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Winter Soldier

Testimony given in Detroit, Michigan, on January 31, 1971, February 1 and 2, 1971

Sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc.


PFEIFFER. (Next Slide) Now, this is the valley in Quang Ngai that was sprayed. You see the brown swath right down that valley. The Ranch Hand boys, the ones who defoliate, the Twelfth Air Commando Squadron. I think it was that did this, got almost all that rice. Now, the colonel told the AAAS team that was all destined for NLF soldiers. In fact, they found out from the USAID people that it was all Montagnards living there.

(Next Slide) Now, we're on the Cambodian border now. I just want to show you what's really there. This is in Me Mot. This is the place, if I can diverge a little bit and get a little political, that President Nixon pointed his finger to this town and said it'd been the headquarters of the NVA in Cambodia for the last five years. He said this place was completely controlled by the NVA. Well, there they are, but if you know Indochina, they're all Cambodians.

As you know, the Vietnamese look very different from Cambodians. Cambodians are much larger, much darker, they wear totally different dress, the women do. I should also point out that in this so-called communist sanctuary in Cambodia, the Sihanouk government had invited and actually took through this area, this commie sanctuary, four American experts in July of 1969. They were taken all through, they flew over the commie sanctuaries in helicopters. One of them is Charles Minnerick from Fort Detrick and it doesn't seem logical to me that if it was what Nixon characterized it to be, that they would have allowed officers from Fort Detrick and Washington, D.C. to wander all through those sanctuaries so I think he was misinformed on that. I'm going to take you all through these communist sanctuaries in Cambodia. Here we are flying over 'em now. This is in a Royal Cambodian airplane. You see over the right wing is Black Virgin Mountain in Tay Ninh. I don't know if anybody's been up on that. A lot of people died on that mountain. It now belongs, I think, to the NLF.

(Next Slide) Here we are flying over a defoliated Cambodian rubber plantation. This, as I say, Nixon said, was completely under NVA control. The facts are these were very lucrative French-owned rubber plantations and there were many, many French people living there and Belgian, the plant pathologists with their wives and children. We asked them, "Have you seen any military activity, any soldiers?" "None at all, just a few of the Royal Cambodian Army troops." It's interesting that the rubber plantations of Cambodia were the world's second largest source of natural rubber. I dare to think of what the first source is. It's U.S. Firestone in Liberia. I don't know if there's any connection between the destruction of the second-French-owned one and the first.

(Next Slide) Cambodian rubber production is now completely destroyed. Here's the way it looked on the ground. We are now in the heart of the sanctuaries. The Vietnam border is just down that road. It was through this road that many of the American troops came across into Cambodia. I saw them on TV shooting right into this very plantation.

(Next Slide) Now, I want to show you some of the other...(you saw what happened to the rubber trees) now this is jackfruit tree. There's a little Cambodian boy. It's perfectly obvious the difference.

See, they look very different from Vietnamese. These jackfruit were killed with a single application. They're like the mangroves. They don't just defoliate, they die. See, there's a big branch of one of the earlier fruits remaining. It's a very good source of food for these people.

(Next Slide) As I say, thirty thousand people were in the area. Now this is interesting from the standpoint of a biologist because we're taking these pictures eight months after the attack and this is what is known as a custard apple. It should be about the size of a grapefruit and a nice, big, green, juicy thing, but due to this chemical (we don't yet know exactly what it was because it's hard to get anything out of Uncle Sam about this attack), whatever it was, it caused these fruits to dry out and go black. And this was very rough on these peasants. They're subsistence farmers. There are no supermarkets for them to go down and buy food. They grow most of their own food.

(Next Slide) Now this is what it did to papaya. These are leaves they have eight months later and the tree is still sick as a dog. The leaves have refoliated by now they're dying and the fruit is very, very deformed. Keep in mind, these herbicidal weapons are very, very effective against subsistence farmer populations of the sort that we have in Indochina, Africa, and South America and if we don't put a stop to their use now, I think we're going to see them employed against Third World peoples on a tremendous scale. We were told when we were in Vietnam the only limits to the operation at that time was the fact that they did not have enough C-123s and crews to do it. Now, I want to conclude by showing you--I just can't resist showing you--what happened to the Cambodians at Dak Dahm. That is a Soviet thirty-seven millimeter aircraft gun, which they have every right to have, and it had fired at an American plane. While we were there, we saw at least three aircraft openly violate, fly right over, right across Cambodia--American aircraft. The whole gun crew here was killed, of course.

