Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms. (Department of Defense)

A man identified as a Chinese national forced his way through a gate at the Marine Corps’ largest live-fire combat training base last week before being detained by military police, service and federal officials said.

The man, who has not been named, arrived in a vehicle at Condor Gate, south of the Main Gate at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, according to officials with the Marine Corps and the Department of Homeland Security. The base, which is home to the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, stretches about 935 square miles in the desert roughly 120 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

“Despite being prompted to exit at the Condor Gate by installation security, the individual proceeded onto the installation without authorization,” according to a statement from the Marines. “Military law enforcement were immediately notified and detained the individual. They then notified and transferred custody to Customs and Border Protection.”

Maj. Joshua Pena, public affairs officer at Twentynine Palms, said Tuesday that they would not release any information beyond the original statement. The service would not reveal the status of the individual who was detained, where he is being held, and on what charges.

Officials for Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, also declined Tuesday to discuss details of the incident or further legal steps. Officials said they would not comment on “sensitive” matters but would work with law enforcement agencies, intelligence services, the military and other federal agencies to identify individuals who might threaten national security or public safety.

However, Gregory Bovino, a Customs and Border Protection agent based in El Centro, Calif., did provide some details about the incident in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Agents responded to a call from the Marine Corp Base about a #Chinese national who entered the base w/o authorization, ignoring orders to leave,” Bovino wrote March 29.

Bovino wrote in the X post that authorities were able to ascertain the man was in the U.S. illegally. Bovino did not say how that determination was made, where the man might have entered the United States, or how long he had been in the country.

“His purpose & intent behind his actions are still being investigated,” he wrote.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which handles law enforcement issues concerning the Navy and Marines, did not respond Tuesday to questions about the incident.

The Twentynine Palms combat center has training going on much of the time.

The incident occurred March 27 at a time when Marines at the base were training with Stinger surface-to-air missiles, according to the Pentagon.

In late February, the base hosted an exercise that included 2,400 Marines, 200 tactical vehicles and 60 buildings, plus its gunnery ranges were being wired with sensors and trackers to give unit commanders real-time, “as-it-happens” views of a simulated battle against a large “adversarial force,” according to a Naval Institute Press report.

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Gary Warner covers the Pacific Northwest for Stars and Stripes. He’s reported from East Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and across the U.S. He has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.

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