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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 611-01
December 03, 2001

ASSESSMENTS IN TWO GULF WAR-RELATED REPORTS REMAIN UNCHANGED

The Department of Defense released today two final Gulf War-related reports. No new information has been discovered to change the original assessments in either "Reported Chemical Warfare Agent Exposure in the 2d Reconnaissance Battalion" or "The Gulf War Air Campaign - Possible Chemical Warfare Agent Release at Al Muthanna, Feb. 8, 1991" case narrative.

The "Reported Chemical Warfare Agent Exposure in the 2d Reconnaissance Battalion" report, published May 31, 2001, focused on a group of Marines who reported experiencing injuries that originally appeared indicative of chemical warfare agent exposure. Investigators working for the special assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness and Military Deployments, concluded the Marines involved in this incident were unlikely to have been exposed to chemical warfare agents.

In March 2001, investigators concluded that U.S. servicemembers definitely were not exposed to chemical warfare agents resulting from coalition air attacks on munitions bunkers at the Al Muthanna chemical weapons storage site in Iraq. Al Muthanna was the nucleus of Iraq's entire chemical warfare program and a strategic target. After the Gulf War, Iraq declared that coalition air attacks had destroyed sarin-filled 122mm artillery rockets stored in one bunker at Al Muthanna. Sarin is a nerve agent

Computer modeling of the hazard area created by the estimated 10 kilograms of escaped sarin indicated a maximum downwind hazard extending no further than 50 kilometers southeast of Al Muthanna. According to records cited in the report, U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia were no closer than 412 kilometers from Al Muthanna and 388 kilometers south of the nearest point of the downwind hazard area. In addition, no U.S. special operations forces were in the area. The report concludes there was no danger to U.S. servicemembers.

Case narratives examine Gulf War incidents 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. These narratives are posted on the GulfLINK Web site at http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/2d_recon_i/ and http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/al_muth_ii/ .

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