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FOIA: Vietnam_War/ Tailwind/OPERATION_TAILWIND_REVIEW.pdf

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posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 06:11 AM
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OPERATION_TAILWIND_REVIEW.pdf
Department of Defense Review of Allegations Concerning Operation Tailwind
On June 9, 1998, the Secretary of Defense initiated an extensive review to determine if events such as the use of Sarin gas as well as other atrocities, alleged in a report by CNN/Time Magazine, had occurred during OPERATION TAILWIND in Laos, in 1970

Document date: 1998-07-21
Department: Department of Defense
Author: Undetermined
Document type: Review and Summaries of Reports
pages: 273

 

Archivist's Notes: Includes photocopies of supporting documents, news reports and printouts of web pages, all of varying degrees of legibility.
 




posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 03:01 AM
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I. INTRODUCTION

On June 7, 1998, the Cable News Network (CNN) aired a story entitled "Valley of Death" on the program NewsStand.

The story alleged that in September of 1970, U.S. Special Forces and indigenous troops were inserted into Laos to locate and kill U.S. military defectors in what was named OPERATION TAILWIND.

The story further alleged that the four-day operation destroyed a village, and killed U.S defectors, enemy troops, and women and children.
Finally, the story alleged that U.S. aircraft dropped lethal Sarin gas to suppress enemy fire while friendly forces were extracted by helicopter.

The broadcast was followed the next day by an article in Time Magazine, headlined "Did the U.S. Drop Nerve Gas," repeating the allegations.
The Defense Department viewed these allegations with concern.

On June 9, 1998, the Secretary of Defense initiated an extensive review to determine if events such as those alleged had occurred in OPERATION TAILWIND.

The Secretary directed the Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to interview individuals with personal knowledge of the operation, and to review military records, archives, historical writings and any other appropriate sources.
The Secretary also asked the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct a similar review of relevant agency files and personnel.

II. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

A. Purpose of OPERATION TAILWIND

The operation was launched as a reconnaissance in force to engage the enemy and to divert enemy attention from OPERATION GAUNTLET, an offensive operation to regain control of terrain in Laos.
No records or personal recollections were discovered to suggest that targeting U.S. defectors played any part in the operation. (Throughout)
B. Use of Sarin

U.S. policy since World War II has prohibited the use of lethal chemical agents, including Sarin, unless first used by the enemy.
No evidence could be found that the nerve agent Sarin was ever transported to Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand).

No evidence could be found that Sarin was used in OPERATION TAILWIND. (Throughout)
Unique safeguards are required for the handling of lethal chemical agents by U.S. forces. Such safeguards were not used in association with OPERATION TAILWIND because lethal chemical agents were not employed in Southeast Asia.
Air Force personnel involved in support of OPERATION TAILWIND said they recalled employing tear gas to suppress enemy fire on the ground during extraction of the SOG forces but did not employ Sarin.
Relevant North Vietnamese military documents reviewed record no use of lethal chemical agents by U.S. forces at any time during the Vietnam War, but they do record the use of tear gas.

The high toxicity of Sarin gas is such that, had it been employed as a weapon to facilitate the landing zone extraction of Studies and Observation Group (SOG) forces as has been alleged, it is highly improbable that all 16 U.S. servicemen and all but three Montagnards would have survived the mission alive.




Use of Tear Gas

Tear gas munitions were used by U.S. forces during OPERATION TAILWIND to suppress enemy ground fire while friendly forces were extracted by helicopter.
The tear gas used was designated CS, a more potent version than the CN tear gas used previously in the war.
The use of tear gas, or Riot Control Agents (RCA) as they were sometimes called, was in accordance with U.S. policy at the time.
The use of tear gas to suppress enemy fire was viewed as successful in the operation.

Defectors

Only two U.S. military personnel were known to be defectors during the Vietnam War.
No records suggest that defectors were thought to be in the area of OPERATION TAILWIND at the time of the operation.
No document discovered in this review suggests that defectors were targeted or harmed in OPERATION TAILWIND.
Although Lieutenant Van Buskirk claims to have seen a defector (CNN/Time Magazine story), other SOG members dispute this account.

