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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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