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The Deseret Test Center was a U.S. Army operated command in charge of testing chemical and biological weapons during the 1960s. Deseret was headquartered at Fort Douglas, Utah.


In May 1962 the U.S. Army established the Deseret Test Center at Fort Douglas, Utah, a disused army base.[1] The command at Deseret was established as a result of Project 112 and Project SHAD. The project required a joint task force to undertake chemical and biological testing. In response, the Joint Chiefs of Staff established Deseret Test Center under the auspices of the U.S. Army.[2]

On May 28, 1962 a U.S. Army Chemical Corps directive outlined Deseret's mission:[2]

(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 systems.

The center occupied Building 103 and 105 at Fort Douglas, where administrative and planning decisions were made. Despite being based at Douglas, no tests were actually performed on the base.[1] The headquarters at Fort Douglas was staffed by 200 individuals.[1] Deseret was designed to assist not only the Army but the Navy and the Air Force as well; thus, it was funded jointly by all branches of the U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[2] Deseret also received administrative support from Dugway Proving Ground, about 80 miles away.[2] The U.S. Army closed Deseret Test Center in 1973.[3]


Between its opening in 1962 and 1973 the Deseret Test Center was at the helm of Project 112,[4][5] a military operation aimed at evaluating chemical and biological weapons in differing environments.[5] 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 environments.[2] 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 Okinawa.[2] According to the Department of Defense, Deseret planned 134 chemical and biological weapons tests and of those 46 were carried out and 62 were canceled.[5]

The tests of Project 112, and the related seaborne Project SHAD, were kept secret until October 2002.[6] Many tests occurred on U.S. soil and released live biological agents, chemical agents or their simulants.[6] 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 unknowingly.[7] From 1963-1965 there were 18 tests involving biological simulants, usually Bacillus globigii (BG).[4] 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 systems.[8] 14 separate tests were performed using VX, sarin, nerve agent simulants and tear gases.[4]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Regis, Edward. The Biology of Doom: The History of America's Secret Germ Warfare Project, (Google Books), Macmillan, 2000, p. 198, (ISBN 080505765X).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 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).
  3. "Fact Sheet - Yellow Leaf", Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), Deployment Health Support Directorate, accessed November 15, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 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).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "DOD RELEASES DESERET TEST CENTER/PROJECT 112/PROJECT SHAD FACT SHEETS", U.S. Department of Defense, October 9, 2002, accessed November 15, 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Judson, Karen. Chemical and Biological Warfare, (Google Books), Marshall Cavendish, 2003, pp. 83-86, (ISBN 0761415858).
  7. "Secrecy Over Cold War WMD Tests", CBS News, January 16, 2004, accessed November 15, 2008.
  8. Shanker, Thom. "U.S. Tested a Nerve Gas in Hawaii", The New York Times, November 1, 2002, accessed November 15, 2008.

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Coordinates: 40°45′55″N 111°49′59″W / 40.76528°N 111.83306°W / 40.76528; -111.83306

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