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History of the Bombing Data

Aerial Bombing records were declassified in 1976 and provided to the US National Archives on computer compatible tapes (CCTs) for safekeeping. In 1994-5, the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) requested the US Humanitarian Demining Assistance Teams to provide information about the bombardments during the war. Tom Smith from the US Dept of Defense, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Humanitarian Assistance and Mine Action section (DSCA-HAMA), a veteran of the US Army, who saw combat in Vietnam, contacted the National Archives and was informed of the existence of the tapes. He initiated the quest to read the data on the tapes and make it useful to Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Data was recovered for the express purpose of providing support to humanitarian demining operations in SE Asia.

Data Sources

- US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Washington DC
- 1970-1975 Southeast Asia Aerial Bombing Database (SEADAB)
- 1965-1970 Combat Activities Asia (CACTA)
- Ordnance DSCA records for SE Asia (Cambodia, Lao PDR & Vietnam).

Source of data for CACTA and SEADAB were debriefs of pilots returning from missions. Records were written down (pen/pencil onto paper forms). Data entry was accomplished via "keypunching" - type a key which punches a hole in a papercard or along a roll of tape. Data was recorded using IBM 360 mainframe. This machine is the size of a small office.


Bombing Data on Google Earth

Below are examples maps that highlight the extent and the scope of the bombing campaign in Laos. These maps have been produced using US bombing data.

The NRA hoped to make this information accessible and useful for interested parties and came up with a concept of utilising Google Earth software to do this. Via an extensive process of data transferral, this has been achieved and examples of how the data can be depicted are shown below. Specific bombing information of an area designated by the user can be loaded and viewed in Google Earth’s unique visual depiction, which allows stakeholders to gain a more detailed understanding of the scale of the bombing.

The software needs to be installed on your computer, and the GoogleEarth compatible maps are available by request from the NRA.

*Description obtained from GICHD; http://www.gichd.org/operational-assistance-research/information-management-imsma/imsma/overview/