Collection 4

1991 Gulf War NBC incident desk logs...

Comparison of the available NBC Desk Logs...

Log Sheets and Formats...

January 20th 1991...

January 21st 1991...

1991 Gulf War NBC incident desk logs...

1/. Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical incident desk logs.

The prime source of publicly available information relating to the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical incident desk logs which were kept during the 1991 Gulf War is to be found in a report dated October 20th 1997 published by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defence, entitled:

'Report of Investigation Concerning the Missing U.S. Central Command
Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Desk Logs.'

It appears from this report that much of the log record went missing or was destroyed at some point after the war. The report, along with all the officially acknowledged extant desk log daily sheets contained within it, can be found on the U.S. Department of Defence 'GulfLINK' internet web-site:

This NBC desk log was kept by Coalition forces at the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) in Riyadh, and were maintained by a team of 6 U.S. Army Chemical Corps officers who were assigned to the NBC watch desk located there throughout the conflict. They were located in the basement of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defence and Aviation building.

All that now remains are 37 pages covering non-consecutive days over a 26 day period from January 17th to March 12th 1991. It is estimated that between 180 and 210 pages were generated by the team of NBC desk officers during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The vast majority of these pages are now presumed lost, possibly permanently.

The 37 existing pages were collated from two different sources, these being the Office of the Secretary of Defence (Public Affairs), Freedom of Information Act Office, which supplied 32 of the pages; and the J3 ground operations branch at Central Command (CENTCOM) based in Tampa, Florida, which provided a further 11 pages. Five pages were identified as being duplicates between the two sets, and one further duplicate pair was found in the OSD (PA) set. All of the pages had previously been classified as being 'SECRET', before later being declassified and released in 1994 and 1995 in response to a congressional inquiry from Senator Donald Riegle for press conferences, and other applicable FOIA request reasons.

The report of the investigation into the missing NBC logs is redacted in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 for public release. All of the individuals who have been mentioned in the report are identified by rank only, and are referred to in the text in the manner of: COL xxxxxxxxxx, MAJ xxxxxxxx, or LTC xxxxx.

The report states that the log sheets were initially handwritten on yellow, lined note-book paper.

After this, Department of the Army (DA) Form 1594, Daily Staff Journal, or a similar format was used. In late autumn 1990 and later the log was recorded onto a computer and also printed out as hard copy, as well as being saved onto 3.5 inch computer disc format. All these records were returned to CENTCOM headquarters after the war and kept in a safe. Due to a departmental reorganisation in September/October 1994 they were transferred to another area and left next to some cabinets.

This appears to be the last time they were seen. Unfortunately this position was within feet of an operation for the disposal by shredding or pulverising of unwanted classified documents. It is suggested that this was the inadvertent fate of the 1991 Gulf War NBC records.

2/. Comparison of the available NBC Desk Log sheets, 20th/21st January 1991...

Fortunately, a large proportion of the 37 pages of NBC desk logs which are available do cover the period being covered in this study, commensurate with the early part of the Air War campaign. A comparison of some of the still-existing NBC log sheets is made below:

3/. Log sheets and Formats

Log sheets

Each sheet carries a serial number for the day it was written, these being in the range of 1 - 4. A new daily log sheet was opened and dated commencing at 00:01 each day. Subsequent sheets were added and opened as each one was required. Every event recorded on these sheets is also dated using a six-digit system, this indicating the date and time of any event, e.g. 190001 = 19th 00:01.


These available log sheets are seen to be in two different formats.

(A) First format

The sheets of the first format are marked 'SECRET NOFORN', which in some instances has been struck through by hand. They all carry an authorised downgrading certification marked 'DECLASSIFY' dated variously around 8th to 15th June 1994. It can be seen that these sheets have been annotated by hand, with a system of a number of stars (from one to ?, with three being the highest seen) being used against specific events, as some form of categorisation, at some point prior to declassification. Sheets in this format are seen to be of an earlier generation when compared to sheets of the second format.

