Every week, War Is Boring and Reuters sit down to discuss the stories behind the front lines. It’s War College and this week Joseph Trevithick shed some light on the strange military experiments of the Vietnam War.
America’s war in Southeast Asia was unlike any it had ever fought before, but the Pentagon initially tried to fight the same way it had in Korea and World War II. It didn’t work out.
It was a time of great upheaval and experimentation. Operation Ranch Hand created Agent Orange, destroying the troublesome jungle but also American and Vietnamese lives. The U.S. Army upgraded its standard battle rifle, taking on the M-16. Soldiers and weekend warriors continue to debate the rifle’s effectiveness.
It seemed that Washington was ready to try anything to win in Vietnam. The Army tested out a combat treehouse for landing helicopters and an ultra-powerful flashlight for blinding enemies. Special Operations Forces crawled through tunnels armed with silenced revolvers. And — to the future delight of children everywhere — the U.S. Navy invented glow sticks.
Some experiments worked out, some were deadly and others just plain weird. This week on War College, we explore some of our favorites.