DEAD ANIMALS DURING THE GULF
A review of the circumstances in
which UK forces
reported the presence of groups of dead animals
in theatre during Operation GRANBY in 1990/91
1. It has been widely reported by coalition troops who took part in
land operations during the Gulf conflict in 1990/91 that they sometimes came across groups
of animal corpses. This has led to suggestions that the presence of these dead animals has
been overlooked in the assessments made by the UK and other governments that there is no
confirmed evidence that Iraq used chemical or biological weapons (CBW) during the Gulf
conflict. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has now reviewed the available information from
MOD sources relating to the presence of dead animals in theatre during Op GRANBY.
2. This paper sets out how the further research into this subject
was conducted and identifies both specific reports and general accounts of dead animals
seen during the Gulf conflict. It has a narrowly focused scope, based on a search for any
material which referred specifically to dead animals. More wide ranging work on alleged
CBW detections during the Gulf conflict is still in progress (see below).
3. In order to complete this review of MOD information concerning
dead animals, three approaches were adopted. First, a trawl was conducted of contemporary
papers relating to Op GRANBY to identify any substantive references to dead animals. These
were followed up by searching for related paperwork or reports and by interviewing
personnel who were involved. Second, in so far as this was not already covered, contact
was made with personnel who might be expected to have been aware of any reports relating
to dead animals by virtue of their posts at the time. Finally, questionnaires were sent to
a random selection of 500 serving Gulf veterans to ask whether they had seen or had any
knowledge of dead animals in the Gulf, or whether they had heard of, or been involved in,
samples being taken for analysis. One pre-existing suggestion relating to animal samples
was also followed up.
4. Overall, the review found that many of those involved in Op
GRANBY remembered seeing dead animals, but could provide no further details. Only a small
number of incidents involving dead animals were specifically mentioned in contemporary
5. The MOD is reviewing a number of specific events during the Gulf
War in response to uncorroborated reports from British veterans that these may have
involved exposure to CBW. The results of this work will be made public as each stage is
completed. The first of these reviews, concerning the Kuwaiti Girls School, was published
on 19 March 1998.
6. The second review in this category is now underway. This is
focusing on alleged chemical warfare agent detections in the Eastern Province of Saudi
Arabia in late January 1991. The third review, which will look specifically at possible
biological warfare agent detections and the activities of 1 Field Laboratory Unit, will
follow. It is intended that these reviews should provide a comprehensive account of UK
activity during Op GRANBY concerning these subjects.
7. The current review arose from a commitment given in 1997 to see
if the Ministry of Defence had any information concerning dead animals during the Gulf
conflict. Since that time MOD has also begun to carry out broader based reviews into
alleged CW and BW detections during Op GRANBY, which will look in more detail at many
matters which are touched upon below when dealing with the specific issue of dead animals.
In view of the continuing interest in this subject, this paper sets out what is known
about dead animals without waiting for those more general reviews of CBW issues to be
concluded. However, ultimately it will need to be seen in the light of that wider work.
8. On 5 March 1997, the then Under Secretary of State for Defence,
Earl Howe, made a statement in the House of Lords concerning written answers given to the
Countess of Mar in June and July 1996 about dead animals found in the Gulf, which he now
believed to be incorrect. He said:
"My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to make a
On Thursday of last week I was telephoned in the House by a
journalist who told me that his inquiries had led him to believe that my Written Answers
to the noble Countess, Lady Mar, on 4th June and 5th July last year about the deaths of
animals during the Gulf War were incorrect. I immediately set in hand an investigation.
Early yesterday evening I received departmental advice that there is now considerable
doubt about the accuracy of my Answers. This is a serious matter about which I feel it
right to inform the House at the earliest opportunity. I shall report to the House as soon
as the full facts are clear."
9. Earl Howe subsequently wrote to the Countess of Mar to explain
how this error occurred and undertook to have further research conducted by the Department
for information relevant to this subject. The text of the letter was as follows:
"When we met today I promised to write to you setting out the
explanation for the mistakes made in answering two of the Parliamentary Questions you
asked last June and July.
Your questions essentially related to the cause of death of large
numbers of camels, sheep and goats which you said had been found during and after the Gulf
War, and whether they had died as a result of chemical weapons exposure. These questions
were passed to the Defence Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) Defence Centre at
Winterbourne Gunner for advice. The staff could not track down anyone with any knowledge
of the events you described and eventually sought advice from a British Army veterinary
officer who had served in the Gulf.
