The Camp Doha Clean-up Effort

The immediate post fire clean-up efforts at Camp Doha covered a very large portion of the facility.  Initial efforts focused on the general population areas located on the South Compound and sectors outside of the fenced-in motor pool where the actual fire burned on the North Compound.  A small portion of the motor pool area was cleared but nothing more.

During the course of my research into this matter, I discovered that many of the written accounts of this clean-up read as if a greater part of the mess had been cleaned up by August of 1991. Others described the efforts of the contracted civilian team that came in to finish the clean-up during the fall of 1991, and in my opinion, understates the magnitude of their undertaking and did not mention the soldiers who assisted them.  None the less, when I arrived at Camp Doha 37 days after the fire, the clean-up efforts on the North Compound were non-existent, and more importantly, the letters "DU" were never mentioned to me.  This is where my story begins.  This is my guilt, my anger, my opinions, all based off of information that I discovered almost 10 years after the fact.

So Long Dhahran!

August 19th, 1991 was a long and hot day.  From the beginning things were going wrong. There were 22 of us being sent to Kuwait as strength replacements for the 593rd Forward Area Support Coordinating Office (FASCO.)  When we arrived at the air base in Dhahran, we did so without orders, the only thing available was a copy of a memorandum  that I had from the 593rd Area Support Group, (ASG)  to the commanders of the 80th Ordnance Battalion and 365 S&S Battalion. The Air Force guys weren't too happy about boarding 22 soldiers on a C-130 heading for Kuwait without actual orders of assignment. Regardless of what I said the Air Force wasn't going to take my word as the "Office in Charge" of this gagel of troops without orders, thus causing a delay in our departure.  We milled around the Air Point of Departure, (APOD) until they could verify the authenticity of the memorandum via phoncon with the 593rd ASG.  We eventually boarded our aircraft and the crew chief "buttoned her up"  by closing the ramp, and there we sat, in the plane on the tarmack.  The plane sat there without the engines running and no air circulation for what seemed to be forever and soon we were all soaking in our sweat.  Eventually we got under way and arrived at Kuwait City International Airport, (KCIA) around 1600. 

Hello Kuwait

My first memory of Kuwait is a shared one.  SSG Greg Sailsbury and I stepped off the ramp of the C-130 and got blasted in the face with the 120 plus degrees of Kuwaiti summer heat.  We both turned and looked at each other and wondered just what in the hell we had gotten ourselves into.  Here we were, 21 soldiers of whom I only knew one prior to the flight stepping across the tarmack at KCIA, if this wasn't bad enough, I had no clue as to the who, what or where on arrival... the only thing I could do is look for someone who looked like they were looking for someone.  Sure enough, I soon located my target and met with the FASCO First Sergeant.  Our gear was off loaded and MSG Dennis Wakula and I piled into the First Sergeants Pajero and headed for Camp Doha.  Riding to Doha was a relatively silent affair, the First Sergeant was pointing out a few things as he drove however, MSG Wakula and I, while enjoying the comfort of the vehicles cold air conditioning, looked out the windows in what I would describe as a mood of partial disbelief..   The trip to Doha took us around the out skirts of Kuwait City on one of the Ring Highways.   The skies overhead were darkened with the smoke of the burning oil wells, destroyed Iraqi tanks and equipment littered the landscape all around... it was in great contrast to the world we left behind in Saudi Arabia, but the greatest contrast had yet to be seen.  The visual approach to Camp Doha made me think of Fort Apache, except that the walls at Doha were tan brick with plywood guard towers... it possessed the look of a state-side prison more than a military facility... but the guards in the towers were looking out towards the desert instead of in ... so Fort Apache would stick in my mind as we sat in line waiting to get through the gate and into Doha, and as I would soon learn;  the security was very tight and and it would take a few minutes until we past through a check point, vehicle inspection and another check point before we were inside the walls of Camp Doha.

