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Release No: 280-00
May 25, 2000


The Department of Defense released today an update to its case narrative, "U.S. Marine Corps Minefield Breaching," addressing Marine Corps minefield breaching operations at the beginning of the Gulf War. The report, first published in July 1997, examines possible chemical warfare agent exposures to Marine Corps units during minefield breaching operations in the Gulf War. For this update, investigators re-examined existing evidence, conducted additional research, consulted with subject matter experts, and interviewed additional witnesses. Additionally, this update addresses both Gulf War veterans' comments and questions raised by the General Accounting Office.

On Feb. 24, 1991, two Marine Divisions began clearing paths through the Iraqi minefields that stretched across southern Kuwait. From these operations came two accounts of possible chemical warfare agent detections by Fox nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance vehicles, and one account of a possible chemical warfare agent injury to a 2nd Marine Division sergeant. References to these incidents in interviews, unit logs, and in testimony before the U.S. Congress and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses led to an investigation and interim report.

Based upon evidence provided by Fox vehicle experts, medical experts, and witness accounts, the revised report finds the presence of chemical warfare agents in the specific minefield breaching lanes traversed by the Fox vehicles as "unlikely."

Case narratives examine incidents during the Gulf War that might have involved chemical warfare agents. They are part of DoD's efforts to inform the public about its investigations into the nature and possible causes for the illnesses experienced by some Gulf War veterans.

This narrative, and all other publications of the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, is posted on the GulfLINK website at http://www.gulflink.osd.mil .

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