OPERATIONAL RECORDS ON GULFLINK
Operational Records OverviewOperational records displayed on GulfLINK include those documents created or received by US military units in the course of their planning and conduct of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM which could help shed light on Persian Gulf War veterans� illnesses. We call these health-related documents. Each of the four military services as well as US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff has provided health-related documents from its holdings. Pertinent intelligence records are provided elsewhere in GulfLINK by the producing intelligence agencies.
In cases where only part of a document may be considered to be health-related, we have posted the entire document. Where one discrete chapter, annex, or section of a larger document is health-related, we have posted only that section. In each case we have attempted to provide health-related information within the context of the overall document.
Non-Operational Information in Operational DocumentsMany operational documents contain classified or sensitive information provided by intelligence agencies, foreign governments, or other organizations outside the Department of Defense. Operational records declassifiers must obtain approval to release such information from the organization which generated it. To speed the release of pertinent information, we have referred only health-related information to other organizations for their review. We have released or withheld that information based on their determinations and applied the appropriate exemption codes. We have withheld non-health-related information generated by other organizations and applied no exemption codes. We have also withheld personal information in accordance with Privacy Act requirements.
US CENTCOM and JCS RecordsJCS records posted on GulfLINK include situation updates and messages. CENTCOM records include briefings, planning documents, and messages similar in format to materials submitted by subordinate headquarters. Both collections address issues at a joint level rather than the single service focus of the other materials displayed on GulfLINK.
Army RecordsMost of the records maintained by the deployed units consist of daily logs and supporting message files from the various unit staff and headquarters elements. The commands recorded incoming and outgoing message traffic in those logs, as well as significant events reported to that headquarters. The corps or division operations sections (G3) maintained separate logs in the Forward, Main, and Rear Command Posts. Other staff sections such as Personnel (G1), Logistics (G4), and Chemical/NBC may also have kept separate logs. We have included supporting health-related situation reports, spot reports, and messages when available. And some units simply kept better records than others, while some units kept no permanent records at all.
The operational records also include a wide variety of planning documents from the units involved. Those are primarily Operations Plans and Orders for the various phases of Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM--deployment, training, initiation of hostilities, ground offensive, and redeployment. Most units also generated after action reports, formal or informal, which we have included in this collection when appropriate. US Army units submitted reports of lessons learned to The Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) using a formatted report (JULLS-Joint Universal Lessons Learned System).
All military units require staff sections routinely to submit status reports to higher headquarters. S-1/G-1 sections submitted daily and weekly personnel status reports. The operations sections (S-3/G-3) submitted a number of reports relating to the operational status of equipment, training, and readiness. S-4/G-4 sections also submitted a number of reports related to equipment availability, readiness and sustainment. In many cases, unit commanders submitted a daily or weekly unit status or situation report summarizing information across the entire unit.
Finally, many of the units submitted collections of documents best described as functional files. Those files contain a wide range of messages, information papers, and reference material relating to particular subjects of interest.
Navy RecordsThe US Navy Gulf War Collection contains health-related operational records from the diverse technical components of modern naval warfare. Records from this period consist of: Operating Plans, Command Histories, Message Traffic and General Operational Reports such as Situation Reports, Operational Summaries, After Action Reports, Mission Reports, and Patrol and Reconnaissance Reports.
Headquarters level staffs included: Commander, US Naval Forces Central Command, Commander Seventh Fleet, Cruiser-Destroyer Groups, and Amphibious and Destroyer Squadrons. Other units consisted of ships, aircraft squadrons, Seabee construction forces, and various smaller units. Also daily situation reports were prepared at the Chief of Naval Operations level.
Other miscellaneous records include: Watch Logs
Air Force RecordsThe US Air Force Gulf War collection includes Battle Damage Assessment reports that contain pilot and imagery assessment of target damage; medical documentation including reports, briefings, reviews and summaries; commander and unit situation reports; unit histories and contingency historical reports; point papers; policy messages; operational advisories; chemical warfare defense equipment status reports; duty logs; and personnel movement reports (Palace Blitz) containing information concerning deployment of specific individuals, units and equipment.
Marine Corps RecordsThe US Marine Corps Gulf War Collection contains health-related operational records from this multi-faceted elite fighting force. Some are recurring reports, which cover a finite period of time, while others are submitted as events transpire, and at the conclusion of an operation.
Operational records from this period include: log books, situation reports, operational orders, frag orders, misc. message traffic, and command chronologies, etc. The command chronologies provide an excellent record of a unit's operations during a specific period, providing tables of organization, a detailed narrative, and a sequential timeline of significant events.
Otherwise, the records of the US Marine Corps resemble those of similar US Army units, and the records of the air wings approximate those submitted by corresponding US Air Force and US Navy air wings.
How to Use the CollectionMany documents present raw information not yet verified, analyzed, or corroborated. Often spot reports submitted to a unit headquarters and recorded in the log were later determined to be false or misleading. Verification, correction, or instructions to disregard may not have been entered into the log or may appear in other parts of the collection. Also, some duty logs contain exercise message traffic that is not clearly labeled as such. We have tried to identify such messages with the annotation �Exercise� entered onto the attached textual index. Researchers must take care not to accept individual entries at face value, but rather develop corroborating evidence from the overall body of records.
Quality of Health-Related Records CollectionMost of the operational documents appearing on GulfLINK were scanned from paper copies. Where available, we have scanned the original copy. Some of those originals are torn, faded, or printed on semi-transparent paper that produces a poor quality image when scanned. In other cases only a photocopy, sometimes of poor quality, was available for scanning. In all cases we have reproduced the best copy readily available. Due to our use of image enhancement hardware and software most images are actually of better quality and are more readable than the original papers from which they were scanned.
We sent good quality typeset documents through an optical character recognition (OCR) process to create a searchable text file. The resultant text files allow researchers to search or edit the text. While some lesser quality OCR texts may appear to be gibberish, the �fuzzy logic� employed by many search engines will still identify useful words or character strings within the document. Veterans and researchers can then select the image to view the document in its original format.
We did not OCR handwritten documents or those typeset documents that are not clearly legible. Those documents can be viewed as images. The Army, Navy, and Marines manually indexed these non-OCRed documents according to a list of health-related keywords. Those indexes may also respond to searches based upon unit identification, folder headings, and document subject lines as entered on the accompanying index field. The Air Force initially retyped all documents which would not OCR. However, due to manpower and time constraints they subsequently limited retyping to only health-related sections of poor quality/non-OCRable documents. They did not correct original misspellings or typographical errors.
Cross Reference IndexWe have provided a cross reference index of associated terms appearing in our records on GulfLINK.