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DoD Airs Case Study on Gulf War Investigation

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 1997 – The first DoD case narrative on Gulf War illnesses, released Feb. 25, describes U.S. military destruction of Iraqi munitions after the war. It details subsequent U. N. Special Commission inspections of the weapons storage site at Khamisiyah, Iraq, which revealed the presence of chemical weapons, and the ongoing public inquiry.

Bernard Rostker, DoD special assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, said at a Feb. 25 news conference the narratives will help DoD keep the public informed of its efforts to better understand the nature and causes of Gulf War illnesses.

"This ... and future narratives are not intended as final reports," Rostker said. "This is an interim report about what we currently know about Khamisiyah." Rostker said this first and future case narratives about Gulf War issues and events would be posted to the "Gulf Link" Internet site at http://www.dtic.mil/GulfLink/ as they are completed.

Besides keeping the public informed, Rostker hopes the narratives will encourage Gulf War veterans to come forth with any more information to help the investigation. The web site boldly displays the Gulf War incident hot line: (800) 472-6719.

According to the narrative, Army units occupied Khamisiyah immediately after the war ended. Engineer and demolition units destroyed large quantities of munitions on March 4 and 10, 1991. They also set off numerous smaller explosions to destroy small caches of munitions and to test techniques for destroying bunkers, the report notes. It further states the demolition operations continued in the Khamisiyah area through most of April 1991.

Subsequent inspections by the U.N. Special Commission identified the presence of rockets containing the chemical agents sarin and cyclosarin at the site. However, the U.S. intelligence community and DoD didn't determine conclusively until spring 1996 that "one of these destroyed bunkers contained chemical weapons." Since that announcement at a June 21, 1996, DoD news briefing, the Pentagon's investigation has continually escalated.

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