A Camp Doha Welcome

The First Sergeant pulled up in front of a warehouse and parked the vehicle.  We downloaded our duffels and gear and followed the First Sergeant through the small door in the larger sliding door into the wearhouse.  Next we were ushered into the day room/ supply room where we grounded our gear and waited.  We had arrived too late for chow and told that there were MRE's and mores in the day room if we were hungry.  The day room wasn't so bad, there were two separate television areas each with a large 32" Sony and vcr, a old ping pong table, a and a dart board.  On one wall there was a metal shelf with some sundries... some personal hygiene stuff, some paper tablets and envelopes, and some odds and ends.  The furniture was real nice considering the rest of the stark surroundings... it was best to be happy because this was going to be home.  I'd been there probably 40 minutes trying to relax while still wondering what my duty assignment would be and of course who and what kind of commander I would have.  My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the supply room door squeak open and then closed again.  I soon heard a voice calling for, "Lieutenant" so I got up and sure enough... I was the one being called for.  MSG Wakula and I went to the supply room door where MSG Ross had a linen issue ready for us... we signed our handreceipts grabbed our linens and MSG Ross showed us to our "quarters."  I had no sooner found my rack and grounded my gear when the First Sergeant poked his head in the door and told me that the FASCO Executive Officer, (XO) was ready for me.

Reporting for Duty

I remember as if it were yesterday, the evening I reported to my Battalion XO.  It was well after 1900 hours, he looked tired sitting behind his desk, the Motorola "Brick" radios resting in their chargers occasionally breaking the silence while I stood in front of the XO while he reviewed my temporary "shelf file."  The major looked up from my file and at me and laughed to himself in disbelief muttering something like, " I ask them for an Ordnance Officer and they send me a Quartermaster!"  I told the major that it wasn't that bad because even though I was branched Quartermaster (supply) I had been assigned to a Direct Support (DS) Maintenance company for the last three years.  With that, he went in to the battalion commanders office (through the door less than 3 feet from the edge of his desk) and reappeared about two minutes later and told me to go in and report to the Commander.

I remember this too, as if it had just happened minutes ago.  I stepped through the door and down.  The Commander's office was also his quarters.  He had been laying down and the room was only lit by a small desk lamp setting a top of a field desk.  The battalion commander was brief and to the point in his welcome,  from behind his little field desk, he handed me brown vinyl covered notebook and advised me not to be without it... my first entries, "Daily Meeting Schedule, Duty Assignment, Chow Hours, and Laundry."  This is what was covered then my new commander welcomed me once more and then I was dismissed.

Days End

I made my way back to my "quarters" tired from what had been a very long and tiring day.  The walk was short, less than 75 yards from the office to the warehouse where we were quartered. My new home was in a warehouse that was subdivided into two rows of bays, separated by a large corridor that you could drive a tractor trailer through.  I was assigned to the "Officer Bay" and took up my residence in the far left hand corner.  I made up my rack knowing that tomorrow would be a longer day than today was, changed into my PT gear  and headed off to the shower.  

The personal hygiene area was better than not having an area designated at all, but when compared to the facilities that I had left behind in Saudi.... well let's just say that things were functional in Kuwait, however crude in appearance.  We had a field assembled shower box, known as a "Pagonis Shower"  Constructed of 4x4's, 2x4's, plywood and divided into three separate shower stalls with hinged doors.  The shower's standard water supply was an open topped 150 gallon metal tank positioned top and center with three separate lines with their own supply valve. The same supply tank would provide the water for the co-located sink counter which contained four sinks and four mirrors.  This shower area was different in that it had a an open top fiberglass supply tank that sat on the roof of the warehouse office area which was a hard site and could support the weight of the approximate 400 gallon capacity.  The toilets were at best described as a three hole outhouse, and they were further designated as "1" and "2" and "Female."  The sewage was collected in the traditional half of a 55 gallon drum and collected by Third Country Nationals twice a day.  Needless to say, during the heat of the day the local air had added aroma!   Anyway...

The night of August 19th, 1991 would be one that I would never forget.  From behind the thick flume of smoke overhead, a star would show its light through and that was just enough to relax my mind.  I enjoyed that shower on that first warm evening spent in Kuwait... feeling clean and relaxed I made my way back to my rack and feel fast asleep.

