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Retrograde Equipment Investigation: March 8, 2000

Environmental Exposure Close-Out Reports present findings and conclusions reached to-date on investigations involving potential exposures of U.S. military and civilian personnel to environmental contaminants that may cause adverse health effects. The Office of the Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Gulf War Illnesses began this investigation of Retrograde Equipment in response to congressional inquiries and self-reports by veterans of adverse health effects from contact with equipment returned to the U.S. from the Gulf region. The investigation included numerous interviews with Department of Defense military and civilian personnel, site visits to military and civilian equipment manufacturing and processing facilities, and a literature review of various documents related to retrograde equipment and vehicle operations.

The Presidential Special Oversight Board requested that we provide a summary of this investigation, which we did at a public hearing on Sept. 16, 1999. Based on that summary, the Board concluded that the information obtained to date, the emerging results, and anticipated outcomes from continued investigation are not likely to improve our understanding of any unexplained illnesses. Consequently, the Presidential Special Oversight Board recommended terminating further investigation. In addition, to bring the investigation to closure, the Board requested that we complete a close-out report to present the data, documentary evidence, and findings compiled during the course of the investigation. The close-out report that follows complies with the Board’s recommendation, but if you believe you have additional information related to retrograde equipment, please contact my office by calling 1-800-497-6261.


I. Background

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II. Overview

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III. Discussion

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IV. Investigation

The Retrograde Equipment investigation followed four general lines of study: 1) a review of the retrograde equipment operations as planned and conducted in the KTO; 2) site visits, inspection, and data collection at military installations where equipment and vehicles were received, serviced or otherwise maintained; 3) site visits, interviews, and data collection at equipment manufacturing facilities; and 4) investigations into alleged exposures at site specific locations in the US.

a. Retrograde Operations in the Kuwait Theater of Operations


B. Maintenance and Processing of Retrograded Materials in the United States


C. Chemical Composition of Preservatives and Coatings in Selected Equipment


D. Site-Specific Exposure Incidents


V. Significant Findings

From the activities conducted to-date on this investigation, the following findings are presented:


Tab A. Acronym Listing

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Tab B. Bibliography

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Tab. C. Veteran Interview Summary

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Tab D. Veteran Interview Questions

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Tab E. Investigators’ Notes from Visits to Manufacturers and Depots

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Tab F. Investigators' Notes on Site-Specific Incidents

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End Notes

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Last Updated: July 11, 2023