Camp Stanley, a low-profile military weapons storage facility in northwest Bexar County, is home to one of the CIA’s most mysterious weapons and explosives stockpiles, according to documents recently released by a retired CIA official who lives in San Antonio.
Previously referred to as the “Midwest Depot,” the top secret CIA facility has been tied to arming rebel groups from Nicaragua to Afghanistan as well as training Cuban exiles before the invasion of the Bay of Pigs in past declassified documents. The location of the depot was never known.
However, an array of research published in December by retired CIA analyst Allen Thomson suggests that Camp Stanley is the Midwest Depot, which would make it the third known CIA operations location in the country. Multiple requests to tour the facility made by the San Antonio Express-News have been declined over the past decade.
“To be a little dramatic about it, how many of those AK-47s and RPG-7s we see Islamists waving around today passed through the Midwest Depot on their way to freedom fighters in past decades?” Thomson told The New York Times.
Camp Stanley consists of about 4,000 acres south of Fair Oaks Ranch near Interstate 10, about 30 miles north of downtown San Antonio. The facility has a low-key gated entrance with a few warehouses visible from the perimeter and satellite images show a stretch of dozens of bunkers and other storage facilities.
“The mission of Camp Stanley is the receipt, storage and issuance of ordnance material as well as quality assurance testing and maintenance of military weapons and ammunition,” Phil Reidinger, a spokesman for the Army Medical Department Center and School, said Monday. “Because of its ordnance missions, (Camp Stanley) is a controlled-access facility.”
Some of the documents published by Thomson, who worked for the CIA from 1972-1985, include “a 1967 CIA memo linking Camp Stanley to paramilitary training of Cuban exiles before the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and a 1987 memo showing that equipment bound for the Nicaraguan Contras passed through” the facility, according to the Times, which also identified “a 1963 CIA memo discussing 300 tons of plastic explosives that were available in the ‘Midwest Depot stocks.’”
“In a 2009 interview, a former CIA logistics officer said AK-47 rifles sent to Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance after 9/11 came from the CIA’s Midwest Depot stockpiles,” the Times reported.
A 1986 memo published by Thomson said “the CIA would truck missiles bound for Iran from a military arsenal “to Midwest Depot, Texas” for preparation, then fly them out of Kelly Air Force Base,” the Times reported.
The only other two CIA locations in the country are known to the public are the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and Camp Peary, a military base near Williamsburg, Virginia, known by its code name, “The Farm,” that is believed to be used for training, according to the Times.
In 2012, residents and a San Antonio Express-News photographer witnessed a low-flying fireball near Camp Stanley but the object was never identified. Meteorologists suggested it could have been space debris and a spokesman for Camp Stanley said at the time: “All the ranges at Camp Stanley are closed, so we weren’t testing ammunition and we haven’t had any incident today regarding the storage and transfer facilities.”