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Biological Warfare and Detection Capabilities

Q. Were 1990-1991 Gulf War veterans exposed to biological agents?

A. We have no evidence that biological weapons were used during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. In addition we have not found any reports of verified biological agent detections nor are we aware of anyone, soldier or civilian, who has reported experiencing symptoms consistent with exposure to a biological agent.

To date, there is also no evidence that any warfareagents were released as a result of coalition bombings during the air war campaign, January 17, 1991 through February 23, 1991

Q. What were the U.S. capabilities for detecting biological agents?

A. During the 1990-1991 Gulf War we deployed 17 research and development systems to the Gulf region to monitor the air for suspected Iraqi biological warfare (BW) agents. Twelve of the 17 systems were mobile, and consisted of the Army's XM-2 high volume air samplers and Sensitive Membrane Antigen Rapid Test (SMART) identification tickets. The mobile systems moved across northeast Saudi Arabia to monitor for Iraqi BW agent attacks. The remaining five systems were employed in a static mode at critical logistics facilities and consisted of a modified commercial aerosol sampler with SMART tickets. The mobile units were mounted on HUMVEES and on Isuzu Troopers. These XM-2 air samplers had inherent limitations. They were too big and heavy, had low reliability and an unacceptable false alarm rate. Units that deployed with these systems included personnel from the Edgewood Research Development Engineering Center in mid-Jan 91 and elements of the 9th CM Co, an active component unit from Fort Lewis arrived a few weeks later. This unit was deactivated in Feb 94.

Detections from these systems included the following:

Two thousand anthrax and botulinum SMART tickets were used during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Less than 1% of these gave a positive reading at the respective sampling points. Confirmatory tests of the samples at the Navy's Forward Deployed Medical Diagnostic Lab indicated that all samples were free of suspected BW agent.

Since the 1990-1991 Gulf War we have pursued an aggressive program to field a robust detection system that will protect our forces against a wide spectrum of BW threats. We have fielded two new systems and are developing a third.

In December 1996, the Joint Program Office for Biological Defense (JPO-BD) awarded a contract for the engineering and manufacturing development of the Joint Biological Point Detection System (JBPDS); the next generation system with an enhanced, common biological detection suite that will be employed on all four services' platforms (i.e., Army and Marine Corps HUMVEESs, Navy ships and AF bases).

In June 1995 the Army had one platoon of the 11th Chemical Company at Fort McClellan, Alabama, equipped with the Biological Integrated Detection System (BIDS). On 16 September 1996, the Army activated its first biological detection company, the 310th Chemical Company (Reserve Component) at Fort McClellan. This company is equipped with 38 HMMWV-mounted BIDS and three Long Range Biological Standoff Detection Systems (LR-BSDS). These are enough systems to provide Corps-size coverage.

In September 1994 we fielded the Navy's Interim Biological Agent Detector (IBAD) aboard the USS LaSalle. Nine more IBADS have been deployed with the fleet since then. The Navy will have a total of 25 systems deployed by the end of September 1997.

Joint Biological Point Detection Systems

Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) Detection site no longer available

Presidential Advisory Committee Interim Report

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