This officer had been employed principally on nonveterinary
duties but had been asked by the Kuwaitis to attend to sick animals when he reached Kuwait
at the end of the war. In a telephone conversation with the Defence NBC Centre, he gave an
account of the condition of animals he treated in Kuwait, including some dairy cattle
suffering from the effects of starvation which appeared to have developed mouth
ulcerations as a result of licking car batteries abandoned within their enclosure. He
contacted the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine in Edinburgh to check whether he
might be overlooking a tropical disease, and he also sent them nasal swabs from the
He was given advice and information by the Edinburgh Centre but he
never received any acknowledgement of receipt, or the results of any analysis in respect
of the samples. In his experience it was normal practice in such circumstances for results
to be returned only if a disease had been identified. Meanwhile, he gave conventional
treatment to the cattle, to which they responded well.
Unfortunately, an officer at the Defence NBC Centre misunderstood
the above information and wrongly concluded that samples of the animals referred to in
your questions were sent to Edinburgh for analysis. Based on this, an incorrect answer was
drafted. An accurate answer would have said that we were unable in the time available to
find any information on the events which you describe.
I very much regret that this error occurred and am grateful to you
for accepting that what happened was the result of a misunderstanding.
The Ministry of Defence is currently reviewing its instructions on
how Parliamentary Questions should be answered in the light of the wrong answers given on
the use of organophosphate pesticides in the Gulf War. I have also asked the department to
make a further search to see if we have any information relevant to your original
questions. I shall write to you again when this work is complete.
I am placing a copy of this letter in the Libraries of both Houses
and intend that this letter be published in the Official Report at the earliest
Chemical and biological warfare
10. Chemical and biological weapons are categorised as weapons of
mass destruction (WMD). A successful attack on unprotected forces using chemical or
biological warfare agent could result in casualties, often lethal, of up to 100%. The UK
Armed Forces are equipped with a range of equipment to protect them against CBW and
receive training on how to use it and what to do in the event of a CBW attack. In
addition, specialist personnel within units and higher formations operate Nuclear,
Biological and Chemical (NBC) cells, which are responsible for warning and reporting of
NBC incidents; that is, they collect any information received from subordinate units which
could indicate the presence of a NBC attack, carry out assessments of this information and
report this up the chain of command, and pass warnings received and alert states back to
those subordinate units.
11. CBW agents are often difficult to detect before they take
effect. While the effects of some CBW agents are immediate, it can take some time before
the effects of others, especially BW agents, become apparent. UK forces have specialist
detection equipment for this purpose, but also watch for other indications that CBW agents
may have been used. Whilst the relative toxicity of chemical and biological agents varies
between species, many such agents are lethal to animals as well as humans. Hence amongst
the possible signs and indicators that CBW may have been used is the presence of dead
animals. The manual for NBC Advisors in use at the time of Operation GRANBY advised that
special teams could be used to confirm the location of a biological attack by identifying
empty munitions, traces of BW agents and/or dead vegetation, animals or people.
12. Even when an attack using CBW is believed to have taken place,
it is often difficult to be certain which agent has been used. Hence UK doctrine for
following up a suspected CBW attack involves obtaining samples from the site very quickly.
A NATO wide specialist protocol (NATO STANAG 4359) has been developed for this
purpose, which specifies the use of special equipment and procedures known as Sampling and
Identification of Biological and Chemical Agents (SIBCA) for the purpose of isolating
samples and transporting them to laboratory facilities for detailed evaluation.
13. During Op GRANBY the UK formed and deployed a specialist
biological warfare agent detection system to the Gulf. This was known as 1 Field
Laboratory Unit (1FLU) and it was equipped with experimental equipment, known as the
Biological Detection System (BDS), which had been devised and built by the Chemical and
Biological Defence (CBD) sector of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA),
situated at Porton Down. 1FLU was also equipped with Standby Assay Kits (SAKs) which are
designed to monitor for the presence of some biological warfare agents. The specialist,
and at the time, highly sensitive nature of the biological detection teams meant that they
operated outside the normal chain of NBC reporting, described in paragraph 10; the OC of
1FLU reported directly to the SO2 J3 NBC (the Staff Officer, of Major or equivalent rank,
within the Joint Headquarters Operations Branch with primary responsibility for NBC
matters) at HQ British Forces Middle East (BFME) in Riyadh.
