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The cause of Havana Syndrome, a mysterious illness that has affected over 1,000 government employees over the past several years, remains a mystery. Despite a recent intelligence community assessment that found no evidence to support the theory that the incidents were caused by a foreign adversary wielding a weapon, the Defense Department is continuing to conduct its own research into what the government calls “anomalous health incidents.” The Pentagon is investigating whether a weapon could be responsible, and its research arm, including the Army and Air Force research laboratories, are testing weapon systems to try to determine what could cause the symptoms.
The illness was first reported in late 2016 when a group of U.S. diplomats serving at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, experienced severe headaches, temporary loss of hearing, vertigo, and other symptoms similar to traumatic brain injury. Since then, hundreds more U.S. government personnel have reported these incidents, which many victims and experts still believe are the result of a directed-energy weapon.
The Pentagon’s research into the illness is being conducted by a “cross-functional team” mandated by Congress to address the national security challenges posed by the incidents and to ensure the victims receive adequate care. Senior department leaders are focused on the effort: DoD policy chief Colin Kahl is leading the effort, with Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregory Masiello as the military deputy, and Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, is the interagency coordination lead. The team is primarily focused on helping those affected by the incidents and is not focused on creating weapons, according to DoD spokesperson Lt. Col. Devin Robinson.
The Pentagon has long studied the possible military applications of directed energy, including lasers and high-power microwaves, and today spends roughly $1.5 billion a year looking into this technology. Directed energy weapons convert energy from a power source into radiated electromagnetic energy and focus it on a target. While they are generally designed to disable and damage electronic equipment, they can harm people as well. A wide body of research indicates a device that harnesses energy could be responsible for the Havana Syndrome incidents.
However, the intelligence community assessment released last week found it “very unlikely” a foreign adversary using a weapon was responsible for the incidents. Several lawmakers have expressed frustration with the official findings, and two of the seven intelligence agencies that participated in the assessment had low confidence in the assessment. These agencies still believe that radiofrequency energy is a plausible cause, according to a statement from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
While initial studies concluded the incidents represented a consistent pattern of injuries similar to traumatic brain injury, more recent studies have not shown a consistent set of symptoms. Additionally, a weapon would create heat and a racing pulse with victims, neither of which were consistent with what the victims experienced, according to the intelligence community. Further, the intelligence community does not have any evidence that potential adversaries have such a weapon.
Despite the intelligence community’s assessment, the Pentagon continues to study the issue, and a State Department task force is continuing to collect reports of possible incidents and coordinating care for those affected. The medical community’s thinking has “evolved” since the initial studies, according to an intelligence official. Additional research is needed to determine the cause of Havana Syndrome, and the Pentagon’s ongoing efforts may yield more information in the future.
What is Havana Syndrome?
Havana Syndrome is a mysterious illness that has affected more than 1,000 government employees over the past several years. It was first reported in late 2016 when a group of U.S. diplomats serving at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, experienced severe headaches, temporary loss of hearing, vertigo and other symptoms similar to traumatic brain injury.
What are the symptoms of Havana Syndrome?
Symptoms of Havana Syndrome include severe headaches, temporary loss of hearing, vertigo, visual disturbances, cognitive problems, and difficulty sleeping.
What causes Havana Syndrome?
The exact cause of Havana Syndrome is not yet known, but many victims and experts believe it is the result of a directed-energy weapon. Others believe that it may be caused by some type of environmental toxin.
What is a directed-energy weapon?
A directed-energy weapon is a weapon that uses electromagnetic radiation, such as lasers or microwaves, to damage or disable a target.
Who is affected by Havana Syndrome?
The victims of Havana Syndrome are primarily U.S. government employees, including diplomats, intelligence officers, and military personnel, although a few cases have been reported in Canadian and European diplomats as well.
What is being done to investigate Havana Syndrome?
The U.S. government is continuing to investigate Havana Syndrome and has set up a cross-functional team to address the incidents and ensure that the victims receive adequate care. The Pentagon is also testing weapon systems to try to determine what could cause the symptoms.
Is there a cure for Havana Syndrome?
There is currently no known cure for Havana Syndrome, although treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication are being used to manage the symptoms.
Can Havana Syndrome be fatal?
While there have been no reported deaths from Havana Syndrome, some victims have reported long-term effects such as cognitive impairment.
Have any foreign governments been implicated in Havana Syndrome?
The cause of Havana Syndrome is still unknown, and while some have speculated that foreign governments may be responsible, there is currently no evidence to support this theory.
Is Havana Syndrome a national security threat?
Havana Syndrome is considered a national security threat by the U.S. government, as it has affected government employees stationed in embassies and other diplomatic facilities around the world. The possibility that a foreign government could be using directed-energy weapons against U.S. personnel is a cause for concern.
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