Fort George G. Meade

Fort George G. Meade, located adjacent to Odenton, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County, is an active U.S. Army installation. The fort, established in 1917, is named for General George Gordon Meade, a Union Army general in the American Civil War. It covers 5,067 acres (20.51 km2) in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Fort Meade is also home to Meade Senior High School, MacArthur Middle School, Meade Middle School and the National Cryptologic Museum.


Fort Meade was established in 1917 when the United States Department of War acquired 19,000 acres (77 km²) of land west of Odenton to develop a training camp. First known as Camp Annapolis Junction, the fort was named Camp Admiral at its opening in 1917. Other name changes occurred after construction of 1,460 buildings on the site when it became Camp George Gordon Meade. In the 1920s it became Fort Leonard Wood. By the 1930s it reverted back to Fort George G. Meade.

Fort Meade was used as a basic training post and a prisoner of war camp during World War II. In the 1950s, the post became headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA). The post was scheduled to close in the 1990s, but was kept open to support the NSA. Today, Ft. Meade is often used as a metonym for the NSA.

USAF use

The former United States Army long-range radar station W-13DC (built to support the Nike air-defense missile system of the Washington-Baltimore Defense Area) became operational as an Air Force station RP-54 on 1 October 1961 when the USAF assumed control of the AN/FPS-67 search radar, and installed one each AN/FPS-6 and AN/FPS-6B height-finder radars by 1962. (The Army also operated a pair of AN/FPS-6 variant radars). Fort Meade was both an AN/FSG-l Missile-Master and later AN/GSG-5(V) BIRDIE Radar Direction Center. W-13DC was the first Missile-Master DC to become operational.

The 770th Airborne Control and Warning Squadron moved from former site P-54 located in Palermo AFS, New Jersey. On July 1, 1963, the Fort Meade radar site was redesignated Z-227 after Palermo AFS was re-opened as site Z-54 which had transferred from the deactivated Yaak AFS, Montana (P-11). It also joined the SAGE system in 1963, which resulted in the squadron being re-designated as the 770th Radar Squadron. In 1964 the AN/FPS-6B was replaced by an AN/FPS-90, and the AN/FPS-6 was shut down.

On May 1, 2005, the 70th Operations Group, was set up on Ft. Meade, replacing the role of the 694th ISRG, which was moved to Osan AB, Korea . The 70th Operations Group was later designated 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group 1 Jan 2009, and redesignated 707th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group 7 Oct 2009.

In addition to the main facility, Fort Meade operated several AN/FPS-14 unmanned Gap Filler sites:

  • Hermanville, Maryland (RP-54A/Z-227A): 38°13′40″N 076°24′33″W / 38.22778°N 76.40917°W / 38.22778; -76.40917 (RP-54A)
  • Hanover, Pennsylvania (RP-54B/Z-227B): 39°51′28″N 076°56′52″W / 39.85778°N 76.94778°W / 39.85778; -76.94778 (RP-54B)

In 1966 the AN/FPS-67 was upgraded to an AN/FPS-67B. The 770th Radar Squadron came under Tactical Air Command jurisdiction in 1979 with the inactivation of Aerospace Defense Command and the creation of ADTAC. Operations ceased 1 October 1979.

The original Joint Surveillance System (JSS) plans called for the Fort Meade radar site to be transferred to FAA control, however the FAA instead elected to build a new long-range radar site near The Plains, Virginia. This new JSS site, operating an ARSR-3, allowed both the military’s Fort Meade radar installation and the FAA’s Suitland (MD) radar installation to be shut down.


Due to its location near Washington, D.C., it is increasingly being used by government and military tenants like the Defense Information School, the headquarters of the Defense Courier Service, the United States Army Field Band, and a United States Environmental Protection Agency facility. As part of the U.S. Defense Department's 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process, several additional activities are scheduled to move to Fort Meade around 2010, including the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Adjudication and Office of Hearing and Appeals Offices, and several DoD media activities. Several parcels of land have been made available for commercial lease. In October 2007 the Army estimated that Fort Meade will gain about 5,700 jobs directly, and the area will see an increase of thousands more jobs for related businesses.

A September 2007 environmental impact report described the expansion, and particularly the proposed two additional 18-hole golf courses, as a "significant threat to the biological and territorial integrity of the Patuxent Research Refuge, a unique national interest in the forefront of scientific research and protection." In response, the Army said that it is taking steps to limit the environmental damage but that the golf courses are needed for "maintaining the quality of life for soldiers and their families."

Hazardous waste cleanup

On August 27, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an order directing the Army to assess the nature and extent of the contamination, determine appropriate corrective measures, and implement such measures for fourteen hazardous waste sites on the base, plus three sites on 8,100 acres (33 km2) of land transferred to the Patuxent Research Refuge. The sites include an ordnance disposal area, a 1940s waste dump, and a closed sanitary landfill.

Fort George G. Meade Museum

The Fort George G. Meade Museum exhibits historical artifacts, uniforms, weapons, tanks, photographs, documents and paintings pertaining to the history of Fort George G. Meade. On the museum's grounds are displayed historic military equipment including tanks, armored personnel carriers, a Nike "Ajax" missile, and a helicopter. The museum is located at 4674 Griffin Avenue, Fort George G. Meade.

External references

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.
  • A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • Information for Fort Meade, MD

Building Activity

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