Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Legacy of Agent Orange

From 1961 through 1971, The U.S. waged massive chemical warfare campaign against Vietnam known first as Operation Trail Dust, then as Operation Hades, and lastly as Operation Ranch Hand. The program was pursuing two objectives. Firstly, the military wanted to deprive the enemy from a cover under which he could hide, and secondly to deny food to them. Between 1962 and 1964, The U.S. military tested several herbicides such Agent Orange, Agent Purple and Agent White. The colors refer to the stripes painted on their 55 gallon containers. Last year the Canadian Defense Department admitted that the U.S. had tested Agent Orange over a New Brunswick Canadian Military Base during the early 60s, provoking the outrage of local residents.By the end of 64, Agent Orange was chosen for the operational phase of the program. The herbicide, mixed with kerosene or diesel fuel, was mostly sprayed from modified US Air Force C-123K Provider aircrafts. The operation reached its height in 1967 and 1968, at which time an improved version known as "Orange II" was introduced. The program was abandoned in 1971. By then, thousands of square kilometers had been sprayed with about 77 million liters of herbicide. A 2003 American report, paid for by the National Academy of Sciences, estimates that 3,181 villages were sprayed and that as many as 4.8 million people "would have been present during the spraying."Some area were particularly targeted such the delta of the Mekong River or the city of Ben Tre where, according to Red Cross statistics, 58,000 out of 140,000 residents are victims of Agent Orange. Read full story

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