Herd animals in the Arabian Peninsula
14. The Arabian peninsula covers 2,590,000 square kilometres and has
a population of some 29 million people. The area in which UK forces operated in 1990/91
northern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq and Kuwait is one of great contrasts.
On the coasts and at intervals inland are modern cities linked by major highways. However,
between these urban areas are large expanses of desert or semidesert terrain which
are sparsely populated by families who still follow a traditional nomadic way of life,
herding camels, goats and sheep. Hence it is not unusual to see herds or flocks when
driving between urban areas or for the occasional dead animal to be observed, miles from
habitation, at the roadside; perhaps killed in a traffic accident, or having died from
starvation or dehydration because it had become separated from the herd (animals are not
tethered and many roads are not fenced off). In addition, certain diseases are endemic to
the region, including anthrax.
15. When Kuwait was invaded, Iraqi troops moved out from the urban
areas into the surrounding country to defend their conquest. Later, coalition troops also
began deploying from their bases into the open spaces to prepare for operations. Hence
previously infrequently travelled areas were now occupied by large mechanised formations
and the nomadic groups for whom these places were normally home found themselves in a war
zone. Contemporary reports suggest that as a result they may have slaughtered some of
their animals so as to be able to move more rapidly in the now uncertain environment in
which they found themselves in late 1990 and early 1991.
16. Communications on NBC matters between the HQ BFME and MOD during
Op GRANBY were passed on the Air Staff Management Aid (which was commonly known as ASMA)
via HQ RAF Strike Command (HQ STC) (the Permanent War HQ (PWHQ)). The individual reports
are known as "Totes". An ASMA tote relating to reports of dead animals has been
identified and is quoted in this paper.
REFERENCES TO DEAD ANIMALS IN HIGHER LEVEL MOD REPORTING ON OPERATION GRANBY
17. A search of contemporary reporting within MOD during Op GRANBY
found one instance in which the presence of dead animals in theatre was mentioned. This
specifically related to suspected attacks using a biological warfare agent.
18. On 23 February 1991, two separate reports were received by HQ
BFME in Riyadh which mentioned the presence of dead animals as possible indicators of a BW
attack. Owing to their proximity in time, the contemporary records tend to refer to both
incidents together, even though the reports were of events separated by some distance and
perhaps by some time.
19. Contemporary US reporting of these incidents can be found in the
US CENTCOM NBC Desk Logs which have been published by the US Department of Defense.
Dead camels and goats at the roadside
20. On 23 February, the US military police reported sighting dead
animals near two of the roads, known as Main Supply Routes (MSR), which were in frequent
use by coalition forces. The following day, an ASMA message was generated by the NBC Cell
at HQ BFME, Riyadh at 1517hrs GMT on 24 February 1991. It stated:
"[paragraph 2] As at 232000C Feb 91, recce elms [reconnaissance
elements] of the 115 MP Coy [US Military Police Company] rpted that from 1621 Feb
dead camels were found on MSR YUGO <beginning 2706N04824E and ending 2819N04557E>
vicinity of QARYAT AL ULYA <2733N04742E> and 25 30 dead goats and camels were
found on MSR CADILLAC <beginning 2609N4927E and ending 2658N04823E> vicinity of
THAJ. A number of green plastic grain feed bags <2'x 3'> approx 100lbs each with
blue lettering were noted along both MSRs. The group of dead animals were each clustered
around these bags; individual animals were also found. These bags are similar to bags of
BARLEY offloaded at the port of DAMMAM. Local villagers seemed to pay little notice
to the dead animals. Currently there are no reports of human infection. US Vet and BIO
teams have been dispatched to collect samples and carry out analysis. No further evidence
FFMA [Forward Force Maintenance Area] BDS to move to each loc to
take samples of animals/grd [ground] for SAKS. IMPERATIVE before team moves out that team
leader speaks on Ptarmigan to [CBD representative in theatre] at HQ BFME ref the
collection of samples incl poss SIBCA recovery."
A map showing these locations is attached at the end of this report.
