The DOD requires a common framework for our investigations and assessments of chemical warfare agent incident reports, so we turned to the United Nations and the international community which had experience concerning chemical weapons, e.g. the United Nations’ investigation of the use of chemical weapons during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Because the modern battlefield is complex, the international community developed investigation and validation protocols to provide objective procedures for possible chemical weapons incidents. The standard that we are using is based on these international protocols and guidelines that includes:

While the DOD methodology for investigating chemical incidents (Figure 1) is based on these protocols, the passage of time since the Gulf War makes it difficult to obtain certain types of documentary evidence, and physical evidence often was not collected at the time of an event. Therefore, we cannot apply a rigid template to all incidents, and each investigation must be tailored to its unique circumstances. Accordingly, we designed our methodology to provide a thorough, investigative process to define the circumstances of each incident and determine what happened. The major efforts in our methodology are:

A case usually starts with a report of a possible chemical incident, usually from a veteran. To substantiate the circumstances surrounding an incident, the investigator searches for documentation from operational, intelligence, and environmental logs. This focuses the investigation on a specific time, date, and location, clarifies the conditions under which the incident occurred, and determines whether there is "hard," as well as anecdotal evidence. Alarms

Figure 19. Chemical Incident Investigation Methodology

alone are not considered to be certain evidence of chemical agent presence, nor is a single individual’s observation sufficient to validate a chemical agent presence. Additionally, the investigator looks for physical evidence that might indicate that chemical agents were present in the vicinity of the incident, including samples (or the results of analyses of samples) collected at the time of the incident.

The investigator searches the medical records to determine if personnel were injured as a result of the incident. Deaths, injuries, sicknesses, etc. near the time and location of an incident may be telling. Medical experts should provide information about alleged chemical casualties.

Interviews of incident victims (or direct observers) are conducted. First-hand witnesses provide valuable insight into the conditions surrounding the incident and the mind-set of the personnel involved, and are particularly important if physical evidence is lacking. NBC officers or personnel trained in chemical testing, confirmation, and reporting are interviewed to identify the unit’s response, the tests that were run, the injuries sustained, and the reports submitted. Commanders are contacted to ascertain what they knew, what decisions they made concerning the events surrounding the incident, and their assessment of the incident. Where appropriate, subject matter experts also provide opinions on the capabilities, limitations, and operation of technical equipment, and submit their evaluations of selected topics of interest.

Additionally, the investigator contacts agencies and organizations that may be able to provide additional clarifying information about the case. These would include, but not be limited to:

| First Page | Prev Page | Next Page |