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No Small Feat

January 4, 2002 - WASHINGTON (DeploymentLINK) -- The ongoing investigation into the Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense, or SHAD, tests is a detective story worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Finding the historical records of these tests is complicated by the fact that in the 1960s, joint operations were not so common. The U.S. Army planned the SHAD tests, but only a few Army boats were involved. For the most part the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps conducted the tests with assistance from the Air Force.

The primary planning for the SHAD program was done at Deseret Test Center, a facility that has been closed for decades. What records were kept were stored in different geographic areas from the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah to Fort Detrick, Md. Identifying who may have been involved in a particular test involves finding personnel records in the Navy archives. Navy deck logs are not found in the military system at all. Instead, they are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal agency that helps preserve the nation's history by overseeing the management of federal records.

When the desired test records are located, there is still the task of declassification. Most of the operation plans and results of these tests remain classified. These documents contain operational information about ship vulnerability to and defenses against chemical and biological weapons. For that reason, they cannot be completely declassified. Investigators must comb through the documents found to ferret out the information that relates to possible hazardous agent or exposure data. That specific information is then requested to be declassified, and will be provided to the VA for evaluating medical concerns veteran may have.

This kind of research can't be performed by computers, scanners or any automated machines. The answers will only be uncovered by the painstaking efforts of human detectives.

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