Log Base Alpha anthrax detection / six ill UK Servicemen
21. The second incident involved a positive test for anthrax being
reported by a US biological detection team from an air sample taken at Log Base Alpha, in
the vicinity of Sodowiyat along the main Tapline road, which linked the base area at Al
Jubayl with forward positions, including the UK's FFMA near Al Qaysumah. At about the same
time, six UK Servicemen who had been sharing the same tented accommodation at Log Base
Alpha fell ill, suspected of suffering from lower lung pneumonia. In view of the reports
about possible anthrax use, it was feared at the time that these symptoms might be the
first cases of anthrax amongst coalition troops.
22. The ASMA message quoted above also stated:
"SUSPECTED PRESENCE OF ANTHRAX. Intrep received from US G2 as
[paragraph one] A positive ANTHRAX air sample was identified at LOG
BASE A, vicinity of SODOWIYAT along the TAPLINE road <PS5310PR7897>. Both US
field and lab tests, performed by the BIO MED sampling team, were positive as of 232000C
Feb 91. A large number of dead sheep were also noted in the area <No UNK>. A sample
has been sent back to the US for further analysis and samples in theatre will under go
further 24 hr observation period."
MOD HQ reporting
23. These ASMA messages formed the basis of a report prepared by the
CBD Cell in the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at MOD Main Building at 1850 hrs on 24
February 1991. Headed "CBW Unconfirmed use: Part I, Report No: 001" it stated:
"1. An unconfirmed CBW Report was received:
a. By ASMA
b. From JHQ
c. At (DTG) 241517Z.
2. Reported details :
a. Time of attack )
b. Area of attack )
c. Method of attack ) See attached ASMA STOC 55 p81
d. Units Affected )
e. Established Casualties )
f. Suspected Agent )
3. Free text :
In addition to the above reported incidents [the ASMA messages
quoted above] there has been 6 reported cases of pneumonia at 4 Armd Bde Dressing Station
5A. All 6 cases shared the same tent at Log Base A. Four of pers have been casevac to KKI
for further diagnosis. Rep CDE, in theatre to check BDS equipments, is to investigate
BDS and SIBCA teams despatched to areas of reported animal deaths.
Attached map shows locs.
These separate incidents DO NOT AMOUNT TO CONFIRMED CBW use
they may be a series of coincidences; CBD Cell in conjunction with JHQ STO/CBD are
verifying reports with JFHQ/Allies.
Further SITREP expected 242200Z."
24. In fact there were no SIBCA teams as such; the BDS teams were
trained and equipped to carry out SIBCA if necessary. The SO2 J3 NBC at HQ BFME has
confirmed that he did not send a formal NBC1 BIO report, the procedure for reporting a
suspected BW attack, to spark this CBD Cell report.
25. Work in theatre to look into these incidents and which provided
the information behind the higher level reports, was carried out by both US and UK
personnel, including the UK's 1FLU. Samples were taken for analysis in theatre;
consideration was also given to returning UK samples to CBD for further analysis, but
apparently this was not pursued because all analyses in theatre proved negative. An
account of 1FLU's activities during Op GRANBY will be published in due course as part of
the work on possible BW detections (see paragraph 6 above).
26. Following this further US and UK activity in theatre, a second
CBD Cell report: "CBW Unconfirmed Use Part II, Report No: 001", timed at 0930hrs
25 February 1991 stated:
" 1. SIBCA :
a. Sample collection not yet initiated ..or )
b. Samples being collected ..or )
c. Samples have been collected. ) Not req'd
d. Samples en route to UK ..or )
e. Samples at CDE being analysed. )
2. Free text
The dead animals, suspected of dying from anthrax had had their
throats cut. One of the dead goats was tested for anthrax and was proved negative.
The "positive anthrax air sample" reported by the US at
Log Base A was checked by a UK BDS team and was proved negative.
Note: The US BIO detectors are unreliable.
The soldiers suspected of suffering from lower lung pneumonia are
now assessed as having flu.
These false alarms emphasis that it is imperative that suspected CBW
incidences are VERIFIED through the CBD Cell before Ministers/Senior Officers are
3. Suspected agent details attached. Not applicable."
The comment about verification of CBW incidents is believed to
relate to concerns that reports of the suspect anthrax air sample, collocated dead animals
and the six sick servicemen had been reported orally as a possible BW attack to senior
levels back in the UK separately from the NBC channel.
