Dugway Official’s Top Secret Briefing to FBI Special Agent Details Germ War Capabilities

Jeffrey Kaye
9 min readJun 21, 2023
Map of Dugway Proving Ground, combined with the Utah Test and Training Range. Source: Dugway Proving Ground, Mission & Capabilities Overview, Published by U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (pg. 10)

On November 15, 1950, Jay C. Newman, Special Agent in Charge at the Federal Bureau of Intelligence’s Salt Lake City office, wrote a memo to J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI. The subject was a briefing he received from a top military official concerning work on biological warfare experiments at the secretive U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground (DPG), some eighty miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

The Newman report, and a similar report stemming from an earlier FBI briefing at Camp Detrick, are important as they provide a contemporaneous portrait of U.S. biological warfare readiness, at least as much as the secretive Army Chemical Corps was willing to share with FBI officials at the time.

These reports describe an agency ready to conduct covert biowar sabotage activities, and nearing completion of more extensive capabilities with missiles and bombs.

The reports also belie claims from academic biological warfare expert Milton Leitenberg, who has maintained his research shows no bioweapon using a human pathogen was “ready until the end of 1954, about 16 months after the Korean War was over” (pg. 8).

Despite these and other refutations of Leitenberg’s ostensible refutation of the charges of U.S. use of biological weapons, his narrative of a Communist germ warfare “hoax” during the Korean War remains the mainstream Western account of these war crimes accusations.

Fears of accidental leaks of deadly bioagents

DPG is a vast 800,000 acre testing facility linked to the Army Chemical Corps’ Camp Detrick headquarters. (“Camp Detrick” became “Fort Detrick” in 1956.) The remote location was used as early as World War II to test chemical and biological weapons, and by the early 1950s it was also used for field tests of “artillery shells, aerial bombs, and aerial spray tanks designed to dispense chemical and biological warfare agents.”

Dugway was also infamous for an incident in March 1968 when thousands of sheep were found dead in Skull Valley, some two dozen miles from DPG. Though the Army denied the deaths had anything to do with the work at Dugway, tests confirmed that the sheep had died from nerve gas (VX) tests that had accidentally…