The Pathet Lao War In Laos 1953-1975

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The Phatet Lao War In Laos

A.introductions

1.The Laotian Civil War (1953–75) was a fight between the Communist Pathet Lao, often North Vietnamese of Lao ancestry, and the Royal Lao Government in which both the political rightists and leftists received heavy external support for a proxy war from the global Cold War superpowers. Among US veterans of the conflict, it is known as the Secret War

2.The fighting in Laos involved the North Vietnamese Army, American, Thai, and South Vietnamese forces directly and through irregular proxies in a battle for control over the Laotian Panhandle. The North Vietnamese Army occupied the area for use as the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply corridor and staging area for offensives into South Vietnam. There was a second major theatre of action on and near the northern Plaine des Jarres.

The North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao emerged victorious in 1975, as part of the general communist victory in Indochina that year.

3.The Brief History Of the Laos war

This was a tough section to write. There is so much history associated with every topic covered, each able to engage one’s study for years. This presentation is at a very top level and there is risk of leaving important things out. Laotian history during this period is complex at best.

The presentation, however, is meant to give some context to the 1969 deployment of the EC-47 to NKP, Thailand to conduct its electronic reconnaissance and Airborne Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) missions mainly over Laos.


Before getting started, for those of you who might be interested, I have published a multi-section story on the Hmong of Laos at my sister web site, “Wisconsin Central.” To do that, I presented a history of Laos from the 13th century to the Second Indochina War. As you will see, the Hmong were allied with US and Royal Laotian Government (RLG) forces during that war. That history will bring you fairly close to where I will start for this story. Laotian history is very fluid, and filled with constant war fighting and political intrigue, which might help put what we are about to cover into some context.


Royal Laotian Army (RLA) Officers


Pathet Lao Soldiers

As we said in the introductory section, by 1968, the war in Laos at a top level was between the RLA and the indigenous communist Pathet Lao.

Viet Minh, known as the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the predecessor to the NVN Army, trucking supplies south on the Ho Chi Minh Trail

The NVN had also carved out the Ho Chi Minh Trail through eastern Laos and Cambodia and into the RVN.


NVA Gun Team
Finally, the NVN Army (NVA) also fought inside Laos against the RLG and in support of the Pathet Lao. Both Thailand and the US were supporting the RLG covertly, at least as covertly as one can do that in a war.

These are important points to remember for the Det 3 EC-47s. They were working against NVN and Pathet Lao forces fighting against the RLG and against the NVN and VC forces employing the Ho Chin Minh Trail to work for the downfall of the RVN. That will be roughly how Det 3’s mission ended up getting divided.

In the eyes of the suits in Washington, the war in Laos always played second fiddle to the Vietnam War.


Hmong fighters, 1965

The US strategy for Laos was to use the RLA and indigenous Laotians, most notably the Hmong people, to fight the Pathet Lao and NVN in Laos as a means to maintain the RLG. The US and Thailand would provide air support. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA,) using its commercial company, Air America, a descendant of the Civil Air Transport (CAT) Co. and famous Flying Tigers of WWII, provided both logistics and offensive air support as well. So right off the bat, there is a heavy CIA involvement in this aspect of the war.

The intent of the US was to contain communism to North Vietnam, and not let it spread to the more prosperous South or to Laos, an independent state. So the Americans were in a containment mode.

I did a story about a legendary figure of the CAT-Air America Days in this part of the world, named Jim “Earthquake” McGoon and commend it to you to brush up on the history involved here.

I’ve also done a story about the HH-43 Pedroes, helicopters used for search and rescue (SAR) and firefighting, and with that did a fairly thorough history explaining how the USAF got involved in Laos. I also commend this story to you, but I want to extract some pertinent facts from it, since you might get tired of going back and forth.

However, from a MACV standpoint, the interest in Laos was on stopping the flow of supplies and war fighters over the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos into the RVN. To do this, conventional USAF and USN air forces were used along with Army, Marine and Navy special forces, the latter of whom worked on the ground conducting reconnaissance of the trail.

4.THE HISTORY OF PATHET LAO

the History Of Pathet Lao

 
 
 
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History of Laos
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This article is part of a series


Early history of Laos
Lan Xang (1353–1707)
Dark ages of Laos (1707–1893)
Luang Phrabang, Viang Chan, Champasak, Muang Phuan
French Laos (1893–1953)
Lao Issara (1945–49)
Post-Independence Laos (1954–75)
Pathet Lao
North Vietnamese Invasion
Laotian Civil War (1953–75)
Communist Laos (1975–present)
Insurgency in Laos (since 1975)

Laos Portal
v · d · e

This article contains Lao text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Lao script.

The Pathet Lao (Lao ປະເທດລາວ, “Lao Country”) was a communist political movement and organization in Laos, formed in the mid-20th century. The group was ultimately successful in assuming political power after the Laotian Civil War. The Pathet Lao were always closely associated with Vietnamese communists. During the civil war, it was effectively organized, equipped and even led by the army of North Vietnam.

The Pathet Lao were the Laotian equivalent of North Vietnam‘s Viet Minh and Viet Cong, and Cambodia‘s Khmer Rouge[1]. Eventually, the term became the generic name for Laotian communists.

The political movement of the Pathet Lao was called first the Lao People’s Party (1955–1972) and later the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (1972–present).

Key Pathet Lao leaders include Prince Souphanouvong, Kaysone Phomvihane, Phoumi Vongvichit, Nouhak Phoumsavanh and Khamtay Siphandone.

Prince Souphanouvong was the first President of the Lao Freedom Front.

In the past this august body was known as the Lao Freedom Front from 1950 to 1955, and the Lao Patriotic Front from 1956 and 1979. It took its present name after an agreement reached by the 4th Lao Front Congress held in February 1979.

Despite its name changes, throughout the 60 years of its existence the organisation’s objective has remained unchanged – to inspire solidarity and unity among the entire ethnic Lao people.

We can say the Front is symbolic of the solidarity that exists among Lao people of all ethnicities. The Lao Front for National Construction is one of the mass organisations entrusted by the Party to develop the solidarity and unity of the nation.

Another of its duties is to build national security and development. In recognition of its efforts in this regard, at the Front’s 8th Congress, the Party presented the body with the National Golden Order.

The success of the Lao Front did not come about by chance. All of its achievements were based on scientific principles and the wise leadership of the Party.

From 1950 to 1956, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party was in its infancy and operated in secrecy. The Lao Freedom Front mobilised people of all ethnicities and at all levels to drive out and eventually triumph against French aggressors. The Front also mobilised forces to take up arms in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam and succeeded in liberating Dien Bien Phu from the French. This led to the signing of the Geneva peace agreement on Indochina in 1954.

After the Geneva agreement came into effect, the Lao Freedom Front continued to carry out Party policy by wholeheartedly working to enforce the agreement, in particular mobilising forces in Huaphan and Phongsaly to protect the two provinces.

The years 1956 to 1979 saw a period of intense combat with American aggressors and their henchmen. At this time, there was a noticeable transition from the use of political strategy to military force.

Leaders of Neo Lao Hak Sat in the 1950s. Including from second left: Mr Kaysone Phomvihane, Mr Nouhak Phoumsavan, Prince Souphannouvong, Mr Phoumi Vongvichid, Mr Sithon Kommadam

The neo Lao Hak Sat or Lao Patriotic Front(pathet Lao) set about building national solidarity to bring peace to the embattled nation.

A coalition government was established and elections held, in which President of the Lao Patriotic Front, Prince Souphanouvong, received the highest number of votes.

The enemy arrested revolutionary leaders in Vientiane and Battalion No.2 was surrounded by the enemy in Xieng Khuang province. However, the Lao Patriotic Front came to the rescue and helped the battalion to escape from the enemy blockade. The revolutionary leaders also succeeded in breaking out of jail.

