Chemical-Biological Defense: U.S. Military Policies and Decisions in the Gulf War

By Albert J.Mauroni | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

Agent Orange Revisited?

I never received, before, during or after hostilities, any report of Iraqi use of chemical weapons, nor the discovery or destruction of Iraqi chemical weapons. I feel sure that had such events knowingly occurred, I would have received reports since this was the highest intelligence priority in my command.

—General (Ret.) H. Norman Schwarzkopf, January 1997

About a year and a half following the end of the war, Persian Gulf veterans began coming forward in increasing numbers with reports of various afflictions. These afflictions were not limited to US active duty soldiers; they appeared in reservists and National Guardsmen, government civilians, and even British and Canadian soldiers. The wide variety of symptoms, appearing in individuals scattered across the theater, appeared to have no rhyme or reason. At first, the lack of an identified source of the problems from the Gulf War caused Veteran's Administration (VA) hospitals to resist treatment of the unknown afflictions until it was positively identified. Regulations governing VA treatment require that the agency refuse disability benefits to veterans with conditions that had not been diagnosed. The main issue was deciphering what illnesses have been caused naturally in the United States, as opposed to illnesses or casualties caused during combat operations in the Gulf, not to mention correctly diagnosing the illnesses.

Cries of betrayal, linking this treatment to that suffered by Agent Orange veterans, quickly got action from military and political leaders, who understood the need to avoid the perception of delaying the treatment of unexplained ailments in groups of returning veterans. Both the House and Senate put forth Persian Gulf Syndrome Compensation Bills, but differences over whether or not the VA had the authority to issue the disability benefits created bureaucratic delays in committees trying to resolve differences between the two bills. Medical agencies from all government agencies began researching the possible causes behind the strange symptoms. This search included over thirty government studies during the next year.

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Chemical-Biological Defense: U.S. Military Policies and Decisions in the Gulf War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Chapter 1 - Incidents in the Gulf 1
  • Chapter 2 - Deployment to the Desert 19
  • Chapter 3 - Building Up the Defense 43
  • Chapter 4 - Move to the Offense 61
  • Chapter 5 - Tensions Rise in the Gulf 75
  • Chapter 6 - Operation Desert Storm Begins 91
  • Chapter 7 - “…and Then We Are Going to Kill It” 109
  • Chapter 8 - After-Action Report 129
  • Chapter 9 - Agent Orange Revisited? 151
  • Chapter 10 - Conclusion 169
  • Appendix A 187
  • Appendix B 191
  • Appendix C 201
  • Notes 209
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 231
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