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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. I actually took those pictures with Ken. This is in a Laotian refugee camp outside of Vietnam. These people had been moved forcibly from the plain of Jars, their ancestral northern part--well, I wouldn't say forcibly, they told us they couldn't withstand the bombing, so they agreed to come down near Vietnam in the American-held area. They brought with them this souvenir, a pineapple bomb, which did not go off. These people had fashioned a little war-wick lamp out of this. They're very innovative, I think. They put it to positive use.

KANEGIS. I can just say that the last one has little fragments embedded in its side. When it explodes it spews out in all directions, tearing into people's flesh. Even if it just struck them in their arm, the pellets could run up through their body and be almost impossible to remove. Now let me go on to these other things. This particular one shown here, what do the Laotians call it?

PFEIFFER. This is a guava bomb.

KANEGIS. This is the one where the strings are shot out. The term for it was spider bomb, the term used in the electronic battlefield hearings is wide-area anti-personnel munition, which they abbreviate Wampum. In the picture in the automated battlefield hearings, they show a large canister that looks like an egg box with all the little wide-area anti-personnel munitions falling out. These have a spring in them that shoots out a string in all directions.

BRAUM. It's not a proximity type device; it has a chemical timing fuse in it. These are tripped as the spring goes out as it passed out of the casing of the bomb. It can spread destruction in a wide area, somewhere as much as a 60-yard circle which is representative of about the size of a rice paddy. It has the possibility of getting five or six people immediately. If these bombs do not go off immediately, a slight jar will set them off later. So people who have been in an area that's been bombed could conceivably come back into the area to work, feeling they were secure from no air raid, and dislodge one of these, or disturb it, committing havoc again as a result of it.

KANEGIS. In this particular one, the springs shoot out a string that's triggered. This is a mine, rather than a bomb. But if anyone walks through the area and touches the string, this immediately explodes, and like the guava bomb, it would have pellets embedded in it that would tear into people's flesh. The military nomenclature is a wide-area anti-personnel weapon. It's not aimed at, and wouldn't even be effective against, sandbags or military installations, only against unprotected human flesh. It couldn't be considered a flak suppressant or anything of that sort. It is not something that you would shoot at people below who are shooting back at you in the plane. I guess they would call it an area denial mine. In any case, it's something that would be set off at some later point and it would kill any people who happen to be in the area and across the string. Here's both the pineapple bomb that you saw before and the guava bomb with the little pellets inside of it. Over on the other side you see what the Vietnamese call a cloth mine. Is that correct?

PFEIFFER. A leaf mine.

KANEGIS. Ken Kirkpatrick mentioned to me that sometimes the Vietnamese children would see those things on the ground and would think they were toys or something and pick them up. Basically, that's also mentioned in the hearings. They're referred to as gravel mine, the XM41-E1 gravel mine. According to [the hearings] it's an anti-personnel mine system. The only kill mechanism is blast. Gravel will blow a man's foot off, but it will not blow a hole in a truck tire. It's not even a weapon aimed at killing anybody in the area, but rather causing them a maximum amount of suffering--blowing off their leg or something like that. It's purposely not powerful enough to kill people, but rather to maim them for whatever military reasons you can figure out. Perhaps it's to demoralize the population or to tie down other people in aiding these peoples. Of course, the Hague Convention specifically says that it's illegal to employ arms projection or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. But clearly this is its only purpose. It wouldn't put somebody out of commission, it would just cause them unnecessary suffering.

PFEIFFER. This shows again the leaf mine, as the Vietnamese call it. It's a little bit of black powder plastic with holes in it. It's just enough to split the foot. That knocks you off balance and then you fall, put your hand out, and split your hand. The ground will be covered with hundreds of these. If people come to help you, they'll get their foot split, too. It's almost impossible to detect; there are no metal components in it and it's only about two or three inches square. The one on the right is Bouncing Betty. They told us that the 7th Fleet used to put these into the villages. What happens is that they have a canister fired from a Naval gunnery gun. It explodes thousands of these things. They come down and are designed to hit at a specific detonating point. This then sends up another bomblet at about five feet height, which then goes off with little pellets and catches you right in the face and chest.

