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News Release


Release No: 380-99
August 13, 1999


The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses (OSAGWI) released today an information paper on the M256-series chemical agent detector kit. This latest OSAGWI release provides a basic understanding of the capabilities, limitations and operating procedures of the detector.

The M256 kit is a manually operated chemical agent detector. It is not an alarm; it is a tool used after soldiers have received other warnings about the possible presence of chemical warfare agents, and have responded by putting on their chemical protective clothing. Proper use of the M256 enables commanders to determine if chemical warfare agents are present or individuals can reduce their protective posture.

The kit is a key component of chemical warfare agent defensive measures. Issued at the squad level, the M256 kit was first used in 1978, and later modified to improve the sensitivity of its nerve-agent-detection capability.

This information paper complements case narratives that reflect the use of M256 kits, particularly a case narrative concerning positive M256 kit readings during the Gulf War. The information paper being released today describes the kit's use and limitations, discusses observations from the Gulf War, and identifies some of the lessons learned.

This paper, as well as six other information papers, 14 case narratives and two environmental exposure reports, all relating to the Gulf War, are posted on DoD's website, GulfLINK (http://www.gulflink.osd.mil).

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