Operation Desert Storm:

Casualties Caused by Improper Handling of Unexploded U.S. Submunitions

NSIAD-93-212: Published: Aug 6, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's handling of submunitions during Operation Desert Storm, focusing on: (1) the submunitions' dud rate; (2) whether soldiers were adequately warned about the dangers of unexploded submunitions; (3) the use of submunitions in areas occupied by soldiers; and (4) whether planned improvements will reduce friendly casualties in the future.

GAO found that: (1) the submunitions' dud rate was higher than the Army's dud rate goal; (2) design and deployment deficiencies caused higher than expected dud rates; (3) although soldiers were repeatedly warned of the dangers of unexploded submunitions, they were not trained to recognize them; (4) the lack of discipline and inadequate leadership contributed to soldiers collecting unexploded submunitions as souvenirs; (5) the Army's use of submunitions in Operation Desert Storm was reasonable, but its failure to consider the effect of unexploded submunitions increased the potential for friendly casualties; and (6) the Army has initiated improvements to reduce the submunition dud rate, and increase soldiers' awareness of submunition dangers and use in combat, but submunitions already in inventory will not be modified.

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