From 1979 to the present day, committees of the Lao Front for National Construction at all levels have actively accelerated their efforts to strengthen solidarity and teach the public to comply with the two-pronged strategy of national protection and development.

The Front also helped to spread the Party’s new renovation policy and encouraged Lao people to maintain solidarity in line with Party guidelines to deal with difficult times. These included natural disasters, and the change in tactics in dealing with the enemy, moving from the use of military force to peaceful means.

The Lao Front works to build political relationships in society. It was originally a voluntary grouping based on the awareness of political organisations, political-social organisations and individuals, and representing people of all classes, ethnicities, religions and gender, including those living abroad.

The Lao Freedom Front was established in August 1950 in Tuyen Quang province, Vietnam, at the time when the French invaded Laos.

At that time, the Front’s first Congress set out a policy to overthrow French colonialism and its servants. Their intention was to make Laos an independent, unified and prosperous country, enjoying the right to freedom, democracy and equality among all people, regardless of ethnicity or gender.

The Front also aimed to abolish the unjust tax and excise system imposed on them by the French, instead building up the economy, eradicating illiteracy, and allowing culture and education to flourish. These policies included stepping up cooperation with other countries.

At this time Prince Souphanouvong was elected as president of the first Congress of the Lao Freedom Front. Since then, there have been many presidents, including Mr Phoummy Vongvichit and Mr Oudom Khatthinha.

Subsequently, Mr Sisavath Keobounphan was elected president of the seventh and eighth congresses and is still in office day.

For the continued success of the Front, the Party must pay heed to the partnership and leadership roles it plays. The Party must continue to place solidarity among all ethnic groups as the first duty of the Front.

Looking to the future, the Lao Front for National Construction must expand its work based on its obligation to workers, farmers, students and revolutionary intellectuals under the leadership of the Party.

The organisation needs to step up its work so that it benefits people from all walks of life, unites individuals and builds the Front on all levels to ensure its standards and work plans match the prevailing circumstances.

The Front also needs to increasingly teach all ethnic groups about political ideals, support the revolutionary activities of the masses, and increase cooperation with friendly countries

Contents

 

History

 
 

The organization under this name first appeared in 1950, when it was adopted by Lao forces under Prince Souphanouvong, who joined the Viet Minh‘s revolt against the colonial French authorities in Indochina during the First Indochina War.

Prince Souphanouvong, who had spent seven years in Nha Trang[2] during his sixteen years in Vietnam,[3] met Ho Chi Minh, and acquired a Vietnamese wife while in Vietnam, solicited Viet Minh aid in founding a guerrilla force.

In August, 1950, Souphanouvong had joined the Viet Minh in their headquarters north of Hanoi, Vietnam, and become the head of the Pathet Lao, along with its political arm dubbed Neo Lao Hak Sat (Lao Patriotic Front).[4] This was an attempt to give a false front of authority to the Lao communist movement by claiming to represent a united non-partisan effort. Two of its most important founders were members of the Indochinese Communist Party, which advocated overthrow of the monarchy as well as expulsion of the French.[3]

In 1953, Pathet Lao fighters accompanied an invasion of Laos from Vietnam led by Viet Minh forces; they established a government at Viengxay in Houaphan province in northeast Laos. The communists began to make incursions into central Laos with the support of the Viet Minh, and a civil war erupted; the Pathet Lao quickly occupied substantial sections of the country.

The 1954 Geneva Conference agreements required the withdrawal of foreign forces, and allowed the Pathet Lao to establish itself as a regime in Laos’ two northern provinces. The Viet Minh/North Vietnamese, in spite of the agreement, never really withdrew from the border areas of Laos and the Pathet Lao continued to operate almost as a branch organization of the Viet Minh. Two months after the conference, the Viet Minh/North Vietnam formed the unit Group 100 with headquarters at Ban Nameo. The unit effectively controlled and directed the Pathet Lao movement.

It was formed into an official party, the Lao Patriotic Front (Neo Lao Hak Sat), in 1956. Its stated goal was to wage the communist struggle against capitalism and Western colonialism and imperialism. Unstated was its subordination to Communist Party of Vietnam. A coalition government was established in 1957 between the monarchists and communists, but it collapsed in 1959, bringing about a resumption of fighting.

By the late 1950s, North Vietnam had occupied areas of eastern Laos. The area was used as a transit route for men and supplies destined for the insurgency in South Vietnam. In September 1959, North Vietnam formed Group 959 in Laos with the aim of building the Pathet Lao into a stronger counterforce against the Lao Royal government. Group 959 openly supplied, trained and militarily supported the Pathet Lao. The typical strategy during this era was for North Vietnamese regulars to attack first but then send in the Pathet Lao at the end of the battle to claim “victory”.

In the 1960s, more attempts at neutrality agreements and coalition government were attempted but as North Vietnam had no intention of withdrawing from Laos, these agreements all failed. By the middle 1960s, the country had fallen into proxy warfare between pro-US and pro-Vietnamese irregular military groups. In 1968, the Army of North Vietnam launched a multi-division invasion of Laos. The Pathet Lao were pushed to the side in the conflict and reduced to the role of an auxiliary force to the North Vietnamese army. Unable to match the heavy Soviet and Chinese weapons in addition to the numerical strength of the Vietnamese forces, the Royal Lao Army took itself out of the conflict after heavy losses.

The communist forces battled the Royal Lao Army, U.S. irregular forces (including Air America and other contract employees and Hmong commandos),

HMONG COMMANDOS SOLDIER PICTURES

Hmong (pronounced: “mong”) join the Allies  


When the U.S. entered the Vietnam War,the role of the U.S. in Laos grew.
The Hmong were recruited to become special allies of the US.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail ran through the Hmongs countryside,and it was the key supply route of the Communists.
The Hmong,excellent soldiers,were recruited to form a ‘Secret Army.’
The American military personnel trained them and paid them; in return,
the Hmong were to make the regular transport of supplies impossible.
The Hmong were convinced that a war between the US and the Communists would be won by the superpower Americans.
They were not prepared for the American decision to back out of the conflict.
_________________
 
 
     

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Asking for help from the US,before the communists get them
in recent times.
Vang Pao
_________________
     

 
Hmong Soldiers with General Vang Pao

Hmong village in Laos

Air America (CIA) Huey leaves after a resup to Hmong soldiers.

Hmong outpost in Laos.

 and Thai “volunteer” forces in Laos winning effective control in the north and east. The government itself was effectively powerless, for the most part, and manipulated by both sides. The Pathet Lao held hundreds of US “detainees” as prisoners of war during and after the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War).

Shortly after the Paris Peace Accords ended US involvement in the Vietnam war, the Pathet Lao and the government of Laos signed a cease-fire agreement, the Vientiane

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Hmong Soldiers with General Vang Pao

Hmong village in Laos

Air America (CIA) Huey leaves after a resup to Hmong soldiers.

Hmong outpost in Laos.

 and Thai “volunteer” forces in Laos winning effective control in the north and east. The government itself was effectively powerless, for the most part, and manipulated by both sides. The Pathet Lao held hundreds of US “detainees” as prisoners of war during and after the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War).

Shortly after the Paris Peace Accords ended US involvement in the Vietnam war, the Pathet Lao and the government of Laos signed a cease-fire agreement, the Vientiane Treaty, in February 1973.

The coalition government envisaged by the treaty did not long outlast it. The Pathet Lao refused to disarm and the North Vietnamese Army did not leave the country. In 1975, the Pathet Lao with the direct assistance of the North Vietnamese Army began attacking government strongholds. With the fall of the South Vietnamese government in April 1975 in their minds, the non-communist elements of the national government decided that allowing the Pathet Lao to enter power would be better than to have them take it by force. In November 1975, the Pathet Lao took over Laos, abolishing the monarchy and establishing the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Shortly thereafter, the Pathet Lao signed an agreement with Vietnam that allowed Vietnam to station its army in the country and to send political and economic advisors into the country. Vietnam afterward forced Laos to cut any remaining economic ties to its other neighbors.

