Dugway Proving Ground officials can no longer give immediate answers to reporters' questions about any of the base's activities that could involve Operation Desert Storm - and nowadays, that's just about everything Dugway does.
Dugway, located in Tooele County, is one of the Army's primary bases for testing biological and chemical warfare defenses, although other activities are carried out there, from training to test-flights of cruise missiles. It is part of the Army Material Command, based in Alexandria, Va.Dugway officers briefed members of the state's Dugway Advisory Committee Tuesday about the new rules that prevent release of certain information as quickly as was possible before.
"Our approval level for information has been raised," Carol Fruik, Dugway's deputy public affairs officer, told the Deseret News after the meeting. "Rather than from Dugway, now we have to get approval for (answers to) media inquiries from the Army Material Command."
When reporters have questions, Dugway's information specialists will send the questions to Alexandria, along with their proposed responses. There the answers must be approved before they can be released locally.
Approval could take several days. No reply had arrived by Tuesday on a query sent to Alexandria last Thursday. Adding to the complications are the facts that the Eastern time zone is two hours later than Utah's, that the lunch hours don't coincide and that the officers in Alexandria work eight hours in a day while Dugway's four-day-per-week work day is 10 hours per day.
"This narrows it down," she said. The reply must come during the short "window" when both bases are operating.
The chances of getting a quick response are better after the advent of fax messages than they would have been before, because someone coming back from a lunch break in Alexandria can find a fax message waiting from Utah. The calls don't have to be made when both officers are working at full capacity.
The new restriction was imposed to increase the level of security for Desert Storm, she said. It applies to any question about an item being tested or something that could be sent to the Middle East.
"Basically, that's just about all our work at this point," she said.