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Use of Agent Orange in Vietnam

April 24th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Intro to Agent Orange | History of Herbicides and Early Beginnings of Agent Orange | Use of Agent Orange in Vietnam | Effect of its use in Vietnam


After favorable initial testing in both the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Agent Orange was shipped to Vietnam in 1960 to begin field-testing on the request of South Vietnamese high command.

What proceeded was a full-blown operation that lasted from 1962 -1971, where almost 40 million pounds of Agent Orange was sprayed over an area of 5 Million Acres. The Operation was called Ranch Hand and was carried out by crack pilots from the 309th Air Commando Squadron flying special outfitted C-123’s.

The main target areas of Operation Ranch Hand where as such

o Along the banks of the rivers and canals of South Vietnam because they were major traffic routes and the jungle vegetation made them easily susceptible to ambushes.
o Rain and evergreen forests were sprayed heavily as well because it was in these deep jungle areas that the Viet Cong hid their movements, their fortifications and movement of men and supply.
o The dense shrubberies along highways were also sprayed heavily because of the concealments they created for VC ambushes. (Harvest of Death)
o Also crops that were thought to be supplying the VC mostly coming form the mountainous region of South Vietnam


From 1962 – 1967 The use of herbicides increased three hundredfold in the span of five years. This can be mainly attributed to the fact that U.S. Army field commanders gave the use of herbicides such rave reviews and were continually asking for it to be more heavily sprayed in their sectors.

By 1971 an area of 5 million acres had been sprayed

President Nixon finally ended the Operation Ranch Hand due to growing criticism from the scientific community and a pending report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The AAAS had sent an independent team to South Vietnam to survey the effect of the mass use of Agent Orange.

o The report, while citing the need for further research into the health effects, stated that Agent Orange had caused serious ecological damage on a large scale to the Vietnam countryside.

Tags: Agent Orange