Agent Orange in Laos

The following was sent to me reference Agent Orange use in Laos

Question from a reader: Dan, I served in the air Force, NKP. and visited
Laos to retrieve aircraft. With the acknowledgment of the Medal of Honor
award to an Air Force Sgt will any of us from NKP or who were assigned to
missions in Laos ever get compensation for Agent Orange or PTSD. I have been
trying since 1977, when the AO situation found its way into congress.
1. _Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Navy Base - Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia_ (
During the Vietnam War Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base (NKP) was a
... In September 1959, North Vietnam formed Group 959 in Laos with the
aim of ... - _Cached_
l=us) - _Similar_
2. [PDF]
_Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base in the Vietnam War_
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - _Quick View_
and Recovery Squadron from NKP. Some nights guys on base or in town
watched Laotian Air Force AC-47 gunships or NKP's own AC- ... - _Similar_

3. _Nakhon Phanom During The Secret War 1962-1975_
NAKHON PHANOM, Thailand (UPI)- The U.S. Air Force is waging a secret and
... The scope of combat in Laos has never reached the level of that in South
Vietnam, .... Picture provided by Fred Nowak 56th Avionics Sq NKP July 68
- July 69 ...
( See references and endnotes at web site
Agent Orange in Laos: Documentary Evidence
By Andrew Wells-Dang
Expanded version, August 2002
The 1962 Geneva Accords proclaimed Laos a neutral country and forbade
outside military involvement there. As the war in Vietnam escalated, however,
neither the US nor North Vietnam was able to resist intervening. Local
Laotian revolutionaries and their Vietnamese allies built a network of paths
along the border, later termed the “Ho Chi Minh Trail,” and covert US
operations used every means available to try to stop them. One of the earliest of
these efforts, Operation Tiger Hound, began in November 1965 and set out to
“combine in one program [all] the air tactics and techniques developed
thus far in Laos and South Vietnam.”_[i]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn1)
Among these methods was “defoliating jungle growth along selected routes,”
using herbicides such as Agent Orange “to improve visibility.”_[ii]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn2) [2] Already being sprayed in South
Vietnam, herbicides had a military purpose of clearing land around roads and
trails so that enemy movements could be detected and stopped. The environmental
and human consequences never entered the calculation; nor, with few
exceptions, did the international legality of spraying ever trouble American
leaders. By far the greater concern was preservation of secrecy, in case
evidence of chemical use might be turned to Communist propaganda advantage.
The primary tactic in the “secret war” was bombing, which caused immense
damage in almost every province of Laos. The use of herbicides, a sideshow
to a sideshow, was reported on during the conflict but officially denied
until 1982, when Air Force historian William Buckingham’s draft of the
Operation Ranch Hand study was made public under a Freedom of Information Act
request by the National Veterans Task Force on Agent Orange. In a subsequent
New York Times interview, former US Ambassador William Sullivan said that “
secret” was not the right word to describe the herbicide program: “Rather,
it was not admitted or confirmed.”_[iii]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn3) [3]
In response to a November 1969 Congressional query, the Military
Assistance Command-Vietnam provided a classified summary of 434 sorties in Laos from
flight records beginning on December 3, 1965 and ending September 7,
1969._[iv]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn4) [4] Additional mission reports
from the HERBS database, made public through the Environmental Support
Group, continue until October 1, 1970._[v]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn5)
[5] In total, missions were flown on 209 dates, spraying 537,495 gallons—a
figure that is surely incomplete, but already significant, though far short
of the approximately 21 million gallons sprayed on South Vietnam.
Air Force spraying was heaviest during the first half of 1966, with more
than 200 sorties spraying approximately 200,000 gallons of Agent
Orange._[vi]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn6) [6] Spraying continued at a
relatively rapid rate until February 1967, when with the exception of one mission
listed in May 1967 it ceased until November 1968. Buckingham’s Ranch Hand
study lists a condensed version of spraying over the same period, totaling
419,850 gallons over 163,066 acres._[vii]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn7)
[7] Agent Orange was the primary herbicide used (about 75%), followed by
Agents Blue (15%) and White (10%).
No complete list of targets and locations has been found; detailed records
from some periods have been handed over to the demining agency, UXO Lao,
while others may be scattered in military archives. The limited number of
maps and coordinates found at the National Archives suggest that the greatest
concentration of spraying occurred north and south of the Demilitarized
Zone near the Vietnamese border in Savannakhet and Attapeu provinces._[viii]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn8) [8] After the chemicals had been
