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Operation Popeye

posted Jan 19, 2014 00:20:31 by Consfearacynewz
Vietnam War Chemtrails & Weather Modification – Operation Popeye

Geophysical Warfare — “Rainmakers.” During the Vietnam Conflict, our warfighters needed a way to interdict enemy traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. “Project Popeye” helped answer the call. China Lake adapted its cloud seeding technologies to enhance rainfall thereby significantly deterring enemy activity on the trail. This highly successful China Lake technology was also used in hurricane abatement, fog control, and drought relief.

Operation Popeye  (also known as Operation Intermediary or Operation Compatriot) was a top secret campaign of weaponized weather modification during the Vietnam War, from March 20th 1967 until July 5th 1972. It got its beginnings three years after the enactment of Project Stormfury (1962 – 1983) and 30 years after the first known US weather modification operations called Project Cirrus, which began in February 1947.

The intent of Operation Popeye was to extend the monsoon season over North Vietnamese and Viet Cong resupply routes throughout southeast Asia, particularly the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Project Popeye (1966)
Project Popeye was an experiment in increased rainfall through cloud seeding jointly approved by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense. The technical aspects of the experiment were verified by Dr. Donald F. Hornig, Special Assistant to the President of the United States for Science and Technology. The government of Laos was not informed of the project, its methods or its goals.

Robert S. McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense, was aware that there might be objections raised by the international scientific community but said in a memo to the president that such objections had not in the past been a basis for prevention of military activities considered to be in the interests of U.S. national security.

During October 1966, Project Popeye was tested in a strip of the Laos panhandle east of the Bolovens Plateau in the Se Kong River valley. The test was conducted by personnel from the Naval Ordnance Test Station located at China Lake California. Fifty cloud seeding experiments were conducted with the result that 82% of the clouds produced rain within a brief period after having been seeded. It was claimed that one of the clouds drifted across the Vietnam border and dropped nine inches of rain on a US special forces camp over a four hour period. After the successful completion of the test phase, Project Popeye transitioned from an experiment to an operational program of the U.S. Defense department.

The Operation's Objectives
Operation Popeye goal was to increase rainfall in carefully selected areas to deny the Vietnamese enemy, namely military supply trucks, the use of roads by: [3]

Softening road surfaces
Causing landslides along roadways
Washing out river crossings
Maintain saturated soil conditions beyond the normal time span.

Operation Popeye
Starting on March 20, 1967 and continuing through every rainy season (March to November) in Southeast Asia until 1972, operational cloud seeding missions were flown. Three C-130 aircraft and two F4-C aircraft based at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base Thailand flew two sorties per day. The aircraft were officially on weather reconnaiseance missions and the aircraft crews as part of their normal duty generated weather report information. The crews, all from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, were rotated into the operation on a regular basis from Guam. Inside the squadron, the rainmaking operations were code-named "Motorpool".

The initial area of operations was the eastern half of the Laotian panhandle. On 11 July 1967, the operational area was increased northward to around the area of the 20th parallel and included portions of far western North Vietnam. In September 1967, The A Shau Valley in South Vietnam was added to the operational area. Operations over North Vietnam were eliminated on April 1, 1968 concurrent with conventional bombing restrictions being put into effect. The southern region of North Vietnam was added to the operational area on September 25, 1968 and then removed on November 1st of that year concurrant with a halt to conventional bombing of North Vietnam. In 1972, most of northeastern Cambodia was added to the operational area,

All rainmaking operations ceased on July 5, 1972.

Operation Popeye was a large and long running operation that successfully manipulated weather by seeding clouds, via aircraft, with silver and lead iodide. The crews, all from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, were rotated into the operation on a regular basis from Guam. Inside the squadron, the rainmaking operations were code-named “Motorpool.” On average they were able to extend the monsoon season 30 to 45 days.

