UPDATE PAGE TWO
--------DECEMBER 25, 1998--------
RE: Special Report -October 1997: The following is an overview of the Special Report (update) issued in October of 1997 by the Presidential Advisory Committee of Gulf War Illness to the Department of Defense (DOD). This Report (Update) is available to the public by contacting the Office of the Special Assistant on Gulf War Illness (See the DOD outreach program link to this website). The following information is contained in an updated version of the Presidential Advisory Committee's report on Gulf War Illness.
In the updated Special Report the Committee opted to emphasize three broad aspects of the many facets of the government's ongoing work related to chemical weapons investigations; I) Technologies, ii) Doctrine and iii) The investigation process. The Committee did not elaborate on issues related to biological warfare agents in the Special Report. Their review did not reveal any additional information that changes the Committee's assessment in their previous report in December of 1996.
It has been documented that chemical alarms sounded many times during the Gulf War. However, they were deemed as "false", due to the lack of symptoms or no known military action. Despite the array of technologies available to U.S. troops in the Gulf War, it should be noted that all chemical weapon agent detectors and warning devices were designed to detect only nerve agent concentrations that would cause acute symptoms or death and not sub-clinical concentrations. It is possible that chemical weapons could have been present at levels below a point that would cause immediate symptoms and/or could have been present at sub-clinical levels. Detection devices may have worked better than designed and given warning at sub-clinical levels yet been deemed as false alarms. There is concern that battlefield detectors could not measure the type of low level exposure that DOD regulations guard against in non-battlefield situations. During review of individual case investigations, which involve various technologies, new problems with chemical weapon detectors were opened to public scrutiny. (IE The Fox Vehicle)
As noted in the earlier reports the M8A1 alarms were so nonspecific that some units were actually ordered to ignore them or disable them. Chemical weapon agent detectors used during the Gulf War were designed only to detect immediately toxic incapacitating or lethal concentrations of agents. If commanders could not verify detections made by the M8A1 by other more specific means and no symptoms appeared or no enemy action was involved, field commanders might disregard M8A1 detections that did not involve casualties. Even if circumstances indicate a need for low level detection capabilities the detectors available in 1991 lacked the capability to be adjusted for such a purpose . M8A1 were designed to be used in conjunction with M9 paper and M256 kit to verify there detections.
There is a real possibility that the Fox Vehicle technology used by US forces would have overlooked an actual verifiable chemical attack on the contaminated battlefield of Kuwait. Although the Fox vehicle contains several sophisticated detection devices, the concern lies in the MM-1 mobile mass spectrometer. Following the initial alarm for chemical weapon agent or other compounds, the MM-1 can be manually switched to acquire a full spectrum analysis of the compounds. In theory, the full spectrum analysis should provide a more accurate and comprehensive analysis of the compound(s). In fact, the full spectrum option used during the Gulf War would have analyzed and reported only the compounds present in the highest concentrations. Under polluted and contaminated battlefield conditions, significant levels of chemical agents could have been present and led to an alarm, but would have been ignored by the Fox vehicle mass spectrometer because of higher concentrations of other interfering compounds. DOD rejects this concern and suggests that the initial Fox alarm was, in and of itself , sufficient to alert US troops to don their highest level of personal and protective gear. Thus, service members were not endangered, even though the MM-1 mass spectrometer's (detection device utilized on the Fox vehicle full spectrum mode could falsely conclude the initial alarm was not a chemical attack.
DOD's long-standing position is that no evidence was found of CW agents being present in southern Iraq, except Khamisiyah (acknowledged June 1996) and Ukhaydir (acknowledged July 1997). To date, the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) has not found any evidence of chemical weapons south of Khamisiyah. However, the Advisory Committee noted their suspicion of bias which was not limited to analysis, but also to fact finding, lack of due diligence and objectivity, allowing only certain facts come to light.
As noted earlier, the Committee's intent in this Special Report was to present their findings about the DOD&'s investigative process and to make policy recommendations. The opinion outlined in the Advisory Committee's report is that the DOD has failed to thoroughly and promptly investigate all detections, by the best available chemical agent detectors utilized by the United States during the Gulf War (Fox vehicle MM-1 spectrometers and M256 kits). Further, the Committee already has documented how the deficiencies in technology and doctrine create a built-in bias against viewing any detection as credible.