27. The review contacted those involved with generating the above
messages and reports: they recalled the incident, but could add nothing substantive to the
documents themselves. The high profile which the incidents were given at the time was
probably the result of the timing, as coalition land operations to liberate Kuwait had
just commenced, in the early hours of 24 February 1991. No contemporary MOD documentation
which referred to any other incidents involving reports of dead animals was found by this
28. This review identified one group of reports from theatre to MOD
in which dead animals are mentioned. Overall, it did not find any evidence to suggest that
the presence of dead animals in the Gulf theatre of operations during the 199091
conflict was regarded at the time as evidence of the actual use of CBW, as opposed to a
possible warning indication. However, the reviews of the wider issues relating to possible
CW or BW detections during Op GRANBY, including an account of 1FLU's activities, are still
in progress and they will look at all aspects of these matters at working level in
ENQUIRIES REGARDING SIGHTINGS OF DEAD ANIMALS
29. A number of Service and civilian staff involved in Op GRANBY
were identified as holding posts at the time, either in the Gulf or in the UK, whose
duties should have involved them in any activity resulting from reports of dead animals in
relation to suspected CBW incidents. These included both NBC and medical specialists.
30. All the individuals contacted recalled that at the time they had
seen or heard of reports of dead animals in theatre and that there had been discussion of
this phenomenon. Overall, they believed the numbers of animals involved in such incidents
did not exceed thirty on any particular occasion. None of them were aware of any evidence
to suggest that these deaths were the result of exposure to chemical or biological warfare
agents, although many remembered that this possibility had been suggested on occasion and
followed up. Some recalled seeing reports that the animals had died of natural causes,
such as lack of water, or had had their throats cut. None of the individuals had any
knowledge about samples from or carcasses of dead animals being returned to the UK for
31. The SO2 J3 NBC at HQ BFME in Riyadh recalled particularly one
incident, albeit hazily, in late November/early December 1990 when the presence of a
number of dead sheep, camels and goats were reported as a result of a reconnaissance by
helicopter. He believed that subsequent investigations on the ground revealed that these
animals, which were in an advanced state of decomposition, had been poisoned by a
cyanidebased compound. At the time he had been advised that this was the result of
the animals' owners fearing being caught up in fighting and leaving the area in a hurry.
Identification of the cause of death was possible as residue of the poison was adjacent to
the site and a number of bags which contained the poison were also recovered by the Saudi
team following up the report. So far it has not been possible to trace any contemporary
documentation relating to this incident, but this will be followed up as part of the wider
CW and BW detection reviews.
32. On the basis that there appeared to be very little contemporary
information about dead animals available, although it was a subject which UK personnel
recalled being raised at the time, it was decided to send a questionnaire to a sample
population of Gulf veterans still serving in the British Army to see if this revealed any
new lines of enquiry. Twenty two units which had operated over a reasonable
geographical spread within the Gulf theatre were selected by HQ Land Command and asked to
return at least 10 questionnaires from Gulf veterans on their current strength.
33. These veterans, selected at random from within these units, were
"(a) Did you see or hear of any mass deaths of local animals
(eg camels, sheep or goats) during the Gulf War? If so, please give details.
(b) Did you take part in, or hear of, any work to determine the
cause of death of any dead animal found during the Gulf War? If so, please give details.
(c) Further to (b), did you take part in, or hear of, any samples
from or carcasses of dead animals being sent to the UK for any purpose?"
34. 479 questionnaires were returned as a result of this exercise
(although 158 of these were from members of one unit). 18 individuals reported sightings
of dead animals in the Gulf, details of which are given at Annex A.
These ranged from instances of sea birds covered in oil, to 'a large number of dead
animals'. Overall, members of 7 units out of the 22 contacted recalled seeing dead animals
at some time during their deployment to the Gulf.
35. In the main, those responding had only the most general idea
where they had been at the time and none reported any activity to investigate the cause of
death of the animals found, although in many cases the apparent cause of death was
mentioned in the reply. None of the reports suggested that the animals had died as a
result of exposure to CBW. One veteran was able to produce a photograph of a pile of
animal corpses which he had seen whilst moving with his unit see Annex B. None of the veterans who responded could recall
anything to suggest that samples from or carcasses of these dead animals were sent to the
UK for analysis.
36. Taken together these reports suggest that whilst it was not
unusual to see dead animals in theatre, nonspecialist units do not appear to have
become involved in activity to follow up such sightings.
WERE ANIMAL SAMPLES RETURNED TO CBD PORTON DOWN?
