The episode, known as Havana Syndrome, has left spies, diplomats, soldiers, and others with brain injuries.
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is asking all military personnel, civilian officials and contractors to report any unusual health episode resembling illness to diplomats and CIA officers at the US embassy in Havana, according to a new departmentwide message.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. The message, signed by Austin III, is an attempt to increase reporting from around the world and in the United States, to treat those who need it and help counter-intelligence investigators gather more information about haste. To do. of episodes injuring at least 200 Americans.
The memo, along with other documents provided to military counterintelligence officers, gives suspicious indications of attacks from the wounded’s accounts, including heat, pressure, and noise. It also details the symptoms associated with the so-called Havana syndrome such as nausea, headache, pain and dizziness.
Importantly, defense officials stressed, the memo, which was sent to 2.9 million military service members and Defense Department civilians, outlines how to respond: move away from the area quickly.
“Reporting on time is essential and begins with knowing what to do if you experience AHI,” wrote Mr. Austin, using the acronym for the odd health event.
Military personnel should then report the episode to the chain of command, security officers and medical providers, Austin wrote.
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In a memo, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III urged military personnel and civilian officials to report symptoms associated with the so-called Havana syndrome.
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The memo is part of the government’s broader effort to gather more information about the episode and comes as intelligence officials continue to struggle to make clear allegations of being responsible. Intelligence agencies are getting closer to drawing some conclusions, but the government is not doing enough to make an “analytical decision,” said deputy CIA director David S. Cohen this week.
“There is a classic intelligence problem, and we are tackling it with the same technology,” Mr Cohen said at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit. “It’s a serious issue. It’s real, it’s affecting our officers, it’s affecting their community and others in government.”
“We’re going to find out,” he said.
There are many reasons why the United States has struggled to identify who, and what, is responsible for the episode. According to some US officials, officials have recognized that intelligence services from multiple countries may be involved, each with different motives and tools to cause diseases.
Officials stressed that the multiple opponents are likely only a theory, and intelligence officials have yet to draw hard conclusions.
But Cold War-era surveillance technology developed by the Soviet Union spread to other countries, each of which has equipment that can indicate symptoms similar to previous attacks.
According to some US officials, in at least some cases of Havana syndrome, the technology was used by Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, but not to intentionally injure. But other subsequent episodes look like deliberate attacks by the GRU, these officials said.
In other cases, other than sharing technology, Russian intelligence may not be involved at all. Some intelligence agencies may have used faulty or badly calibrated microwave-based surveillance technology and inadvertently injured the US officials they were spying on.
The first batch of cases occurred in 2016 and 2017 at the US Embassy in Havana. The next grouping took place at diplomatic posts in China, a country where Russian intelligence would have been difficult to operate, with officials briefed on intelligence.
Since then, officials have tracked cases in Europe and Asia.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview this summer that multiple countries could be involved and it’s important not to dismiss different explanations.
“I don’t think we can rule out any possibility here, that there are many causes of these injuries and that many players are involved in these injuries,” Mr Schiff said. “I think any of these are possible.”
The House is considering a Senate-approved bill that would expand aid to current and former government officials injured in odd incidents and suffering from Havana syndrome. Voting in July was delayed due to partisan fighting, but some officials say another chance to vote could come by the end of the month.
In July, CIA Director William J. Burns, Told NPR that there were about 200 Havana syndrome cases, of which half were agency personnel. Since then, there have been additional episodes, including one in Vietnam, which temporarily delayed the visit of Vice President Kamala Harris to the country. Other cases have been dropped from the study, with officials believing they do not fit the pattern of the syndrome.
A senior defense official said the additional reports could help investigators learn more about the attacks, trace patterns and get closer to determining a cause.
The Pentagon’s memo to the task force was delayed for months as officials instituted procedures to better investigate episodes and facilitate the passage of medical care for the injured.
While the most severe cases among military officers will be treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, less severe cases may be treated locally.
In the memo, Mr Austin urged service members and others to report any episodes, especially those similar to Havana syndrome, which affects diplomats and CIA officers stationed in Cuba.
Mr Austin’s memo stated that the episode took place “primarily overseas”. But Pentagon officials and documents acknowledge that while this is the case, there have been some discrepancies in the United States.
Administration officials have previously said that the two episodes in the Washington, DC, area could be possible examples of Havana syndrome.
Throughout the years, the White House and other government officials have tried to raise awareness of the episode and encourage people to report symptoms of the syndrome, but at the same time avoid causing panic.
Pentagon advice is based on the experience of military personnel who have been injured and have symptoms of Havana syndrome.
This includes one case, in the fall of 2020, when a military officer serving abroad pulled his vehicle into a crossroads, then recovered from nausea and a headache. His 2-year-old son sitting in the back seat started crying. When the officer quickly turned away from the crossroads, his nausea stopped and the child stopped crying, a series of events that helped reinforce military advice that soldiers move out of the contact area as quickly as possible.