TAB I - General Accounting Office Comments
The General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed the interim Al Jubayl case narrative and included its findings in a report entitled, "Gulf War Illnesses: Procedural and Reporting Improvements Are Needed in DoDs Investigative Processes." Based on their review, the GAO recommended that the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses (OSAGWI), which is now the responsibility of the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness, and Military Deployments, revise the narrative to include information regarding the medical problems that some Seabees from NMCB-24 have experienced since their return from the war. The GAOs finding and the Special Assistants response follow.
"Regarding this case narrative about three significant events occurring in the Al Jubayl area during the Persian Gulf War, OSAGWI concluded that the presence of chemical warfare agents was unlikely for one of the events and definitely did not occur in the remaining two. We believe that the available evidence generally supports OSAGWI's assessment, but OSAGWI is still performing work regarding alternate explanations for some events affecting this case. However, we also found that OSAGWI did not include important information in this case narrative regarding the unusually high levels of post-war veterans' complaints of medical symptoms they associated with the incidents involved in this case. Furthermore, OSAGWI did not adequately identify and coordinate some of this information that could potentially provide evidence to help resolve research questions concerning whether there is a correlation between high levels of reported Gulf War illnesses symptoms and duty during the Gulf War at Al Jubayl. We believe that the case narrative is not complete and could be misleading because it does not mention the fact that many members of NMCB-24 have reported unusually high levels of health problems since their service in the Persian Gulf War. We also found that OSAGWI had not coordinated some information developed during this investigation with the Naval Health Research Center for inclusion in its Gulf War illnesses research on Seabees."
We agreed to modify the Al Jubayl case narrative to place the events of this incident in fuller context, to include that some servicemembers stationed at Al Jubayl, especially members of NMCB-24, have reported high levels of health problems. We also agreed to request that the Naval Health Research Center undertake an analytical comparison regarding NMCB-24 and NMCB-40, and that independent reviewers are critical to a thorough and acceptable report on our investigations.