KANEGIS. On the next one, you can see the writing on it. It says "Mine Apers, A-P-E-R-S," which means anti-personnel M-14 with fuse interval. The one right next to that looks like a little bat, which is the term they used on that one. In the terminology used in the automated battlefield hearings (talking about the use of these munitions as a part of this complete system, though of course it can be used even without the sensory devices and so forth) in the complete cycle, it is talked about as the dragon tooth anti-personnel mine system. Major Anderson, in the hearings, said, "It is purely anti-personnel. If a person steps on it, it could blow their foot off. If a truck rolls over it, it wouldn't blow up the tire." So again, this is one of the purely anti-personnel weapons. They showed a picture in the hearings of a long sort of tubular thing that drops down from the plane, opens up, lets all of these dragon teeth spin out and fly over a wide area, and the arming begins as it's dropped. Do you want to talk about the next one?

PFEIFFER. That's a picture we took on our first trip, 20 miles out of Saigon. This was what one B-52 would do to manioc fields. Each B-52 has about one hundred and eight 500-lb. bombs or 750s and that's just part of the load from one. Keep in mind, we're now making strides in Laos with up to thirty in one strike. You see what one B-52 does; what is the daily bombing of the B-52s doing to the countryside up there?

KANEGIS. I forgot to comment on one that was shown before. They're BLU 66, which is another one used in the CBU 46. That's another bomb whose primary kill mechanism is fragmentation. There BLUs can make up a complete CBU when they're combined with the SUU, called colloquially "the mother bomb." It can be a dispenser that stays on the plane. Or the mother bomb, which is like a big 750-lb. bomb case, drops out, opens up, and all these little bomblets (sometimes there are a variety of different types of them inside) spread out over a very wide area. As soon as they stop spinning (they have different type fuses and some are jungle proximity fuses), some detonate as soon as they touch ground; some detonate above the ground and some wait until people are coming to pick up survivors and then go off. But in any case, they spring off with just thousands of tiny pellets that tear into any flesh in the area. Again, they're useless against another industrialized power. They're aimed particularly at a particular type of warfare in Vietnam, where you're fighting a Third World people who don't have the advanced technology that we do. The whole automated battlefield is oriented in that direction.

In other words another advanced industrial nation could jam the sensors, but supposedly a simple people like the Vietnamese couldn't. In fact, there have been a number of incidents where they have been successful in using very simple methods to knock out this advanced electronic equipment. For instance, Mark Lane mentioned talking with one of the GIs who said that the NLF would put buckets of urine under "the people sniffers" and this would totally knock their sensing perspective out of whack. There have been other things like this.

Each of these is looked upon by the military as simply another experiment, another research and development contract for another company to come out with a sensing device that won't be put off by urine buckets. They had the same type of problem when they were dropping the acoustic sensors. First, when they were dropping these into Cambodia the "enemy" would walk very softly in order not to be detected by them. So they dropped tons of these button bomblets which were little bombs that would make a cracking sound when they were stepped on. That would just alert the sensor in the area. But these were also detected so they had some more manufactured that were disguised as animal dung.

A similar problem could be overcome with the planes, the ones that are parachuted down and land in the trees. The microphones for the Accousits were originally able to be detected by the parachutes sill staying up there even though the thing itself was camouflaged. According to one source I talked to, they asked International Playtex to devise a parachute that would disintegrate as soon as it reached impact with the tree. Apparently it has very, very fine wires running all through it which instantly disintegrates the parachute when it touches down.

There have been a lot of failures in the development of this thing over such a short period of time, but they have been simply used as an experiment result for them to move on to the next more lethal experiment. I think it took many of the GIs who have been talking here a long time and a lot of soul-searching to be able to come out publicly and talk about the war crimes they've been made to commit. But there are many officers, generals, that aren't so shy about their war crimes and, in fact, brag publicly about those crimes, even glorify them as saving American lives.

Again in these automated battlefield hearings, General Williamson brags that he was the first commander in Vietnam to use these sensors and he states, "For the past 25 years I have been singing a simple tune. If you have to fight, then fight with bullets, not bodies." And then he goes on to say, "I hope I can demonstrate how these sensors have helped us to make the first steps towards the automated battlefield. This is a worthwhile approach toward fighting with bullets instead of bodies, that is, getting the job done with a minimum danger to friendly personnel."

He says, "In the third week of September," talking about when they were first starting these activities in '68, "our efforts with sensors finally paid off. At eleven o'clock one night the monitor at a French fort indicated movement. This was reported by two of the sensors. It was raining hard but there was no doubt about the reading; something more than rain was being registered. Two 175mm guns opened up slightly north of the sensors. Six 105mm howitzers commence blocking fires just south of the sensors, while two 81mm mortars fired directly in the road junction." He says, "When the patrol arrived on the scene, they found literally a carnage. The big 175mm guns had found their target."

