The former Camp Elliott lies predominantly within the city of San Diego, California. The southeast portion lies in the city of Santee. The former camp is located approximately 12 miles northeast of downtown San Diego. It encompasses portions of the Tierrasanta, West Hills, and Weston communities, Mission Trails Regional Park and the East Elliott Community Planning Area. Additionally, portions of the former camp are still used by the U.S. Marine Corps.
In 1934, the U.S. Marine Corps leased 19,298 acres in San Diego for artillery, anti-aircraft and machine gun training. Following the outbreak of World War II, Camp Elliott was further developed and established as a Marine Corps Training Center. By 1941, Camp Elliott expanded to 32,000 acres and the Second Marine Division was stationed at the camp. The base contained encampments, bivouac areas and 41 firing ranges. In little more than a year, the Marines trained and dispatched more than 50,000 officers and soldiers to combat zones.
In 1944, the Marines relocated to Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County and control of Camp Elliott was turned over to the Navy. The camp was then used by the Navy and Marine Corps as a training and redistribution center until 1953. Historical records indicate the Navy did not conduct weapons training during this period. Various other military units used Camp Elliott from 1953 until 1960, when the camp was closed. Between 1960 and 1961, the Navy transferred 7,709 acres to Naval Air Station Miramar and 5,720 acres to the Air Force. The Air Force acres were transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1966, then back to the Navy in 1972, and officially became part of Naval Air Station Miramar in 1977. The remaining land was declared surplus after Camp Elliott’s closure.
Between 1962 and 1974 the land was transferred out of military control through land exchanges, grants and sales. In 1997 the Department of Defense realigned Naval Air Station Miramar to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began investigating the former Camp Elliott in 1985 through the Formerly Used Defense Sites Program. Since that time the former camp has been divided into four project areas: Tierrasanta, Mission Trails, East Elliott, and Areas D, G and H.