How Effective Was Napalm and Agent Orange Against Guerrilla Tactics in the Vietnam War?

effective-napalm-agent-orange-against-guerrilla-tactics-vietnam-war Credit: spxChrome/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Despite the devastating effects of both Agent Orange and napalm, neither weapon worked particularly well against the guerrilla tactics of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. The Vietcong used a variety of tactics to keep the Americans one step behind in spite of their superior weaponry.

Napalm is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene and gasoline, which are all highly flammable materials. The mixture is thick, jelly-like and immediately burns anything within 10 minutes. Napalm bombings were incredibly devastating and almost always killed everyone in its path. The temperatures of napalm ranged between 1,500 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Agent Orange was an intense herbicide that the American troops used to destroy the clean food and water of Vietcong and their sympathizers. The chemical had devastating lingering effects on plants, animals and people in the area for years.

The Vietcong were able to thwart these attacks through sneaky means such as setting booby traps in towns, disguising as peasants and otherwise trapping American troops entering villages. They received supplies from Russia and China through a route between Laos and Cambodia called the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Americans did not attack this for fear of escalating the war. The Vietcong also stayed close to American troops, which made large scale bombings impossible without hurting their own troops.