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Virginia Militarized

Virginia Militarized

By David Swanson with Shepherd Johnson
August 15, 2011

The U.S. military is a permanent and pervasive presence in Virginia. Were the state of Virginia to ban participation in wars of aggression, weapons sales to brutal dictatorships, and the manufacture of aggressive and illegal weapons, the Military Industrial Complex would be obliged to help itself to many billions of public dollars just to cover the cost of moving operations to the other 49 states or abroad.

The Pentagon and all of its surrounding weapons corporation headquarters are in Virginia. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lives in Quarters Six at Fort Myer in Arlington. The Army and Air Force chiefs of staff live on "Generals Row," also in Fort Myer.

Norfolk is home to the world's largest naval base. NATO is there too. And through this month, so is the United States Joint Forces Command.

The Army maintains major commands in Virginia as well, including the United States Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, and the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis.

The Air Force has its Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base. Langley and Eustis combine to form the Joint Base Langley–Eustis.

The Port of Hampton Roads is a Sea Port of Embarkation (SPOE). Also in Tidewater, Va., is Lamberts Point at Norfolk. So are two large shipyards, found in Newport News (Northrop Grumman) and Portsmouth, there to service the aforementioned largest Naval Base in the world.

But the military is spread throughout the state. Out in Radford is a major munitions plant. Up in Warrenton are four military sites, at least one of them used by the CIA.

Let's not forget the Navy. There are SEAL teams at Little Creek and (team 6) at Dam Neck. These are military forces operating at the secret command of the President.

There are secrets running through the very ground of Virginia. Not far from where I am in Charlottesville, in (and I mean in) Peter's Mountain near Gordonsville, is an AT&T site that many believe the military used to use and probably still does.

If it's not embarrassing to a self-professed government of the people not to know what's happening in our mountains, what we do know is even more embarassing. The Defense Intelligence Agency used to train "psychic spies" (men who'd stare at goats if they were smart enough to recognize one) at a place in Nelson county called the Monroe Institute. Another of the super-loony agencies in the Military Industrial Complex, which sometimes holds meetings in Charlottesville, is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is located in Arlington.

The Army prepares for war in Virginia at Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Fort Lee, Fort Monroe, Fort Myer, and Fort Story, the Navy at the Navy Amphibious Base Little Creek, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Oceana Naval Air Station (the cause of all that noise pollution in the air at Virginia Beach), and the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. Meanwhile, the Marines are based in Quantico, as is the FBI Academy.

U.S. Army recruiting at the Best Buy in Short Pump, Va., with a machine that stamped out dog tags for children.

Imagine if tours were organized in Virginia, not of ancient battlefields but of current war machinery. The site would be far more numerous. Instead of pilgrimages to Stonewall Jackson's arm, you might see trips planned to some of these sites:

Image: Entrance to Camp Peary.

The NSA in Chesapeake, or the NSA just across the West Virginia line, or the CIA at Camp Peary, a.k.a. the Farm, right next to Colonial Williamsburg, where CIA warriors and foreign warriors are trained.

The "intelligence community" may not have much intelligence or community, but it has a lot of Virginia real estate, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence at Tysons Corner, right next to the National Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Center, which is not far from the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency. Then there's the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly (image above), the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency in Springfield, and the U.S Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) National Ground Intelligence Center here in Charlottesville (the command is headquartered at Fort Belvoir).

The Ground Intelligence Center is now north of Charottesville but used to be right downtown in what is now the SNL Financial building. The new location also accomodates the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The DIA is headquartered at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., but has an office building in Clarendon.

The U. S. Marine Corp's "intelligence" activity (and its prison for Army whistleblowers from Smedley Butler to Bradley Manning) is at Quantico.

The Office of Naval Intelligence is located in Suitland, Md., but has a training center located at Dam Neck and known as the Navy Marine Maritime Intelligence Center.

And over at Langley Air Force Base is the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing.

The Virginia National Guard (emphasis on "National") is located all over Virginia.

The "private" military corporations in Virginia are legion.

Down in Lynchburg, Areva manufactures fuel rods for nuclear reactors. There are 161 military contractors here in Charlottesville. Battelle Memorial Institute in Charlottesville is hiring for jobs "researching biological and chemical weapons." Northrop Grumman and many others are also in Charlottesville.

Virginia is home to SAIC, Dyncorp, Mantech, MPRI, CACI, and BAE. Xe (Blackwater) is moving to Arlington from its location just across the North Carolina line, a location at which the Virginia Beach Police train, and from which many Blackwater employees commute to live in Virginia Beach. L3 Flight International Aviation is in Newport News. American Type Culture Collection in Manasass supplied anthrax to Saddam Hussein.

Then there's Virginia's congressional delegation, which splits its time between Virginia and D.C.

Eisenhower was talked out of saying "military industrial congressional complex," but the meaning nonetheless came through.

A conference to address the Military Industrial Complex 50 years after Eisenhower spoke is planned for September 16-18 in Charlottesville at

Most of the research and all of the photos in this article come from Shepherd Johnson.


David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online activist organization

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