Then he gives another example. He talks about the Nighthawk Helicopters, which he speaks of to emphasize that the sensors were not working in isolation. "This helicopter proved to be a valuable night tool." The HU1-helicopter is fitted with a crew-served night observation device. Alongside the light is an observation device and a pedestal mounted minigun--the rapid firing machine gun. As soon as an unmanned sensor registered enemy movement, a Nighthawk helicopter was dispatched to the scene. We killed 103 North Vietnamese soldiers during a one month period using this technique at no personnel cost to us, not even an injury.

Diverting from that for a minute, I'd like to give an example of what this looks like from the other side. A Quaker worker in Vietnam was with the Quang Ngai program that AFC sponsors, wrote back in February 1969, "Several of us went to the roof about 3 a.m. The Americans unleashed the terrifying Puff the Magic Dragon which is an AC47 gunship. There is a whole range of helicopters and aircraft that can be outfitted as gunships which spews forth 5,000 machine gun bullets per minute. As I watched it circle overhead last night, silhouetted against the low clouds in the light of the flares, flinging indiscriminate bolts of death earthward, I could vividly visualize the scene below. Men, women, children, and animals caught like rats in a flood; no place to hide, no way to plead their case of innocence to the machine in the sky. No time to prepare for death. The beating the civilians are taking in this war is beyond adequate description. The cold, mechanical compassionless way that monster circled around and around and around ruthlessly pursuing an unseen "enemy" stabbing viciously earthward again and again, probing, searching, killing, maiming all in its path. We have survived but a lot of Quang Ngai people didn't make it and a lot more who are now clinging to life over at the hospital will not make it till morning. If we could only bring the horrifying scene of human devastation in its true dimensions home to the people who must know what it's like. The ones who are pulling the strings on this deadly puppet show. Man's inhumanity to man has reached its climax in Vietnam," she wrote from Vietnam.

Going back to the testimony of Major General Williamson. He says, "I guess the best real war story that I have is Firebase Crook." This is where 142 enemy soldiers were eliminated with a loss of one U.S. soldier. He goes into a lot of the technical details of the battle and shows how the different type radars and sensors were able to detect people at 220 meters this direction 1800 hours and so forth. And then he says, "Starlight Scope operators spotted movement around midnight. Radar detected two groups of about 40 persons each moving 1,500 meters north of the base at about 2030 hours. And the Nighthawk helicopter detected another group of 40 persons actually in formation approaching Crook. The Nighthawk immediately dived in on its targets. All of the targets were engaged with artillery and mortar fire and all available Army helicopters and Air Force attack planes." And then, he said, "Our search of the battlefields proved just how punishing our efforts had been."

He showed the congressmen present a little chart with a body count of the area and he said, "This diagram indicates where the bodies were found and gives us an idea as to which weapons eliminated the enemy. The 60 west of the river were killed almost exclusively by helicopters; the 32 along the woodline were killed by indirect artillery. The 20 close in were killed by direct fire from the base. The 43 along the road were killed by the Nighthawk helicopters and the remainder of over 150 were killed by a combination of U.S. Air Force planes and fire from within the base. In all, in the second night, 323 additional enemy were killed and ten live prisoners taken. I had to move two bulldozers up just to bury the dead."

Then he says, "We in the army are continuing tests in Texas and elsewhere. We're making an unusual effort to avoid having American young men stand toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball or even rifle-to-rifle against the enemy that may outnumber him on the battlefield. We are trying to fight the enemy with our bullets instead of with the bodies of our young men--firepower, not manpower. How less painful it is to use firepower to fight them at a distance rather than to expend your manpower as the enemy makes his close in assault."

And it occurs to me as he goes through this story of how he slaughtered the people mechanically without any deaths on our part, that if the Nazis had had the courage to brag blatantly you might imagine a Nazi general saying, "My best war story is Dachau where we slaughtered one million Jews with less than one guard lost on our part." The Army talks about phasing the war down so they will need less manpower, but...technologically, the war is escalating.

MODERATOR. Thank you very much, Mr. Kanegis. The next person who will give testimony will be Mr. Ward who is going to discuss the results of bombing North Vietnam and Laos.

WARD. To begin with, I want to give my qualifications. I was with the first group of Americans who traveled in North Vietnam under U.S. attack in the summer of 1965. Subsequently I visited North Vietnam again this past summer. I spent almost two months in North Vietnam broken by a visit to the liberated zone of Laos. In 1965 I visited Vietnam, not as a member of any war crimes tribunal, and I was not there to see what the United States was doing in terms of how much damage. I was there to see what life in North Vietnam was like. In fact, I believe the North Vietnamese hoped I would realize something that few Americans could believe: that they were going to resist the U.S. bombings as long as necessary.

