On February 28, 1991, the day the Gulf War cease-fire order was given, the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) tasked the US Army Central Command (ARCENT) to survey suspected chemical and biological warfare weapons storage sites in their area of operations. They were to survey 17 sites in their area of operations because "these sites were suspected to have possibly contained special munitions prior to the ground war." Figure 1 shows the locations of the suspected sites. The USCENTCOM message included a justification for the survey: "The threat of special munitions may still pose a hazard to Coalition forces and access to suspected chemical/biological sites may offer an opportunity to clarify the extent of the Iraqi CW/BW threat."
Figure 1. Suspected chemical and biological weapons storage sites
The Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC), tasked to oversee the investigation of issues related to illnesses of Gulf War veterans, was especially interested in the USCENTCOM requests for site surveys. The PAC requested an investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In July 1997, the CIAs report concluded that there had been no chemical munitions at any of the 17 ARCENT sites, with the exception of the previously identified sites of Khamisiyah and An Nasiriyah.
The Office of the Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense began its investigation of the USCENTCOM message to ARCENT in late 1997, though preliminary investigation had begun as early as July 1996 by the Persian Gulf War Illnesses Investigation Team (PGIIT). However, we are no longer pursuing the investigation for the following reasons:
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