U.S. military forces used defoliants to remove strategic forest cover and potential food crops used by Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces during the Vietnam War. The primary defoliant used was a chemical mixture named Agent Orange.
Agent Orange was used extensively due to its extremely effective defoliant properties caused by a highly toxic dioxin. It was applied to vegetation by aircraft near any strategic locations, such as military roads, camps and rivers. While useful as a defoliant, exposure to Agent Orange caused serious health effects, such as cancer and birth defects in the Vietnamese people as well as U.S. soldiers.