Operation Popeye, or How the US Military Weaponized the Weather

The 500th Motorpool mission crew members flew WC-130s
during Operation Popeye
During the Vietnam War, the Pentagon sought to use the weather against the enemy. "Between 1967 and 1972, the US Air Force carried out Operation Popeye, the first use of weather as an instrument of war. Almost 3,000 flights were sent into the skies above the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where planes seeded clouds with silver iodide particles, causing storms and extending the monsoon season. [Operation] Popeye turned the strategic pass into a bog." Though the modification of the weather greatly affected the lives of countless Vietnamese, the Pentagon Papers revealed that the operation was thought to carry "normal military operational risks" with minimal "risk of compromise."

The Defense Intelligence Agency calculated Operation Popeye [also called Operation Intermediary Compatriot] resulted in rainfall being increased by 30% [page 20.] During a 1974 Senate hearing, Senator Pell asked: "The thing that concerns me is not rainmaking per se, but when you open that Pandora's box what comes out with it? Will we achieve a technique to be able to both create and point a hurricane or typhoon? Will we be able to do geophysical modification, put a charge under the surface and let the earthquake flow?" In response, General Furlong told Senator Pell: "I don't think we can contribute to your record."

We lost the Vietnam War, but the US emerged a stronger country partly as a result of all the technology of destruction and oppression that we developed in our fight against the Viet Cong. In fact, Operation Popeye was one of the few real successes of the Vietnam War, successfully managing to extend the monsoon season by more than a month.

Highlighted area shows where Operation Popeye first took place,
eventually expanding
further into Laos, North Vietnam, Northeast Cambodia,
and the Shau Valley in South Vietnam.
Though the Environmental Modification Treaty (Enmod) of 1977 outlawed weather warfare, it could in no way stop research. Just this past July, the Central Intelligence Agency -- through the National Academy of Sciences -- funded a 21-month-long project to "investigate possible national security implications of geoengineering attempts."

Operation Popeye was strictly a Department of Defense operation, with Project Stormfury carried out by the Department of Commerce.

However, since today the CIA is in control of JSOC -- our special operations forces -- the line between the DoD and the CIA have blurred. And indeed, the CIA has very real interest in investigating the national security implications of climate modification; David Keith, a Harvard researcher and top geoengineering proponent, claims that "geoengineering is cheap and 'fundamentally doable'... foreign countries, or even wealthy individuals, could mess with the climate to advance their own ends."

If wealthy individuals could alter the climate, then it stands to reason that it's only a matter of time before a rogue group like Al-Qaeda gains the capability to set-off a volcano, or start a hurricane. This technology may also be passed to extremist groups by rogue nations such as North Korea, Iran, or China. In 2008, the Chinese seeded clouds to prevent rain falling over the Olympics: "This involved firing rockets packed with silver iodide crystals into rain clouds over the suburbs of Beijing."

In the same way that the Vietnam War escalated, so too could a Cold War between China and the US involve mass-scale modification of the weather. Weather warfare carries plausible deniability and can also be done under a false flag. In 2010, Hugo Chavez was ridiculed for claiming that the CIA used a "tectonic weapon" to cause the Haiti earthquake. Considering the rogue nature of the US since the start of the War on Terror, the possibility exists that Bush disregarded, and that the Obama administration is disregarding the Enmod treaty.