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Gulf War Syndrome as an Intelligence Question

Filename:0181pgv.00d
Subject: Gulf War Syndrome as an Intelligence Question
[   (b)(6)   ]

In trying to resolve recent reports of unexplained medical 
problems suffered by Gulf War veterans, it has been speculated 
that these problems might be due to exposure to chemical or 
biological warfare agents (CBW) during the War. Based on available 
information, it is DIA's assessment that CBW was not used during 
the Gulf War, and that information available does not support the 
conclusion that Coalition troops were exposed to air borne plumes 
of CBW agents caused by bombing Iraqi CBW targets.

DETAILS

Reliable information obtained since the war argues strongly that 
there was no Iraqi intent to use CBW against Coalition Forces. The 
fear of massive retaliation and the belief that the coalition was 
far better prepared than Iraq to fight in a CBW environment were 
the most likely primary deterrents. Even if Iraq intended to use 
CBW weapons against the Coalition, its ability to deliver them was 
largely eliminated by the air campaign and pace of the ground war.

Immediately after the war, a massive effort to collect and destroy 
remaining Iraqi equipment throughout occupied Iraq and Kuwait 
began. Not one chemical or biological munition, nor any bulk 
agent, has been found in occupied Iraq or Kuwait as a result of 
that effort. Moreover, the primary U.S. contractor for unexploded 
ordinance removal in Kuwait stated recently that, to date, the 
company had discovered and removed more than 15,000 tons of all 
types of ordinance --including 350,000 mines -- and found no CBW 
weapons. Even if Iraq moved CBW munitions into Kuwait -- a 
judgement supported by very little reliable evidence - it is 
difficult to believe that under the most intensive air bombardment 
in history, Iraq was able to move these munitions out of Kuwait, 
undetected, and without leaving a trace. Since no munitions have 
been found, we judge they were never in the KTO.

CBW agents are designed to kill or injure quickly, and in large 
numbers. US medical personnel stationed in the Gulf were 
especially watchful for symptoms associated with CBW agents. 
During the entire Persian Gulf crisis not one person, military or 
civilian, was treated, hospitalized or died as a result of CBW 
exposure. If CBW had been used, even on a limited basis, this most 
certainly would not have been the case.

An army private who received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart 
after experiencing burns while searching bunkers is the only known 
injury with symptoms similar to CBW exposure. However, advanced 
laboratory analysis of his flak jacket, shirt, the swab used to 
clean his wound, subsequent urinalysis, and a subsequent 
reexamination of the bunker, all cast considerable doubt that the 
burns were the result of contact with a CW agent.

There were no confirmed CBW agent detections during the entire 
crisis. Standard operating procedure to determine the presence of 
CW agents requires a two step process involving l) detection and 
2) confirmation. In the detection phase, automatic detectors alert 
troops by sounding alarms. Because the equipment is very sensitive 
by design, false alarms are often registered. This was the case 
during the Gulf War. Despite the large number of initial 
detections, however, the second step, confirmation, using 
equipment and techniques available at the platoon level, never 
resulted in a single confirmation of CBW during the Gulf War. If a 
real confirmation had been made, standard operating procedures 
require certain defensive tactics, decontamination efforts, 
medical responses, and follow-up reports, all of which would be 
mentioned in official logs. Our investigation shows none of this 
to have occurred in any case.

In addition to all the unconfirmed detections investigated and 
registered as false alarms, a variety of soil, liquid and air 
samples suspected of containing CW agents were analyzed at state-
of-the-art labs in the U.S. and UK. These samples were taken 
before, during and after the war from suspected "hot" areas in 
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. The results from all samples tested 
were negative. Likewise, air samples checking for the presence of 
Biological Weapons agents (BW) were continuously taken and 
analyzed at state-of-the-art labs. As with the CW samples, all 
tests for BW agents were negative.

Only one set of data, the highly publicized Czech reports of CW 
detections on 19 and 24 January 1991, appears to be credible. The 
U.S. cannot independently verify the Czech detections, but places 
a measure of confidence in their findings, [      (b)(1) sec 
1.3(a)(4)    ]. On the 24th, after being notified by Saudi troops, 
the Czechs found what appeared to be a one square meter wet spot 
of Mustard agent, origin unknown, in the desert near King Khalid 
Military City. There was absolutely no evidence of Iraqi military 
activity in the vicinity. On the l9th, the Czechs reported 
detection of extremely low levels of nerve agent in very localized 
areas near Hafar Al Batin. Again, there was no evidence whatever 
of Iraqi military activity. According to the Czechs, the nerve 
agent detected on 19 January was present for less than forty 
minutes. It is noteworthy that no other units in the area detected 
the nerve agent.

