Fort George G. Meade, located mid-way between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., is home to all five branches of the military service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Fort Meade is home to more than 95 government agencies and organizations including the National Security Agency.
Fort Meade is Maryland’s largest employer and has the fourth largest workforce of any Army installation in the continental United States. Of the approximately 40,000 people on base, roughly 10,000 are military personnel and 25,000 are civilian employees.
Fort George G. Meade and the National Security Agency together generate a total of $17.8 billion in economic activity in Maryland — or 49.4 percent of the total $36 billion in economic impact from all of the military installations, according to Mission Maryland: Measuring Economic Impact of Maryland’s Military Installations by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. It's the largest level of employment, payrolls and purchases in Maryland. Fort Meade and the NSA create or support 125,729 jobs earning an estimated $9.2 billion in employee compensation. The direct Fort Meade and NSA employment of 48,389 accounts for 1.4 percent of all employment in Maryland and when multiplier impacts are included, the 125,729 jobs in, created or supported by Fort Meade and the NSA account for 3.6 percent of all employment in Maryland.
Expansion at Fort Meade
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the Defense Media Activity (DMA) and the Defense and Military Adjudication Activities Co-location projects have all relocated to the installation, associated with the Base Realignment and Closure Commission actions.
DISA’s 1.1 million square-foot headquarters officially opened its building with a ribbon cutting in April 2011. Employees continued to move from Northern Virginia to Fort Meade through July 2011. The DISA facility consists of six multi-story buildings, a parking garage, and a large central courtyard in a campus-like setting.
The new 180,000-square-foot multi-story DMA building houses the agency's administrative offices, along with television, radio and print production. The Defense and Military Departments Adjudication Co-location occupies a 150,000-square-foot facility.
Historic Fort Meade
The creation of Fort Meade was authorized by an Act of Congress in May 1917, and was one of 16 cantonments built for troops drafted for World War I. The fort’s present site in central Maryland was selected in June of that year because of its close proximity to the railroad, the port of Baltimore and Washington D.C. The construction cost was $18 million and the 5,400 acres of land on which the fort sits sold for $37 per acre in 1917. The post, first established as Camp Meade, was named in honor of Major Gen. George Gordon Meade, whose victory at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 proved a major factor in turning the tide of the Civil War in favor of the North.
During World War I, more than 400,000 soldiers passed through Fort Meade, which was used as a training site for three infantry divisions, three training battalions and one depot brigade. The post remount station, under the direction of Major Peter F. Meade, a nephew of General Meade, collected over 22,000 horses and mules during this time. The “Hello Girls” – women who served as bilingual telephone switchboard operators in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I – also were an important part of Fort Meade’s history.
In 1928, the post was renamed Fort Leonard Wood, but Pennsylvania congressmen, who were angry at having the name of native son George Meade removed, held up the Army’s appropriations until it agreed to name the new permanent installation Fort George G. Meade, which it did on March 5, 1929.
During World War II, Fort Meade became a training center whose ranges and other facilities were used by more than 200 units and roughly 3.5 million soldiers between 1942 and 1946. In March 1945, Fort Meade’s wartime military personnel peaked at 70,000.
After World War II, Fort Meade reverted to routine peacetime activities. In June 1947, the Second U.S. Army Headquarters was transferred from Baltimore to Fort Meade. This transfer increased post activity because Second Army Headquarters exercised command over Army units throughout a seven-state area. In January 1966, the Second U.S. Army merged with the First U.S. Army. The consolidated headquarters moved from Fort Jay, New York to Fort Meade to administer activities of Army installations in a 15-state area.
In August 1990, Fort Meade began processing Army Reserve and National Guard units from several states in support of Operation Desert Shield. In addition, two of Fort Meade’s active duty units – the 85th Medical Battalion and the 519th Military Police Battalion – were sent to Saudi Arabia. In all, approximately 2,700 personnel from 42 units deployed from Fort Meade during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
For more information about Fort George G. Meade, go to http://www.ftmeade.army.mil/.