A US soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office inside a major command's headquarters, throwing objects and then shooting herself in the head as law enforcement officials tried to negotiate with her, the army said.

On Monday the heavily-trafficked Fort Lee base went on lockdown while she was barricaded on the third floor of the four-storey building that houses the Army's Combined Arms Support Command.

About 1,100 people were inside, but no one else was hurt, officials at Fort Lee said.

"This situation could've been worse," said Major General Stephen Lyons, who took over as commanding general of CASC on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

The Army did not identify the soldier or give her condition. She was taken to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Centre, which confirmed that it received a patient from Fort Lee but did not provide other details.

We are sad for our soldier in arms that she faced those kinds of challenges she had to resort to those kinds of actions,

Major General Stephen Lyons.

The soldier is a sergeant 1st class who has been in the Army for 14 years and at Fort Lee for three, Lyons said.

Her gun was not a service weapon, he said.

"We are sad for our soldier in arms that she faced those kinds of challenges she had to resort to those kinds of actions," Lyons said.

He said officials did not know whether she was being treated for any mental health issues and could not speculate whether drugs or alcohol might have been a factor.

Upset and enraged

Lyons described the soldier as upset and enraged during the incident but said he could not say whether that was consistent with her personality.

Fort Lee reopened and normal operations resumed within an hour of the incident, Lyons said, with trucks and cars entering and exiting the base.

The daily population at Fort Lee is about 34,000, with members from all branches, their families, civilians and contractors.

Army officials initially labelled Monday's incident an "active shooter" situation.

The Department of Homeland Security uses the term to describe someone actively trying to kill people, usually in populated areas, with no pattern of choosing victims.

The Fort Lee shooting comes about four months after a soldier with mental health problems killed three people and wounded 16 at Fort Hood in Texas. The Fort Hood incident was the third shooting rampage at a US military base in six months.

Source: Agencies