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Word Count: 2,250
In 1961 the United States began spraying herbicides in its military campaign to defoliate the jungles of southern Vietnam Mimicking Smokey Bear American pilots chuckled Remember only you can prevent forests as they dropped weed killers over target sites But as research progressed the true nature of the chemicals which they were spraying came to light It is certainly no longer a laughing matter when it is realized that Agent Orange a fifty-fifty mixture of 24D and 245T usually mixed with kerosene or diesel fuel could be as deadly to humans as it is to plants The military research of herbicides dates back to World War II A grant was provided by the National Research Council to develop a chemical to destroy rice crops in Japan 24D and 245T was the result A discussion between President Roosevelt and White House Chief of Staff Admiral William D Leahy determined that this heinous chemical should not be used But in 1961 President Kennedy signed two orders allowing Agent Orange to be used in Vietnam one to destroy crops and the other to defoliate the jungle Defoliation stripped the jungle of vegetation Left barren it no longer provided camouflage for the Viet Cong their supply routes and base camps would be more prone to aerial attacks Crop destruction denied the communists of local food sources This forced them to divert more resources to provide and transport foods from other regions But just as important crop destruction also weakened enemy morale and forced villagers to move to cities where they could be more easily controlled The program for spraying herbicides over Vietnam was either called Operation Trail Dust or Operation Ranch Hand It began in 1961 and peaked from 1967 to 1969 Various methods were employed
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