The 'story' is about some of the strange goings on at Fort Greely, Alaska.
I did some searching and was able to add to the 'story'.
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There was an earlier Fort Greely on Kodiak Island.
The early yearsThe camp was established in 1942 as Big Delta Army Air Field. During World War II, The Alaska Highway was built to connect an existing road in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada with the Richardson Highway in Alaska, a distance of 1,423 miles (2290 km). The Alaska Highway met the Richardson Highway at Delta Junction, five miles (8 km) north on the Richardson Highway from what is now Fort Greely. The United States used the base to aid Russia against Germany and Japan by sending airplanes and supplies authorized by the Lend-lease act through Alaska and into the Russian Far East. The name was later changed to Allen Army Airfield. After World War II, Fort Greely was built south of the air field.
After World War II, the War Department decided that the American Soldier must be able to live and operate in any degree of cold. This decision was based on experience gained in combat and predictions of future possibilities for international obligations. A group of task forces was therefore organized to test U.S. Army equipment in the cold. Task Force Frigid and Task Force Williwaw were dispatched to Alaska during the winters of 1946 and ‘47. A related trial unit, Task Force Frost, incorporated elements of the 66th Armored Regiment and underwent tests in Camp McCoy, Wisconsin at roughly the same time.
Settling inThe information and data collected by task force personnel was a beginning, but it took time for men to be transported, to set up quarters for a short period of actual testing, and then pack up and leave until the next year. The expense of moving in and out was taken into consideration when the final reports were filed. When questions arose concerning the reports, there was no one available to answer them, for the task forces had been disbanded, and the personnel returned to their home units. The major shortcomings of these task forces included having insufficient time to establish units on test sites, the lack of acclimatization period for both personnel and equipment and a lack of continuity. Based on these results, it was recommended that a permanent test organization be established, with test groups representing each of the "Army Field Force Boards" located in the "Zone of the Interior."
In 1949, the Department of the Army ordered the organization of the Arctic Test Branch at Big Delta Air Force Base, Alaska (now known as Fort Greely). A cadre for the organization was activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in March 1949, by the transfer of personnel from each of the "Army Field Force Boards." The organization moved to Alaska in July 1949 and test operations were initiated. Shortly thereafter, the organization name was changed to the Arctic Training Center. In 1957, it was renamed the U.S. Army Arctic Test Board, with the mission of conducting Arctic service tests of all Army field equipment.
From 1955, Fort Greely and a huge tract of land around it (withdrawn from the Department of the Interior) were used for training soldiers for cold weather combat during the Cold War with the former Soviet Union.
In the early 1960s, the Army constructed a nuclear electrical power plant, SM-1A, at Fort Greely as part of the Army Nuclear Power Program which included similar operational plants in Antarctica, Greenland, the Panama Canal Zone, Virginia and Wyoming. The initial operators at Fort Greenly were military NCOs, but civilians were later hired. The plant operated for several years, until the interior radiation caused deterioration of many metal parts.
In August 1962, as a result of the reorganization of the Army, the Arctic Test Board was established as a Class II activity and placed under the command of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM). The Board was later renamed the Arctic Test Center and expanded to absorb the Research and Development Office, Alaska, the Technical Services Test Activity, and the General Equipment Test Branch, all located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and the Chemical Corps Test Activity at Fort Greely. In 1976, the U.S. Army Arctic Test Center was re-designated the U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center.
The modern eraIn the 1980s, when the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Fort Greely was gradually realigned through a gradual draw-down in the numbers of soldiers.
In 1995, Fort Greely was selected for realignment (but not closure) as a cost-saving measure. Only the Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC) and Public Works functions were to remain on the installation. Large portions of the post were to be closed and, at one point, the main post was to be turned over to the city of Delta Junction for use as a private prison. Ultimately, plans for the prison fell through. In 2001, headquarters for the Northern Warfare Training Center and Cold Regions Test Center were moved to nearby Fort Wainwright. Training ranges were also transferred to Fort Wainwright control and renamed Donnelly Training Area. Although its command moved, CRTC continued operating from Fort Greely. The Northern Warfare Training Center also continued operations at Black Rapids Training Facility.
After the United states announced that it would withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Fort Greely was selected as a site for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system. Starting in the summer of 2002, the United States government began work on the missile defense installation at Fort Greely, planning to deploy a total of 25 to 30 anti-ballistic missiles by 2010. Concurrently, the Missile Defense Command took command of Fort Greely, relinquishing direct Army control, while the Army retained control of the nearby Donnelly Training Area.
In 2005, the CRTC headquarters was moved from Fort Wainwright back to Fort Greely. Though testing efforts remain centered at the Bolio Lake Range Complex - now part of Fort Wainwright - numerous support functions remain on Fort Greely's Main Post.
With the continued development of an intercontinental ballistic missile program by North Korea, Fort Greely may be slated for an expansion. An anti-ballistic missile facility may be required to protect Alaska and the West Coast of the United States from possible North Korean attacks.
