Presidential Advisory Committee
hearings focus on chemical incidents
during the Gulf War

Charleston, South Carolina - May 7, 1997 (GulfLINK) The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses (OSAGWI) recently testified before the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses. Responding to the PAC's queries, the Investigation and Analysis Directorate (IAD) provided testimony centered on the progress made on several cases currently being investigated, including: the Marine Corps breaching operation, Kuwaiti Girls' School, Camp Monterey, Fox vehicle tapes from Edgewood, mustard gas exposure, and Czech/French detections.

All of these cases are linked to the Fox reconnaissance vehicle and the M256 Test Kit's capabilities for measuring foreign chemical substances. Testimony included an overview of the specific purpose of the Fox vehicle and its multiple mode testing capabilities. Reported detections from the Fox vehicles are currently being investigated within the context of the detection and analysis system built into the Fox vehicles.

Experts from the Army's Chemical and Biological Defense Command at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland have conceded that although the Fox vehicle is the military's best chemical detection device, it operated under a number of conditions that made it difficult for the vehicle to detect low levels of chemicals on the battlefield with complete accuracy.

In its air monitor mode, the Fox vehicle can detect substances but may alert to false substances. So, the operator must switch to the surface-low method for a more accurate measurement, then follow this up with a spectrum analysis from which chemical agent comparisons can be made.

Deputy Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses Dale Vesser led the team which presented all of the current information on these cases to the PAC. Joining him on the panel were Anne Rathmell Davis, director of IAD, Army Lt. Col. Dee Dotson Morris, deputy director of IAD, and Lt. Col. Art Nalls, chief of the Marine Corps Chemical Biological Warfare Agents Division.

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses is planning another hearing on June 24 in Memphis, during which the investigation of the chemical weapons detection incidents will be a major topic.