With the demise of the Soviet Union, control by Vietnam waned at the end of the 1980s. Nowadays ‘Pathet Lao’ is often invoked as a general term signifying Lao Nationalism.

 

B.Chronologic Historic Collections

Kingdom of Laos1946
Sisavang Vong deposed; French begin reoccupation of Laos, March; Sisavang Vong reinstated as king by Lao Issara government; French retake Vientiane, and Lao Issara government flees to Thailand; Franco-Lao modus vivendi establishes unity of Kingdom of Laos; Thailand returns former Laotian territories of Xaignabouri and Champasak to Laos.

1947
Constitution promulgated, making Laos a constitutional monarchy; elections held for National Assembly; Prince Souvannarath forms government of Kingdom of Laos.

1949
Kaysone Phomvihan forms Latsavong detachment, armed forces of Pathet Lao, the genesis of Lao People’s Liberation Army (LPLA); Franco-Lao General Convention grants Laos limited self-government within French Union; Lao Issara government-in-exile dissolves, and members return to Laos or join newly formed Pathet Lao on Vietnam border.

February 1950
United States and Britain recognize Laos as an Associated State in French Union.

August 1950
Pathet Lao form “resistance government.”

February 1951
Indochinese Communist Party dissolves; separate parties established in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

October 22, 1953
Franco-Lao Treaty of Amity and Association transfers remaining French powers to Royal Lao Government (RLG)–while retaining control of military affairs–and completes independence of Laos.

May – July 1954
Laos participates in Geneva Conference on Indochina; under armistice agreements signed by French and Viet Minh on July 20, Viet Minh agree to withdraw from Laos, and Phôngsali and Houaphan provinces are designated regroupment areas for Pathet Lao; RLG pledges to integrate Pathet Lao fighters; International Control Commission established to implement agreements.

March 1955
Phak Pasason Lao (Lao People’s Party–LPP) established; first congress held.

December 14, 1955
Laos admitted to the United Nations.

1956 – 57
Negotiations between RLG and Pathet Lao.

January 1956
Pathet Lao congress establishes Lao Patriotic Front (LPF).

September 1956
Constitution amended to allow formation of coalition government.

November 1957
First coalition government formed.

May 1958
LPF and allies win partial elections for National Assembly.

July 1958
Souvanna Phouma government resigns following cabinet crisis caused by rightists.

August 1958
Rightist government of Phoui Sananikone formed, excluding LPF.

July – August 1959
Fighting breaks out in northern Laos; UN subcommittee investigates charges of North Vietnam’s involvement; LPF deputies arrested.

 October 1959
King Sisavang Vong dies; Savang Vatthana succeeds to the throne, rules until 1975.

January 1960
Kou Abhay forms provisional government following coup attempt by army.

April 1960
Elections for National Assembly believed rigged.

King Savang Vatthana & Queen Khamponi
Savang Vatthana
August 9, 1960
Kong Le carries out successful Neutralist coup d’état against rightist government of Prince Somsanith; General Phoumi Nosavan forms countercoup committee in Savannakhét and declares martial law; Kong Le hands over power to Souvanna Phouma’s third government.
December 1960
Phoumi Nosavan captures Vientiane; Soviet airlift begins to Kong Le and Pathet Lao troops.
 January 1961
Souvanna Phouma government recognized by communist bloc; Prince Boun Oum’s Vientiane government recognized by West; heavy fighting breaks out; North Vietnamese troops involved.

May 1961 – June 1962
Second Geneva Conference on Laos; agreements among Neutralist, Pathet Lao, and rightist factions prepare way for second coalition government.

 

Prince Souvanna Phouma
Souvanna Phouma
 

 

1.1961

 
 1.)January 1961
Souvanna Phouma government recognized by communist bloc; Prince Boun Oum’s Vientiane government recognized by West; heavy fighting breaks out; North Vietnamese troops involved.

2)May 1961 – June 1962
Second Geneva Conference on Laos; agreements among Neutralist, Pathet Lao, and rightist factions prepare way for second coalition government.

 

Prince Souvanna Phouma
Souvanna Phouma

3)June,19th.1961

Three pageran Laos Summit starting on Monday 19 June 1961, at 8:40 am in Zurich, Swiss.Tiga Prince Laos conferee aimed at forming a coalition government of Laos is the Prince of Buon Oum, Prime Minister of the rightist regime of Vientiane, Prince Souvana Phouma, Laos-leaning Prime Minister and Prince Souphannouvong Neutral, Leader of the Neo Lao Haksat. Conference, which supposedly will last for three days was held behind closed doors, whereas before, it has also held three meetings anatra Prince of Laos, the previous Saturday’s ago, on 17 June they set the terms of the agenda of talks that began today. Konperesi held at one room Dolder Grand Hotel, the inn Prince Souvanna Phouma. Neo Lao Rights Party leader Sat, Prince Souphanouvong also has been in place when Boun Oum conference, accompanied by Defense Minister Gen. Phoumi Nosavan arrive at SNA on this day.

Prime Minister laos Souvana believe that we will obtain a mutual understanding, to so we can issue joint communique on Tuesday evening the 20th of June memngenai Laos government’s domestic politics to come. Next prime minister Souvana Phouma say, that we have entered the domestic political problems approach the Laotian government who should come. We have exchanged our views and opinions of integrating each of these proposals have been studying this lainnya.Hari noon we put forward ideas tersebut.Dalam conversation there is not very besar.Pandangan perbedaanyang adjacent dansesuatu positive we would have reached general agreement on Laos government’s domestic politics, as Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma.Selanjutnya he juga.mengatakan that setealh reached agreement on domestic political issues, we (three Prince laos) will discuss the issue with the Foreign Policy of the future because we all agree to Laos as a neutral country , sovereign and free. (Unity Voice Newspapers, western Sumatra, Indonesia, June 21, 1961)

2)June,27th.1961

Laos Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma explained to the press in Geneva on arrival in Zurich on Sunday that he hoped a planned coalition government for Laos will be formed next month. Next Phouma explained that at the summit conference, the Third Prince of Laos which is between Prince Souphanouvong Neo Lao party chief Haksat, Prince Boun Oum Vientiane REGIME LEADERS AND HE WILL OWN GOVERNMENT MEMEBENTUK in mid-July COALITION TO COME.

PHOUMA NOT EXPLAIN WHERE Summit DILANJUTKAN.SEPERTI WILL KNOW THE PAST CONFERENCE IN SWITZERLAND HAVE BEEN TAKING DECISIONS THAT REFLECT THE SHAPING PEMERINATHAN NATIONAL UNITY COALITION Laos. ADD PHOUMA that the  CONFERENCE SHOULD BE CONTINUED as soon as possible DAY MONDAY IN THE PAST HE left for Paris to stay for a week with his family before flying back to the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

According to AFP, Phouma confirmed in Geneva on Sunday that before tersbentuk a coalition government for Laos, then akanmungkin not hold a single representative for Laos in 14 states conference on Laos in Geneva and for a while Laos in the conference represented by three delegates, delegates Phouma and Haksat Neo Lao delegation was attending the Geneva conference sessions, while the Boun Oum has taken the decision to haidr haris cents or selasa.Perlu been suggested that up to now serve targeted Geneva conference was boycotted by Boun Oum regime because the regime does not want to sit equal with envoys Phouma and utusanNeo Lao Haksat.