Overall Operation

The operation was rated by all echelons in the chain of command as successful in engaging the enemy and in intelligence gathering on the North Vietnamese 559th Transportation Group.
Friendly casualties were three Montagnards killed, 33 Montagnards wounded, no U.S. servicemen killed in action, and 16 U.S. servicemen (every man on the mission) wounded.
One Army AH-1G and two Marine Corps CH-53D helicopters were lost to ground fire.
Contemporaneous documents and personal recollections do not support the allegation there were non-combatant (women and children) casualties.

III. CONDUCT OF REVIEW AND SUMMARIES OF REPORTS



A. Methodology

Each of the organizations participating in the review of OPERATION TAILWIND followed a similar approach. They located and reviewed relevant records, archives, unit chronologies and other historical documents. They conducted searches on computer databases. They reviewed press accounts from the time of OPERATION TAILWIND and concerning the storage of chemical agents like Sarin gas. They located and interviewed individuals who participated in OPERATION TAILWIND or who were likely to have first-hand knowledge of facts relevant to this inquiry.

OPERATION TAILWIND was a joint operation that occurred almost 28 years ago.

The nature of the operation dictated that four different organizations within the Department of Defense furnish reports related to the operation.
The forces that conducted OPERATION TAILWIND on the ground were members of the Army’s Studies and Observations Group (SOG), a Special Forces unit, assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).
Close air support was provided by Air Force and Marine Corps aviation assets.
The Marine Corps provided the helicopters that flew OPERATION TAILWIND participants into the Laotian jungle and extracted them four days later.
The SOG chain of command for planning and execution of OPERATION TAILWIND was through the Commander, MACV and Commander, U.S. Forces, Pacific, to the Secretary of Defense, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) providing the Secretary military staff support.
Therefore, separate reports were required from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as from the JCS.

The CIA also submitted a report. These reports are appended and summarized below in my next post......







[edit on 4-4-2008 by frozen_snowman]



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 03:11 AM
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Each report submitted by participating organizations consists of a summary report to the Secretary of Defense with supporting tabular attachments.
In addition, in an effort to complement the reviews of the Service Secretaries and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness conducted interviews and gathered information from OPERATION TAILWIND participants.

(Please view the pdf. news reports for more info)

OPERATION TAILWIND was conducted by 16 SOG members, accompanied by approximately 120 Montagnard troops. These forces were inserted by air into the Southern Laotian panhandle. The dual purposes of the mission were to conduct a reconnaissance-in-force—an offensive operation to contact the enemy—and to create a diversion so that North Vietnamese forces pressuring friendly forces conducting OPERATION GAUNTLET elsewhere in Laos would be drawn away.

OPERATION GAUNTLET lasted approximately three weeks (September 3-23, 1970). Its objectives were to harass and interdict enemy lines of communication in southern Laos and to clear the eastern rim of the Bolovens Plateau. The operation involved approximately 5,000 irregular troops, with half of them moving against the Bolovens, while the other half operated in the central Laos panhandle. They initially met stiff resistance but were ultimately able to succeed, probably because some enemy forces were diverted by OPERATION TAILWIND. Enemy activity there remained low during October 1970 due to tropical storms, U.S. air strikes, and OPERATION GAUNTLET.

OPERATION GAUNTLET lasted approximately three weeks (September 3-23, 1970). Its objectives were to harass and interdict enemy lines of communication in southern Laos and to clear the eastern rim of the Bolovens Plateau. The operation involved approximately 5,000 irregular troops, with half of them moving against the Bolovens, while the other half operated in the central Laos panhandle. They initially met stiff resistance but were ultimately able to succeed, probably because some enemy forces were diverted by OPERATION TAILWIND. Enemy activity there remained low during October 1970 due to tropical storms, U.S. air strikes, and OPERATION GAUNTLET.

OPERATION TAILWIND was unprecedented because of the large size of the force conducting the operation and because of the depth of the penetration into Laotian territory. As a result, the senior MACV leadership was aware of its conduct and was briefed on its outcome.