applied for 1-2 weeks, fighter-bombers would return to strike any targets
revealed in the area._[ix]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn9) [9]
Declassified documents do record the aircraft used for Air Force
operations: mostly C-123s from the Ranch Hand operations in South Vietnam, as well
as a limited number of F-4s. Both types were flown from Bien Hoa air base as
well as off ships in the South China Sea. At one point, military
authorities proposed establishing a Thailand-based spray capability;_[x]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn10) [10] whether this ever occurred is unknown,
although herbicide tests were conducted at Thai air bases as early as
1964-65._[xi]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn11) [11]
As with bombing runs on North Vietnam, Laos was also a secondary target:
on at least one occasion in October 1966, when adverse weather conditions
hampered spraying near the DMZ in South Vietnam, Operation Ranch Hand’s
planes sprayed Laos instead._[xii]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn12) [12] A
January 1969 memo from the Chemical Operations Division at MACV
headquarters in Saigon notes that “the legality of these out-of-country operations is
uncertain” and cites increasing risks from ground fire near the DMZ. The
author, Maj. Gen. Elias Townsend, recommends that herbicides be used only in
“high risk” areas and in conjunction with “suppressive fighter attacks.”
_[xiii]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn13) [13] As the bombing of Laos
increased dramatically after the “bombing pause” on North Vietnam starting
in late 1968, the role of herbicides in Laos declined, as they fell short of
the total war the US was beginning to wage.
The use of herbicides was quickly expanded to the destruction of enemy
crops. Citing effective use in South Vietnam, Gen. William Westmoreland first
proposed crop destruction in Laos in May 1966._[xiv]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn14) [14] Records from MACV list 64 crop destruction missions in
Laos from September 1966-September 1969, targeting a total of 20,485
acres. Agent Blue was the most frequently used chemical on these flights._[xv]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn15) [15] US Admiral McCain later
attributed part of Gen. Vang Pao’s short-lived 1969 capture of the Plain of Jars to
crop destruction missions there._[xvi]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn16)
[16] And after the Lao government banned opium cultivation in 1971,
herbicides were used to destroy hilltribe poppy crops as late as 1974._[xvii]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn17) [17] One mission report from 1969
describes “a highly successful attack on enemy rice crops in North Laos…almost
four thousand acres destroyed just before harvest.”_[xviii]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn18) [18] One wonders if the “enemy rice crops” were able
to fight back.
The “experimental” use of herbicides outside of South Vietnam had been
under consideration by the Department of Defense since October 1962 for a
broad, undefined area around “the Cambodian-Laotian-North Vietnam border”
_[xix]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn19) [19]—a difficult task given that
Cambodia and North Vietnam had no common border, with several southern
Laotian provinces in between. This excessive plan was never implemented in full,
but it gives a sense of what was to follow.
Ambassador Sullivan expressed nervous opposition at first, citing “
allegations concerning earlier [US] uses of chemical weapons in Laos.”_[xx]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn20) [20] Exactly what those allegations were is
unclear, but they presumably refer to chemicals other than herbicides. The
increasing sense of alarm over the movements of personnel and materials
along the “Ho Chi Minh Trail,” however, soon removed his scruples over the
program. Sullivan recognized that interdiction would require “massive
amounts of defoliants,” along with “Washington discussion at high levels,” since
herbicide use “would involve the overt violation of the 1962 agreements on
Laos.”_[xxi]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn21) [21]
In November 1965, soon before the Air Force spraying program was to begin,
Sullivan wrote in a memo to Washington, “I am convinced that our efforts
in Laos, particularly along infiltration route, are critical to US forces
engaged in South Vietnam…We can carry on these efforts only if we do not,
repeat do not, talk about them, and when necessary, if we deny that they are
taking place.”_[xxii]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn22) [22]
Not everyone followed the ambassador’s suggestions. The first stories in
the US press broke in December 1965._[xxiii]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn23) [23] In February 1966, the Washington Post and New York Times ran
stories on defoliation operations in Laos, claiming that 12-16 UC-123s had
been diverted from the Ranch Hand program in Vietnam. To the State Department
’s consternation, the Times quoted one American official in Saigon saying,
“We’re going to turn the Ho Chi Minh Trail brown. We’re mounting a
maximum effort over there every day.”_[xxiv]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn24)
[24] A telegram from Gen. William Westmoreland later that year put the
same message in more formal language: “During all phases, there will be an
intensification of psychological warfare and herbicide operations…through the
