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At the onset of America’s involvement in World War I, Newton D. Baker, then the Secretary of War, came to the realization that the United States Army was not prepared for war against the Central Powers. Of utmost importance was finding a replacement site for the Sandy Hook Proving Ground at Fort Hancock, New Jersey. Due to its location near heavily populated New York suburbs and the busy New York harbor, Sandy Hook could not be expanded to accommodate for the new munitions that would soon be available to the Army.

Colonel Colden L. Ruggles, the commanding officer of Sandy Hook, was commissioned to select a new site. He soon selected the area along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay near the town of Aberdeen. In October 1917, the United States Government officially took control of these 35,000 acres of upland and 34,000 acres of swamps and tidal lands, with construction of testing facilities beginning immediately. An additional seven thousand acres were added to the Proving Ground in 1942 to prepare for World War II.

Aberdeen Proving Ground has been used to test field artillery weapons, ammunition, trench mortars, air defense guns and railway artillery; as well as developmental testing of small guns with the addition of the Ordnance Training School. In July 1971, the Edgewood Arsenal, the current chemical research and engineering center for the Army, was merged into Aberdeen.

Aberdeen Proving Ground is home to 70 tenant units and several satellite activities. Major tenant units are the U.S. Research, Development and Engineering (RDECOM), U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools, U.S. Army Developmental Test Command, U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, U.S. Army Signal Network Enterprise Center, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency and elements of the Army  Research Laboratory.

As “The Home of Army Ordnance,” Aberdeen Proving Ground continues its role as a research and development site during peacetime and an important mobilization and training center during wartime. The location of Aberdeen is ideal for tourism. The area is filled with activities that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Everything from parks, museums, concerts, and a healthy nightlife can be found here. The location also provides visitors and those stationed there to be close to some of America’s oldest historical sites.

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