So, in fact, they didn't make an effort to show me the damage. They wanted to show me how life was going on and I had to insist with my colleagues, there were four of us, including the then-station manager of WBAI, New York, on this trip--on seeing the bombed areas of North Vietnam.

In other words, going into areas that were under attack. So we traveled down to the city of Nam Diem which you may have heard about. This was made famous because up until then most people in this country believed the words of our President that the United States was bombing only steel and concrete. Nam Diem is a textile town. The textile factory was destroyed. This was in August 1965. The housing around the factory was destroyed and also the area had been strafed.

There was clear evidence of strafing--the lines of bullets along the sides of buildings. This town was very heavily hit. And not until Harrison Salisbury saw Nam Diem nearly a year and a half later did the real evidence appear in the U.S. press, that the United States was bombing civilian targets.

In Than Hoa the main destruction was of the provincial hospital. You could see the medical equipment. By the summer of 1965, most of the hospitals in North Vietnam had been bombed one or more times. This hospital had already been bombed three times and was leveled to the ground. By the time I revisited, in 1970, every hospital outside of Hanoi, I believe, outside of Hanoi and Haiphong, had been bombed, if not completely destroyed. In 1965 many of the victims I saw had been maimed by the napalm and phosphorus.

By 1970 the array of weaponry was much wider. All those weapons that were pictured on the screen have been used during the bombing--during the several years of bombing of North Vietnam. Pellet bombs and the so-called leaf mines.

North Vietnam is a very poor country. The leaf mine looks like a piece of cloth and a person seeing it might pick it up and put in their pocket, thinking that it would make a good patch for a worn-out piece of clothing. As the person brushes his pocket, it explodes and maims him. My conclusion was that already in 1965 the main purpose of the bombing was to destroy the civilian economy, to break the morale of the people. When this failed, the bombing became more intense and the escalation widened and the targets extended beyond just the people themselves. The people resisted. They dug tens of thousands of miles of shelters. Then the Air Force began to systematically destroy the industry. U.S. government reports claimed they bombed--only roads. Well, what does it mean if you bomb all the roads of a country? How do people exchange goods? How do they carry on any possible normal economic life? The main traffic on roads is the normal commerce of a country, the normal economic life. Some areas grow rice, some areas produce other products. There has to be an exchange of products to carry on the economy. Well, the Vietnamese won the battle and decentralized their whole economy and despite all the efforts there was never any starvation. But a lot of people were killed. During my second visit, I noticed a large number of graveyards that I had certainly not seen before.

According to the Vietnamese, the statistics--which I don't have before me--but roughly speaking, two-thirds of the victims of U.S. bombings were women and children, non-combatant women and children. Some young women could be classified as combatants engaged in combatant activities. In brief, that's North Vietnam.

I have a few pictures to show you at the end but I want to say a few words about Laos. Few Americans have ever had the opportunity to get into the liberated zones of Laos. In Laos the United States is carrying on the same program it carried out in North Vietnam, that is, systematic bombing of everything. I was in Sam Neua, the chief city of the liberated zone. I will show you pictures of that city. Not a soul lives in that city anymore. The destruction was enormous although the town was not completely leveled. But every single building had been hit, every village in the surrounding area was destroyed. I had not seen much destruction on that comparable scale in North Vietnam. By proportional comparison there had been greater destruction because North Vietnam had been more populous.

The ultimate strategy of U.S. bombing was to depopulate the liberated zone; to take the people away from the revolutionaries. But it has not completely succeeded, although according to the statistics of Senator Kennedy's refugee sub-committee approximately a third of the people of Laos have become refugees because of U.S. bombing.

Another way they depopulate an area is by sending in CIA teams, sabotage teams, that try to force the people out at the point of a gun. They have little villages in Laos; sometimes only 50 people live in a single village. These teams of mercenaries run by the CIA are brought into this town and try to force all the men to leave--to go into the Vientiane zone. To conclude, in Vietnam the bombing is beginning again. Don't believe Nixon. He's not just bombing military targets. He's bombing the people.

In Laos, the bombing is continuing. According to the most recent press reports the bombing has been heavier than at any time previous in the whole history of the war in Indochina, in Laos and Cambodia put together. That means that this has been done since October of 1970, the end of the rainy season. This is going on to this day and will go on until we and the Vietnamese and Laotians and Cambodians together stop Nixon.

