THERE ARE NO BIRDS IN VIETNAM
By Coca Crystal
The new war in Indochina' While troops are being brought home, the air war increases. It is a new form of war where machines do most of the killing and destructi0n. The population of Indochina has been concentrated in the major cities and placed under American control. The vast regions outside of these controlled areas are subject to American bombing at any time. Well over two-thirds of Indochina has thus been turned into a free fire zone.
The new war is an automated war with machines playing the predominant role and ground troops in a secondary position. Asian foot soldiers are used to supporting American bombers by "showing the flag" after bombing raids, taking out supplies and refugees, providing static defense for the major cities and bases, and serving as "live bait" to draw guerilla fire so American pilots have some idea where to bomb. The aircraft carrier has become a mobile platform from which to launch air attacks against ground targets. The aircraft carrier is likely to be the first US force engaged and the last one withdrawn.
The mechanized war consists of air craft, huge air bases and aircraft carriers. The goal of the mechanized war is to replace US personnel with machines. It reduces cost and domestic dissent occasioned by American deaths; it increases efficiency by removing American foot soldiers. From the Armed Forces Journal-"By every conceivable indicator our Army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near mutinous." And faced with an American public that wants peace, an Army that won't fight, and an enemy that won't lose, the US Government has found a way to give the appearance of peace while continuing the war. The solution, Westmoreland said, "is to replace, wherever possible, the man with the machine."
Areas have been seeded with airdropped devices that can detect vibrations or people; they detect sounds, they may be sensitive to metallic objects, or to heat radiation or to chemical emanations from human bodies. The information is transmitted by radio to receivers on mountain tops or in continuously airborne communications aircraft (manned lI1d unmanned). The signals are then relayed to a central computer in Udorn, Thailand, where all responses of all sensors are correlated, and the decision to strike a certain area is finalized.
The code name for the electronic operation is "Igloo White." Barry Goldwater said, "I personally think it (electronic battlefield) has the possibility of being one of the greatest steps forward in warfare since gun powder." The "automated warfare" has many "advantages"-a machine will not defect or take drugs, the machines represent a cheap mercenary army.
Machines cannot discriminate between friend or foe, civilian or soldier, adult or child-all will die who lie in its path. Three things make the air war distinctive. I. Electronic sensors, not men, are finding the targets. 2. The targets are struck by computer directed aircraft filled with electronic equipment. 3. The bombs they drop are designed primarily to maim people and drive them out of "enemy" areas.
"On several occasions after heavy sensor activity the night before, morning patrols sent out in search of enemy bodies found dead water buffaloes instead." Reported in the Congressional Record by Proxmire-3/23/71 .
50% of all bombs on Indochina are antipersonnel bombs. Anti-personnel bombs are designed for use against unprotected human flesh. One thousand tons of anti-personnel bombs are dropped daily in Indochina! Antipersonnel bombs violate international law. "It is specifically forbidden to employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering" -Hague Convention, 1907.
"Most of the victims of anti-personnel bombs are not killed, but maimed. The pellets are designed to cause irregular and hard-to-cure wounds. This serves 2 purposes. One, instead of one person being killed and thus removed from military production, 5 or 6 must care for them. Secondly, badly wounded viets have a greater demoralizing effect on the rest of the population." From National Action/Research of the Military Industrial Complex.
The sensors used to detect movement or presence of human beings are unparalleled in their imaginative uses. Take for example the air delivered seismic intrusion director-ADSID. They are dropped from planes and land and burrow into the earth, leaving only the antenna showing. The antenna is designed to look like a tropical plant. Footsteps transmit
vibrations to the computer. But the vibrations offer no clue as to whether the person or persons making the steps are man, woman or child-armed or unarmed. Another interesting sensor is one made to look like animal droppings. They are made by Honeywell corporations. Another, ACOUBOY microphones, are dropped from planes on lity parachutes made by the Playtex Company (living bra people). The parachute disintegrates when it hits the trees, leaving a fine netting to hold up the camouflaged microphones. Sensors "are also carried onboard aircraft. The "people sniffer" is designed to detect ammonia in human body odors. The army spent $1.5 million developing this to have it knocked out of commission by the simple use of ingenuity. The Vietnamese hang buckets of urine from the trees. Goodyear radar units are also carried onboard aircraft.
