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Operation Popeye (wikipedia.org)
69 points by segfaultbuserr on April 28, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments

Interesting list of goals, how it was implemented, how it is now illegal...

But nowhere on the page does anyone say "it worked!" or "it was a boondoggle!", let alone share a statistical analysis that says "rain changed by X sigma over normal". That's a bit disappointing.

Agreed, I'm surprised "did it work?" does not seem to be addressed.

According to:


"In the end, however, it proved impossible to determine the amount of additional rainfall caused by cloud-seeding rather than other factors, and thus justify the recurring outlay. The Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that seeding increased rainfall "in limited areas up to 30 percent above that predicted for the existing conditions," but this figure admittedly was the result of "empirical and theoretical techniques based on units expended and the physical properties of the air mass seeded"-in short, a scientific guess. Sensor data showed only that the enemy consistently experienced difficulty keeping traffic moving through the monsoon rains, a normal problem for that time of year."

US Senate Top Secret Committee hearing goes into this (p108). It mentions

(1) It is not possible to precisely quantify the effects due to lack of sufficient ground stations to report

(2) Defence Intelligence Agency estimates a 30% above the predictions for existing existing conditions in specified areas

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20090612231729/http://www.sunshi...

> But nowhere on the page does anyone say "it worked!"

Does it work? The Army definitely believed it could work at the time, but even today, nobody is sure. Many countries use cloud seeding in a routine basis for civil purposes, but there's still no scientific consensus [0] on the effectiveness of Cloud Seeding. Some researchers believes it works, others don't.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_seeding#Effectiveness

Because of the wiiiiiiiide variance in weather patterns, rain conditions, and the like, it would be very difficult to pull data from the noise with out a very long running widescale experiement.

Exactly what I was wondering. Did it work? I remember hearing that the science behind it has since been discredited.

> The former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, was aware that there might be objections raised by the international scientific community but said in a memo to the president that such objections had not in the past been a basis for prevention of military activities considered to be in the interests of U.S. national security.

A somewhat unfortunate use of precedent…

It bothers me that one of the cloud seeding compounds they used was lead based. I wonder how much permanent pollution was left behind.

Regarding the effectiveness:


> Operation Popeye had four main objectives: to turn the roads to mud, to cause landslides along roadways, to wash out river crossings, and to keep roads muddier for longer than usual. But cloud seeding at the utime, and even today, is far from an exact science. At best , the military could measure three things: what the average rainfall for that area was, what the estimated rainfall would have been, and what actually fell after a seeding mission. But, in the end, they couldn’t collect enough data to rigorously analyze the outcomes. “The rain is completely variable,” says Fleming. “You have a tremendous temporal variability, spatial variability, and that means that statistics are not robust about what your particular intervention did to that particular rainfall.”

> And even if the U.S. military could make it rain, they couldn’t precisely control where the rain landed. One official described accidentally dumping a ton of rain on an American Special Forces camp.

> Nevertheless, Operation Popeye was deemed effective enough to continue for five years, from 1967 to 1972.

> Operation Popeye was deemed effective enough to > continue for five years, from 1967 to 1972."

If this farce had been successful in any way, politicians and their corporate benefactors would have milked it for every dime possible. Remember, this is America and the "success" of a war is only defined by which side of the cash register you stand.

If that is too difficult to comprehend, then consider:

The Vietnam War was deemed effective enough to continue for twenty years, from 1955 to 1975.

The Iraq War was deemed effective enough to continue from 2003 to present.

The War in Afghanistan was deemed effective enough to continue from 2001–present.

>If that is too difficult to comprehend, then consider:

>Be kind. Don't be snarky.


> If that is too difficult to comprehend, then consider:

Gee, thanks there, buddy. :/

So often conspiracy theories are incorrect not because nobody conspired but because they tried and failed. Nudging complex systems in the preferred direction is hard.

Even if it was effective, they wouldn't tell you anyways. The CIA is known for this, they will claim it didn't work as cover.

The CIA telling you or not isn't really a factor if we know about it from a leak, they're not deciding.

But more realistically if their cloud seeding was like so many other attempts...they don't know if it works or not.


The First Indochina War was also an enabling factor, too.


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