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11th Marines: Nov. 5, 1998

Many veterans of the Gulf War have been experiencing a variety of physical symptoms, collectively called Gulf War illnesses. In response to veterans’ concerns, the Department of Defense (DOD) established a task force in June 1995, to investigate incidents and circumstances relating to possible causes. The Investigation and Analysis Directorate (IAD) of the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses assumed responsibility for these investigations on Nov. 12, 1996, and has continued to investigate reports of chemical warfare agent incidents. IAD’s interim report is contained here.

As part of the effort to inform the public about the progress of this effort, DOD is publishing (on the Internet and elsewhere) accounts that may contribute to the discussion of possible causes of illnesses of Gulf War veterans, along with whatever documentary evidence or personal testimony was used in compiling the accounts. The narrative that follows is such an account.


I. Methodology

Read the methodology:


II. Summary

Read the summary:


III. Narrative

A. Background

1. Reason for Case Selection


2. Summary of 11th Marines Organization for the War

3. Tactical Situation

3a. Leading up to the Ground Campaign


3b. During the Ground Campaign


4. 11th Marines and Chemical Protction

5. Iraqi Chemical Weapon Capabilities During the Gulf War


6. Interview Approach


B. 11th Marines NBC Activity

1. Overview


2. Incident Evidence and Assessments


2a. Incident A (#1)


2b. Incident B (#2)


2c. Incident C (#3)


2d. Incident D (#5A)


2e. Incident E (#11A)


2f. Incident F (#5)


2g. Incident G (#8)


2h. Incident H (#8A)

2i. Incident I (#8B)


2j. Incident J (#9)


2k. Incident K (#10)


2l. Incident L (#11)


2m. Incidents M, N, O (#12, 13, 14)


2n. Incident P (#15)


2o. Incident Q (#17)


2p. Incident R (#18)

C. Analysis of Related Issues: In the process of investigating 11th Marines alerts and incidents, investigators studied other relevant factors: 1) the unit’s chemical detection capability in a polluted environment; 2) medical evidence, and 3) any possible special characteristics of the 11th Marines that could affect NBC response.

1. Chemical Detection Capability


1a. Fox NBC Reconnaissance Vehicle


1b. M256 Chemical Agent Detection Kit


1c. Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM)


1d. XM21 Remote Sensing Chemical Agent Alarm (RSCAAL)


1e. M8 Automatic Chemical Agent Alarm System


1f. Understanding of Detection Equipment Limitations


1g. Assessment


2. What Did Medical Records Show?


3. Was Something Unusual About the 11th Marines?


3a. Artillery Pattern of Maneuver


3b. Communications and Situation Awareness


3c. Training and Indoctrination


3d. Assessment


D. Lessons Learned: Part of the mission of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses is working to assure future force protection by recommending changes in equipment, policies, and procedures. While analyzing the evidence on 11th Marines NBC incidents, investigators developed suggestions that may help the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps improve future NBC protection.

1. Procedures and Discipline for NBC Alerts


2. Using NBC Equipment


3. Control of NBC Alerting


4. Documenting NBC Incidents


5. Improving NBC Training


Tab A: Acronyms/Glossary

This tab provides a listing of acronyms found in this report. Additionally, the Glossary section provides definitions for selected technical terms that are not found in common usage.





Tab B: Units Involved

11th Marines


Additional Units


Tab C: Witnesses Interviewed

(By Gulf War Unit):


Tab D: Incidents Not Associated with 11th Marines NBC Threats

This investigation assessed six incidents that might have affected the 11th Marines. Five of these incidents (U-Y below) were first identified in operational reports filed by the Marine Corps with material from 1/12. Subsequent analysis determined that these documents were created by the 3rd Marines, an infantry regiment, with no indication the incidents affected the 11th Marines. Other 3rd Marines NBC-related reports that did mention elements of the 11th Marines were analyzed as part of the appropriate incident discussed in the body of this report. A sixth incident (Z below) derived from reporting of the 11th Marines going to MOPP Level 2 as they approached the first obstacle belt in Kuwait. Investigation revealed that this was a precautionary increase in protective posture and not associated with a perceived NBC threat. These six incidents were set aside as outside the scope of this investigation. Because they were reported to the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses as under early investigation, they are discussed briefly here for completeness.

u. Incident U (#1A)