Until the Committee's existence, the DOD maintained categorically that there was no credible of verifiable evidence that CW agents were present during the Gulf War. Following revelations about the Khamisiyah munitions depot, DOD began to qualify its statements to include Ukhaydir. In July 1997, the DOD acknowledged as many as 6,000 mustard shells had been present at Ukhaydir, requiring DOD to further qualify its statements. The latter acknowledgment came after UNSCOM called attention to Ukhaydir.
In the Committee's estimation, DOD cannot itself lead an investigation on possible CW or BW agent exposures that will be viewed as credible. They recommend that a plan should be developed to ensure the Gulf War Veterans and the public have access to and can be represented in future deliberations about possible CBW agent exposures. The Committee believes strong consideration should be given to an investigative effort that takes advantage of the database developed for the ATSD(IO) and builds on the existing expertise and analysis. A Non-Governmental initiate, such as MITRE, should be retained for such purposes and they should report to an entity outside the DOD. Regardless of the entity leading the investigations, such an effort should review and analyze intelligence pertaining to: biological warfare agents; reported incidents involving the Marine Corps; and Coalition bombing and demolition activities as sites identified as having the highest probability of presenting a Khamisiyah-like scenario. That would include, but not be limited to, Ukhaydir, Al jazzier, Rumaylah Ammunition Storage Facility 1, and Ash Shauybah. The Final Report's recommendation stressed the importance of investigating all reports of positive detection from M256 kits and Fox vehicles. Further, future investigations of possible chemical warfare agent exposures should adopt an objective standard against which all case investigations and all elements within a particular case -e.g. type(s) of detectors, eyewitness reports, secondary reference in an operational log, intelligence should be held to scrutiny.
Public distrust of government and larger institutions has been on the rise since the mid-1970's. Such skepticism is not, of course, limited to issues raised by Gulf War health issues. This spreading atmosphere of suspicion has fueled speculation about cover-ups and conspiracies surrounding governmental actions related to Gulf War veterans' illnesses - especially with respect to CW agent matters. The Committee noted that this Gulf War Veteran's health concerns have been addressed much better than the Vietnam War Veteran's concerns. However, the DOD's denials, delays and actions have strained public trust in this matter. The Committee emphasized that full public accountability would be essential in trying to restore public confidence.
The Committee concludes that there is a credibility gap between the public's views of the governments efforts to address the Gulf War veteran's concerns about illness and the reality of its initiatives, which cannot not be bridged without bold policy action. Regrettably, it now appears we must address the pervasive belief of government neglect or wrongdoing in handling Gulf War veterans' illnesses. At the same time, the government needs to focus on a process that will ensure that research data and clinical improvements with a direct impact on veteran's lives can be regularly accounted for and integrated into VA's disability compensation and medical benefits programs. The Committee recommended that the White House and VA should work closely with the Congress to establish a permanent, statutory program for Gulf War Veterans' illnesses. This process is currently in motion. Please note, Four (4) bills are currently under review by Congress at this time (See Legal Updates attached to this website). Action by the Public is needed to get the bills out of Committee and into Law.
RESEARCH COMPLETED OR UNDERWAY
Special Report to Congress - Summer 1998: In the summer of 1998 another report by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans was given to Congress outlining appropriation of funds and the priorities of research on the Gulf War Illness, during the year of 1997. We are currently working on a separate update based on that report. We will provide our overview as soon as possible. A brief overview of how the funds were appropriated follows. Our future update will outline the results of the research.
In October of 1997 the DOD announced that under competition for this pool of research funds, approximately $2.8 million had been awarded for research projects on low level health effects of chemical weapons and $9.2 million for research projects on the interactions of Gulf War risk factors. All the awards were subject to competition and prior review then selected for funding on the bases of scientific merit and relevance.
Additionally the Centers for Disease Control issued a request for proposals in May of 1997 to address two programmatic priorities. These are (1) research that enhances the understanding of conditions and symptoms reported to be more prevalent in Gulf War veterans. (2) Research that adds to the scientific knowledge needed to further develop a case definition of the illnesses among Gulf War veterans. CDC was scheduled to award research projects in October of 1997 on these subjects. The advisory committee concluded that the government is adequately responding to earlier recommendations. The advisory committee particularly commends the government for its new initiatives targeted on health effects of low level exposure to chemical weapons.
All research on Gulf War veteran' illness that is publicly funded by the government should be subject to external competition and independent peer review. Circumventing peer review of research proposals undercuts credibility. Respect for the peer review process is necessary that the highest quality science is funded. Funding decisions for research projects should be insulated from the appearance of conflict of interest and political agendas, to the maximum degree possible. The Committee however, acknowledged that benefit can be acquired from small scale, short term funding on a solo source basis for pilot projects or to address narrow specific scientific questions. An example of this would be $100,000 for technical issues related to micro plasma tests. Any protocol resulting from these projects should still be peer reviewed prior to major funding.