MODERATOR. If you get the lights we'll see the slides.

WARD. (First Slide) This is the city of Sam Neua. From the distance it looks like a very beautiful pastoral landscape and it's impossible to see that every building has been hit by a bomb. That's what it looks like from a distance. So, now, closeups. (Next Slide) You can see that the windows have been blown out. There was just one man I saw walking through the town, except for the people in our party. Every single building, the church, everything had been hit.

(Next Slide) This is again Sam Neua. I could have gone down every street and you would have seen that every building is gone.

(Next Slide) And here is how some of the people manage to survive. This is a mountainside and inside this mountain is a cave and people live in there. This particular cave--is used only for a very important institution. This cave happens to hold a school of art.

(Next Slide) This is a particularly vicious weapon. That's a ball point pen, next to it are these little arrows called flenchettes which are used as anti-personnel weapons against the populace in North Vietnam.

(Next Slide) This is just one example of what it's like to live in a pacified or quasi-pacified area of South Vietnam. This is, to say that until it is pacified this is what happens. This girl was living in a liberated village. She's now in the North for treatment; one eye is still completely closed. She's regained the partial sight in one eye. The surgeons feel she'll regain partial sight in both eyes when they finish about one half dozen operations. Her injuries were caused by napalm.

(Next Slide) This is a Roman Catholic church in North Vietnam. As I said, I was never part of a war crimes tribunal and the Vietnamese made no effort to emphasize how many churches were destroyed. I was examining the photographs of a recent visitor to North Vietnam and I saw at least a dozen pictures of churches destroyed.

(Next Slide) That's the rail lines. Despite the efforts to destroy the railroads--and you see the destroyed railcars still there--the traffic goes on. (Next Slide) This is a hospital, but I should say it was a hospital. There's nothing left of it. It's in the city of Bien, near where I stayed. It's about halfway between Hanoi and the 17th parallel and it was near a small hotel that had just been built because Bien is near Ho Chi Minh's birthplace and they have a number of visitors. I looked around and I asked the interpreter, "Where is the center of the city?" And he said, "You're there." And it was almost bare fields wherever I looked. Vien, the city of Vien, was almost 99% destroyed by the U.S. bombs. (Next Slide) That's another view of the hospital just to show you that everything had been destroyed.

MODERATOR. We only have five minutes for questioning. Please state your name and the organization that you're with.

QUESTION. What criminal corporations are responsible for the research and production of the weapons you testified about?

KANEGIS. Well, for the automated battlefield, first of all, I think there'd be the generals who are guilty of the war crimes. Not just the generals in the Pentagon but generals like General Dynamics, which makes the ANSS squealer intrusion detector that changes frequently as a person approaches it. They make the ANPPS portable combat surveillance radar, they make the grasshopper anti-intrusion mine that I mentioned. General Motors that has been the manufacturer of the M-16 rifle which isn't part of the electronics in the battlefield but is another weapon which has an anti-personnel effect in that it has, the dum-dum effect, and, of course, they're working on an improved version.

This special purpose individual weapon is going to be the M-19. This is a tiny flenchette which has a plastic casting which drops off. A little needle enters a person and spins around inside, makes a huge hole inside, even though the needle penetrates on the outside. It only has to hit their arm and it will kill a person. There is General Electric who makes weapons for the gunships we were talking about--the AC47, the various miniguns, and so forth. They work on it. Let's see, some of the automated battlefield contractors are Western Electric, Westinghouse Electric, Texas Instruments, Sperry Rand, Raytheon, Radio Corporation of America, Radiation Inc., Magnavox, Kaiser Industries, IBM, Hughes Aircraft, Honeywell, Hazelton Corp., General Telephone and Electronics, Sylvania Electric, General Avionics and so forth. If people in the community that you are in would like to know about production of weapons for Vietnam and particularly automated battlefield weapons and so forth, you can write to us at NARMIC.

We have quite a number of detailed sources from the industries involved in war production. They state very explicitly all the contracts that are awarded for any county in the country for each quarter of the year. We also have a book, WEAPONS FOR COUNTERINSURGENCY, that details some of the weapons that we showed pictures of here--the chemical and biological weapons, the incendiaries like napalm, and talks about who the contractors are. It tells how to organize a project against one of the corporations producing these weapons. You should write to NARMIC if you want to really organize a project. We must conclude with that. The Third Marine Division will testify next.

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