Project Tailwind Review


At 10:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 7 June 1998, Cable News Network (CNN) telecast the first edition of a new show, "NewsStand: CNN & Time," in coordination with Time magazine. The lead story on the 7 June telecast, called "Valley of Death," alleged that a U.S. Special Forces unit was inserted into Laos in September 1970 to kill U.S. military defectors. The story claimed that during the operation, code named TAILWIND, the Special Forces unit assaulted an enemy base camp "village" and killed enemy troops, women, children, and U.S. defectors. The telecast alleged that Air Force A-1 Skyraider aircraft dropped Sarin nerve gas CBU-15 munitions on the enemy base camp prior to the attack by the Special Forces unit. The CNN telecast also claimed that during their extraction, the Special Forces personnel called in Air Force A-1s, which again dropped Sarin nerve gas weapons on enemy soldiers.  

On Monday, 8 June, the Secretary of Defense, William S. Cohen, announced a formal investigation of these charges. A 9 June memorandum to the Military Departments and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) directed a 30-day investigation of the two charges that the TAILWIND operation was directed against U.S. military defectors and that Sarin nerve gas was used. (See Appendix H)

This Air Force report will only address the allegation that Air Force A-1s dropped Sarin nerve gas during Operation TAILWIND, 11-14 September 1970. The other allegation, that Operation TAILWIND was directed against U.S. military defectors, will be addressed by the U.S. Army and the JCS.

Based on all of the information historians gathered in their investigation, Sarin nerve gas was not used by Air Force aircraft during Operation TAILWIND. The historians could find no evidence that the CBU-15 nerve agent munition was an operational weapon or deployed to Southeast Asia at the time.....

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