The Advisory Committee is continuing its oversight and evaluation on government investigations related to possible chemical and biological warfare exposure incidents during the Gulf War. This has been done in order to address the adequacy of the government's response to concerns about recently declassified documents associated with chemical munitions at Khamisiyah and sixteen other suspected storage sights that were identified by the CIA in September of 1997. Several of these sites are inside occupied Kuwait and were built by Kuwait, and may or may not have been used by Iraq to store munitions.
Conference is Planned - February 28th through March 2nd: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of Public Health and Science, the National Institutes of Health, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, is sponsoring a conference on the health impact of chemical exposures during the Gulf War, February 28th through March 2nd of 1999 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, GA (Airport). The purpose of the conference is to provide a forum of broad public impute into the development of a multi-year research plan. To attend the conference, please call Andrea Campagna at 1(800)780-8872, Ext. 210. You may also visit their website at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/meetings/1999/gulfwar (or see CDC Link on this website).
SEE YOU THERE, JOE
--------FEBRUARY 21, 1999--------
CIA Map Explanation
From Joe Miller
In order to understand the maps of this sight, you must understand how they were put together. This information was gathered from the DOD-CIA document titled "Modeling the Chemical Warfare Agent Release at the Khamisiyah Pit", dated 4 Sept 1997. This document is available through the Internet, by using the CIA link on this website.
In May of 1996 UNSCOM said that US troops had destroyed chemical weapons in an area known as the "Pit", near Khamisiyah. At that time the CIA was then directed to begin modeling chemical warfare agent releases at the same location, in order to determine which US units could have been exposed to the plume. Modeling is the science of using interconnecting mathematical equations to predict the result of an actual event, and was necessary in order to determine exact locations and times of exposures. All available data was used in order to complete the analysis, including number of rockets, weather data from the demolition location, type and amount of explosives used, purity of the chemical agents, and transport and diffusion data of the agents. The fact that this was an outdoor, uncontrolled explosion made earlier test data obsolete.
Reducing the uncertainties of modeling was done by interviews with soldiers present at the demolition. This confirmed specific information on the number of detonations, type and number of munitions, type of charges used for demolition, and placement of charges. This information was critical for testing that was later done at Dugway, Utah.
The initial explosion took place at 4:15 PM on March 10, 1991. It involved the use of 4 cases of USC-4, a total of 480 pounds of explosives. There were no incineraries used to burn any aerosolized vapors. The demolition personnel thought they were dealing with 122 ml. high explosive rockets. Had they known they were dealing with chemical warheads, they would have known that incineraries were necessary. All personnel present agreed that there were insufficient charges to destroy the 1250 rockets present.
According to UNSCOM, 782 of the rockets were recovered undamaged and later destroyed. The total agent available at the Pit, less the agent recovered and later destroyed, was 753 gallons. According to test data from Dugway, Utah, the 753 gallons of agent were dispersed as follows:
151 gallons---Destroyed by the blast
86 gallons---Spilled and retained in wood
174 gallons---Spilled and retained in the ground
196 gallons---Spilled and evaporated from, wood
108 gallons---Spilled and evaporated from, ground
19 gallons---Dispersed as droplets
19 gallons---Dispersed in blast vapor
Of the 753 gallons available, data revealed that 342 gallons were released into the atmosphere. The highest concentrations were within the first 21 hours following the explosion. Most of the agent contained within the plume was a result of the agent that had been spilled and evaporated over a 96-hour period of time, following the initial detonation.
By using captured Iraqi documents, UNSCOM determined that the strength of the chemical agents at the time of explosion was approx. 55% pure.
The plume modeling is composed of 5 different meteorological simulations, representing the outermost perimeter of all models evaluated. The models were modified to broaden the contours so as to predict with 99% accuracy of a specific dosage within the contours of the plume. It has been determined that 98,910 US personnel were under the plume in company-sized and larger units. (See Unit location list, per this website) The DOD has not determined how many additional US personnel were under the plume in units of less than company strength. It is very likely that all personnel who supported the 18th Airborne Corp during the retrograde back out of Iraq were exposed to the agents. Contact the DOD in order to confirm your location.
Incident Report Line---------------------------1-800-472-6719
DOD Gulf War Veterans Hotline-----------1-800-796-9699
Special Assistant on Gulf War Illness------1-800-497-6261
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