37. An essential element of the followup to a suspected CBW
attack is the acquisition and subsequent analysis of appropriate samples. One UK Gulf
veteran who was deployed to the Gulf with 1FLU has described returning to the UK from the
Gulf with his unit's equipment on a special flight which terminated at Boscombe Down in
Wiltshire. He has been reported in the press (see The Independent, 5 March 1997) as having
stated that this flight also carried bodybags containing dead animals which he
presumed were bound for Porton Down, as was the equipment he was escorting.
38. The SO2 J3 NBC at HQBFME recalls arranging for the repatriation
of the BDS vehicles from theatre at the end of the conflict and has confirmed that to his
knowledge no animal samples were returned to the UK for analysis at this or any other
39. The OC of 1FLU has confirmed that at the end of the Gulf
conflict members of his unit and their equipment were flown back to RAF Boscombe Down on
or around 12 March on dedicated C130 aircraft. He was able to locate copies of the
flight manifests for two of these aircraft, including the one which the Gulf veteran in
question had travelled on. A transcribed copy of this manifest is at Annex C.
40. The OC has also stated that, to his knowledge, no animal samples
were carried on any of these flights. No such items are listed on the flight manifests.
The seven fridge freezers which are mentioned in the attached flight manifest had been
used to store reagent in the supply depot at Riyadh. There is no capability on RAF C130
aircraft to power such equipment. During the flight these freezers were filled with sundry
equipment in order to save space. The only chilled items the OC 1FLU recalls were small,
insulated packages containing frozen or chilled reagents which had been used in the BDS
itself. More generally, OC 1FLU was not aware of any animal samples having been returned
to the UK at any time.
41. The review has found no evidence to suggest that animal samples
from the Gulf theatre were transported to CBD Porton Down, either on this flight or at
another time. Similarly, CBD has no record of any material from dead animals being
received or analysed in connection with the Gulf conflict.
42. The Gulf veteran who described accompanying the animal samples
was contacted and asked whether he had any additional information relating to this flight
or the animal samples he has described seeing. However, he was unwilling to discuss this
matter with MOD or to respond to written requests for information.
43. The review was, therefore, unable to pursue this specific issue
any further and has concluded that, on the basis of the currently available information,
there is no evidence to suggest that animal samples from the Gulf theatre were returned to
CBD Porton Down for analysis.
US ACCOUNTS RELATING TO DEAD ANIMALS
44. The general question of whether the presence of dead animals
might signify the use of CBW has also been addressed in the US. In 1996 a report by the US
Institute of Medicine entitled "Health Consequences of Service during the Persian
Gulf War: Recommendations for Research and Information Systems" states:
"veterinaries in Kuwait found no animal deaths due to chemical
or biological weapon use, although many animals were killed by Iraqi soldiers and many
died from water deprivation".
45. An information paper concerning the US Navy Forward Laboratory
(NFL) was published by the US Department of Defense last November. The NFL was established
in September 1990 at an unoccupied civilian hospital in Al Jubayl and eventually had a
staff of eight: four microbiologists, two infectious diseases specialists and two
laboratory technicians. The US information paper states:
"the NFL developed into a stateoftheart
infectious disease diagnostic laboratory ..... When fully operational, the NFL served as
the theatrewide, infectious diseases reference laboratory for coalition
47. It is clear that during the Gulf War it was not uncommon to see
individual or groups of dead animals in the desert, in various states of decomposition. As
early as August 1990, US veterinary personnel were asked about numerous piles of dead
animals scattered across the desert. The NFL paper states that:
"Beginning in August 1990, US veterinary personnel evaluated
these animals and determined that their deaths were due to natural causes among the large
herds of sheep, goats and camels kept by Bedouin in this region. The local residents left
the dead animals in specific locations for counting and compensation from the government.
In the desert, these dead animals tended to dry out rather than decompose rapidly.
US troops camping near these locations were naturally concerned
about the piles of dead animals. There was concern that the animals might be a breeding
ground for insect transmitted diseases. Consequently, military entomologists
(experts in insect and pest control) thoroughly sprayed the piles of dead animals with
insecticides which may in turn explain some subsequent reports of dead
animals and insects, particularly among troops who arrived in Saudi Arabia in January and
February 1991, at the start of the war. These newly arrived troops would not have known
that dead animals had been in the desert for at least five months before hostilities
48. The report also states that:
"During the course of the war, the NFL BW team also analysed
some of the dead animals discussed earlier. Using the NFL's array of detection techniques,
the BW team analysed samples from seven dead goats and found no BW agents. Also, analysis
of 33 samples from air collectors stationed around the theatre of operation showed no
evidence of BW contamination. Further, water samples obtained after the war from the Royal
Palace in Kuwait City were analysed and no biological agents were found."