Reuter then proclaim that Souphanouvong, other saudar Phouma and mother of a joint Phouma coming in from Zurich to Geneva Railway ride, explained to the press that we agreed to become Prime Minister of governance unrtuk Coalition Laos, only a prince Phouma and the opposition should take full account of this because it is the only way to resolve that with goodwill masalah.Souphanouvong sure all obstacles in forming a coalition government will be removed, although a bit difficult. Souphanouvong mengemukankan that the main obstacle is membangkangnya Boun Oum regime to agree to become Prime Minister Phouma Coalition Government future.

According to the Pathet Lao radio voice proclaims that in the past muinggu cannon South Vietnam had been bombed areas in Laos helping of air dropping supplies to troops Boun Oum regime. (Newspaper Suara Pembaruan, Padang <Indonesia, June 27, 1961)

3)June,3oth.1961

Neo Lao Haksat Party leader, Prince Souphanouvong said on the last Wednesday in Geneva that, I believe the government coalition will be formed to provide good faith on each pihak.Kami region of Laos should meet again in mid-July that will datang.Kata-Souphanouvong words were spoken to reporters shortly before leaving Geneva back to the ground water through Prague, Moscow, Peking, Hanoi toward Kieng Khouang, Lao Haksat Neo Party headquarters on the plains of jars laos. On Wednesday, also Prime Minister Boun Oum danPangeran Vientinne regime has died Geneva separately kemabli ground water via Frankfurt and Bangkok. Prince Boun Oum ground water upon arrival will report to the King of Laos Savang Vatthana about three high-level conference in Zurich on Laotian prince of weeks ago with the intention of the government formed the National Coalition of laos.

Meanwhile, neutral-leaning Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Souvanna Phouma had left Geneva on Monday, who then headed to Paris this weekend and will fly to the Phon Phen Cambodia’s capital. As is known, the three aforementioned prince Laos stelah Geneva conference will follow the conference, 14 countries of Laos that masik nasalah continues.

Third Lao prince that will re-open their high-level conference next month to continue talks on the choice and composition of the government of Prime Minister Koalisia while Laos, while the date and place will be determined later (Unity Voice -suara Pembaharuan news letter, Padang  Indonesia, June 30, 1961)

2. 1962

1) Februry 1962

By February, the Royal Lao Government’s hold on Nam Tha seemed tenuous enough that it was reinforced by the paratroopers of GM 15. That gave a numerical edge to the defenders and should have guaranteed Nam Tha’s retention.

The presence of armed American Special Forces advisors should have stiffened them with military expertise.

2)MAY ,1962

(1) PAVN

In May, a PAVN assault broke the RLG forces and routed them. The Royalist soldiers fled southward across the entirety of northwestern Laos into Thailand, a retreat of over a hundred miles.

(2) PATHET LAO AND KONG LE’S FORCES

Faced with this fiasco, the U. S. forced the RLG into a coalition with the Pathet Lao and Kong Le’s Forces Armee Neutrale. This technically fulfilled the Geneva Agreements on Laos and triggered the treaty requirement that foreign military technicians be withdrawn from Laos by October.

(3) MAAG

The United States disbanded its Military Assistance Advisory Group(MAAG) and withdrew its military mission. The Vietnamese communists did not; they repatriated only a token 40 technicians out of an estimated 2,000.[61]

3)JUNE 1962 NO INFO

4)JULY 1962

July 1962
(1)Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos and its Protocol signed in Geneva.

 (2)PILATUS PORTER.

July 1962 saw the field tests of Pilatus Porter Short Takeoff and Landing aircraft by Bird and Sons. The original two Porters’ performance was degraded by heat and height robbing power from engine performance. One of the Porters crashed in December, killing all on board.[62]

(3)Several companies of hill tribes irregulars were sent to Hua Hin, Thailand for training.[63]

2. 1963:STASIS

1963 – May 1964
Laos increasingly linked with developments in Vietnam; North Vietnamese troops fail to withdraw; Ho Chi Minh Trail expanded; second coalition government collapses; Pathet Lao offensive against Neutralists on Plain of Jars succeeds; International Control Commission proves ineffective; bombing by United States begins

1)JANUARY 1963,

(1)SECOND PILATUS PORTER

In January, the second Pilatus Porter crashed; its pilot escaped with serious burns.

(2)VANG PAO

Vang Pao gathered three SGU battalions into Groupement Mobile 21 and spearheaded a drive into Sam Neua. His offensive was resupplied by supplies airdropped by the civilian aircraft of Air America and Bird and Sons.

General Vang Pao Reply with quote


During the 1960s and 1970s General Vang commanded the Secret Army,
a highly-effective CIA-trained and supported force that fought against
the Pathet Lao and People’s Army of Vietnam.


Vang Pao, at the Pa Dong base in Laos in 1961


General Vang immigrated to the United States after the communists
seized power in Laos in 1975.
He was accused of plotting to overthrow the Laos government
in 2007.
_________________

2)By the middle of the year, the Pathet Lao and Neutralists had begun to squabble with one another.

3)US EMBASSY AT VIENTIENE

In the meantime, the United States re-established a Military Assistance Advisory Group to support its efforts in Laos, basing it in Bangkok. The Requirements Office of the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane was manned by civilians and monitored the need for U.S. military aid to Laos.

4)AUGUST 1963

In August, the Royal Laotian Air Force received its first four T-28 Trojans that had been adapted for counter-insurgency warfare.

The irregular companies trained the previous year in Thailand were now formed into a battalion called SGU 1. Irregular forces proliferated throughout the country. In Military Regions 3 and 4, action, intelligence, and road watch teams infiltrated the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

5)DECEMBER 1963

In December, Vang Pao was promoted to Brigadier General by King Sisavong.[64]

3. 1964: THE AIR WAR OPENS  AND OPERATION BARREL ROLL

 

Barrel Roll operational area, 1964

1)APRIL 1964.UDORN THAI AIR FORCE BASE PILOT TRINNING TO BUILD RLAF

On 1 April, the USAF set up Waterpump, which was a pilot training program in Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base to supply Lao pilots for the Royal Laotian Air Force.[65] The RLAF also began augmenting its ranks with Thai volunteer pilots in 1964.[66]

Run by a 41 man team from Detachment 6 of the 1st Air Commando Wing, this facility was an end run around the treaty obligation that forbade training in Laos. Besides training pilots, Waterpump encouraged cooperation between the RLAF and the Royal Thai Air Force. It was also tasked, as a last resort, to augment the RLAF to counter a renewed Communist offensive in Laos.[65]

In Laos itself, there was an effort to train Laotians as forward air guides. Meantime, the Butterfly forward air control program began.[67]

2)MAY 1963.LAO GENERAL  ATTAMPTED A COUP IN VIENTIENE

(1)Even as the air commandos established themselves in Udorn and Laos, several Lao generals attempted a coup in Vientiane. With the capital in turmoil, the Communists on the Plaine des Jarres attacked and overran the Royalist and Neutralist positions.[68] The United States then released the necessary ordnance for the RLAF to bomb Communist encampments, beginning on May 18.

(2)May 19th,1963

 the United States Air Force began flying mid and low-level missions over the renewed fighting, under the code name Yankee Team.[65] They also began reconnaissance missions over the Laotian panhandle to obtain target information on men and material being moved into South Vietnam over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. By this time, the footpaths on the trail had been enlarged to truck roads, with smaller paths for bicycles and walking. The Trail had become the major artery for use by North Vietnam to infiltrate South Vietnam.

(3) JUNE 1963

On 9 June, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered an F-100 strike against the enemy in retaliation for the shoot down of another U.S. aircraft.

