The US Army controls an arms depot in central Texas. Just north of San Antonio, Camp Stanley (CSSA) is a storage activity center once called Camp Funston. The primary goal of CSSA is to receive, store and issue ordnance materials and ensure the quality of military weapons and ammunition testing. Weapons training and qualifying tests are also held at CSSA. As a subpost of the San Antonio Arsenal, it was run as a facility for ammunition storage and functions apart of the Red River Army Depot. It serves as a weapons supply, ammunitions supply, maintenance facility, test and storage activity center. It operates as part of Camp Bullis as well. Camp Stanley has a long history with the area surrounding San Antonio and continues to be a vital part of US military operations. Today the post comprises 4,000 acres with 630,000 square feet for storage and testing. Recently, it was revealed that the CIA also holds a presence at Camp Stanley.
There have also been several controversies surrounding Camp Stanley due to its treatment of chemical weapons, old ammunition and weapon elimination programs. Much of the area has been selected for chemical weapons treatments in order to rid the land of chemical waste and poisoning. Multiple individuals have spoken out about CSSA’s deadly problems including a former CIA agent who was persecuted for revealing Camp Stanley’s problems with ammunition dumping. He tells the story of living in a house buried on top of buried ammunition.
History of Camp Stanley
The history of the camp goes back to 1859 when the original San Antonio Arsenal was still open. However, it was not ideally located for the US military operations, and by 1919, it was stuck in the middle of downtown San Antonio. As such, it was moved to Camp Stanley, and by 1937, the camp had accumulated land until it reached 1,760 acres. The facilities were specifically for testing and storing ordnance supplies and supporting other military operations at the Leon Springs Military Reservation being hosted at nearby Camp Bullis.
While it was originally named Camp Funston, it was renamed after Brigadier General David Sloan Stanley on October 2nd, 1917. IT was first designated to be an infantry cantonment. The camp’s history began as a refugee camp for Chinese immigrants brought from Mexico by General John J. Pershing who transferred them from Fort Sam Houston after World War I. They became legal immigrants in 1922.
In 1933, Camp Stanley was transferred to the Ordnance Department, and multiple buildings were build to reduce hazards. New igloo and magazine spaces comprised over 230,000 square feet. The camp was an important part of World War II operations and supplied nearby units stationed at Camp Bullis with ammunitions, weapons and vehicles. In 1947, Camp Stanley integrated with the San Antonio General Distribution Depot and became the Camp Stanley Area of Red River Arsenal by 1949.
Camp Stanley remained apart of the Red River Arsenal through the Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts through the 1980s. In 1985, it become a subpost of Camp Bullis. Together, Camp Bullis and Stanley are called the Leon Springs Military Reservation covering 26,000 acres near San Antonio.
Parts of Camp Stanley have undergone investigation for contamination. Small army range operations have contributed greatly to the degradation of the soil. Camp Stanley uses Phosphate Induced Metal Stabilization (PIMs) to remove lead contaminated soils at many of its original sites that often span hundreds of cubic yards. Chemical warfare materials have been recovered at Camp Stanley from chemical weapons burial sites, range clearing construction and other locations nearby. Camp Stanley has ended any operations of disposing waste or chemicals into the land by burning or openly detonating units. The Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project has developed treatment systems to destroy chemical weapons recovered at installations like Camp Stanley.
In 2011, a former CIA agent revealed that Camp Stanley also hosted CIA operations there. While it’s never been confirmed, there are hints that Camp Stanley is the Midwest Depot that the CIA uses for clandestine dissemination and distribution of arms to various connections dating as far as back at the 1960s.
Since Camp Stanley is one of the oldest camps in US history, it means that it would date back to the beginning of the CIA and may have been the first arms channel to provide resistance groups in Eastern Europe with arms during conflict with the Soviet Union. The camp has a secret security clearance because of sensitive missions that involve the ammunition and arms stored at the facility. The security clearance required to work at CSSA is more restrictive than almost every other military installation in the US.
Controversies at Camp Stanley
When it was revealed that Camp Stanley may be a secret CIA site, it was because of former CIA agent Kevin M. Shipp, who claimed that the CIA placed him in a house that was contaminated with mold and made his family sick. They had to burn all of their possessions. The drinking water was also found to be polluted with toxic chemicals. There home was located at Camp Stanley.
As the camp was considered too secret to be publicly investigated, the case was sealed by a judge persuaded by the government. The family and their lawyers were ordered not to discuss the matter any further and to dismiss the lawsuit without any kind of hearing. That caused Shipp to go public with the information. He alleged that the CIA officials abused the State Secrets Privilege doctrine in order to cover up the contamination and mold problems at Camp Stanley. Shipp recalled that his house was built on an old ammunition burial, and one day his sons dug up a mustard gas shell.
The issues with contamination became too grievous to ignore and programs were enacted to salvage the land surrounding Camp Stanley that was considered toxic. Shipp has written a book about his experiences with the CIA and describes more details of Camp Stanley.