(Next Slide) Here's a trench. About fifteen of them were dug out of this trench where they were taking cover. On the skyline there is Vietnam and the Special Forces camp at Bu Prang. We can see it. What made the Americans mad and was that they want to be able to fly over Cambodia to maintain good aerial reconnaissance and because the Cambodians had the gall to defend their air space, they decided to take out this post.

(Next Slide) There is the smashed up hospital. And it was well-marked. There were bomb craters about one hundred feet away from this. We picked up medicine, etc. The point about this hospital was it was at least a quarter of a mile from the gun positions. It was deliberately attacked. I'm ashamed to have to...it breaks my heart to have to say this about...what our government had done. Whether this is an aberrant phenomenon, I don't know...but I saw this with my own eyes. Here are the broken bottles.

(Next Slide) This is Art Westing down in one of these craters. This is a five hundred pound bomb crater. This is the one that knocked over the hospital. It was not aimed at the military installation at all.

MODERATOR. Thank you very much, Dr. Pfeiffer. In order to facilitate a considerable amount of questioning later, rather than allowing questions now (we had fewer panelists here than we had with the other group), we'll go on with the testimony and then we'll all tie it together for you in the end. The next person to speak to you will be Mr. Doug Hostetter, who will discuss the actual effects of chemical-biological warfare programs on people, animals and crops in the Southeast Asian area.

HOSTETTER. My name is Doug Hostetter. I'm a resident of Harrisonburg, Virginia, currently in school in New York City in the New School for Social Research, graduate study in Sociology. I worked for three years for Vietnam Christian Service from July 1966 until June 1969 in Community Development in the village of Dahm Ke in the Province of Quong Thimh, South Vietnam. During that time, I learned to speak Vietnamese and lived in the area and learned to know the people quite well. I recently got back from a National Student Association trip both to Saigon and Hanoi during the month of December. I spent ten days in Saigon and at that time and eight days in Hanoi and surrounding areas. I'll speak a little bit first about the use of defoliation and the movement of personnel, specifically refugees. Quong Thinh Province has a population of about 300,000 people. According to the government statistics in 1966, over 100,000 people in this area were refugees. The people from western Quong Thinh from about a kilometer west of Route 1 all the way to the Laotian border, were almost completely removed with the exception of two Special Forces camps--one at Dien Phuk and one at Han Duc. The movement of these refugees was done in a number of ways. Earlier there had been attempts to move them by taking American troops in with helicopters and bringing them out by helicopters. They were unable to get all of the people in this method, and in some areas, it was too insecure to take in American choppers. So for these areas, they would go across the areas, heavily defoliating the areas. I speak Vietnamese and I would go out to the Vietnamese in the reception center and ask them about the situation in the homes where they had come from.

All of the areas west of Quong Thinh have been heavily defoliated. The reason why most of the people came in was because there was no more food to eat or because they were forcibly brought in by American helicopters. The people said that usually right around the harvest time, the planes would come over and defoliate the whole area. It would destroy all of the rice crop and any other above-the-ground vegetation. Sweet potatoes and peanuts that were reasonably developed could be dug up and could be lived on for a short period of time, but if an area was repeatedly defoliated, they were not able to subsist from one planting to the next on sweet potatoes and peanuts and so they would be forced to come in. During this time I did have the chance at times to go into areas which were defoliated by American planes out of Da Nang. In March of '68 I went into villages, the village of Ke Phu, Quong Thinh Province, and talked with the farmers and villagers in this area. They informed me that about four or five days before I had come there, the area had been defoliated. I checked back and the attempt had been to defoliate the village of Ke Ahn, which at that time was under the control of the National Liberation Front, but that morning there had been heavy coastal winds which had lifted the defoliants up over one village and landed them down in Ke Phu and Ke Troung villages. I spoke with farmers and they informed me that they had lost cattle, pigs, water buffalo, ducks, and chickens.

Another farmer showed me the dead animals.