4. 1964,

(1)OPERATIONS TRIAGLE IN LAOS

The summer of 1964 was marked by a successful attack by the Forces Armee Royale. Operation Triangle cleared one of the few roads in Laos; Route 13 connected the administrative capitol of Vientiane with the royal capitol of Luang Prabang.[68]

(2)DECEMBER 1964.OPERATION BARREL ROLL

The Plain of Jars activities expanded by December 1964, were named Operation Barrel Roll, and were under the control of the U.S. ambassador to Laos, who approved all targets before they were attacked.

4. 1965: The widening war.OPERATION STEEL TIGER AND TIGER HOUND

Barrel Roll and Steel Tiger operational area, 1965

This year began with an event that showed how the commanding generals of the five military regions of Laos were essentially warlords of their own domains.

(2) FEBRUARY 1965 KOUPRASITH ABHAY COUP

In February, Commanding General of Military Region 5 Kouprasith Abhay mounted a coup against the group of generals whom had attempted a coup the previous year. Among the losers fleeing into exile were General Phoumi Nosavan.[68]

General Vang Pao Back in the Day

General Vang Pao, the rough-hewn leader of the CIA-backed guerrilla forces in Laos, died of pneumonia yesterday in Clovis, California, at the age of 81. Here are some memories of the Hmong leader that are not likely to be in the obits.

I was the press attaché at the American embassy in Vientiane during one of the periodic struggles with North Vietnamese forces for control of the Plain of Jars. The normal foreign press corps in Laos — three or four stringers and a staff correspondent from Agence France Presse — had swollen to a small mob. I was giving two and sometimes three briefings a day.

All of them wanted to leave the capital city and see the real war, which of course we were reluctant to let them do. It was a secret war after all, one of the few to have its own press attaché. But at last we sort of gave in, and I laid on a DC-3 to carry the reporters up-country to a village called Samthong. For public consumption this was supposed to be the headquarters of Military Region II, commanded by General Vang Pao. The actual headquarters was elsewhere, at the CIA’s semi-secret air base, Long Cheng.

General Vang Pao met the press outdoors. His only prop was a bedraggled prisoner of war, sitting sadly on the ground with his hands tied. The first question to the general was his opinion of the North Vietnamese.

“What would you think of somebody who came into your house and pissed all over the floor?” the general asked, glancing toward the prisoner. “Well, that’s what I think of the North Vietnamese.”

A Vietnamese-speaking reporter asked if he could speak with the captive, and the general told him to help himself. Afterwards the reporter translated, “This man says you attached wires from a field telephone to his penis and made him crank the magneto. Is that true.”

“Probably,” the general said. “Sometimes you have to encourage them.” And so it went.

Next day the New York Times ran an account of the press conference, prominently featuring the field telephone. That same day, General Kouprasith, military commander of the capital district, met with the press back in Vientiane.

The Times man, Henry Kamm, went first: “General Vang Pao told us yesterday that he uses electric shock to interrogate prisoners. Do you do that down here?”

“Oh, no,” General Kouprasith said, to my very temporary relief. “We find it works just as well to withhold food and water.”

VangPao.jpg

(3)APRIL 1965,OPRATION STEEL TIGER

On April 3, the U.S. began Operation Steel Tiger over the Laotian panhandle and the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to locate and destroy enemy forces and materiel being moved southward at night on the Ho Chi Minh Trail into South Vietnam. However, since circumstances made it a highly complex matter in regard to the neutrality of Laos, target approval had to come from the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. Additionally, the U.S. ambassadors in South Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand were involved in controlling these U.S. air operations.

(4)Late in 1965, the communists greatly increased their infiltration along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The United States decided to concentrate airpower upon a small segment of the Trail closest to South Vietnam and used most extensively by the enemy. As a result, Operation Tiger Hound was initiated in December 1965, utilizing aircraft from the Air Force, the United States Navy, and U.S. Marines, the Vietnamese Air Force, and the Royal Laotian Air Force.

(12) DECEMBER 1965

On 11 December, B-52 heavy bombers were called in to this tactical operation, in their first use over Laos.

5.1966

In the far northwest, Team Fox, an intelligence team of Mien hill tribesmen began long range reconnaissance of southern China.

(7)JULY 1966.RLG SEIZED NAM BAC

In July, Royal Lao Government (RLG) forces seized Nam Bac. Three Infantry Regiments, one independent infantry battalion, and one artillery battalion took Nam Bac and established a defensive line north of Luang Prabang.[69]

On the Plain of Jars, the Pathet Lao advance gradually slowed due to the destruction of its supplies by airpower, and Laotian troops then counter-attacked. By August 1966, they had advanced to within 45 miles of the DRV border. North Vietnam then sent thousands of its regular troops into the battle and once again the Laotians were forced to retreat.

Steel Tiger operations continued down the length of the panhandle in 1966, with special emphasis upon the Tiger Hound area. Since most of the communist truck traffic was at night, the Air Force developed and began using special equipment to detect the nighttime traffic.

Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger and Tiger Hound operational areas

6.1967

In eastern Laos, U.S., Royal Laotian, and VNAF aircraft continued their attacks on traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During 1967, B-52s flew 1,718 sorties in this area, almost triple their 1966 record. The major targets were trucks which had to be hunted down and destroyed one-by-one. This seemed to be irrational thinking to many Americans flying these combat missions for these trucks could have been destroyed en masse before, during, or after their unloading from the freighters that had hauled them to North Vietnam if bombing of Haiphong had been permitted.[citation needed]

In northern Laos, the Communists continued their slow advance across the Plain of Jars in 1967. Laotian victories were few and far between, and by the end of the year, the situation had become critical even with the air support which had been provided by the Royal Lao Air Force.[citation needed]

Laotian tribal irregulars were operating out of Nam Bac, under CIA direction from Luang Prabang, some 60 miles south of the guerrilla base. In midyear, over the objections of Lao colonels, American advisors pressured Royal Lao troops into forming their smaller units into combat battalions. Despite the poor training of the Lao soldiers, some of whom had never fired a weapon, these raw new units were moved northward out of Luang Prabang over a several month period to garrison Nam Bac. By mid-October, some 4,500 government troops held the valley to secure the air strip for their resupply, a la Dien Bien Phu. The American intent was the establishment of Nam Bac as the keystone of an “iron arc” of defensive positions across northern Laos.[70]

In response, the PAVN 316th Infantry Division was dispatched to Laos to assault Nam Bac.[citation needed] The Royalist garrison was soon surrounded. They had American-supplied 105mm howitzers for artillery support. They could also call on Royal Lao Air Force T-28s for close air support. U. S. Air Force fighter-bombers struck the Communist supply lines. Communist gunfire closed the Nam Bac airstrip to fixed wing resupply. Air America copters flew in supplies and evacuated the wounded; American C-123s parachuted supplies ferried from Udorn RTAFB to the beleaguered government troops. The Royalist troops would not launch a clearing attack to regain use of the runway for resupply. On 25 December, a Vietnamese artillery barrage kicked off their offensive.[70]

1968: Royal Lao Army neutralized

Ho Chi Minh Trail, 1967

On 13 January the North Vietnamese launched a multi-division attack on the Royal Lao Army at Nam Bac, Laos. Some of the government troops began withdrawing from the valley. After about a third of the defenders had retreated, the final assault on the Royalist garrison came out of a heavy mist and hit the Royalist command post. Its communications with the defenders was cut; the rout was on.[71] The heavy weapons and scale of the PAVN attack could not be matched by the national army and it was effectively sidelined for several years.[72] Most of the government soldiers scattered into the surrounding hills; about 200 of the defenders were killed in action. Of the 3,278 Royalist soldiers, only about a third returned to government service. The Royalists had suffered such a staggering defeat that their army never recovered; the government was left with only tribal irregulars using guerrilla tactics fighting on its side.[71]

Throughout 1968, the communists slowly advanced across the northern part of Laos, defeating Laotian forces time and time again, and eventually the U.S base Lima Site 85 was overrun. This success was achieved despite U.S. military advice and assistance. In November, the U.S. launched an air campaign against the Ho Chi Minh Trail because North Vietnam was sending more troops and supplies than ever along this route to South Vietnam. This new operation, named Operation Commando Hunt, continued until 1972, with little success.

