Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) is a U.S. Army installation located in Dugway, Utah. This base is dedicated to chemical and biological warfare systems including survivability testing and other research. The installation employs roughly 1,500 military and civilians and this installation is said to be the leading facility for testing “battlefield smokes and obscurants”.
Just under two hours from Hill Air Force Base in Utah, this small-in-size Army installation does important work to insure American and allied forces are protected against nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare.
Find information about Dugway Proving Ground including the main commercial and DSN numbers for the base, information on basic services, base transportation, lodging for TDY and PCSing personnel, and inprocessing.
Mission & Units
The main reason for the existence of DPG is the need for testing the defense systems of American and allied forces against chemical and biological warfare. This testing includes determining how “survivable” military hardware and vehicles are when faced with a Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical (NBC) attack.
The size and scope of the mission at Dugway Proving Ground means there are few major units, they include Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s BioDefense Branch and the Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center.
DPG was established in the World War Two era by the Army Chemical Warfare Service. At the time, the location of a testing facility for chemical and biological defense was a big concern; some military thinkers apparently felt that the existing Army facilities for such testing were not remote enough. In 1941, the search was on to find the right spot. By 1942, Dugway Proving ground was under construction and would start testing in the summer of the same year.
What kind of testing? According to published sources, the World War Two-era mission included work with:
- Chemical antipersonnel agents
- Protective equipment
In 1943, Dugway Proving Ground included the recreation of German and Japanese towns for training purposes. U.S. troops were trained in these areas to firebomb urban areas using such mock-ups.
DPG would be deactivated after the war in 1946, only to be reactivated a few years later thanks to the Korean War when Dugway Proving Ground was designated a permanent installation. It wasn’t long before DPG would become home to the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Weapons School.
In the 1950s and 1960s, something called Project Bellwether would study “weaponized vectors”–infected mosquitoes released as a form of bacteriological warfare. Toward the end of the decade, the 1960s would prove difficult for DPG.
Dugway Proving Ground And The Utah Sheep Kill Incident
1968 was not a good year for Dugway Proving Ground. An incident known to Utah residents as the “Sheep Kill” incident gave plenty of cause for concern. In 1998, the Salt Lake Tribune recounted the incident, which includes quotes for the Tooele County Sheriff at the time, Bill Pitt, who went on record saying, “We didn’t know what was going on. Then we got a call that said the Army had been testing nerve gas. It put a shock in all of us.”
The Army’s work with nerve gas became known to residents of the area because of the deaths of some 6 thousand sheep who all died on farms near Dugway. One website, MentalFloss.com, described the incident saying that six thousand sheep simply “dropped dead” with the military initially denying “any connection” according to Mental Floss, which added that a later report revealed the truth of the nerve gas.
That sheriff quote above? Courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune, that statement was (according to the Trib) not initially confirmed or denied by the Army but the military-grade poison gas known as VX Gas was found in snow and grass in the area for approximately three weeks following the Utah Sheep Kill incident.
Based on those findings, it would be impossible to ignore the truth. Nerve gas did escape from the facility. Stephen King wondered in Danse Macabre what would have happened had the wind been blowing in a different direction that day.
The Utah Sheep Kill was so notorious in some circles that it even made its way into the writing of horror legend Stephen King, who references it in his 1981 non-fiction book about the horror genre, Danse Macabre, and again as inspiration in his epic end-of-the-world novel, The Stand.
From 1985 to 1991, Dugway Proving Ground hosted the U.S. Army Ranger School Desert Training program, teaching desert survival skills. After 1991, the program was sent back to its first home at Fort Bliss, Texas,
Dugway Proving Ground Goes On Lockdown Due To Missing Nerve gas
In 2011, Dugway Proving Ground was locked down on January 26. No one was permitted to enter or leave, and as many as 1400 people were affected–trapped on base until the end of the lockdown, which was initiated over the “temporary loss” of a container filled with VX nerve agent. The “temporary loss” was blamed on a labeling problem.
Dugway Proving Ground And The “Anthrax Incident”
In May 2015, National Public Radio ran a headline stating, “CDC Investigates Live Anthrax Shipments”. This refers to an incident at Dugway Proving Ground that saw live anthrax samples (which were misidentified as, or mislabeled as, or misunderstood to be inert) shipped to Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia.
NPR reported about a Government Accountability Office investigation and report on the incident. That report concluded that the Defense Department “…had not fully identified the infrastructure capabilities required to address threats, had not planned to identify potential duplication without considering information from existing federal studies, and had not updated its guidance and planning process to include specific responsibilities and time frames for risk assessments.”
Dugway Proving Ground In The 21st Century
Today, Dugway Proving Ground still tests chemical and biological defenses. It also serves as a training area for the Army Reserve and the National Guard. The Air Force also does flight testing at Dugway, and Army Special Forces have trained there in preparation for missions in Afghanistan.