I talked to quite a number of the farmers and I made up a list of how many water buffalo, pigs, and cattle the farmers had lost because this was in a Saigon government village. I took the list with the names of the villagers, the hamlets, and the villages which they had come from, and took it to the MACV headquarters in Dahm Ke. I spoke with the Deputy Province Adviser for Quong Thinh Province and also with a number of CORDSC people--Civilian Organization Revolutionary Development Support Command. I spoke with both of these men and I informed them of the villages that had been defoliated and according to CORDSC regulations, they had to go back and pay these villagers for their losses in livestock and losses in rice, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. When I told the officers about the cattle, pigs, and water buffalo being lost, they referred me to the Army Manual which assured me that these defoliants do not in any way harm or injure any human beings or animals so, therefore, these animals did not die. I gave them the names of the farmers, the hamlets from which they came, and the villages and districts, and asked them to go out and speak with the farmers and persuade them that their animals had not died. They all declined at this point. There were no reparations paid for crops or animals killed during this time. You were informed by Dr. Pfeiffer that after much pressure from American scientists, Agent Orange has been discontinued officially by the American forces in South Vietnam. What has happened is that these defoliants have been turned over to the Vietnamese government so that the Americans no longer have control over Agent Orange and its use. According to American officials.

Two weeks ago, Judy Coburn of the Institute of Policy Studies was in the airport of Da Nang and saw the barrels of Agent Orange standing in the airport. When asking about it, she was again informed that these are no longer under American control. You also noted from the photographs that the airplanes which are now flying the defoliation missions are marked with Vietnamese markings so that it is an official Vietnamese operation now. However, due to the fact that they have no Vietnamese pilots that can fly C-123s they have to be flown by American pilots. But it is a Vietnamese operation now and the Americans officially are not using Agent Orange in Vietnam. You will be glad to hear that, I'm sure. While I was in Hanoi, I spoke with Dr. Nguyen Swong Nguyen of the Bien Vinh Hanoi Hospital. He works in the ward that is dedicated to Southerners, which treats the Southerners, that come up to the North. I will read just a few quotes from his report from our interview:

In our hospital we have 903 patients from the South. One hundred seventy-nine of these show the effects of chemicals; of these, 90 are men, 19 are women, and 70 are children. They have lived in the affected zones for periods of two months to five years. When speaking of the symptoms, the first symptoms (this is in people who have been exposed to defoliation) appear in 24 hours to a few days. These are irritations of the eyes and nose. After this time there is disturbance of the digestive system, vomiting and diarrhea. Those hit directly also have irritation of the skin and later swelling. In addition to these symptoms, there are other symptoms which appear later, perhaps as complications of the earlier effects, and some as direct but chronic effects. The most important is malaise and asthenia (general weakness). Treatment involves five to six months in bed. Another symptom is weakness of the eyes. Patients can read no more than three to five minutes. Ocular complications result in hyperocudidity, lesions affecting up to 24.6% of the eye. Of the 19 women we have treated in North Vietnam, four of them were pregnant. One was delivered in South Vietnam, the other three in the north. One child was normal, the other three were abnormal. One child was one month premature. All of the mothers had been in the defoliated areas, at least through the sixth through the eighth week of pregnancy. The mothers were all normal, and had not taken any medication during pregnancy, and none had ever been x-rayed. There were no abnormalities in any of their families for three generations. One of the abnormal children was a typical Mongoloid, and another was a Mongoloid plus microcephalic, and the third was a Mongoloid with many other abnormalities. Mongoloidism usually occurs in older women, but these women ranged in age from 23 to 37. For three of the women, it was her first child, and for the fourth, it was her third. The first child, which I met, and talked with the mother and saw the child (these pictures I've all taken personally) is Wang Thi Tute, 3 years old, and his mother is Lei Ting Yu Mai. She was from Quong Nam Province, Phuk Shan village. The mother lived four years in the defoliated zone, but was never hit directly by the chemical spray. She drank water and ate food from the area. The child shows effects of being a typical Mongoloid; the eyelids have an extra wrinkle typical of Mongoloidism, and there is only one crossline across the palm. Feet and hands can both be bent back in the wrong direction, and the heels can easily be made to touch the ear. The child cannot walk or talk, except to say "Mama." The second child is Nguyen Thi Thi, and the mother is Trang Thi Chuc, Quang Tri Province, the village of Trich Phung. The mother lived two months in a defoliated zone. When seven weeks pregnant, she was hit directly with defoliation chemicals. She went to the North when she was four months pregnant and the child was born there; this was her first child. The child has one line across the palm, has a small head, and shows symptoms of having no cerebrum. The child convulses with legs crossed and head tilted backwards. The hard palate of the mouth is much higher than normal; there are lesions in the respiratory system. When the child breathes, the neck immediately above the chest collapses inward. The child can only eat, defecate, and urinate. The third child is Wang Thi Aich; the mother had two previous. The mother Wang Thi Li, 37 years old, Quang Tri Province, Cam Lo village. The mother had two previous children, 15 years of age and 17 years of age. Both are normal. The mother was hit directly with chemical spray when seven weeks pregnant. The child was born in North Vietnam. The child's head is flat from behind with prominent forehead; index finger is flat, three toes are abnormally long. The left foot has six toes. Tear ducts, instead of running out onto the eyes, run down into the nose, causing choking when the child cries. Tears run into the nose cavity and back into the throat, and it also causes permanent infection of the eyes. The child can neither stand nor walk, has very low intelligence, can cry, but cannot talk. And here's another shot of two of the mothers with some of the NSA team that met with them and talked with them in the North. Thank you.