1969

Communist Base Areas, southern Laos

On 23 March 1969, the Royal Lao Army launched a large attack (Cu Kiet Campaign) against the communists in the Plain of Jars/Xieng Khoang areas, supported by its own air units and the U.S. Air Force. In June, the enemy launched an attack of its own and gained ground, but by August, Laotian forces attacked again and regained what had been lost. In all these operations, the U.S. Air Force flew hundreds of Barrel Roll missions; however, many were canceled because of poor weather.

Pathet Lao forces were supported by PAVN’s 174th Vietnamese Volunteer Regiment. By September, the 174th had to fall back to regroup. In mid-September, they launched a counterattack and recovered the Plain of Jars. Forces participating in the campaign included the 316th and 312th Infantry Divisions, the 866th Infantry Regiment, the 16th Artillery Regiment, one tank company, six sapper and engineer battalions, one Nghe An Province local force battalion, and ten PL battalions.

On 11 February, the offensive (Campaign 139) opened. By the 20th, control of the Plain of Jars was secure. RLG forces withdrew to Muong Xui. On 25 February, the RLG abandoned Xieng Khoang city. Xam Thong fell on 18 March and Long Thieng was threatened. On 25 April, the campaign ended. After the end of the campaign, the “316th Division, the 866th Regiment, and a number of specialty branch units were ordered to stay behind to work with our Lao friends.”[73]

1970

At the beginning of 1970, fresh troops from North Vietnam advanced through northern Laos. The Air Force called in B-52s and, on 17 February, they were used to bomb targets in northern Laos. The enemy advance was halted by Laotian reinforcements, and for the remainder of the year it was a “seesaw” military campaign.

1 May – elements of SVN PAVN units (28th and 24A regiments) join with North Vietnamese Army and Pathet Lao to seize Attopeu.[74]

Although communist movements down the Ho Chi Minh Trail grew during the year, the U.S. war effort was reduced because authorities in Washington, believing the U.S. objectives in Southeast Asia were being achieved, imposed budget limits. This reduced the number of combat missions the USAF could fly.

1971

Main article: Operation Lam Son 719

Because of significant logistical stockpiling by PAVN in the Laotian Panhandle, South Vietnam launched Operation Lam Son 719, a military thrust on 8 February 1971. Its goals were to cross into Laos toward the city of Tchepone and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, hopefully thwarting a planned North Vietnamese offensive. Aerial support by the U.S., was massive since no American ground units could participate in the operation. On 25 February, PAVN launched a counterattack, and in the face of heavy opposition, the South Vietnamese force withdrew from Laos after losing approximately half of its men.

Combined offensive to take Plain of Jars. On 18 December, PAVN and Pathet Lao forces launched counteroffensive (Campaign Z) to recover the Plain. Volunteer forces included the 312th and 316th Divisions, the 335th and 866th Infantry Regiments, and six artillery and tank battalions. Xam Thong fell and the push continued toward Long Thieng.[75]

Lower Laos – the 968th Infantry Regiment and Pathet Lao forces reclaimed the Tha Teng and Lao Nam areas, and liberated the Bolovens Plateau.[75]

1972

During the dry season 1971–72, PL/PAVN forces dug into defensive positions and fought for permanent control of the Plain of Jars. Units participating included the 316th Infantry Division, the 866th, 335th, and 88th Regiments, and nine specialty branch battalions under the command of Senior Colonel Le Linh. Seven PL battalions also participated.

On 21 May, RLG forces attempted to seize the Plain. The battle lasted 170 days (until 15 November 1972). The communists claimed to have killed 1,200 troops and captured 80.[76]

When PAVN launched the Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive) into South Vietnam on 30 March, Massive U.S. air support was required inside South Vietnam and its air strikes in Laos dropped to their lowest point since 1965.

In northern Laos, the communists made additional gains during the year but failed to overwhelm government forces. In November, the Pathet Lao agreed to meet with Laotian Government representatives to discuss a cease-fire.

1973

Fighting escalates between Pathet Lao’s LPLA and Royal Lao Army; Hmong under Vang Pao resist Pathet Lao – North Vietnamese advances; Second Party Congress held, 1972; LPP renamed Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP); RLG and Pathet Lao begin negotiations for cease-fire in 1972, resulting in Vientiane Agreement signed in February 1973; cease-fire proclaimed, bombing by United States ends; protocol forming third coalition government signed September 1973; government takes office by royal decree April 1974 as Provisional Government of National Union.

PARIS PEACE ACCORD AND VIENTINE TREATY

(1)FEBRUARY 1973
Shortly after the Paris Peace Accords ended US involvement in the Vietnam war, the Pathet Lao and the government of Laos signed a cease-fire agreement, the Vientiane Treaty, in February 1973.

The US pulled out of Laos in 1973, as stipulated by the Paris Peace Accord. North Vietnam was not required to remove its forces under the terms of the treaty.

1974

August 1974 – November 1975
Fighting resumes; Vang Pao flees to Thailand; senior rightist ministers and generals leave for Thailand; LPLA “liberates” provincial capitals; reeducation centers or “seminar camps” opened; “Revolutionary Administration” takes power in Vientiane; elections held for local people’s councils.

PATHET LAO WAS FORCED  ACCEPT INTO GOVERNMENT

(1)The national government was forced to accept the Pathet Lao into the government. During 1974 and 1975 the balance of power in Laos shifted steadily in favour of the Pathēt Lao as the U.S. disengaged itself from Indochina.

(2)PRIME MENISTER SOUVANNA PHOUMA RETIRE

Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma was tired and demoralised, and following a heart attack in mid 1974 he spent some months recuperating in France, after which he announced that he would retire from politics following the elections scheduled for early 1976. The anti-communist forces were thus leaderless, and also divided and deeply mired in corruption. Souphanouvong, by contrast, was confident and a master political tactician, and had behind him the disciplined cadres of the communist party and the Pathēt Lao forces and the North Vietnamese army. The end of American aid also meant the mass demobilization of most of the non-Pathēt Lao military forces in the country. The Pathēt Lao on the other hand continued to be both funded and equipped by North Vietnam.

(3)MAY 1974  LAOS NATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION PLAN

In May 1974 Souphanouvong put forward an 18-point plan for “National Reconstruction,” which was unanimously adopted – a sign of his increasing dominance. The plan was mostly uncontroversial, with renewed promises of free elections, democratic rights and respect for religion, as well as constructive economic policies. But press censorship was introduced in the name of “national unity,” making it more difficult for non-communist forces to organise politically in response to the creeping Pathēt Lao takeover. In January 1975 all public meetings and demonstrations were banned. Recognising the trend of events, influential business and political figures began to move their assets, and in some cases themselves, to Thailand, France or the U.S.