See alsoFort Greely, Alaska
Fort Greely was/is, an interesting place in the early days. It was always one of those places that made no sense, for it being where it was, even for the military. It was too close to the bases in Fairbanks, Eielson AF Base and Fort Wainwright, the Army base. The weather at both is very much the same as at Greely, 6 miles from Delta. Plus when I would be flying in that area, most of Fort Greely was under a "prohibited" flying zone. Fly there and you would get to meet some interesting fighter aircraft from Eielson AFB providing escort service to help you land for a conversation. I stayed far away from that area, but on a clear day, flying down the Alaska Hwy, you could see the Army base and then off in the distance toward the mountains to the south, you could see more building with a single road leading from the base to there. Always raised questions in my mind. + Eielson and Wainwright were both under "restricted" status for civilian flying in their areas. A much lower rating, where as a pilot can radio their airstrip control towers for permission to over fly them. Not so with Greely. Then I read a warning from the FAA to Alaska pilots, of a danger of high radiation levels might be present in the prohibited area. Turned out later, that the Army owned up to having a small portable type nuclear reactor generator system there, the only one ever in Alaska. They later claimed it had been removed from the base and transported out of state somewhere for permanent storage. Then a few years later, the Army transferred "cold weather testing command" into the base in Fairbanks and announced they were closing Fort Greely and turning the land back to the BLM. (Bureau of Land Management) However it was reported that the BLM would not accept the land back without a "clean" environmental report on the property. Then I read in the US Federal Register, that the Army told BLM that they couldn't give them a clean report as they had lost many of the records from the "clandestine laboratory" that they had been operating back by the mountains. These must have been the building that could be seen several miles behind the base at Fort Greely. According to the report in the Federal Register, the military was not just testing effects of the very cold climate on equipment, but were also testing how it would effect "chemical and biological warfare agents" as well. They reported that part of their testing program involved releasing flu viruses into the air at the base and see how long it too for people in Fairbanks to start reporting in at the hospital with that strain of flu. The hospital had to report all flu cases to the US Public Health and they in turn, privately let the US Army know. Isn't our government wonderful to us and the stuff they can think of to do to us. Wow... The Register report went on to say the Army had buried some of the chemical agents, such as WWI mustard gas, etc. in unmarked locations in steel containers. They were reported to have been messing with anthrax as well, as possible war agents. I can't drive by Fort Greely these days without thinking about what is buried in the soil back at the old super secret laboratory. Just hoping those steel containers haven't rusted holes in them and started to leak. There was a small mention in the Fairbanks paper, the Newsminer, at the time about all this but it was never mentioned again. Most people in that area probably never have heard about the Army lab operation. The lab was off limits to almost all troops at Fort Greely. So when the BLM refused to take the land back, the Army moved most troops out of there and only kept a small force there for security. Then in the last 15 or 20 years it has been turned into a ballistic missile site with 20 or 30 of the big boomers located there, as a deterrent to the rocket build up of North Korea. The entire program, from start to finish, appears to me to be a major SNAFU.
August 18/25, 2003
Delta Junction, Alaska - In spring 2002, construction crews excavating silo
pits for a missile defense site in Fort Greely, Alaska, chanced upon a
disturbing discovery-a buried cache of twenty-four mysterious
fifty-five-gallon drums leaking a toxic solvent used to neutralize highly
lethal chemical weapons. Construction was halted, workers were rushed to the
hospital and a hazardous materials team descended upon the site. The
surprise dumpsite is one of several that have come to light since Fort
Greely was last used in the early 1970s as a top-secret chemical and
biological weapons test center.
The refusal by the Department of Defense to fully release information about
those experiments-and Fort Greely veterans' fear that they may be prosecuted
under the Army's nondisclosure order if they speak publicly-have kept the
bases' activities largely' out of the public eye. Now, however, a lawsuit
filed against the DOD last fall on behalf of veterans and the release of
previously classified documents are undermining the department's efforts to
hide this disquieting chapter of military history. They reveal that the test
site at Fort Greely was operated with cavalier disregard for the health of
both military personnel and the residents of the small towns that surround
the base. This new information also suggests that deadly materials used at
the site are still unaccounted for.
Prior to the release of these documents, glimpses of what occurred at Fort
Greely only came to light because of the tireless work of local
organizations and veterans concerned about its safety. The Tanana Chiefs
Conference, an organization that represents the native villagers who live
near the base, has fought a David and Goliath battle with the Army for more
than five years. After failed attempts to access Army records, the TCC
invested its scarce funds in sending researchers to the national and Army
archives in Washington, DC, Seattle and St. Louis, and in hiring
investigators to interview Fort Greely veterans and longtime residents.
It's now clear that the Army created a 19,000-acre reserve in 1952 for the
explicit purpose of testing deadly chemical and biological weapons.
Activities at the Gerstle River Test Site, as it was known, were so secret
that they remained a mystery even to Delta Junction, the 800-person town
that borders the site. Between 1962 and 1967 the Army blasted hundreds of
rockets and bombs filled with sarin and VX nerve agent into the region's
wildlife-rich forests. Because of the base's remote location, disposal of
unused weapons was often haphazard and reckless, say veterans of the cold
Aimee R. Houghton
Associate Director, CPEO
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
tel: 202-452-8039; fax: 202-452-8095