Good Morning Kuwait!

August 20th, 1991:  The first duty day in Kuwait began just as my last would... the "Stand Up Meeting" where if you were lucky and early you could sit down for it.  The idea of the stand up meeting was that if all the attendees were standing the meeting would be shorter... or was it?. Anyway I sat through my first stand up meeting and was welcomed and introduced to everyone at the picnic table.  Unlike the civilian corporate structure, our "meeting room" was sandwiched between two temporary trailers with solar screen overhead and a picnic table placed in the center.

The morning "stand up" normally covered the "five w's"  The officer's and a small number of senior NCO's would brief the commander on the days scheduled activities and he would give us additional taskings, heads up on important matters and usually tear into one of us for breakfast. The later became a meeting tradition and a source of entertainment in the form of humorous wagers between some of us prior to the meeting.  We would guess who was going, "to catch the commaders heat round" that morning and make our wager.  More seriously though...  We were very effective communicators in the FASCO because we had to be.  We were a small number coordinating the efforts of a great many, in an active theater of operations. Daily support of follow on security forces, redeployment operations, life support of the forces stationed at Doha and the U.S. Embassy, and the constant flow of incoming equipment and supplies being transferred to us from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia... this all made for a very busy duty day at Camp Doha.

After the "stand up" I hooked up with my section sergeant and we proceeded over to the North Compound.  This trip required a vehicle as you had to drive out of the South Compound,  going through the exit check point onto Route Green and then back thorough the security checkpoint before entering into the North Compound.  You didn't want to forget something because getting back and forth was a time consuming effort and resembled a state side commute to and from work during rush hour... especially if there was an inbound convoy waiting to gain entrance to the North Compound.  

I remember straining my neck while looking at the burned and destroyed equipment setting behind the fence  Great pieces of state of the art armor and self propelled howitzers, fuel tankers, trailers, vehicles, sea land van containers, all there behind the fence charred, bent, destroyed.  The sergeant started telling me about the July fire, the three soldiers who were killed two weeks later on while clearing some unexploded munitions.  He explained to me how there were there little "pie like" wedges that were actually unexploded mines that were from 155mm howitzers rounds that blew apart and how these things had landed on the tops of all the warehouses and everywhere else and how it all had to be cleaned up. He talked about the 21st EVAC  hospital that was located on the north wall of the South Compound   The sergeant pretty much talked about everything except the day of the fire and the equipment remains located inside the 11th ACR motor pool compound.

As we made the turn into our motor pool compound we came to a stop, the sergeant got out of the truck and went to the blue metal gate , unlocked it and pushed it inward so we could gain entrance.  I observed jagged holes in the solid portion of the gates bottom, obviously made by shrapnel from July's incident.  These were the first of many jagged holes that I would observe in the next hour during which I was given the grand tour of my motor pool and maintenance area.

The area was quite large and more than adequate for our space requirements.  There were two very, very large tents placed by the engineers. Originally designed for the Air Force, these tents were framed with aluminum, permanently anchored into the concrete, and opened upward  at both ends like a clam shell with the aid of electric motors mounted inside the tent.  These tents were large enough that you could put two full sized tennis courts inside and still have room to spare, and they were equipped with overhead lighting and electrical outlets.  The problem for us was the fact that between the pressures from the explosions and the rips and tears from the shrapnel and ensuing winds ,the tent skins were torn very badly.  Tore up as they were, we utilized one for storage of miscellaneous supplies and the other for maintenance

My office consisted of a little white trailer, not any different than what you would find at a construction site anywhere U.S.A.  To the right of the entrance there was my desk, a standard 36"x72" plain  gray metal desk, a telephone, a file cabinet. Directly in front of the door there was a smaller desk that was for the equipment dispatcher, and two more file cabinets. To the left of the door there was a table, another file cabinet and some boxes filled with loose MRE's.  At the opposite end of the trailer from my desk was one military issue cot with flats of canned meals (MORES) ravioli, spaghetti..etc.  The metal wall of the trailer facing west was full of holes from shrapnel. Aerial View of South East Corner of Camp Doha's North Compound  Copyright (c) 1991-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

This was motor pool and maintenance area throughout my stay. The area served for the 593d FASCO, ASB-Doha, and the 2nd ASB. The little white trailer on the mid right side of the image was the maintenance office, dispatch desk, break room... had the best air conditioner ever I think!

