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Deseret Test Center

deseret test center, deseret test center fort douglas utah
The Deseret Test Center was a US Army operated command in charge of testing chemical and biological weapons during the 1960s Deseret was headquartered at Fort Douglas, Utah, a former US Army base


  • 1 History
    • 11 Project Deseret 1961-1963
  • 2 Tests
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Progress toward standardizing new biological warfare agents was limited from 1961 to 1962 by the lack of adequate extra-continental test facilities in which toxic agent munitions combinations could be fully assayed without the legal and safety limitations that were necessary in less remote test areas within the Continental United States1

In May 1962 the Joint Chiefs of Staff established the Deseret Test Center at Fort Douglas, Utah, a disused army base2

The US Army command at Deseret was established as a result of being tasked with conducting Project 112 and Project SHAD The Deseret project required a joint task force to undertake overseas chemical and biological testing In response, the Joint Chiefs of Staff established the Deseret Test Center under the auspices of the US Army Chemical Corps3 A directive from May 28, 1962 outlined Deseret Test Center's mission:

To prepare and conduct extra continental tests to assess chemical and biological weapons and defense systems, both by providing support data for research and development and by establishing a basis for the operational and logistic concepts needed for the employment of these systems3

No tests were actually conducted at Deseret Test Center however, the Deseret administration facility was supported by Dugway Proving Ground about 80 miles 130 km away32 The Deseret center occupied Building 103 and 105 at Fort Douglas, where administrative and planning decisions were made The headquarters at Fort Douglas was staffed by 200 individuals2 The US Army closed Deseret Test Center in 19734

Project Deseret 1961-1963edit

Main article: Project 112

Project Deseret was developed to conduct a highly classified military research, development, and testing program which was aimed at both offensive and defensive human, animal, and plant reaction to biological, chemical, toxicological, entomological, and radiological warfare agents in various combinations of climate and terrain132

The top secret research was conducted by the United States' Deseret Test Center with Britain, Canada, and Australia under the Quadripartite agreement5 During Project Deseret each agent needed to be tested at sea, in the arctic, desert, at sea, and in a tropical jungle environment In the autumn of 1961 Project Deseret was divided into two main parts consisting of Project 112 and Project SHAD

Project Deseret was designated to assist not only the Army but the Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force as well; thus, it was funded jointly by all branches of the US military32 and US intelligence agencies, a euphemism for the Central Intelligence Agency's CIA Office of Technical Services

On April 17, 1963, President Kennedy signed National Security Action Memorandum 235 NSAM 235 authorizing:

Policy guides governing the conduct of large-scale scientific or technological experiments that might have significant or protracted effects on the physical or biological environment Experiments which by their nature could result in domestic or foreign allegations that they might have such effects will be included in this category even though the sponsoring agency feels confident that such allegations would in fact prove to be unfounded6

The deployments of Project 112 agents and field testing commenced immediately after the memorandum was signed


See also: Project 112, Project SHAD, and Dugway Proving Grounds

Between its opening in 1962 and 1973 the Deseret Test Center was at the helm of Project 112,78 a military operation aimed at evaluating chemical and biological weapons in differing environments8 The test began in the fall of 1962 and were considered "ambitious" by the Chemical Corps; the tests were conducted at sea, in Arctic environments and in tropical environments3 Tests were aimed at human, plant and animal reaction to the chemical and biological agents and were conducted in the United States, Liberia, Egypt, South Korea and Okinawa3 According to the Department of Defense, Deseret planned 134 chemical and biological weapons tests and of those 46 were carried out and 62 were canceled8

The tests of Project 112, and the related seaborne Project SHAD, were kept secret until October 20029 Many tests occurred on US soil and released live biological agents, chemical agents or their simulants9 In total, according to the reporting of CBS News, more than 5,000 soldiers and sailors were involved in the secret tests, many of them unknowingly10 From 1963-1965 there were 18 tests involving biological simulants, usually Bacillus globigii BG7 BG was used to simulate dangerous agents, such as anthrax; once thought harmless to humans, research in the intervening years has revealed some simulants can actually cause infection in those with weakened immune systems11 14 separate tests were performed using VX, sarin, nerve agent simulants and tear gases7

See alsoedit

  • Deseret Chemical Depot
  • Human experimentation in the United States
  • Fort Detrick
  • Fort Douglas
  • Fort Terry
  • Tooele Army Depot
  • Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility
  • Weteye bomb


  1. ^ a b "Summary of Major Events and Problems: Fiscal Years 1961–1962" Maryland: US Army Chemical Corps Historical Office, Army Chemical Center via rockymountainarsenalarchivewordpresscom blog 1962 Retrieved February 18, 2013  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain
  2. ^ a b c d e Regis, Edward The Biology of Doom: The History of America's Secret Germ Warfare Project, Google Books, Macmillan, 2000, p 198, ISBN 080505765X
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Harris, Sheldon H Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45, and the American Cover-up, Google Books, Routledge, 1994, p 232-33, ISBN 0415091055
  4. ^ "Fact Sheet - Yellow Leaf", Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Health Affairs, Deployment Health Support Directorate, accessed November 15, 2008
  5. ^ "Army R&D Chief Entertains Quadripartite Group" PDF Army Research and Development magazine Headquarters, Department of the Army Vol 4, No4 April 1963: 12 1963 Retrieved September 30, 2013  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain
  6. ^ "National Security Action Memorandum No 235, Large-Scale Scientific or Technological Experiments with Possible Adverse Environmental Effects" Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Space Activities, General, 1/63-5/63, Box 307 Confidential Declassified April 17, 1963 Retrieved May 21, 2016  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain
  7. ^ a b c Guillemin, Jeanne Biological Weapons: From the Invention of State-Sponsored Programs to Contemporary Bioterrorism, Google Books, Columbia University Press, 2005, pp 109-10, ISBN 0231129424
  8. ^ a b c "DOD RELEASES DESERET TEST CENTER/PROJECT 112/PROJECT SHAD FACT SHEETS", US Department of Defense, October 9, 2002, accessed November 15, 2008
  9. ^ a b Judson, Karen Chemical and Biological Warfare, Google Books, Marshall Cavendish, 2003, pp 83-86, ISBN 0761415858
  10. ^ "Secrecy Over Cold War WMD Tests", CBS News, January 16, 2004, accessed November 15, 2008
  11. ^ Shanker, Thom "US Tested a Nerve Gas in Hawaii", The New York Times, November 1, 2002, accessed November 15, 2008

External linksedit

  • Davidson, Lee "Secrets at sea: Cloud of secrecy lifting on Dugway Navy's tests of germ and chemical agents in the Pacific during Vietnam War", Deseret News, February 28, 2008, accessed November 15, 2008

Coordinates: 40°45′55″N 111°49′59″W / 4076528°N 11183306°W / 4076528; -11183306

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