6.1975

(3)MARCH 1975

In March 1975, confident that the U.S. no longer had the stomach to intervene militarily in Indochina, the North Vietnamese began their final military offensive in South Vietnam, 

(4)APRIL 1975 PATHET LAO ON THE PLAIN OF JAR

 (a)by the end of April carried them to victory with the fall of Saigon. A few days earlier the Khmer Rouge army had entered Phnom Penh. The Pathēt Lao now knew that victory was within reach, and with the Vietnam war over the North Vietnamese authorised the seizure of power in Laos. Pathēt Lao forces on the Plain of Jars supported by North Vietnamese heavy artillery and other units began advancing westward.[citation needed]

(b)LATE APRIL 1975

In late April, the Pathēt Lao took the government outpost at Sala Phou Khoum crossroads which opened up Route 13 to a Pathēt Lao advance toward Muang Kassy. For the non-Pathēt Lao elements in the government, compromise seemed better than allowing what had happened in Cambodia and South Vietnam to happen in Laos. A surrender was thought to be better than a change of power by force.[citation needed]

Demonstrations broke out in Vientiane, denouncing the rightists and demanding political change. Rightist ministers resigned from the government and fled the country, followed by senior Royal Lao Army commanders. A Pathēt Lao minister took over the defence portfolio, removing any chance of the Army resisting the Pathēt Lao takeover. Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma, dreading further conflict and apparently trusting Souphanouvong‘s promises of a moderate policy, gave instructions that the Pathēt Lao were not to be resisted, and the U.S. began to withdraw its diplomatic personnel. The Pathēt Lao army entered the major towns of southern Laos during May, and in early June occupied Luang Phrabāng. Panic broke out in Vientiane as most of the business class and many officials, officers and others who had collaborated with the U.S. scrambled to get their families and property across the Mekong to Thailand. Recognising that the cause was lost, Vang Pao led thousands of his Hmong fighters and their families into exile – eventually about a third of all the Lao Hmong left the country.

(5) MAY 1975

Evacuation of the Hmong

A dramatic event during the takeover of Laos by the communists was the evacuation of Vang Pao and other Hmong leaders by air from Long Tieng. The end came for Vang Pao on May 5, 1975 when he was called before Souvanna Phouma, the Prime Minister of Laos, and ordered to cooperate with the communist Pathet Lao. Vang Pao took the general’s stars off his collar, threw them on the desk of Souvanna Phouma, and stalked out of the room. Four days later the official Pathet Lao newspaper warned that the Hmong would be exterminated “to the last root.”[77]

Jerry Daniels, Vang Pao’s CIA case

officer, was the only American remaining in Long Tieng and he began to plan an evacuation of the Hmong. However, he had only one airplane to evacuate the 3,500 Hmong leaders and families he judged to be at risk of execution by the Pathet Lao then advancing on Long Tieng. Brigadier General Heinie Aderholt in Bangkok helped to find additional planes and sent three pilots flying two C-46 and one C-130 transport aircraft to Long Tieng. The planes were “sheep-dipped” to remove any U.S. markings as the operation was carried out in secret. The pilots were American civilians: Les Strouse, Matt Hoff, and Al Rich.[78]

With the three American planes, the evacuation began in earnest on May 13 with each transport aircraft making four flights each that day from Long Tieng to Udorn, Thailand and transporting more than 65 people per airplane on each trip – far more than the 35 maximum passengers dictated by safety conditions at mountain-ringed Long Tieng. Thousands of Hmong clustered around the airstrip at Long Tieng awaiting evacuation and the situation became increasingly ugly. On May 14, Vang Pao and Jerry Daniels were evacuated secretly by helicopter to Thailand and the air evacuation came to an end. The next day the Pathet Lao marched into Long Tieng unopposed.[79] Daniels accompanied Vang Pao to exile in Montana and then returned to Thailand to help the Hmong refugees there.[80]

What nobody had anticipated was the tens of thousands of Hmong left behind in Long Tieng and Laos would follow Vang Pao and other Hmong leaders to Thailand. By the end of 1975 about 40,000 Hmong had succeeded to reaching Thailand, traveling on foot through the mountains and floating across the Mekong River.[81] How many died or were killed in the attempt to escape Laos will never be known, but the flight of Hmong and other Laotian highland peoples into Thailand would continue for many more years. They faced repression at home from the communist government as the price of their collaboration with the Americans. Most of the Hmong in Thailand would eventually be resettled in the United States and other countries. Between 1975 and 1982, 53,700 Hmong and other highland Laotian refugees were resettled in the United States and thousands more in other countries.[82]

8)AUGUST 1975

 Pathēt Lao forces entered an almost deserted Vientiane in August.[citation needed]

For a few months the Pathēt Lao appeared to honour their promises of moderation. The shell of the coalition government was preserved, there were no arrests or show-trials, and private property was respected. Diplomatic relations with the U.S. were maintained, despite an immediate cut-off of all U.S. aid. (Other western countries continued to offer aid, and Soviet and eastern European technicians began to arrive to replace the departed Americans.) But in December there was a sharp change in policy. A joint meeting of the government and the Consultative Council was held, at which Souphanouvong demanded immediate change. There was no resistance.[citation needed]

12)DECEMBER 1975 LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC WAS PROCLAIMED

(1)DECEMER,2nd,1975

On 2 December King Savang Vatthana agreed to abdicate, and Souvanna Phouma resigned. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was proclaimed, with Souphanouvong as President. Kaisôn Phomvihān emerged from the shadows to become Prime Minister and the real ruler of the country. No more was heard of elections or political freedoms: non-communist newspapers were closed, and a large-scale purge of the civil service, army and police was launched. Thousands were dispatched for “re-education” in remote parts of the country, where many died and many more were kept for up to ten years. This prompted a renewed flight from the country. Many of the professional and intellectual class, who had initially been willing to work for the new regime, changed their minds and left – a much easier thing to do from Laos than from either Vietnam or Cambodia. By 1977 ten percent of the population had left the country, including most of the business and educated classes.[citation needed]

Once in power, the Pathet Lao economically cut its ties to all its neighbors (including China) with the exception of the DRV and signed a treaty of friendship with Hanoi. The treaty allowed the Vietnamese to station soldiers within Laos and to place advisers throughout the government and economy.[citation needed]

Aftermath

Twenty two years following the end of the Laotian War, on May 15, 1997, the U.S. officially acknowledged its role in the Secret War, erecting a memorial in honour of American and Hmong contributions to U.S. air and ground combat efforts during the conflict. The Laos Memorial is located on the grounds of the Arlington National Cemetery between the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

the history of phatet lao

Laotian Civil War

 
Laotian Civil War
Part of Vietnam War (also known as the Second Indochina War)
Laos usa war.jpg
Cuban poster for a Santiago Álvarez film, “The Forgotten War”, styling a clash of a traditional Laotian weapon with an US bomber
Date 1953–75
Location Kingdom of Laos
Result Communist victory and the establishment of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Belligerents
Laos Kingdom of Laos
United States United States
South Vietnam Republic of Vietnam
Thailand Thailand
Laos Pathet Lao
North Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam
History of Laos
Viangchan1.JPG
This article is part of a series


Early history of Laos
Lan Xang (1353–1707)
Dark ages of Laos (1707–1893)
Luang Phrabang, Viang Chan, Champasak, Muang Phuan
French Laos (1893–1953)
Lao Issara (1945–49)
Post-Independence Laos (1954–75)
Pathet Lao
North Vietnamese Invasion
Laotian Civil War (1953–75)
Communist Laos (1975–present)
Insurgency in Laos (since 1975)

Laos Portal
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The Laotian Civil War (1953–75) was a fight between the Communist Pathet Lao, often North Vietnamese of Lao ancestry, and the Royal Lao Government in which both the political rightists and leftists received heavy external support for a proxy war from the global Cold War superpowers. Among US veterans of the conflict, it is known as the Secret War.[citation needed]

The Kingdom of Laos was a covert theatre for battle for the other belligerents during the Vietnam War. The Franco-Lao Treaty of 1953 gave Laos full independence but the following years were marked by a rivalry between the neutralists under Prince Souvanna Phouma, the right wing under Prince Boun Oum of Champassak, and the left-wing Lao Patriotic Front under Prince Souphanouvong and future Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihane. A number of attempts were made to establish coalition governments, and a “tri-coalition” government was finally seated in Vientiane.

