US Army think tank urges Army Secretariat to accelerate search for alternatives to DU
The Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI) assists the US Army Secretariat in developing policies and strategies to improve or resolve environmental policy issues that may have significant short or long-term impacts on the Army.
In its May 2008 report, the AEPI states that: 'the military should continue pursuing R&D for substitutes and be prepared for increased political pressure for current and past battlefield cleanup.'
The opinion seems to have been triggered by the growing international campaign against the use of depleted uranium weapons. In particular the report's authors acknowledge the impact that repeated European Parliament resolutions have had on the global debate.
This is not the only time that the AEPI has made recommendations on DU. Their July/August 2008 report quoted the findings of the US Institute of Medicine, whose two studies into the health impact of DU and the health assessment of veterans concluded that: "...health impacts of depleted uranium exposure in military and veteran populations are difficult to determine with the available data and procedures and an assessment plan would not be easy to design." AEPI fully accepted the Institute of Medicine's recommendations for: ..."a prospective cohort study if future military operations involve exposure to depleted uranium and better integration and linkages of DOD databases for identifying health issues of current active-duty military personnel and veterans with potential DU exposure.
In acknowledging the flaws in the current framework for the surveillance of sick veterans and dearth of reliable research into historical exposure, the AEPI presented clear advice to the US Army: "Since the DU controversy continues, with pressure for creation of international regulations to ban DU munitions, the military should continue to seek alternative high-density projectile materials and glean force health protection recommendations from such studies."