From the 1974 Senate hearings on weather modification

A classified rainmaking program was conducted in SEASIA from 1967 to 1972 which employed air dropped silver and lead iodide seeding units to increase normal monsoon rainfall. (US Senate, Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment; 20 March 1974; p. 88)

Objective: Increase rainfall sufficiently in carefully selected areas to deny the enemy the use of roads by: 1. Softening road surfaces 2. Causing landslides along roadways 3 Washing out river crossings 4. Maintain saturated soil conditions beyond the normal time span. (US Senate, Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment; 20 March 1974; p. 89)

The initial operation area was over parts of Laos and North Vietnam. It was then extended to include parts of South Vietnam and Cambodia. In total, the Pentagon admitted that US C-130 aircraft operating from Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base flew 2,602 missions and expended 47,409 cloud seeding units. (US Senate, Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment; 20 March 1974; pp. 101-105). The Pentagon said the project cost $21.6 million.

Operation Popeye first came to public light in March 1971 by a reporter named Jack Anderson who published a story based on a secret 1967 memo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to President Johnson. The memo read: “Laos operations – Continue as at present plus Pop Eye to reduce the trafficability [sic] along infiltration routes & Authorization requested to implement operational phase of weather modification process previously successful tested and evaluated in some area“. From the declassified top secret Pentagon Papers (Item number 4 – Read across the document)

After Jack Anderson made the public aware of Operation Popeye, the US Senate pressured military leaders at the Pentagon to provide details of the operation. Melvin Laird who was secretary of Defense at the time, denied that the U.S. was modifying the weather in Vietnam. In 1973 the US Senate began legislation on S.RES.71, a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States Government should seek the agreement of other governments to a proposed treaty prohibiting the use of any environmental or geophysical modification activity as a weapon of war, or the carrying out of any research or experimentation directed thereto.

In 1974 The US Senate was able to investigate Operation Popeye in detail at: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment of the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate Ninety-Third Congress, second session on the need for an international agreement prohibiting the use of environmental and geophysical modification as weapons of war, and briefing on Department of Defense weather modification activity, January 25 and March 20, 1974.

Documentation and transcripts of the hearing are shown below in three parts.

Document #1 (Preface W/Pages 1-39)

Document #2 (Pages 40-82)

Document #3 (Pages 83-123)
The “Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques” or ENMOD was signed in 1976 by many UN member states and ratified by President Carter in 1979. ENMOD is about the harmful effects of environmental manipulation on humans and seeks to ensure that environmental manipulation will be used, essentially, only for peaceful purposes.

Weather modification was a technology once embraced by the US military as a tool to help both wartime and peacetime missions. However, interest in the ability to modify weather waned following the end of the conflict in Vietnam and became virtually non-existent after the passage of the Environmental Modification (ENMOD) Treaty in 1977, which prohibited offensive weather modification from occurring over a large area.

With the onset of conflict in Southeast Asia, operational interest in modifying weather to support combat operations increased. The goal of such a program would be to flood supply routes used by the North Vietnamese into South Vietnam by seeding clouds in the area. Between 1949 and 1978 China Lake developed concepts, techniques, and hardware that were successfully used in hurricane abatement, fog control, and drought relief.

The use of weather modification as a tool of warfare was very much a by-product of developments to use weather modification techniques for peacetime missions. One method that was tried, but later abandoned by the military was the use of aircraft dry ice seeding to dissipate cold fog. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, specially configured WC-130 aircraft were equipped with a dry ice crusher and dispenser. On a typical mission such aircraft would fly a seeding pattern consisting of between 5 and 30 parallel lines, each 5-6 miles long and 0.5 to 1.5 miles apart. This pattern would be flown just above the fog at a distance between 45 and 60 minutes upwind of the area where clearing was desired, with the machine generally dispensing 15 pounds of crushed dry ice per minute. The hole then, would hopefully drift over the desired area at the desired time. The return on the investment in these operations was significant. During the winter of 1969-70 for instance, fog dispersal operations in the United States via this method cost $80,000 but saved $900,000. As weather modification became discredited in the mid-1970s, however, this method was abandoned.