My duty assignment with the 593d FASCO was, "Battalion Maintenance Officer" and as most military assignments it too was subject to "mission creep" and the duty description block on my Official Officer Evaluation Report (OER) read as follows:

Responsible to function as the principle assistant to the Commander in all matters related to the maintenance of unit reportable equipment. Also responsible for directing and coordinating all missions which require Material Handling Equipment. Plan, provide resources, conduct, and evaluate maintenance training to ensure team readiness, safety, and performance in an active combat theater. Additional duties: Contracting  Officer Representative, (COR) for maintenance of 68 Non-Tactical-Vehicles, Operation of the Bus TMP and monitoring of the Contracted Maintenance, DRMO yard, and NBC Defense Officer.

The balance of my first full day at Camp Doha was spent settling in, meeting the soldiers in my section, reviewing personnel records, on-hand equipment and its readiness, repair parts and reviewing the mission taskers for the upcoming day.

My First Mission

August 21st, 1991:  The pace was hectic... the days missions were all reviewed during the morning stand-up, planned, personnel assigned, and equipment dispatched. My involvement in the planning of this mission to this point represented nothing more than the review of the already formulated and approved plan, however, as of the 19th of August it became my mission. With my brown vinyl notebook in hand sitting in the passenger side of the truck while enjoying my "ride to work", I asked my sergeant what was up with this 0715 hrs crane mission and he started my informal briefing thus opening the door to the real meat and potatoes of the day at hand.

The mission was simple in theory. There was a burned up, destroyed M1A1 Abrams tank that needed to be lifted up and sat down on top of a lowboy trailer for transportation south to Dhahran, so it could be shipped back to the states for evaluation. Cut and dry, that was it!  We would lift up this 69 ton pile of scrap and set it back down on a trailer... simple!

Everything was set, we had moved the two 40 ton cranes to the job site on the 20th, and our personnel were on station at 0700hrs. The sergeant and I arrived at 0730hrs and the lowboy and personnel from the 11th ACR were in place. There was a CW3 with the personnel from the 11th ACR directing the mission. For our part... we were just providing the equipment and the operators to lift the tank so they could back the low boy under it partially and winch it the rest of the way onto the trailer. So the recovery chains were secured to the front of the tank and with one crane on each side of the tank, the hooks were lowered and attached to the chains, and at the direction of the Warrant Officer the tank was hoisted up.                                            

Tank Recovery Mission, August 1991 Camp Doha, Kuwait  Copyright (c) 1991-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

Now then, with the front of the tank being up and out of the way, the trailer was backed under and the tank was lowered. The lowboy trailer winch cables were then attached and the attempt to winch the tank the rest of the way started. Well this wasn't working because the tank had no track and was on its belly... so they decided that we had to lift the tank while they backed up the trailer some more until enough of the tank hull was on enough to allow them to winch it the rest of the way The sergeant and I stood observing from where we were parked, each behind our truck door... looking at this 69 ton tank hanging on what looked like two thin threads and then one of the "threads" broke! When a piece of chain breaks while under a load, especially a heavy chain with a heavy load, it makes a very distinct sound. This sound was followed by the very unpredictable flight path of the newly freed links of the chain. This chain landed not too far from the front of the truck. Fortunately nobody was injured, however, this was the first of our problems encountered on this job. The ensuing delay provided time for ponderance on my part and we again observed the mission when a replacement chain arrived on site. The tank was hoisted once again, trailer backed underneath, the tank lowered, winch cables attached, chains removed and then the groan of the winch and straining cables were heardTank Recovery Mission, August 1991, Camp Doha, Kuwait  Copyright (c) 1991-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

Tank Recovery Mission, August 1991, Camp Doha, Kuwait   Copyright (c) 1991-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

Tank Recovery Mission, August 1991, Camp Doha, Kuwait  Copyright (c) 1991-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

Next thing we hear is the screeching of metal against metal and the sound of a 69 ton tank falling off the edge of the lowboy and hitting the concrete with a very loud thud that you felt under your feet!

