SUBJECT: Report of the Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Persian Gulf War Health Effects

Attached is the final report of the DSB Task Force on Persian Gulf War Health Effects. The Task Force was established by the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition & Technology) to review information regarding the possible exposure of personnel to chemical and biological weapons agents and other hazardous material during the Gulf War and its aftermath. Specifically, the terms of Reference requested that the Task Force review:

The Task Force heard presentations from a wide range of scientific and medical experts from within and outside the Department of Defense. We also reviewed written information from published and unpublished sources that was pertinent to our terms of reference.

In this report, we confine ourselves to conclusions for which there is substantial supporting evidence. There is a substantial hiatus between the imaginable and the plausible and the proven.

On the order of 1 per thousand or less of the troops deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Storm (ODS) have reported symptoms and complaints for which there is not a conventional medical diagnosis and explanation. Many conjectures could be entertained, and would be hard to prove or disprove, about exposures and consequences at this level of outcome; ODS was not conducted as a controlled clinical experiment for our analytical convenience. It might take many years of further investigation to run every conjecture to ground beyond any remote possibility of doubt. In our proceedings, we relied on the veracity of reports briefed to us by the analysts from the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and other government agencies. In our view, we had unstinting cooperation from all of these; but beyond our examination for face consistency, and an effort to get corroboration from primary records, e.g. log books, we had no resources or procedure to challenge that veracity.

Accordingly, our conclusions are as follows:

Despite the intense external interest in the results of this report, as our report is to the Secretary of Defense, we confine our recommendations to actions within his purview:

In light of the consequences of a perception to the contrary, the Task Force believes that DoD must clearly sustain its historic commitment to providing the highest quality health care to those who serve the nation in their military missions.

Joshua Lederberg

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