A weather modification program for selected areas of Laos, which subsequently known as Project Popeye (also referred to as Operation Popeye), was proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 10 August 1966. The Command of US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (COMUSMACV) and the Commander in Chief of US Pacific Command (CINCPAC) concurred in the proposal and recommended that it be carried out in selected areas of the Tiger Hound area of operation in Laos. The Joint Chiefs of Staff granted approval on 1 September 1966 and the execute order was issued on 17 September 1966.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the project to extend the rainy season by cloud seeding in Laos, as a means of denying the enemy vehicular lines of communication. According to intelligence sources at the time, there was a significant movement of enemy supplies and personnel through the Se Kong watershed and the peripheral mountainous areas. Vehicular traffic was a frequently used method of transportation,, but it was considerably hampered by poor road conditions caused by inclement weather. It was hoped that the cloud seeding project would cause further deterioration of the infiltration route.

The prime objective of Project Popeye was to tailor the cloud seeding techniques developed by the Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake, California to the unique meteorological, terrain, and operational conditions that existed in the particular area, and then conduct an operational evaluation of the concept. It was estimated that the initial portion, Phase IA, would take 10 days, consisting of preliminary reconnaissance flights over operational areas, and some trial cloud seedings conducted for training and proof testing of operations techniques and aircraft. The next phase, Phase lB, would last approximately 35 days and would consist of 50 case samples of randomly selected but controlled cloud seeding operations.

Phase IB of Project Popeye commenced on 29 September 1966 and ended on 28 October 1966. A 56-case sample was evaluated and more than 85 percent reacted in accordance with the project theory. There was also evidence of broader applications of weather modification, such as cloud rain-out over the ocean to reduce precipitation of friendly forces, cloud dissipation by overseeding to improve visibility of friendly forces, and other applications based on tactical operations. In view of the success of Project Popeye, COMUSMACV recommended immediate full-scale implementation of the Popeye technique, to include these broader aspects.

Based on experience gained during the test, Seventh Air Force wrote a Popeye plan for utilizing the technique as an adjunct to the weapons systems then being employed in the theater. The operations plan, based on Air Force control and execution of the entire operation, was approved by COMUSMACV and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who forwarded it to higher authority on 5 December 1966, with approval to implement the project expected in early 1967.

The Air Force continued its attempts at weather modification after the initial Popeye tests, flying rain-making missions during 6 southwest monsoon seasons before the project ended on 5 July 1972. Initially, 3 WC-130A aircraft were used in the Popeye missions. These aircraft had been converted to a weather reconnaissance configuration featuring the AN/AMR-1 system, capable of receiving information from dropsondes. The aircraft, however, were not configured for atmospheric sampling like the WC-130Bs and WC-130Es in service at the time. By 1970, the WC-130As had been returned to the standard C-130A configuration and replaced by WC-130Bs and WC-130Es on a rotational basis. Aircraft dropped photoflash cartridges inside certain clouds, relying on the release of silver iodide or lead iodide in the updraft to trigger the release of moisture. The annual cost of the effort was roughly $3.6 million, including the operation and maintenance of 3 Lockheed WC-130s and 2o McDonnell Douglas RF-4Cs, purchase of seeding materials, and pay for the people involved.

In the end, however, it proved impossible to determine the amount of additional rainfall caused by cloud-seeding rather than other factors, and thus justify the recurring outlay. The Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that seeding increased rainfall "in limited areas up to 30 percent above that predicted for the existing conditions," but this figure admittedly was the result of "empirical and theoretical techniques based on units expended and the physical properties of the air mass seeded"-in short, a scientific guess. Sensor data showed only that the enemy consistently experienced difficulty keeping traffic moving through the monsoon rains, a normal problem for that time of year.

From time to time, especially during 1971, tropical storms either intensified the downpour associated with the southwest monsoon or extended the rainy season beyond its anticipated close. Atmospheric conditions over either the Indian Ocean or the South China Sea, rather than cloud seeding over southern Laos, spawned these typhoons. Ironically, typhoon-induced rains interfered with cloud seeding, cooling the earth and preventing the updrafts of heated air that were essential to the project.

When this effort was exposed, however, the military endured tremendous pressure and criticism, especially from Congress. Within 5 years of the negative publicity, US military weather modification research had ceased.


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