Tank Recovery Mission, August 1991, Camp Doha, Kuwait   Copyright (c) 1991-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

We had to lift the tank again, remove the trailer from underneath, set it back down, was close to1000hrs. Time was now working against the rest of our mission schedule. The Warrant Officer had left the site and we needed to get this wrapped up so we ran our game plan.

By repositioning the cranes to lift side by side, one hooked to the front with two chains and one to the back in the same manner, we would lift the tank keeping it level until the lowboy trailer could be backed under it and then set the tank back down. Easy as pie from start to finish, we cleared the mission at 1100hrs

Tank Recovery Mission, August 1991, Camp Doha, Kuwait  Copyright (c) 1991-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

 The Rest of the Story

Things couldn't have gone easier on that August day in 1991... until I learned eight years after the fact that this tank still may have been contaminated with depleted uranium and that it very well could have contained in its crew compartment depleted uranium penetrators and pieces of broken penetrators that were policed up in July and dumped into the hulls of four tanks that were being shipped out for analysis.  Moreover the area that we were working in could have been contaminated too, seeing as it had only been swept and not washed. Regardless I HAD NOT BEEN BRIEFED AS TO ANY RADIOLOGICAL HAZARDS PRESENT AT CAMP DOHA OR IN THE AREA WHERE WE WERE OPERATIONAL THAT DAY OR ANY OTHER DAY DURING MY ENTIRE TIME DEPLOYED IN THEATER!

During my entire tour; one could say that, " I was in the loop" and after reviewing my notes from all of the meetings we had...  and we had meetings twice a day every day starting with the already described "stand up" and ending with the evening "sit down" and many times having a meeting or two in between.   I can still not find one mention of potential health hazards from depleted uranium or the possible contamination of any area at Camp Doha.  I will refer to one of my additional duty assignments... NBC Defense Officer... the "NBC" represents Nuclear Biological Chemical.  In every military organization I've belonged to, if there were a hazard or even a potential hazard, a point of importance was made.

Copyright (c) 1999-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

This aerial view of the Southeast quarter of the North Compound located at Camp Doha, Kuwait was taken in early September, 1991.  The forefront of this view shows the motor pool and maintenance area for the 2nd Area Support Battalion - Kuwait (2nd ASB-K.) My office was in the little white trailer located about a third of the way up and to the right from the bottom of the photo... this is why I took the picture... call it visual remembrance or a "Kodak Moment"... but this is where my troops and I spent a great number of hours in the performance of our mission in Kuwait.  

Copyright (c) 1999-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

The area labeled as "A" is what was cleared prior to my arrival and represents the only area that was cleared.  It is important that one understands that "cleared" means that unexploded ordnance had been removed from the area, as there was never any reference to potential radiological contamination from depleted uranium.   Other than the removal of some equipment and visible pieces of depleted uranium penetrators and intact penetrators... There had not been any deliberate decontamination of the surface conducted at the time this photo was taken.

Copyright (c) 1999-2000, All Rights Reserved, Todd D. Lightfoot

Area "B" represents the untouched area of the 11th ACR's motor pool compound.  The only contamination known to us at the time was unexploded ordnance.  We were not aware of a DU hazard.  We paid very little attention to the next compound area north of the fence surrounding our immediate compound, unless we had a support mission inside.  

There was only a wire grid fence that separated our maintenance and motor pool compound from the compound that the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (11th ACR) had utilized for it's motor pool/supply storage yard.  On days where the wind was steady, you could see the grey dust clouds as the blew across the concrete and into our compound.  I can't recall how many times we dusted a grey, almost metallic or graphite like dust off of our equipment, it covered everything, even inside our trailer.  We would run the vehicles through our little wash rack and put them back online, and wipe down the vehicle interiors with anything we happened to have including tee shirts, cotton gloves, and even our bare hands.  What did we know about depleted uranium dust particles, we didn't even know that more than 7000 pounds of depleted uranium had been burned up in the fire.  Like I said, I didn't even learn about this until eight years after the fact.

