WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is asking all military personnel, civilian officials, and contractors to report any anomalous health episodes similar to the illnesses that have befallen diplomats and CIA officers at the US Embassy in Havana, according to a new departmentwide message.
The message, signed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is an effort to step up reporting from around the globe, and in the United States, to get treatment to those who need it and to help counterintelligence investigators gather more information about the rash of episodes that have injured at least 200 Americans.
The memo, along with other documents provided to military counterintelligence officials, lays out suspected signs of the attacks from accounts of the injured, including heat, pressure and noise. It also details symptoms associated with the so-called Havana syndrome such as nausea, headaches, pain and vertigo.
Crucially, defense officials emphasized, the memo, which was sent to 2.9 million military service members and Defense Department civilians, outlines how to respond: Quickly move away from the area.
“Timely reporting is essential and starts with knowing what to do if you experience A.H.I.,” Austin wrote, using the abbreviation for anomalous health incident.
The memo is part of a governmentwide effort to collect more information about the episodes and comes as intelligence officials continue to struggle to make clear attribution on who is responsible. Intelligence agencies are getting closer to making some conclusions, but the government is not close enough to make an “analytic judgment,” David S. Cohen, the deputy CIA director, said this week.
“There’s a classic intelligence problem, and we are approaching it with the same techniques,” Cohen said at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit. “This is a serious issue. It’s real, it’s affecting our officers, it’s affecting others around their community and in government.”
“We’re going to figure it out,” he added.
The Pentagon memo to the workforce was delayed for months as officials installed procedures to better investigate episodes and smooth the path to medical care for the injured.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.