All personnel involved in the testing of the tank at the Kuwaiti Girls' School performed their duties in an exemplary manner. UK and US forces completed proper planning and coordination; used all field equipment properly; employed proper technical resources; and, following proper NATO procedures, took samples and transported them for laboratory analysis in accordance with standard procedures.
The equipment used by the UK and US forces operated as designed. The Fox did not have a spectrum for nitric acid in its library, and thus could not positively identify the substance as such. It is the policy of both the UK and US militaries to set chemical weapons detector parameters so as to operate on the side of caution, i.e., to accept a false positive response, rather than run the risk that a genuine chemical warfare agent might be overlooked. From the safety perspective, it is preferable to have a small number of false positives, which cause soldiers to take additional protective measures, rather than risk injury to personnel. This incident was clearly a case in point. While nitric acid is not a chemical warfare agent, it poses a serious health hazard to anyone in contact with it. A description of inhibited red fuming nitric acid, which we believe was in the tank, and its related health hazards is at Tab D.
Several key factors prevented a rapid inquiry and assessment of these events. The sensitive nature of the testing limited distribution of pertinent information. This meant that some individuals ended their involvement with limited information and unanswered questions about the nature of the tank's contents. A summary of individuals' knowledge regarding the Kuwaiti Girls' School is at Tab F. The numerous and varied groups having contact with the tank further hindered investigations, until we determined the relationship of the various operations. Finally, inconsistencies in reporting made an early assessment impossible. We interviewed some individuals several times and re-analyzed documents until we developed a more complete picture of events at the school from March 1991 until November 1991. A breakout of events and those involved is at Tab G. The key lessons learned by the US DoD from this investigation are at Tab K.
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