Agent Orange

Legacy of Agent Orange

    Much like the famous Albert Einstein, Arthur Galston did not want or intend to lay down the groundwork for a mass weapon of war, but with his early studies of Triiodobenzoic Acid at Yale University in 1943, he did. Galston found that Triiodobenzoic Acid applied in small amount, could help induce a growth spurt in soy bean crops, but also, if applied in larger amounts, would strip the crop of its foliage. Galston later said " Science is meant to improve the lot of mankind, not diminish it - and its use as a military weapon I thought was ill-advised".

    Named for it's bright orange 55 gal. drums it was shipped in during the Vietnam War, Agent Orange is a pesticide composed of a 50/50 ratio of two chemicals conventionally known as 2,4.D and 2,4,5.T, respectively. During the manufacturing process, TCDD is formed in the substance and is a known carcinogen . To make it dispersible by spray, Agent Orange was usually mixed with an organic compound such as kerosene or diesel oil. From when it makes contact with the foliage, all plant-life defoliates between 3 to 6 weeks and is a constant in the area for 7 to 12 months.

    Although the first steps of making Agent Orange were laid down in 1943, testing began in the early 60's and was finally deployed for use in Vietnam in 1962. The name given for the mission was Operation Ranch Hand, which lasted until 1971. Only after much scrutiny from the American Association for the Advancement of Science was Agent Orange finally restricted from use in April of 1970, though other chemicals were used in its place up until 1971 in Operation Ranch Hand.

    Much testing was done in the U.S and Puerto Rico before Agent Orange was actually deployed for use in Vietnam. Once done with the testing stage, it was applied in Vietnam to the banks of rivers and highways, which were main traffic ways and vulnerable to ambush, over much of the Vietnamese forest canopy to better reveal NVA and Vietcong movements, bases, and supplies, over Vietnamese crops, and heavily to the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

    The use of Agent Orange was used to defoliate forest canopies, to better see NVA and Vietcong, destroy Vietnamese crops in hopes of sending citizens in need of food and shelter to U.S controlled cities, and finally to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was an elaborate and complex system of jungle pathways used by NVA soldiers to infiltrate South Vietnam from Cambodia.