 30 miles northwest of Bouse in the McMullen Valley. The troops trained using a secret weapon invented by the British. Nicknamed “the Gizmo,” the device was a tank-mounted, 13-million-candlelight arc beam with shutters and colored filters – essentially a giant mobile strobe light – that would theoretically confuse the enemy during night attacks. The concept proved successful in training exercises, but Allied commanders couldn’t decide how to employ the weapon in combat. Consequently, Gizmos were used only to provide light for security and construction purposes. Camp Bouse was decommissioned in 1945; only scattered foundations bear testament to what may have been the military’s first attempt at a “shock and awe” campaign.