MODERATOR. Thank you very much, Doug. Our next testimony will come from Mr. Art Kanegis. The information we will be discussing is with reference to automated battlefield equipment, electronic equipment, detection and anti-personnel weapons which are specifically covered in the laws and rules of Land Warfare. Art, introduce yourself.

KANEGIS. My name is Arthur Kanegis and I work with NARMIC, which stands for National Action and Research on the Military Industrial Complex. I'm not a veteran, but I'm very pleased to be invited to come to this meeting. I'm not like most of your other panelists, speaking from first hand experience, but rather from research that we've done on the staff of NARMIC. NARMIC, by the way, is a special project set up by the American Friends Service Committee which is the Quaker organization. I'd like to start off by trying to give you some sense of the military's projections in the automated battlefield area by starting off with a simple science fiction scenario. The earthman leaves his hut, to slip through the rainy forest, to an isolated spot where he will join his comrades in the struggle against the invading masters. Jungle sounds penetrate the dark night air, but otherwise the woods are quiet. No one is in sight, and there is no indication that the invading masters are in the area. The earthman feels confident. He does not know it, but his every step is being felt by ADSID sensors. Every word he speaks is being listened to and recorded by Acousid. He is smelled by an XM-3. If he is carrying a hoe or a gun, that too is registered by a magnetic sensor. This information is relayed through a communication link to an EC121R Relay Platform in the sky. As he makes his way toward the spot in the jungle where he will join his comrades, a blip appears in the SRP, Sensory Reporting Post of the STANO Control Room. Computers whir, lights flash, and a blip appears on the screen. The lone earthman is watched as he and five other blips approach the same spot. The computer measures his speed, 2.31 miles per hour. It measures the speed of his comrades, and computes when they will reach their destination, figuring in the terrain and other relevant factors. With a flash of electricity this information is fed into the huge ADSAF computer network, which instantaneously correlates this information with previous intelligence data and with information from the SLAR radar and the ICR night vision device to determine the mission of the grouping earthman. The mission, the IBM 360 decides, is dangerous.

Another bolt of electricity carries the word to the Tacfire Central computer. This computer determines the appropriate tactical response and flashes this information to one of the interlinked data processing systems in the field. Seconds later, the field computer sends coordinates of the earthman to a fully automated high firepower aircraft with an array of night vision capability sensors.

From a point high above the gathering earthmen, the B57G and a nearby F4 are automatically steered over the target. One aircraft releases a laser guided bomb automatically released by the computer at the appropriate time. Another releases an EO or Wall Eye television guided bomb with a television camera in its nosecone focused clearly on the six earthmen. This Wall Eye Two bomb follows this picture on a self-contained TV screen correcting its course with a wave of its movable fins until it reaches the target. The highly lethal firepower eliminates this threat to the invading masters and successfully sanitizes the area. Meanwhile in Zone F, another blip appears on the screen. Does this sound as if it were set in the year 2000 by a science fiction writer? It's actually set for the 1970s by the U.S. Pentagon. In fact, at this very moment, in a war room in Fort Hood, Texas, the MASTER group, which stands for Mobile Army Sensor Systems Test Evaluation and Review, is evaluating reports on TAC fire, Tactical Fire Direction System in the integrated battlefield control system. In July of 1969, the U.S. Army set up a program called Surveillance Target Acquisition and Night Observation to plan, test, and put into operation a totally controlled and computerized electronic battlefield. William Westmoreland, who commanded the U.S. forces in Vietnam and is now Army Chief of Staff, discussed the automated battlefield in a speech to the Association of the U.S. Army last year.

