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DoD Reports Latest Findings on Gulf War Illnesses

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 1997 – Pentagon officials said American service members likely weren't exposed to chemical weapons or agents when they occupied Tallil Air Base, Iraq, in 1991.

During the ceasefire at the conclusion of Desert Storm, units of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division occupied the airport, according to the latest case narrative released by DoD Nov. 13. Bernard Rostker, DoD special assistant for Gulf War illnesses, also released three information papers about procedures and equipment used by soldiers to detect chemical agents.

Before their withdrawal from Iraq, U.S. forces destroyed facilities, equipment and munitions at and around Tallil that weren't damaged during air and ground combat operations. Chemical warfare and explosive ordnance disposal personnel first searched the area but found no evidence of chemical weapons or agents, according to the narrative.

The information papers provided information on:

  • Procedures used to protect against nuclear, biological and chemical contamination on the battlefield;
  • Military effectiveness in conducting medical surveillance during Desert Shield/Storm; and
  • The M-8A1 automatic chemical agent alarm and how it was used during the Gulf War.

These information papers and the current, as well as past, case narratives can be reviewed in their entirety at the GulfLINK web site (www.gulflink.osd.mil). The site also contains supporting documentary evidence and transcripts of personal interviews with Gulf War veterans.

The Pentagon uses the case narratives and information papers to encourage an open dialogue with Gulf War veterans who may have more information about possible chemical warfare incidents. Rostker said people with such information should call the Gulf War incident hot line at (800) 472-6719.

Gulf War veterans with health problems can get free screenings through the DoD or Department of Veterans' Affairs health registries. Active duty service members, military retirees and reservists can arrange for a medical exam through the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program at (800) 796-9699. Those no longer affiliated with DoD should apply for an exam through VA's Persian Gulf Registry at (800) 749-8387.

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