With permission of the US Department of Defense, a copy of the paper
is attached at Annex D.
49. This review looked for incidents during the Gulf conflict in
which UK forces reported the presence of dead animals. It found that many of those who
served in theatre remembered the presence of dead animals, but few were able to provide
any detailed information about such incidents. It is clear from the contemporary
documentation that the idea that the presence of groups of dead animals might be an
indicator that Iraq had used CBW was considered at the time and that certain incidents
were investigated for that specific reason. Enquiries to establish whether sample remains
of dead animals had been returned to the UK, or specifically to CBD Porton Down, for the
purpose of analysis did not find any evidence that this had occurred.
50. So far, on the basis of contemporary reports
and eyewitness accounts, no evidence has been found to suggest that the presence of dead
animals in the Gulf theatre of operations during the 1990 91 conflict was related to
the use of CBW. Therefore at present MOD remains of the view that there is no confirmed
evidence of the use of chemical or biological weapons by Iraq in 1990/91. However, the two
wider ranging MOD reviews of alleged CW and BW detections, and related matters, are still
in progress and therefore this current paper can only be regarded as an interim report on
these wider issues. Any additional information on the specific issue of dead animals will
be included in the reports of those reviews, which will be published when they are
Ministry of Defence
6 April 1998
1. 21 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers
15 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
2. 35 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers
12 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
3. 32 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers
12 questionnaires returned. 7 positive responses.
4 responses believed animals seen had died as a result of exploding
1 individual was required to shoot a donkey as it appeared to be
2 other individuals saw numbers of dead animals, but did not come
into direct contact with them.
4. Household Cavalry Regiment
11 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
5. 4 Regiment Army Air Corps
10 questionnaires returned. 2 positive responses.
1 individual recalled seeing approximately 6 dead camels during a
convoy move, exact location unknown.
1 recalled seeing a number of dead beasts (but not a mass). This
individual was contacted and asked to provide further details. He confirmed that the
number of animals, which were all camels, was about ten. He could not recall the location
nor did he have any knowledge of how the animals had died.
6. 1 Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
15 questionnaires returned. 1 positive response.
Whilst in a convoy in Kuwait, one soldier saw a herd of dead camels
on the roadside. This individual was contacted but was unable to provide any further
7. 22 Special Air Service Hereford
10 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
8. 7 Armoured Brigade & Signal Squadron, Royal Corps of
10 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
9. Band of the Scots Guard
10 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
10. 1 Battalion Coldstream Guards
11 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
11. 1 Battalion Queen's Own Highlanders
35 questionnaires returned. 1 positive response.
1 individual recalled seeing a large number of dead animals. Cause
of death unknown. Photograph taken of a pile of animal corpses (see Annex B).
12. 40 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
10 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
13. 26 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
13 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
14. 2 (Combat Support) Regiment Royal Logistic Corps
14 questionnaires returned. 3 positive responses.
1 individual remembers the clean up and rescue of oil covered birds.
1 recalls seeing 20 dead camels.
1 individual recalls a number of shot horses.
15. 1 Battalion Grenadier Guards
15 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
16. 5 Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
17 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
17. 16 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps
13 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
18. 3 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
39 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
19. 4 (General Support) Regiment Royal Logistic Corps
12 questionnaires returned. 2 positive responses.
Sightings of large number of slaughtered animals.
The individuals concerned were contacted and asked to provide
further details. 1 individual confirmed that he saw a small number of sheep and goats
inside a building near Hafr Al Batin. The other individual was only able to add that the
dead animals were located along the Tapline Road towards Hafr Al Batin.
20. 1 Battalion Scots Guard
20 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
21. Queen's Royal Irish Hussars
15 questionnaires returned. 2 positive responses.
Large numbers of badly mutilated animals by the Basra Road. Assessed
to be caused by exploding munitions.
22. 1 Battalion Staffordshire Regiment
158 questionnaires returned. Nil positive responses.
Number of units = 22
Number of questionnaires returned = 479
Number of positive sightings = 18