Army historian highlights history of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center

Moving 3,000 miles for a dream job proved entirely appropriate for Jeff Smart, the official historian of the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) who recently spoke during a presentation at the command's center in Edgewood, Maryland.

Smart recently published “A Century of Innovation: The Army's Chemical Biological Defense Program 1917-2017,” a book chronicling the 100-year history of the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) and its role in national security.

ECBC houses the Berger Lab Complex auditorium, where Smart spoke about the ECBC’s historical significance in the development of protective equipment, an ECBC release said. 

Smart, who received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from San Jose State University, said he came East after first working for the government in other capacities.

“After two years, I finally got my dream job as a historian,” Smart said in the release. “It was almost 3,000 miles from where I grew up, so I loaded up my car and moved to Bel Air, Maryland.”

During his presentation, Smart stressed that U.S. soldiers have not been forced to confront chemical or biological weapons since World War I, largely due to the high quality of protective equipment. 

Smart also said he discovered a trove of archival materials at ECBC and set about collecting the many photos, documents, objects and anecdotal recollections from soldiers.

“I really hope this book will raise the visibility of ECBC and U.S. chemical biological defense,” Smart said in the release. “We’re often invisible because of our success, but we must always remain prepared, and that’s a job ECBC deserves credit for.”

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U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center

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