We continued to provide mission support to both military EOD working in what I now consider as what was then a potentially "dirty" or "radiologically contaminated" area at Camp Doha as well as providing support to the contracted EOD team that was brought in to "clear & clean"   the 11th ACR compound in September and October.  When I say "support", I mean that we actually worked with EOD in the areas being cleared.  When we worked with EOD; the only directed protective equipment measures were ballistic in nature... being our helmet, flak vest and eye protection. This was spelled out in a Letter of Instruction (LOI) dated 20 OCT 91, "EOD Clean-Up Operation Update Number 1, paragraph 3, "PERSONNEL SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS:" :

a. All personnel working in, walking through, or driving through an active zone must wear Flack Vest, Kevlar, and Eye Protection while in the active zone.

b. During DETONATION all personnel within the zone of detonation WILL be inside a hard point building. The hard point of a building is the front office of any warehouse.

c. Gate #1 (Main Gate of the South Compound), will remain open during the detonation: however, the zone of the detonation may not be entered after the siren has sounded. This restriction area will be marked by a road block and/or controlled by the MP's.

d. The main gate on the North Compound will be closed to incoming traffic at the sound of the siren.

The clearing of the 11th ACR compound took on new dimensions when the contracted EOD team arrived. During their operations in October and November; unexploded ordnance that could not be safely removed from the compound was detonated inside the compound. There were precautions taken for the safety of those at Camp Doha during these blasting times. As referenced above; the camp was divided into blast zones, audible signals were given, everybody within a designated zone was to be in a hardened area until the all clear was given, and soldiers working near the compound during the course of the duty day were required to wear their helmet, vest and eye protection.  Since our motor pool was right next to the area, we were always wearing our helmets, vests and eye protection.   When an area within the compound had been cleared they would then proceed with the clean up of the debris by using large front end loaders, all the while kicking up great clouds of dust, dirt, soot and whatever else could take to the air. I personally observed on numerous occasions that even those contracted EOD civilians working in the compound were without respiratory protective gear, furthermore, while these operations were scheduled,  (from 18 October through 15 November) I do not recall there being any  special "monitoring teams" at the camp... not from the day that I arrived to the day I departed do I recall their presence.

Personal Questions & Spin Prelude

The level and extent of the depleted uranium contamination was never fully realized at Camp Doha. The true reasons for our leadership's seemingly non-pursuit of this information may never be revealed. Rest be assured though... if this same 7000 plus pounds of depleted uranium had burned and oxidized into dust and scattered into the wind by fire and explosions here on American soil; every agency... local, state, and federal would have been involved and the event would be recorded in our history of the 20th century as a significant negative environmental and human event. Then why is it still being treated as if it were just an unfortunate accident in which there was fortunately only a small number of U.S. soldiers killed and wounded and millions lost in equipment and supplies. Why does our leadership only look at the short term with regards to the known and unknown health hazards caused by depleted uranium? Why is it that I find out about this eight years after the fact by chance, more importantly, how many soldiers still are not aware of this potential health risk that they may have been exposed to? How many are out there that don't realize that unless extended , their deadline for compensation claims is July 9th, 2003?

History for the Spin

With the 100 hour ground campaign concluded and Kuwait liberated, it was time to bring our G.I.'s home. But Sadam was still in power, so to keep him in check we had to maintain a military presence in the region. Regardless of the size of the military presence... we needed to have equipment ready to go so the defense of the region would be swift, requiring only the troops and not the massive logistical nightmare of deploying heavy armor and support equipment as well. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seemed a likely location for an American Pre-positioned War Reserve. King Khhalidd Military City (KKMC) was where the vast majority of American Military equipment was located after the end of Desert Storm. But things change, leaders of foreign nations view threats differently when their soviernty is no longer threatened.