Helicopters are also equipped with special devices. Textron, which makes Talon Zippers and Schaeffer pens, makes a "prowling hunter" killer chopper that uses an infra-red screen to see in the dark. Puff the Magic Dragon, an old gunship, could boast 6,000 gun pellets per minute. But the new chopper is even more effective. Some 2,000 tons of bombs are dropped daily in Indochina. There are 5 types. The high explosives range anywhere from 250 to 15,000 pounds. There are 20 million bomb craters in Indochina. I 0 million are in South Vietnam. A standard 500 pound bomb would make a crater I 0 to 50 feet wide and 5 to 50 feet deep. Areas hit by high explosives are impossible to re-cultivate.
The anti-personnel bombs encompass half, or 1,000 tons daily. They are designed for use against unprotected human flesh. North Vietnamese school children wear straw vests to protect themselves. Each "pineapple" has 250 steel pellets which shoot out horizontally when the bombs hit the ground. But the people hid in trenches so the "guava" was_ developed. The guava explodes before it hits the ground so the pellets spray diagonally into the trenches in a 360 degree pattern. They cannot destroy a bridge, a truck or a train. Two or three inches of sand bags will stop them. The "Flechette" or nail bomb contains several hundred one-inch barbed nails in each three-inch bomblet. It enters the body shredding muscles and body organs.
The incendiary bombs are designed to burn their victims. They vary in temperature and adhesiveness. Napalm is characterized by the "sheets of flames" that envelop everything for hundreds of yards. White Phosphorous burns on contact with oxygen. It cannot be extinguished, which means it usually has to the bone before it goes out. And it burns slowly. On occasion it can burn for 15 days. The greenish light that can be seen at night is produced by the material that continues burning the flesh and bones. Air to ground missiles are being used more frequently in recent years. They are either guided or teleguided missiles. The "walleye" and the "bullpup" are teleguided and are used against caves or suspected underground complexes. They are accurate within 6 feet when dropped from a distance as far as 4 miles.
The last group of bombs are the area denial mines. These are designed to make areas of land uninhabitable for human life. Dragon Tooth and Gravel mines are camouflaged to blend in with the land. They will blow off your foot if you step on them do much the same to your hand if you touch them. The Spider mine or the wide anti-personnel mine has 8 fine wires that extend from it. When a wire is moved, bal bearing like pellets are thrown a distance of meters (180 feet). They are not dropped specific targets but entire areas are f1oodwith them.
The Plain of Jars used to be a thriving society of 50,000 people. It used to be in Northern Laos. I say "used to be" because it isn't e anymore. In 1969 bombers made daily and destroyed all stationary structures. Nothing was left standing. An old man from the area said, "The planes came like the birds and the bombs fell like the rain. " The villagers in trenches, holes or caves. In
September 1969, CIA-supported Meo troops (an indigenous Laotian tribe) went in and took out 25,000 refugees. It is a deserted wasteland today. The Pathet Lao, the armed fighting guerillas of Laos, have been the unceasing target of the CIA. CIA representatives meet weekly at Udorn Air Force Base in Thailand to draw up target listings.
Not only is the air war ugly, inhumane and technically illegal, it is also rather ineffective. The war is proving to be technology versus the human spirit. And fortunately the humans are holding up. In Cambodia guerillas now control 70-90% of the territory despite a bombing campaign of some 150,000 tons since May 1970.
In Laos, the guerilla forces now hold more territory than before the bombing began. By 1969, "90% [of the young men] wanted to join the Pathet Lao. Nobody really understood what the Pathet Lao meant by 'American Imperialism' before the planes came. But by 1969, the attitude was 'better to die fighting than hiding in the holes.'''-A Pathet Lao volunteer.
The NLF in South Vietnam has also been experiencing a renewed recruitment increase. "Twenty-seven months of bombing have had remarkably little effect," said the Pentagon Papers. Half of the bombs miss their targets and provide the guerillas with 27,000 tons of bombs to make booby traps and mines.
The air war violates international law on many levels. The first is the extensive bombings of unprotected villages and hospitals, augmented by our illegal failure to aid civilian bomb casualties. The Plain of Jars held the first society in history to be completely destroyed by total automatic war.
Herbicides are used. About 100 million pounds have been sprayed on Vietnam. Over 5 million acres have been hit. Herbicides can cause genetic damage and already birth abnormalities are being reported at an alarming rate. Half of the mangrove forests in Vietnam have been destroyed. There are no birds in Vietnam!
