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Rostker Heads Expanded DoD Investigation of Gulf War

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 1996 – Bernard Rostker, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, will guide DoD's investigation of illnesses reported by Gulf War veterans.

Deputy Defense Secretary John White appointed Rostker Oct. 2 to head a new Persian Gulf Illness Action Team. Officials said the team is reassessing investigations of specific incidents, document review and declassification, clinical evaluations and DoDsponsored medical research.

Formation of the action team comes on the heels of new evidence U.S. troops may have been accidentally exposed to toxic chemicals when U.S. soldiers blew up munitions at Khamisiyah, Iraq, in March 1991. The CIA is working on a computer model of the destruction of chemical weapons at the ammunition storage facility. Once the model is completed, DoD will incorporate data of troop locations to determine the number of American troops possibly exposed.

In addition to the Rostker appointment, White asked the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate how DoD has handled the problem thus far. The organization will review DoD's efforts and propose a longterm strategy for protecting the health of service members deployed to unfamiliar environments.

Rostker holds a master's degree and doctorate in economics from Syracuse (N.Y.) University, and has held several defense and Navy posts. While working with the Rand Corp., he directed an Air Force personnel studies program in the early 1970s and helped establish a new Army studies and analysis center in the mid1980s. As director of the Selective Service, 19791981, he guided the first mass selective service registration since World War II.

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