To gain an accurate understanding of what actually occurred during the conduct of OPERATION TAILWIND, the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) (USD(P&R)) invited key individuals involved in the planning and execution of the operation to the Pentagon on June 23, 1998, to recount their experiences.
Key invitees included, among others, Major General John Singlaub, USA (Ret.) (former SOG Commander); Colonel John Sadler, USA (Ret.)(SOG Commander during OPERATION TAILWIND); Colonel Robert Pinkerton, USA (Ret.)(SOG Operations Officer and principal unit planner for OPERATION TAILWIND); Lieutenant Colonel Eugene McCarley, USA (Ret.)(Company Commander and senior officer on the ground during OPERATION TAILWIND); and Captain Michael Rose, USA (Ret.)(Company medic for OPERATION TAILWIND) with the following comments:

Colonel Sadler, the SOG Commander, described his role in OPERATION TAILWIND—"The buck should start and stop here [with me]. I was responsible for planning it [OPERATION TAILWIND], getting it approved, and directing it." He described the purpose of OPERATION TAILWIND as 1) to "help relieve pressure on the task force coming down from the North—it was a beehive there"; and 2) in the area of Chavane [Laos] "we knew there was something in there in force. We had to go see why the area was so important to the enemy."

With respect to the allegation contained in the CNN/Time Magazine story that women and children in a village were killed by the SOG forces, Captain Michael Rose, the medic on OPERATION TAILWIND, made the following comments:

It wasn’t a village we went into as CNN said. It was a compound. I came up after the fight was over. I only saw two bodies, both dead from small arms fire, and I’ve seen enough dead people from small arms fire to know what that looks like.

Lieutenant Colonel (then Captain) Eugene McCarley, field commander of OPERATION TAILWIND, explained that riot control agent or tear gas was used to keep the enemy from overrunning the position of the American forces:

The FAC [forward air controller] advised me the gas was coming in. He could see the NVA [North Vietnamese Army] massing. We were almost out of ammo. We were exhausted. He could see that once we got to the extraction zone, we would be overrun. The FAC called for the gas. I never requested it.

Captain Rose vividly recounted the final hours of the mission as the SOG force moved to the evacuation point:

We got hit with gas. It was CS [tear gas]. I know what CS is from basic training. It’s like skunk. Once you smell it, you never forget, even if it’s fifty years later. It was definitely tear gas. I was wincing, my eyes watered, my nose and lungs burned. You turn your face into the wind and it clears. My wounded were in distress. I never saw any evidence of nerve gas. It was CS! It’s criminal to say our own Air Force would drop nerve gas on us!

Captain Rose later added: "I’m living proof that toxic gas was not dropped on us that day. Nobody showed any signs of exposure to toxic gas."

As to the presence of defectors during OPERATION TAILWIND, Colonel Pinkerton explained: "I never heard in the year I was SOG operations officer any reference to defectors." Colonel Sadler added: "Another reason the defector story doesn’t pass muster is that it was a standing imperative that if you saw POWs, that [POW rescue] became your mission, regardless of what mission you were on." Lieutenant Colonel McCarley added: "There was no mention whatsoever in the debrief of [Caucasians] or nerve gas."

In the eyes of the participants, OPERATION TAILWIND was also a success. Colonel Sadler commented that the operation succeeded in gathering exceptionally good intelligence about the enemy. "The two footlockers of documents we got, [General Creighton] Abrams described as ‘the best logistics intelligence ever gained in the Vietnam War.’ "



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 03:22 AM
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The briefing script used by Lieutenant Van Buskirk to brief General Abrams following OPERATION TAILWIND provides a realistic sense of how the operation was conducted when the enemy base camp was encountered.
When attacked by enemy forces for the first time, the SOG forces concluded that the enemy was trying to protect a valuable location and initiated an attack.

Some of the enemy returned fire and others broke and ran. The two squads killed those remaining and drove many into a bn (battalion) size base camp. The assault continued and the enemy broke into three directions. The reserve squad engaged those that were fleeing in their direction. Due to the canopy thinning out, the base camp was marked with a white phosphorus grenade and TAC air was brought to bear on the enemy soldiers fleeing to the front and the right flank. The enemy who remained in the center of the base camp took up positions in huts which were assaulted and destroyed. The first platoon killed a confirmed 54 enemy in huts, bunkers and spider holes, and the 2nd platoon killed 17 enemy on the left flank. TAC air killed an estimated 25 fleeing enemy soldiers. After the base camp was secured, photographs were taken and many valuable intelligence documents were gathered and all livestock was killed.
The information and documents revealed no evidence that the operation targeted U.S. defectors or that Sarin gas was used at any time.

The Air Force records indicate that Sarin gas was not located at Nahkon Phanom, the airbase in Thailand from which the A-1 aircraft operated. Moreover, Air Force maintenance personnel interviewed who were at that base believe that no Sarin gas was located there during OPERATION TAILWIND.