Throughout the vast mountains of military equipment located at KKMC that covered over 40 acres of desert floor... equipment was being identified for redeployed back to the National Guard and Army Reserve units in the states. Our military was also identifying equipment that would eventually fill the requirements of our regional pre-positioned war reserve. While this huge logistical effort was being carried out, we were negotiating a security pact with the government of Kuwait. We're somewhere around June of 1991 in the timeline now and a new task force was deploying to Kuwait to continue in the protection of gains of Desert Storm. The 11th ACR fell in on equipment already in Kuwait at a little known village named Doha about 18km north of Kuwait City, where by chance there was a very nice warehousing facility that was quite large. Well the 11th ACR was the unit that had the misfortune of suffering the single largest equipment loss of of the Gulf War when their equipment and supplies were burned in a fire within the North Compound at Camp Doha.. a fire that started on July 11th and burned for almost 24 hours. The same fire that burned up over 7000lbs of depleted uranium. The fire at Doha just happened to have bad timing because the 11th ACR was closing in on the end of their rotation and redeployment efforts were getting under way. While the 11th ACR was getting ready to go back to Germany; elements of the 3rd and 8th Infantry Division were preparing to take the 11th ACR's place. We're into mid August now and the security pact with Kuwait is just about a done deal, furthermore, Camp Doha seems to be the perfect location for all parties. Meanwhile, south of the Kuwaiti boarder; the Saudi's are getting a little impatient about our redeployment timeline.


There is much to consider when making a decision in an active theater of operations, especially when you're trying to provide security to a nation, while redeploying mountains of equipment, and supplies, and concurrently establishing a pre-positioned war reserve. So I pose the question?

At the time, do you declare Camp Doha, a "radiological contaminated area" especially prior to the signing of a major 10 year security pact with the host country, knowing that if you make this declaration you openly admit that further contamination of Kuwaiti civilians would become an issue? To the citizens of most countries the pollutants from oil well fires would seemingly disapate when the smoke went away, however, when the words "radio active" or "radiological" enter into the vocabulary there is a stigma. The trade off for a decision to downplay the significance of the depleted uranium that was burned at Camp Doha in July of 1991 represents a continued facade of untruth to America and her service men and women and to the citizens of Kuwait. The  current 10 year security pact will end around 2001 unless renewed by the government of Kuwait, since the pact was signed; the government of Kuwait has been beefing up its defense arsenal with American built military systems. Could it be that during this 10 years of depleted uranium downplay, our own government has taken the "corporate" attitude ?  We'll let it go because it'll be cheaper to offer some later compensation than to suffer the loss of 10 years of good foreign military sales, jepordizing a strong US military presence in the region, and saved from the embarasement of the guilt associated with poor judgment and actions!?!


The Gulf War exists still today, not just on paper, but in real terms. Though not being waged at the operational tempo so many Americans witnessed on televisions when we had over a half a million soldiers deployed as a "part" of the coalition effort to liberate Kuwait, but in real terms of the presence of a still defiant Sadam Heusein. The U.S. and British continue to enforce the "No Fly Zones" which were imposed at the end of the Gulf War and are actively engaged in "combat" missions where Iraqi military targets are attacked almost weekly.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention the constant presence of US ground forces in Kuwait and our naval forces steaming in the Persian Gulf.  Although the enforcement of the "No Fly Zones" is under the guise of the "post war"  United Nations Security Council imposed resoulutions... the US is, for all practical matters, waging a unilateral campaign of Iraqi containment and reduction of Iraqi air defense capibilities. Furthermore, should Sadam develop a renewed interest in his neighbors, the US has equipment in place to face the Iraqi threat.  The final question then... Once the US renews its security pact with Kuwait, (having convinced Kuwait that the ongoing US - Iraqi hostilities deem it necessary to renew the pact)  will we as Americans and veterans fianally get the truth concerning the health hazards of depleted uranium exposure?

Home | E-mail | Links |

"Official" US Military Report on "The Camp Doha Explosions/Fires (July 1991)

                All Photographs and Textual Content is Copyright (c) 2000-2001,   All Rights Reserved,                           By Todd D. Lightfoot