"On the battlefield of the future," Westmoreland said, "enemy forces will be located, tracked, and targeted almost simultaneously through the use of data links, computer assisted intelligence evaluation and automatic fire control." These weapons, the computer systems for detection, have been used both in Cambodia, Vietnam, and in Laos--largely, so far, on an experimental basis. They have been testing detection systems which amplify the light of the stars, and numerous other detection systems which are integrated into the ADSAF, Automatic Data System for the Army in the Field.

Some of the information on these sensors was released by the Senate Armed Services Committee in hearings released last week and they do show pictures of some of these sensory devices, but they're probably too small for many of you to see. But in this case the Accuboy is a sensor that's camouflaged, dropped in a jungle and it catches in the trees. Here it's camouflaged and it looks like part of the jungle, but it actually picks up voices and during the hearings in Washington, they played tapes in which you could hear the Vietnamese talking as they walked by, hear what they were saying...very clear detection of everything that was being said in the jungle below. And this APSID is a seismic detector that falls down into the ground and gets buried in the ground with just the antenna sticking up. It, too, can continue to transmit data to the data links and to the computers. They're moving more and more toward the computers, but they're starting with a lot of man-controlled elements.

During these hearings, they mentioned specific use of this in the EGLO White program in Laos; it's a specific operation called Commando Bolt. An assessment officer monitors the sensor activations in the area of interest. When he recognizes the target signature from a particular sensor stirring, he calls up on his cathode ray tube a sketch of the road net which that string of sensors is monitoring. The computer automatically displays and updates on the CRT the movement of the target along the road. He then can instruct one or a number of the F4s, which I mentioned earlier, to enter these coordinates into the aircraft's computer. This gives the aircraft a course to steer to that point and produces an automatic release of ordnance at the proper time, to hit the target.

Now this automated battlefield program has been a very top-priority item within the Pentagon. It was originally conceived as the McNamara Line, or it was derisively called that, which was the idea of setting up a line that would cut off all infiltration from the North. It would cut off infiltration from North Vietnam, but when that seemed to be failing, the Army response, rather than dropping a program that seemed to be failing, was to put more money for a larger program into it.

The Defense Communications Project Group, which oversees this, is authorized to use the highest industrial priorities, according to these hearings, to guide its development and procurement efforts. "This speeds up work by putting us at the head of the line," this general says, "for materials, facilities, and contracting." He says that virtually every U.S. ground unit in South Vietnam is now applying sensors to detect the enemy. Also training programs have been set up in a Central Sensor School in Vietnam to train the Vietnamese in using these, who, according to these hearings, have taken over 47% of the use of sensors in ground tactical operations in Vietnam.

The U.S. Border Patrol in the United States is also using some of these sensors to patrol the borders of the U.S. You may have read of some recent incidents like in Mexico where they were using these to detect possible border crossings with marijuana and things of this sort. The Justice Department has also put out contracts for surveillance-type data of this sort to bring home some of this technology to use on the home front. So what they bragged about during the hearings was that they've been able to reduce the normal five to seven year defense development cycle by a factor of four. That is, the period elapsed from the time that the need was discerned for these sensors until the time they were placed in the hands of the troops was fifteen to twenty-two months rather than the usual five to seven years. So it has been, as I mentioned, a top priority item within the military. When the army outlined its eight major items for the '70s, automated battlefield components composed most of the list. The expenditures on this according to these hearings are $1.6 billion, which is, when you think about it compared to anything else like the poverty program or HEW, is just phenomenal. Much larger than expenditures for federal aid to education or anything else.

However, according to columnist Jack Anderson, this figure is actually an underestimate. You get that feeling clearly from the hearings, too, when they talk about various parts of it that are funded under other agencies. So, in fact, it probably comes closer to four billion that's been spent on developments for the automated battlefield. An important part of this is not that these sensors are tied in to a total system. The automated battlefield concept is not just a concept of sensors, but as it comes through in these hearings it's using these sensors and in tying them in through the data links and through the various data processing equipment to automatically release the weapons that are actually used in Vietnam.

Most of the weapons outlined in the hearings are anti- personnel weapons. Well, many of them are anti-personnel weapons, some of which has been used before in North Vietnam and South Vietnam, but which are constantly being modernized and improved with newer and better versions. I want to show these slides. This is Ken Kirkpatrick who is with the American Friends Service Committee office in Seattle. He took the pictures that you are about to see. With him is one of the girls who is a napalm victim. You can see her hands. Here's a Laotian holding up what they call the pineapple bomb.

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Updated Thursday, January 28, 1999

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