A popular theory, which appears at first to be borne out by the 
Czech detection, suggests the cause of Gulf War Syndrome to be 
exposure of our troops to low, i.e. undetectable, levels of CW 
which resulted from released agents when Coalition Forces bombed 
Iraqi targets. This, however, would appear quite unlikely for 
several reasons. The scientific Law of Diffusion states that any 
gas or liquid naturally moves from areas of greater to lesser 
concentration. Consequently, if, in one area or time, the 
concentration of CW is low -- as in the Czech detection -- at some 
other area or previous time the concentration must have been high.

Using the Czech detections as an example, we estimate that under 
ideal conditions, it would require 80 tons of nerve agent to be 
instantaneously released from the closest bombed CW target, An 
Nasiriyah -- 140 miles north of Hafar Al Batin -- in order to 
register at the low levels detected by the Czechs. Such an 80 ton 
release of nerve agent -- one drop of which is considered a lethal 
dose -- in Iraq would have resulted in an area of certain death or 
casualty that covers hundreds of square miles. No evidence of such 
widespread death or casualty exists. Moreover, detection equipment 
throughout the area would have alarmed and additional 
confirmations would have been expected. None of this happened.

This example was chosen because it uses as reference points one of 
the three most southern Iraqi CBW targets and one of the most 
northern held Coalition positions before the ground war. When one 
considers that cases of Gulf War Syndrome have been reported by 
soldiers stationed all over the Saudi Arabian peninsula, and that 
the vast majority of CBW targets were much farther north than 
Nasiriyah, it quickly becomes apparent that the lack of evidence 
of massive Iraqi military and civilian deaths associated with 
releases from bombed Iraqi CBW targets, argues very strongly 
against the theory that coalition soldiers were exposed to 
airborne CBW agents released from bombed Iraqi CBW targets 
literally hundreds of miles away.

More to the point, even if there were exposures of the above type, 
we would expect to see similar cases of Gulf War Syndrome 
throughout the Saudi and Kuwaiti civilian population. Likewise, we 
would expect the governments of both those nations to be more than 
willing to lay the blame for such illness at the feet of the 
Iraqis. Senior DoD officials, in meetings arranged and attended by 
State Department representatives queried a myriad of Saudi and 
Kuwaiti Health, Defense and other government officials on this 
issue. The DoD delegation was told by all parties that no Saudi or 
Kuwaiti military or civilians experienced any symptoms that could 
be characterized as Gulf War Syndrome.

In addition to the Law of Diffusion, weather conditions further 
argue against the theory. Of the 43 days of the war (17 Jan - 28 
Feb), at least 18 days (42%) had winds blowing from the south. 
Also, it rained at least 12 days (28%) during the war. These 
physical facts render the possibility that airborne plumes of CBW 
agents permeated the Saudi Arabian peninsula nearly, if not 
completely, negligible.

COMMENT

Ironically, the Czech detections pose an intelligence mystery of 
their own: if they are accepted as valid, what was their source? 
The low concentration and short duration of the detection on the 
l9th, the extremely localized area affected, the meteorological 
conditions, the absence of other detections by other units nearby, 
the topography of the area, and the fact that no military action 
took place anywhere near the area, all suggest a SINGLE release of 
a very small amount of agent. Regarding the wet spot of mustard 
agent encountered by the Czechs on the 24th, its origins are 
equally mysterious. At this juncture, the most logical 
explanations for either incident would seem to be possible live 
agent tests of the Czech equipment, or possible accidents 
involving chemical agents among Coalition Forces. There is a 
paucity of evidence to prove either explanation, however, and we 
are unlikely, [   (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4)   ] to acquire any 
additional information.

CONCLUSION

The preponderance of information argues strongly that Iraq did not 
use CBW during the Gulf War. Likewise, the preponderance of 
information argues that there was no exposure of our troops to CBW 
released from bombed Iraqi targets. Although the Czech CBW 
detections may well be valid and are still unexplained, it seems 
extremely doubtful if not impossible that they have any relation 
to the cause of Gulf War Syndrome. Our conclusion then is that it 
is safe to rule out chemical and biological agents as a possible 
cause of Gulf War Syndrome.
 



 

 



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