(B) Second format

The sheets of the second format are marked 'UNCLASSIFIED', and carry further references including a URL ( .). These sheets are of lesser quality, being quite hard to read, and have been misaligned in the scanning process. The heading boxes (on the first sheet of each day) have been blacked out, and these sheets do not carry any hand annotation or details of declassification. The formatting has been changed in order to put more information onto one sheet (apparently) by means of a decrease in the size of the font used, and this has increased some line lengths with a proportional loss of printed lines.

4/. January 20th 1991

There are three log sheets available, out of an apparent three, for 20th January.

There is one sheet in the first format.

There are two sheets in the second format.

Sheet three is of the first format.

Sheets one and two are of the second format (not featured here).

(Sheets one and two are unavailable in the first format.)

(N.B. All blue highlighting on images is done by SCUDWATCH for comparison purposes.)

Sheet three is reproduced here as an example of the first (original) format:

CENTCOM desk log - First format - January 20th 1991 sheet 3 (17:00 - 23:30):

nbc 001

The January 20th 21:45 attack is evidenced on this sheet (given as recorded at 21:47).

5/. January 21st 1991

There are four available sheets for 21st January, one of which is a dissimilar duplicate (??).

There are two versions of daily sheet three, one in each format.

Sheet three is the only sheet available in the first format.

There was also presumably a sheet four in this first format, now unavailable.

(Evidenced by the fact that the log is not closed out on sheet three.)

There are three sheets (out of three in this series) in the second format.

All three sheets for the day exist in the second format.

Sheet three in the first format is reproduced below:

CENTCOM desk log - First format - January 21st 1991 sheet 3 (Sheets 1 and 2 in this format are missing):

nbc 002

This sheet contains details of the 22:30 Scud event as seen on Log A (See Collections 2 and 12), which is also seen on the second format sheet 3 (below), along with other alerts and cancellations.

It can be seen from this sheet that two full NBC sheets containing NBC related information MUST have been completely filled in before 07:21AM on that day, being as sheet three starts at that time.

The three 'second format' January 21st log sheets are reproduced below in the following three images:

CENTCOM Second Format log sheet (Jan. 21st sheet 1):

nbc 003

This sheet contains details of the 6 January 21st 00:50 Scud events (00:42 - 00:52) as seen on Log A.

CENTCOM Second Format log sheet (Jan. 21st sheet 2):

nbc 004

CENTCOM Second Format log sheet (Jan. 21st sheet 3):

nbc 005

These last three (second format) sheets appear very different to the other two (first format) sheets as shown above here. The format changes render direct comparison of the same page in the two different styles almost impossible. January 21st sheet three appears above in both formats, and is a case-in-point. If we use the 20:30 event (highlighted) as a focus point, it is seen that only five reports/events are listed on this sheet in the second format 'UNCLASSIFIED' version, whilst on the 'same' sheet three in the first format 'SECRET NOFORN' version this event appears towards the bottom of a full log sheet.

Why this has occurred is unclear in the record as it exists, the necessity for these changes are unexplained. It is suggested by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defence report that someone may have 'cut' instead of 'copied' files whilst transferring documents in order to review and compare them, and that this would then account for the differences.

It can be plainly seen that the original 'SECRET NOFORN' log sheets are in scanned form, this is obviously witnessed by the original ring binder hole marks, still visible on these pages. Therefore anyone making copies (or removing extracts) would be aware that you could not simply open these files in order extract parts of the contained information. If it was necessary to make changes to the original file formatting, you would have to convert the file back into editable text using a character recognition programme, and this would then be a completely different file, which would then have required re-scanning to be seen in the form which we see here.

It would have been far easier to simply make prints of the original versions. These 'second format' versions therefore cannot be construed to be true or direct copies of the original documents.

Why has someone attempted to make their re-formatted copies look (loosely) like the originals?

© Images Copyright 1991 DoD