Main Base Address And Phone Numbers
Dugway Proving Ground
5220 Doolittle Ave
Dugway, UT 84022
- DSN 312-789-2260
Dugway Proving Ground is, by design, quite far away from major population centers. The approximate distance from major cities is roughly:
- 300 miles: Boise, Idaho
- 310 miles: Las Vegas, Nevada
- 312 miles: Paradise, Nevada
- 310 miles: Henderson, Nevada
- 375 miles: Reno, Nevada
The installation is so remote that popular tourist sites such as TripAdvisor.com list only three attractions in the area; the Dugway Geode Beds, which are adjacent to old Pony Express mail routes, the ghost town Iosepa, described as a hidden gem of the area, and the Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge.
Inprocessing and Check-In
Check-in procedures are unique for Dugway Proving Ground. You may be required to check-in at Ft. Carson, Colorado as well as your standard processing procedures at Dugway.
You will need to contact your gaining unit to see what may be required in this area. The Dugway Proving Ground Relocation Manager is also available to assist by phone at 435-831-2260 or DSN 312-789-2260.
Civilian employees are directed to check-in with the Civilian Personnel Assistance Center in Bldg. 5450 for in processing. Contractors will check in with their assigned supervisor. Those who are not arriving during regular duty hours are directed to make sure their gaining employer has added the worker’s name to the access roster.
Family healthcare and/or general healthcare for military members is not available on-post at the time of this writing. Those who require military healthcare for family members often commute to Hill AFB, which is just under two hours away. Family members who want healthcare within their TRICARE network will need to consider switching to TRICARE PRIME Remote to get care in the local area at a civilian facility.
Dugway Proving Ground has one Child Development Center, which operates Monday through Friday. All parents are required to complete a registration packet each year and you will need to provide shot records, birth certificates, and/or Social Security cards. You will also be required to obtain a health assessment for the child or children within 30 days of registration.
Childcare fees at the CDC are charged on a sliding scale based on the combined total family income.
You may also have an opportunity to enroll a child into Family Child Care (FCC), which is offered by accredited and monitored private caregivers in family housing settings. Call 435-831-3345, 435-831-2410, or DSN 312-789-3345 to learn how to get on waiting lists or sign up for FCC.
All household goods shipments to DPG should be tracked and managed via the Defense Personal Property System at Move.mil. You can get assistance locally at the Dugway Proving Ground TMO office at 435-831-2753 or (DSN) 312-789-2753.
Dependent And Retiree ID Card Renewal, Replacement, New Issue
All ID card services at DPG can be scheduled via the Dugway Proving Ground RAPIDS appointment scheduler. Appointments are preferred, but walk-in services are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays after lunch.
All ID card services require two forms of ID such as a Common Access Card (CAC), driver’s license, a valid state or federal ID card, Passport or Passport Card.
Parents who PCS to Dugway Proving Ground have two on-post schools to choose from:
- Dugway Elementary School, Grades K-6
- Dugway High School, Grades 7-12
These schools, while located on post, are operated by the Tooele County School District, which as a “traditional” school year starting in August and ending in June. Off-post, the district operates 13 elementary schools, a pair of junior high schools, and four high schools in Tooele County.
Parents who want to transfer or enroll students in the Tooele County School District should know children must be age five by September 1 of the year of enrollment. Transfer/enrollment requirements include a complete physical, birth certificate, immunization records, and Social Security Number.
Serving at Dugway Proving Ground has in the past included a unique requirement compared to some other military bases–all essential military staff are required to live on-post at the time of this writing.
Those who are affected by this rule will not receive a housing allowance (though exceptions may be possible depending on circumstances). Civilian hires are permitted to live off-post. All military members are directed to contact the Dugway Proving Ground Housing Office as soon as orders are available.
Dugway has roughly 300 housing units, with an active waiting list and a two-pet limit. Call the housing office at 435-831-3541 or DSN 312-789-3541. Call the housing office to learn if the on-post housing policy has changed, or affects you as an “essential military” member working here.
Single and unaccompanied service members are offered furnished and unfurnished on-post quarters. There are also off-post housing opportunities in nearby Tooele, Utah.
PCS and TDY Lodging
Army IHG Hotels serves the DPG community; those who are traveling on orders (PCS or TDY) have priority. There may be limited pet accommodations depending on time of year, PCS or TDY season, and other variables.
If no on-post lodging is available it will be necessary to obtain a certificate of non-availability in order to be reimbursed for lodging off-post in Tooele, UT. Call 435-831-6500 to make reservations or to learn current pet or booking policies.
There is no on-post transportation available at Dugway Proving Ground. The usual ride-sharing and commercial taxi services may be available from any commercial airport you arrive at, depending on the time of day and other variables. The installation is roughly 80 miles from Salt Lake City, UT and the major airport there.
Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License
If you are relocating to Utah, you as a motor vehicle operator are not required to license a privately owned vehicle in Utah. This is true only if the vehicle is properly licensed and registered in another state.
If you do need to register a privately owned vehicle in the State of Utah, you are required to provide the following documentation:
- Most recent registration
- Utah safety inspection certificate
- Utah emissions certificate
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN
Vehicles with plates from Guam, Puerto Rico, etc. or U.S. Forces plates from Europe, Korea, Japan or elsewhere outside CONUS must obtain Utah (or other state license plates) within 60 days of arrival in Utah. For more information, call 801-777-8631.
Operating a motor vehicle in this area means being exposed to unusual-to-some road hazards including cattle crossings. Drivers will need to pay extra attention, especially at night.