At the request of the Department of Defense, the CIA conducted a search for information related to OPERATION TAILWIND. The CIA’s review involved several aspects. The operational and analytical directorates searched their automated systems. The CIA history staff and the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence also conducted record searches. Interviews were conducted with several former CIA and government officials familiar with U.S. activities in Laos during the Vietnam War.

In the course of these searches, a number of CIA documents were identified which contained references to OPERATION TAILWIND, but there was no evidence from these documents that Sarin gas was used during the operation or that American deserters were targeted or encountered as a part of the operation.
Information from the CIA describes OPERATION TAILWIND as exclusively a military operation, the purposes of which were reconnaissance, monitoring and exploitation activities in Communist-held areas of Laos.


CONCLUSION

Taken together, the comprehensive reviews conducted provide an extensive record of documents and personal recollections about the events comprising OPERATION TAILWIND.

This record reveals no evidence that the operation was directed in any manner toward military defectors, nor was any evidence found that Sarin gas was used during the operation at any time.

From the extensive record gathered in these reviews, the Department of Defense concludes that OPERATION TAILWIND 1) was conducted for the stated military purposes; 2) was conducted in accordance with Law of War, Rules of Engagement, and United States policies in force at the time; 3) did not target American defectors; and 4) did not employ Sarin gas.



posted on May, 17 2008 @ 06:22 PM
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Originally posted by frozen_snowman
U.S. policy since World War II has prohibited the use of lethal chemical agents, including Sarin, unless first used by the enemy.
[edit on 4-4-2008 by frozen_snowman]


Unless first used by the enemy?

Well this blows it wide open. It’s very easy to accuse the enemy of something that could be dropped / sprayed by the own party.

This document is about Sarin, but what about “Agent Orange”?

Check out the Sydney Morning Herald main stream media article:

Agent orange town


Military scientists sprayed the toxic defoliant Agent Orange in the jungle that is part of the water catchment area for Innisfail in Queensland's far north at the start of the Vietnam War.

The Sun-Herald last week found the site where military scientists tested Agent Orange in 1966. It is on a ridge little more 100 metres above the Johnstone River, which supplies the drinking water for Innisfail.
The Sun-Herald last week found the site where military scientists tested Agent Orange in 1966. It is on a ridge little more 100 metres above the Johnstone River, which supplies the drinking water for Innisfail



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 01:16 PM
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reply to post by frozen_snowman
 


Wow nasty stuff. Defoliant program gone terribly wrong. Our own gov't is so paranoid about commies it's willing to test nasty chemicals on its own citizens! Innisfail is one example, and Globe, AZ is another..


Billee Shoecraft died in 1977 of cancer. She began suffering from cancer after a helicopter sprayed her with the defoliant Kuron. Before her death, Shoecraft wrote a book about her experience in which she said that after she was sprayed her eyes were nearly swollen shut, her arms and legs were swollen twice normal size and her hair was coming out in patches. Kuron, a herbicide related to Agent Orange, was sprayed by the U.S. Forest Service to thin foliage and increase water runoff in the Pinal Mountains of the Tonto National Forest near Globe, Arizona, in 1968 and 1969. Dow Chemical Company and the U.S.Forest Service paid an undisclosed sum to five families. Shoecraft wrote a book entitled, Sue the Bastards!, about her incident in 1971.
Wikipedia

Oh yeah...


U.S. veterans obtained a $180 million settlement in 1984, with most affected veterans receiving a one-time lump sum payment of $1,200.


$1200 was a good wad of cash back in the mid-80s but still a slap in the face considering the health effects veterans suffered and the genetic defects they could possibly pass on to their children!



posted on May, 23 2008 @ 03:02 PM
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Originally posted by frozen_snowman

Unless first used by the enemy?

Well this blows it wide open. It’s very easy to accuse the enemy of something that could be dropped / sprayed by the own party.

It's deterrence. The enemy knows that you'll use poison gas if they do, so they will probably think twice. And fi your enemy is willing to use poison gas, you need to be ready to effectively retaliate, or you give them an edge.

That said, poison, biological or chemical gas is a very dangerous weapon to both parties. It's at the mercy of the winds which could very easily blow it over your own troops.

Yes, it is possible to lie that your enemy used ags first to justify your own deployment of it. But that doesn't mean that everyone is always a liar.



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