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May 05, 2008

Rush's Operation Chaos. Deja Vu all over again?

(I've tried to write this darn post three times, but I've left the broken & bleeding drafts in the internet ether every time. This time, I'll push forward and do the whole thing in one bite.)

* SPECIAL NOTE TO RUSH LIMBAUGH: Hey Rush. How ya' doin'? Big admirer of your work, especially "Operation Chaos". I know that you get summaries of the best posts on the internet every day from your dilligent staffers, and hopefully one of them will find this like they did with Ace's post about Reverend Wright last week. One favor? When you plug "Ace of Spades" on your show, please remember that it's ace.mu.nu, not ace.com, and I'll consider that to be credit enough for myself. Ace lets me play with the blog when he's recovering from hangovers or incarcerated for "72 hour mental health observation periods", so he deserves all the credit for the work. Plus, he'll take care of me with a bigger bonus check at the end of the year. We ARE getting bonus checks this year, right Ace? *

When Rush Limbaugh announced his "Operation Chaos" with the intention of throwing Hillary Clinton a life preserver & stretching out the (D) primaries until June, I thought it was a great idea. I never imagined it would be part of helping resurrect Hillary's campaign, but then again, I never knew that Whitey invented AIDS to kill the Black Man (You'd think that being white myself, "The Man" could have sent me a frickin' postcard or something). Ever since he announced the operation, I've had an uneasy feeling that I've heard about this before. Somewhere in my mind, there was a wisp of a memory about an operation that consisted of getting deep into enemy territory and pissing in their Margaritas (gratuitous Cinco de Mayo reference) or slipping a wrench into the works.

Last week, I got my "American Rifleman" magazine in the mail, and now I remember what "Operation Chaos" reminds me of: "Project Eldest Son", a SOG operation from 1967 to 1969 that attempted to affect the North Vietnamese Army's morale with sabotaged rifle, mortar & machine gun ammunition. I'll go into more detail after the break, but unfortunately I can't find an "open" version of the article to link here (there's a copy on the NRA's website - American Rifleman is the official publication of the NRA - but it's in an area limited to members only), so I'll try to excerpt enough of the article for "fair use". Sorry about the length, but you know how I get when it's a technical issue.

SOG ("Studies & Operations Group") was a multi-service special ops group organized to mainly "execute highly classified, deniable missions in the enemy's backyard of Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam". SOG recon teams typically consisted of two or three Americans and four to six native soldiers, and while working out in the boonies, these teams frequently encountered tons of ammuntion in enemy base camps and caches along the Laotian highway system or on the "Ho Chi Minh Trail". A team this small could never hope to carry off these large amounts of ammunition, and demolition in place would merely scatter the ammunition instead of destroying it. Col. John K. Singlaub, SOG's commander from '66 to '68, was racking his brain to come up with a way to destroy this ammo in place when he had a brainstorm.....boobytrap the ammunition itself!

Starting in August of 1967, SOG's "boffins" started working on the technical aspects of the operation. In September of that year, a test round was fired from a captured AK rifle at Camp Chinen, Okinawa. The modified cartridge shredded the receiver of the rifle, and propelled the bolt backwards and, as Col. Singlaub observed, "I would imagine into the head of the firer." By the time they were done, the technicians had prepared 11,565 AK rounds and 556 rounds of 12.7mm heavy machine gun ammo (essentially, the Com Bloc's version of our .50 BMG). These cartridges were originally reloaded with a white powder similar to PETN high explosive which was sensitive enough to be detonated by a single rifle primer. To make sure that the enemy couldn't find the powder by disassembling cartridges, Ben Baker (described as "our answer to James Bond's 'Q'") obtained a substitute explosive "that so closely resembled gunpowder that it would pass inspection by anyone but an ordninance expert."
AK and RPD belt-fed light machine guns could work with chamber pressures up to 45,000 psi, but the new powder used in SOG's rounds produced an incredible 250,000 psi! In addition to the small arms ammo sabotaged, CIA technicians also developed a fuse for the Communist 82mm mortar round that would detonate the warheads on impact with the bottom of the mortar tube. "Exactly 1,968 of these mortar rounds were sabotaged, too."

Insertion of the doctored rounds was accomplished by several methods. SOG recon teams carried a few loose rounds in their pockets to insert into an otherwise full AK magazine or onto an RPD belt. They would plant these rounds in discovered ammo dumps and in the magazines of killed enemy soldiers. Policy was to NEVER insert more than one doctored round per magazine, belt or ammo can, "so no amount of searching after a gun exploded would uncover a second round, to preclude the enemy from determining this was sabotage." Planting the sabotaged 82mm mortar rounds was harder to do, since they had to be carried in three-round wooden cases which weighed more than 25 pounds. According to the article:

"SOG's moste clever insertion was accomplished by SOG SEALs operating in the Mekong Delta, where they filled a captured sampan with tainted cases of ammunition, shot it tastefully full of bullet holes, then spilled chicken blood all over it and set it adrift upstream from a known Viet Cong village. Of course, the VC assumed the boat's Communist crew had fallen overboard during an ambush. The Viet Cong took the ammunition, hook, line and sinker."

Once the ammo found it's way into the supply chain, SOG initiated it's "black psyop" exploitation. Col. Steve Cavanaugh, Singlaub's replacement, said it best: "Our interest was not in killing the soldier that was using the weapon. We were trying to leave in the minds of the North Vietnamese that the ammunition they were getting from China was bad ammunition." Playing on the natural distrust of Vietnamese for China was brilliant. A combination of forged North Vietnamese documents and American technical manuals gave both the NVA and their American counterparts the impression that Communist ammo was prone to catastrophic failures. The project actually forced American forces in Vietnam to stop using captured ammo in AK's and RPD's captured and put to use by special forces and other groups who were trying to "fit in" across the borders.

By the middle of 1969, the jig was up. The New York Times and Time (I know, I know. Whoda thunk it?) ran articles detailing the operation, forcing SOG to change it's codename to Italian Green, and later to Pole Bean. In July of 1969, SOG operatives had inserted 3,638 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 167 rounds of 12.7mm and 821 rounds of 82mm mortar ammo. The Joint Chiefs of Staff directed SOG to dispose of their remaining stockpile in the fall of '69, and a team led by Maj. John L. Plaster (the author of the American Rifleman article) inserted into Laos in November to place as much "special" ammo as possible.

Now you're all saying: OK, Russ. Nice story, but what's it got to do with the Democratic Party Primary almost 40 years later? Simple. Project Eldest Son worked to make the NVA and VC suspicious of their supply chain, while Operation Chaos is attempting to make Democrat voters and party activists suspicious of their own base. Who knows if a particular voter in line at the polling place is a "real" Democrat, or a Limbaugh listener? Operation Chaos could possibly take the shine off a victorious Obama by diminishing his margins of victory; or if Hillary wins, the Democratic party has to have the thought in the back of their minds "She only won because Rush helped her". It's a modern day Jedi Mind Trick, and as each layer of the conspiracy is peeled back, you get more and more impressed as it goes. As better minds than I have already said: The Democratic convention in Denver this summer will be a prime time to get a big ol' bowl of popcorn and a comfy chair ready to go, cuz' it's gonna be a real five-star drama.

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posted by Russ from Winterset at 05:02 PM

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