The U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service needed somewhere to test weapons in 1941 and chose Dugway Proving Ground in 1942. During World War 2, toxic agents, flamethrowers, chemical spray systems, and other chemical weapons were extensively tested at Dugway Proving Ground. After the war it died down a little, but came back to life during the Korean War. In 1954, it was designated as an official Army installation.
Updated: February 14, 2015
Utah is the thirteenth largest state in the U.S. but one of the least densely populated. It has two active duty Army installations, both in the Salt Lake City area: Dugway Proving Ground and Tooele Army Depot. It also has an Army National Guard installation at Camp Williams, the principal training site for the Utah National Guard. Since 2013, Deseret Chemical Depot, once a separate facility, is under the command of Tooele Army Depot. None of these installations is being considered for closure.
The fact that Utah is not a particularly populous state means that there are vast expanses of uninhabited land in the state–from a military viewpoint, these areas are particularly well-suited for training and testing. Dugway Proving Ground has a desert location 85 miles outside of Salt Lake City, the state capital. As its name implies, it functions principally as a defense proving ground. Dugway covers approximately 1300 sq. ft. and is near the Utah Test and Training Range–together, they represent the widest military space in the country. Testing has been conducted there since WWII, with a focus on biological and chemical weapons. It has also served as a training ground for troops in preparation for deployment to desert locations. The base has both an elementary school and a high school, and there is housing available appropriate for bachelors and families. A fun fact about the base is that UFO enthusiasts have dubbed it Area 52–some of them believe that authorities are availing themselves of its remote location by storing recovered UFO materials there.
The principal focus at Tooele Army Depot is on storing conventional ammunition and as a design and manufacture center for ammunition peculiar equipment (APE); the installation has over 2 million sq. ft. of storage. The majority of the employees are civilians, but there are a few military personnel on base and an Army colonel serves as the commander. There is on-post housing, but many of the base employees choose to live in the nearby cities of Tooele and Grantsville. As the base doesn’t have on-site educational facilities, students attend schools in the nearby school districts.
Camp Williams is located south of Salt Lake City. With a billeting capacity of 2800 troops and tens of thousands of acres devoted to combat and specialized training, it is also home to the 640th Regimental Regional Training Institute. Utah has allocated scholarship monies specifically for Utah Guard members and has a program focusing on waiving tuition at state schools. In addition, the state waives tuition for surviving dependents of military members.