V. LESSON LEARNED
In addition to conducting investigations and veterans outreach, the Office of Special Assistant is working to assure future force protection by recommending changes in equipment, policies, and procedures. During an investigation such as this, accurate records are essential sources of information. Unlike a persons memory that fades over time, official documents do not lose the information they contain. At the end of the war, units packed up their supplies and equipment and returned home. Some units undoubtedly destroyed records in the process. Some units kept records on file for varying periods, but destroyed them because they needed the space for more current records, or because they no longer had the manpower to maintain the records. The resulting information gaps have had a negative influence on this offices findings and assessments. Ironically, when our reports highlight the absence of information, critics of the DoD use these information lapses to argue that the DoD is withholding information. To prevent information losses in the future, the DoD should develop procedures that will ensure retention of records created during special periods (e.g., the Gulf War). These procedures should assign responsibilities, identify which categories of information require retention (e.g., operations, intelligence, maintenance, etc), and establish the procedures and timelines for archiving these documents.
This case is still under investigation. As additional information becomes available, it will be incorporated. If you have records, photographs, recollections, or find errors in the details reported, please call 1-800-497-6261.
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