Beginning with its founding in 1917, Fort Ord served primarily as a training and staging facility for infantry troops. From 1947 to 1975, Fort Ord was a basic training center. After 1975, the 7th Infantry Division (Light) occupied Fort Ord. Light infantry troops operated without heavy tanks, armor, or artillery. Fort Ord was selected in 1991 for decommissioning, but troop reassignment was not completed until 1994, when the post formally closed. Although Army personnel still operate parts of the base, no active Army division is stationed at Fort Ord.
In 1917, the US Army bought the present day East Garrison and nearby lands on the east side of Fort Ord to use as a maneuver and training ground for field artillery and cavalry troops stationed at the Presidio of Monterey. Before the Army’s use of the property, the area was agricultural, as is much of the surrounding land today. No permanent improvements were made until the late 1930s, when administrative buildings, barracks, mess halls, tent pads, and a sewage treatment plant were constructed.
In 1938, additional agricultural property was purchased for the development of the Main Garrison. At the same time, the beachfront property was donated to the Army. The Main Garrison was constructed between 1940 and the 1960s, starting in the northwest corner of the base and expanding southward and eastward. During the 1940s and 1950s, a small airfield within the Main Garrison was present in what is now the South Parade Ground. In the early 1960s, Fritzsche Army Airfield (FAAF) was completed. The Main Garrison airfield was then decommissioned and its facilities were redeveloped as motor pools and other facilities.
Over its history, the post was home to a succession of infantry divisions and served as a center for basic and advanced training. In 1975, the post became the home to the 7th Infantry Division, which conducted training exercises on the installation.
Fort Ord was identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a federal Superfund site on the basis of groundwater contamination discovered on the base in 1990. Fort Ord was selected for closure in 1991 and placed on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. The 7th Infantry Division (light) was inactivated in September 1993 and the soldiers were reassigned elsewhere. The post officially closed on September 30, 1994.
With the closure of Fort Ord, responsibility for the remaining Army activities were transferred to the Office of Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management (ACSIM), Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Division, The cleanup of the former Fort Ord is managed under contracts through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.