Although biological agents have been used in warfare for centuries to produce death or disease in humans, animals, or plants, the United States did not begin a biological warfare offensive program until 1941. It was concern about the Japanese biological warfare threat that motivated the United States to begin to develop biological weapons. During the next 28 years, the United States initiative evolved into an effective, military-driven research and acquisition program, shrouded in controversy and secrecy. Most research and development was done at Fort Detrick, Maryland, while production and testing occurred at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. Field testing was done secretly and successfully with simulants and actual agents disseminated over wide areas. A small defensive effort paralleled the weapons development and production program. With the presidential decision in 1969 to halt offensive biological weapons production, and the agreement in 1972 at the international Biological Weapons Convention never to develop, produce, stockpile, or retain biological agents or toxins, the program became entirely defensive, with medical and nonmedical components. The U.S. Biological Defense Research Program exists today, conducting research to develop physical and medical countermeasures to protect service members and civilians from the threat of modern biological warfare.
Textbook of Military Medicine: Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare, p. 425-436