The Use Of Agent Orange In Vietnam

1109 words - 5 pages

The Vietnam War is the most controversial war in United States history. From the Bay of Tonkin, to the draft, Vietnam often debated in the United States. One of the instances that made Vietnam so controversial was the use of Agent Orange in South Vietnam. Agent Orange is the name of a pesticide composed of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T). Agent Orange also contained a chemical compound called dioxin, which has been found to be very toxic to humans. It was sprayed over Vietnam during Operation Ranch Hand, as a part of the United States Military’s herbicidal warfare from 1961-1971. It was dispersed over the Vietnamese jungle via airplanes, tanks, and ground troops. Agent Orange wreaked havoc on the Vietnamese ecosystems, people, and on United States service men. The use of this chemical was damaging to both American and Vietnamese people and greatly damaged the Vietnamese jungle. Agent Orange and the chemical’s effects continues to be studied, through military and environmental history and the use of oral accounts and written accounts.
The first reports of Agent Orange were from the military. The first sources justify the use of the chemical as a military strategy to help prevent the loss of more American lives in Vietnam. The military sources also argue that the use of Agent Orange would use less man power, while being more cost effective, and the use of the herbicide would ultimately help with the outcome of the entire war. One of the first studies done by the military indicated “that a force mix of herbicide aircraft and land clearing tractors would most likely provide a cost-effective solution to the foliage removal crop destruction missions faced during counterinsurgency operations”. This study was held in 1972, very shortly after the end of Operation Ranch Hand. This article is still defending the use of the herbicide during the war, commending the use of Agent Orange as a well thought out method of helping to stop the Viet Cong operations. This source also was written by a member of a United States Defense Agency, J. D. Howard, the report was bias toward the United States efforts in Vietnam. This written source shows the United States’ military views on the use of the pesticide during the war. As the use of Agent Orange is studied by different groups, there is a shift in perspective. The sources are no longer in support of the chemical, but rather later articles and research focus on the damaging effect that the pesticide had on the veterans that were involved in Operation Ranch Hand or came into contact with Agent Orange.
Many oral accounts from American soldiers were taken into consideration when forming the military history of Agent Orange. Some reports were from ground troops who were had medical concerns after coming into contact with the pesticide. Many were from service men who participated in Operation Ranch Hand. Many of these accounts show a general ignorance of the...

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