Laotian Panhandle…We must use all assets at our disposal to block, deny,
spoil and disrupt this infiltration.”_[xxv]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn25) [25]
Former chief Air Force historian Richard Kohn claims that spraying in Laos
took place “with the permission of the Laotian government”_[xxvi]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn26) [26] headed by then-President Souvanna
Phouma. However, archival documents make it clear that Ambassador Sullivan and
other officials provided very little specific information to the Lao, who
may have preferred to remain uninformed of the details of covert US
operations carried out in their country. Sullivan wrote to the State Department in
August 1965 that “Much of what we are now doing in the [Ho Chi Minh Trail]
corridor is known only in vague outline to Souvanna and I’m sure he prefers
it that way.”_[xxvii]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn27) [27] Later,
however, Assistant Secretary of State Bundy wrote to Acting Secretary Ball
that Prime Minister Souvanna specifically requested the use of
herbicides._[xxviii]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn28) [28]
Congress was also kept in the dark. When details of the “secret war”
first began to emerge in 1969, Sen. William J. Fulbright told Amb. Sullivan, by
then promoted to State Department undersecretary, that “this is not the
way to do business…I do not really see any justification for keeping
[operations in Laos] secret from the American people.”_[xxix]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn29) [29] At the same hearing, however, the cover-up continued,
as the US air attache in Laos, Col. Robert Tyrell, testified that the
reconnaissance and defoliation flights conducted almost daily since 1965 were
flown “on occasion.” When asked specifically about herbicides, Tyrell
answered, “I believe that since I returned to Laos in June of last year [1968]
we have had four defoliation missions.”_[xxx]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn30) [30] In fact, there had been at least 19.
Whether defoliation continued after 1970 remains an open question. As a
result of increased public outcry, restrictions began to be placed on
herbicide use by the US military. In March 1971, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird
requested that he personally approve any herbicide operations in “Laos,
Cambodia, or Thailand.”_[xxxi]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn31) [31]
Air Force records show that UC-123 planes, whose sole purpose had been listed
as “defoliation,” conducted 860 sorties over Laos from January-June 1971,
but no further details are given._[xxxii]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn32) [32]
All of the above data refers only to spraying carried out by the US Air
Force using fixed-wing aircraft. It may not be a complete record even of
these operations, although the start and end date can be confirmed by multiple
sources in the declassified record. What is not included here is any
spraying conducted by helicopter or directly from the ground. Both the Air Force
as well as other units had this capability.
Also unconfirmed is herbicide use by Air America or the CIA, whose records
are still closed._[xxxiii]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn33) [33] In
an April 1968 interview, the vice-president of Air America declared that
his company had been contracted by the Department of Defense to defoliate
vegetation in Vietnam, Laos, and southern Thailand, based from the Udon Thani
airbase._[xxxiv]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn34) [34] The 1971-3
opium destruction missions were probably carried out on this basis, and
secondary sources also report that the CIA had spray mission capability._[xxxv]_
(mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn35) [35] Air Force records do not list any
UC-123 aircraft at Udon Thani during this period, suggesting that other
aircraft might have been used; however, 7 UC-123’s were present at the Nakhon
Phanom airbase in 1970 and 1971, presumably for defoliation
purposes._[xxxvi]_ (mip://08bcc260/default.html#_edn36) [36] Further research is needed to
confirm the extent of additional herbicide use in Laos.
see Laos down the page
1. _Agent Orange: Herbicide Tests and Storage Outside the U.S. ..._
Jump to _Laos_
QygQ4Cg) ý: Laos. Location: Laos Dates: 12/1965 - 1967. Project
Description: In December 1965, ... Agents: Orange DoD Involvement: Yes. back to top.
1. _Dioxin, dibenzofuran, and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels in
..._ (
by A Schecter - 2003 - _Cited by 3_
oi=science_links&ct=sl-citedby&resnum=4&ved=0CCwQzgIwAzgK) - _Related
Smaller areas of Laos and Cambodia were also sprayed with Agent Orange
between 1962 and 1971 from fixed-wing aircraft. In 2001, 28 food samples
consisting ...

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I have been turned down several time for disability with the VA for type II diabetes. I served 9 months in agent orange areas of Laos in 1967-1968. They have ignored my Laos service. I have even asked my Congressman to look into the matter after the 40 year + it took go give the USAF man the Medal Of Honor. The VA still ignored the fact that they sprayed before my service and during my service in Laos. Anyone have more to go on of any more news on this subject. I have had type II diabetes since my late 20's. Dave Ross

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