This law sounds very wide-ranging, and, as written, has tremendous potential for abuse.
But, what is really being authorized is the use of Pyridostigmine (PB) tablets to protect against nerve gas exposure.
Yes, this is the same drug cited as a potential cause of some symptoms experienced by some soldiers after the Persian Gulf War. No one with any credibility, however, believes that it is THE cause of the whole spectrum of PGWS affecting “millions”.
A couple of reality checks.
- PB is FDA-approved. It is used to diagnose and treat a condition called myasthenia gravis, which causes some of the same effects as nerve gas.
- Nerve gas kills. In training, we are expected to be able to don our face masks & establish a seal within 8 seconds. If everyone exposed did that correctly, there would be a 1 to 10% fatality rate depending on the concentration of nerve gas employed. The nation was stunned by the number of lives lost in a single SCUD missile attack. That number would have been much higher if the missile were armed with CS.
- PB does protect against nerve gas. It buys time, and perhaps makes that involuntary gasp of surprise surviveable. PB is not FDA-approved for protecting against nerve gas. That would require HUMAN studies demonstrating significant fewer deaths or disabling symptoms in PB-treated vs non-PB-treated HUMANS. Any volunteers out there? ::scanning fruitlessly:: I guess the FDA won’t be approving PB for the prevention of nerve gas symptoms/death anytime soon.
So we have a drug that works in animals (and maybe has been shown to work in humans in Russian Army camps where soldiers did train with live nerve gas, and deaths did occur, but don’t cite me) but won’t ever get FDA-approval. It could save lots of lives, but only if taken by large numbers of people at risk to prevent serious harm to (one hopes) a small number of people exposed. And some of those taking the drug just might get chronically ill from it. This is a real tough call, guys. I’m personally glad that I don’t have to make it.
I am disturbed by the broadness of the EO as written, and recognize potential abuses by leaders too anxious to prevent casualties & bad press and the loss of homefront support that would result. In another 12 years, very few service members, even the “brass” will have any personal recall of the Gulf War, and the “lessons learned” will be from a manual, not from a book. This sounds like a recipe for trouble.
This is the personal opinion of the poster, and is not the official policy of DoD.
Sue from El Paso