Fort Detrick

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Fort Detrick (1931-Active) - A World War II and Cold War era Fort established in 1931 near Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland. First named Derick Field (1931-19943) then named Camp Derick (1943-1956) and finally named Fort Detrick in 1956 all after squadron flight surgeon Major Frederick L. Detrick who served in France during World War I. Fort Detrick was the center of the U.S. biological weapons program from 1943 to 1969 and since then it has hosted many elements of the United States biological defense program. Now a multi-mission and multi-tenant post. Active U.S Army Post.

Fort Detrick Main Gate


The history of the post began in 1931 when the Frederick airport was renamed Detrick Field and used by the Maryland National Guard.

A concrete and tarmac airfield replaced the grass field in 1939, and an upgraded Detrick Field served as a Cadet Pilot Training Center until the US entry into World War II. Detrick Field was formally leased from the City of Frederick in 1940. The last airplanes departed Detrick Field in December 1941 and January 1942 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

World War II

On 9 Mar 1943, the government purchased 154 acres that included the original 92 acres and renamed the facility, Camp Detrick. The U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories (USBWL) was established that year and scientists converged at Camp Detrick to develop defenses against enemy biological agents.

The first commander, Ltc. William S. Bacon, and his successor, Col. Martin B. Chittick, oversaw the initial $1.25 million renovations and construction of the base. At the end of the war in 1945, Camp Detrick had 240 officers and 1,530 enlisted personnel including WACs.

Cold War

In 1949, an enclosed one million liter test sphere was built at Camp Detrick, unofficially referred to as the ‘8-ball.’ This unique laboratory was used to test the dispersal of biological agents in an aerosol.

In 1956, the U.S. Army Medical Unit was formed to develop medical countermeasures, which included prophylactics, therapeutics, and rapid and effective diagnostic and identification procedures. Fort Detrick scientists developed the techniques to sterilize labs and equipment using ethylene oxide.

In 1959, the U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command was activated at Fort Detrick. This primary switching center for global communication thrives today as the 21st Signal Brigade. The brigade provides important strategic communication support to the White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In 1969, President Richard M. Nixon ended the Nation’s offensive biological warfare program and he pledged to establish a cancer research center at Fort Detrick. It opened in 1972 with 21 employees and 67 buildings.

On 27 Jan 1969, the Office of The Surgeon General of the Army established the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

In 1974, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency relocated to Fort Detrick.

The Air Force Medical Logistics Office and the Defense Medical Materiel Board came to Fort Detrick as part of the same mid-70s transfer of medical logistics organizations. In 1978, the US Army Research and Development Command Headquarters, now MRMC, transferred to Detrick.

In 1979 the Army Medical Intelligence and Information Agency, now the National Center for Medical Intelligence, came to Fort Detrick. Provides medical intelligence to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In August 1985 the Naval Medical Materiel Support Command “was piped aboard” at Fort Detrick. It is now called the U.S. Naval Medical Logistics Command and directs and manages logistical systems and coordinates health care services contracting procedures for the Navy Bureau of Medicine and surgery.

In October 1987, Fort Detrick became a quad service installation when Company B, 4th Light Armored Vehicle Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, activated at Fort Detrick.

Post Cold War

In 1994 Fort Detrick became a part of the newly established U.S. Army Medical Command when Health Services Command was disestablished.

Support for the Site R - Raven Rock Military Complex, site of the hardened underground JCS Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC) was provided by Fort Ritchie until it was transferred to Fort Detrick on 1 Oct 1997.

In 2008, the fort saw the opening of the Central Utilities Plant, destined to provide state-of-the-art utility support for the National Interagency Biodefense Campus. The Department of Homeland Security also dedicated the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, a NIBC partner. The ground was broken for a new steam sterilization plant, designed to provide high-tech wastewater management for the NIBC laboratories as well.

In October 2008, the garrison assumed responsibility for the Forest Glen Annex, formerly part of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the Glen Haven housing area. Forest Glen houses the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research and the Navy Medical Research Center, and other mission partners. Glen Haven provides contract housing for military families in the National Capital Region.

In 2009, the Defense Medical Logistics Center opened, consolidating all Defense Department medical logistics agencies in one location.

Current Status (2022)

Currently an active U.S. Army Post with multiple missions and tenant organizations.

The US Army Garrison at Fort Detrick supports five cabinet-level agencies: The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services.

Within the DoD, Fort Detrick supports elements of all four military services. Major Department of the Army mission partners includes the US Army Medical Research and Development Command and the 21st Signal Brigade.


  • U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command
  • Air Force Medical Evaluation Support Activity
  • Air Force Medical Operations Agency
  • Barquist Army Health Clinic
  • Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
  • Medical Communications For Combat Casualty Care Resources
  • Network Enterprise Center
  • National Cancer Institute Frederick
  • National Interagency Confederation For Biological Research
  • Navy Medical Logistics Command
  • 6th Medical Logistics Management Center (6MLMC)
  • Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic
  • 302d Signal Battalion
  • 21st Signal Brigade

Location: Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland.

Maps & Images

Lat: 39.4356 Long: -77.4272

  • Multi Maps from ACME
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  • Elevation: 353' Parade

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