These are the cold and chilling facts. I have tried not to cloud the facts with political rhetoric, but I must express some feelings here. I feel there must be some limitations to what the Government is allowed to do. And the air war in itself is a war crime. We, as a country, have sunk to a new and low depth of inhumanity and brutality. It is time to leam the facts, well enough to convince somebody else. And then ACT. Get off your asses, if for the first time in your life, and do something. No, the war ain't winding down, it's just starting, and 1 for one would be proud to give aid to the heroic and resolutely just people of Indochina. But how, you say?
There is nothing too awful that can be done to the makers of the automated battlefield. Honeywell, ITT, Westinghouse, Textron, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed, Playtex, Dupont, Boeing, General Electric, Motorola, Singer. Hamilton, Lin-Tempo Voight, Olin, General Motors and Grumman all make millions in Government contracts. Get together with a group of friends. People you know well and trust. And then plot the scheme. "Visit" offices, sabotage, vandalize and terrorize the executives. Hold "die-ins" in their posh suites. Put blood on their carpets. Do anything to dramatize the war. Send them garbage in the mail. Tie up their switchboards (call from paybooths). Infiltrate and wreak havoc. The people who work for these corporations must be made aware of their company's involvement in the war. They must understand their complicity in the senseless killing and destruction of life and land. I can't ask you to care about some Laotian or Cambodian peasant who does not even know what an American is, but I can implore you to boycott ALL products made by Continental Bakeries, Wonder Bread, Hostess Cupcakes. etc. They are subsidiaries
of ITT who are 'more than accomplices in the air war. Destroy their products in the supermarkets, beg people not to buy their products. Explain to them why. If they complain that Wonder is cheaper, give them money to make up the difference. People have already begun to campaign against the air war. Hundreds of small well-organized attacks would do a lot.
So don't just sit there reading. PLOT, SCHEME AND ACT. Take a chance, take a risk, the Indochinese do it every day. Gamble on something that will surely make you feel good inside. Decide how far you are able to go. Maybe it's leafleting or maybe you are prepared to sabotage. But get it done, right. No more sloppy jobs. We have enough people underground and many more prepared to descend. An action by ten people at a major corporation will be as effective, if not more effective, than 20,000 people marching at a peace rally.
Postcript to 'Automated Airwar'
On August 30, 1970, 15 minutes before I arrived in Madison, Wise. to get some printing done on behalf of 3 Milwaukee Black Panthers falsely accused of taking a pot-shot at a cop, an enormous explosion destroyed the Army Mathematics Research Center on the UW-Madison campus. When we got to the site of the explosion, we found that someone had left a van-load of fertilizer treated with heating oil and rigged with a dynamite detonator in the parking bay at the base of the building containing the AMRC Computer, leveling it.
Army Math was not, as University 'public relations flacs still insist, a center for purely theoretical research into Mathematics. The best evidence indicates this was the master computer which designed the smaller computers which controlled the "automated battlefield" described in Coca's article. Most important, Army Math was responsible for continuously updating programming of the on-board "counter-measures" computers that enabled the U.S. B-52 fleet to evade the latest in Soviet anti-aircraft technologies supplied to the Vietnamese.
Destruction of Army Math resulted in a loss of an approximately 18 month lead-time that state-of-the-art U.S. countermeasure techniques had enjoyed vis-a-vis the Vietnamese. The Wharf Building (which housed AMRC) had to be rebuilt from scratch, and meanwhile the Vietnamese caught up. Thanks to the SAM-7, in the 2 weeks of the Christmas Bombing of Hanoi, etc. at the end of 1972, Nixon lost 20% of the entire U.S. fleet of B-52's. He was forced to sign the treaty a month later.
The group single-handedly responsible for ending the War, Madison's own New Year's Gang, was subsequently apprehended in Canada. Karlton Armstrong, his brother Dwight and David Fine were tried for various charges, including the accidental death of a researcher (ironically personally antiwar) who was caught in the blast because Madison cops chose to disregard several warning calls. Leo Burt, the 4th gang member, has never been apprehended.
An immediate side-effect of the explosion was that KALEIDOSCOPE editor Mark Knops, later the founder of TAKEOVER, did 4% months for refusing to testify before a grand jury-and not a single member of the press stepped forward to protest.
Karl and the other members of the New Year's Gang were released at the end of the '70's. Karlton is prohibited from travelling or talking much about politics by the terms of his parole. He and his brother never got any medals, but they're local heroes in Madison.
Kissinger, author of the Christmas bombing and the whole Star Wars genocide of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. As the peanut farmer once said, Life is unfair.