The fighting in Laos involved the North Vietnamese Army, American, Thai, and South Vietnamese forces directly and through irregular proxies in a battle for control over the Laotian Panhandle. The North Vietnamese Army occupied the area for use as the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply corridor and staging area for offensives into South Vietnam. There was a second major theatre of action on and near the northern Plaine des Jarres.

The North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao emerged victorious in 1975, as part of the general communist victory in Indochina that year.

Contents

[hide]

Overview

The Geneva Conference established Laotian neutrality. The People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN), however, continued to operate in both northern and southeastern Laos. There were repeated attempts from 1954 onward to force the North Vietnamese out of Laos but, regardless of any agreements or concessions, Hanoi had no intention of abandoning the country or its Laotian communist allies.

The North Vietnamese established the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the southeast of Laos and paralleling the Vietnamese border. The Trail was designed for North Vietnamese troops and supplies to infiltrate the Republic of Vietnam and to aid the National Liberation Front.

The North Vietnamese had a sizable military effort in northern Laos, while sponsoring and maintaining an indigenous communist rebellion, the Pathet Lao, to put pressure on the Royal Lao Government.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to disrupt these operations in northern Laos without direct military involvement, responded by training a guerrilla force of some thirty thousand Laotian hill tribesmen, mostly local Hmong tribesmen along with the Mien and Khmu, led by Royal Lao Army General Vang Pao, a Hmong military leader. This army, supported by the CIA proprietary airline Air America, Thailand, the Royal Lao Air Force, and a covert air operation directed by the United States ambassador to Laos, fought the People’s Army of Vietnam, the National Liberation Front (NLF), and their Pathet Lao allies to a seesaw stalemate, greatly aiding U.S. interests in the war in Vietnam.

The status of the war in the north throughout the year generally depended on the weather. As the dry season started, in November or December, so did North Vietnamese military operations, as fresh troops and supplies flowed down out of North Vietnam on newly passable routes, either down from Dien Bien Phu, across Phong Saly Province on all weather highways, or on Route 7 through Ban Ban, Laos on the northeast corner of the Plaine des Jarres (commonly called “the PDJ”). The CIA’s Clandestine Army would give way, harrying the PAVN and Pathet Lao as they retreated; Raven FACs would direct massive air strikes against the communists by USAF jets and RLAF T-28s to prevent the capture of the Laotian capitals of Vientiane and Luang Prabang. When the rainy season six months later rendered North Vietnamese supply lines inoperable, the Vietnamese communists would recede toward Vietnam.

The war in the southeastern panhandle against the Ho Chi Minh Trail was primarily a massive air interdiction program by the USAF and United States Navy because political constraints kept the trail safe from ground assault from South Vietnam. Raven FACs also directed air strikes here in the southeast; other Forward Air Controllers from South Vietnam, such as Covey FACs from the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron and Nail FACs from the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron, also directed strikes. Other air strikes were planned ahead. Overall coordination of the air campaign was directed by an Airborne Command and Control Center.

The existence of the conflict in Laos was sometimes reported in the U.S., and described in press reports as the CIA’s “Secret War in Laos” because details were largely unavailable due to official government denials that the war existed. The denials were seen as necessary considering that the North Vietnamese government and the U.S. had both signed agreements specifying the neutrality of Laos. U.S. involvement was considered necessary because the DRV had effectively conquered a large part of the country and was equally obfuscating its role in Laos. Despite these denials, however, the Civil War was actually the largest U.S. covert operation prior to the Afghan-Soviet War, with areas of Laos controlled by North Vietnam subjected to years of intense US aerial bombardment, representing the heaviest bombing campaign in history.[1][2][3] Overshadowing it all was the struggle of the Cold War, with the United States policy of containment of socialism, and the policy of the People’s Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of spreading communism via subversion and insurgency.

Chronology of the Laotian Civil War

1945: Prelude to war

The end of World War II left Laos in political chaos. The French, who had been displaced from their protectorate by the Japanese, wanted to resume control of Laos, and sponsored guerrilla forces to regain control. The Japanese had proclaimed Laos independent even as they lost the war. Though King Sisavang Vong thought Laos was too small for independence he had proclaimed the end of the French protectorate status though he favored the French return. He let it be known he would accept independence if it should occur. Thus there was a nascent movement for independence amid the turmoil.

Underlying all this was a strong undercurrent of Vietnamese involvement. Sixty percent of the population of Laos’s six urban areas were Vietnamese, with the Vietnamese holding key positions in the civil bureaucracies and the police. Since the 1930s the Indochinese Communist Party had established wholly Vietnamese cells in Laos.

Prince Phetsarath, as Viceroy and Prime Minister, established the Lao royal treasury account with the Indochinese treasury in Hanoi in an attempt to establish a functional economy.[4]

French commandos parachuted into Laos beginning in 1945 to organize guerrilla forces. By November, they had formed the guerrillas into four light infantry battalions of the newly founded French Union Army.[5] The officers and sergeants of the new Lao battalions were French.[6]

In October, 1945, a Lao nationalist movement called Lao Issara (Free Laos) was founded as a new government for Laos. Among Lao Issara’s prominent members were three European-educated princes; brothers Phetsarath Rattanavongsa and Souvanna Phouma, and their half brother, Souphanouvong. The former became the titular founder of Lao Issara. Souphanouvong became commander in chief, as well as minister of foreign affairs.[7][8] Souvanna Phouma became minister of public works.[6]

Independence began with an uprising of the Vietnamese residents in Savannakhet. Prince Souphanouvong took command of a band of partisans armed with weapons looted from the local militia. The band moved northward to the administrative capitol of Vientiane with its provisional revolutionary government. Souphanouvong then urged the signing of a military cooperation treaty with the newly established North Vietnamese communist government, which was done. The French military mission was escorted out of Laos into Thailand by a contingent of Chinese troops.[8]

However, the Lao Issara never gained more than a tenuous hold on the entirety of Laos. Roving Viet Minh detachments ruled the northeast, but the Viet Minh declined to aid the new government. Chinese troops,[9] including the Chinese Nationalist 93rd Division,[10] occupied cities as far south as Luang Prabang. The French-sponsored guerrillas controlled the southern provinces of Savannakhet and Khammouan. Prince Boun Oum, who sympathized with the French, occupied the rest of the southern panhandle.[11]

For these, and other reasons, Lao Issara could not hold the country against the returning French colonial government and its troops. The French negotiated a Chinese withdrawal from Laos prior to their own return, removing them from the field.

1946: The French return; the Vietnamese arrive

In January 1946, the French began the reconquest of Laos by sweeping the Bolovens Plateau.[6] They had organized six battalions of light infantry, to which they added a minor force of French troops.[5]

On March 21, 1946, Souphanouvong and his largely Vietnamese force fought the French Union troops at Savannakhet, to no avail; the attackers mustered paratroopers, artillery, armored cars, and Spitfire fighter-bombers. The Lao Issara troops suffered 700 killed.[11] They fled, leaving behind 250 bodies and 150 prisoners.[6]

On 24 April, the French dropped a paratroop battalion on the outskirts of Vientiane, and took the city without resistance. On 9 May, they repeated their airborne tactics with a drop outside Luang Prabang.[6] This was coupled with a thrust to the north by the French forces, from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, that chased Phetsarath and the Lao Issara ministers out of Laos. The king reinstated the French rule by repudiating his actions that had been pressured from him by the Japanese, Chinese, and Lao Issara.

By September, 1946, the Lao Issara had been defeated and had fled to exile in Bangkok.[4][11] One of its splinter groups, led by Thao O Anourack fled to Hanoi. There he allied himself with two men trusted by Ho Chi Minh; Nouhak Phoumsavan was Vietnamese, and Kaysone Phomvihan was Vietnamese-Lao. These three men founded the military movement that would become the Pathet Lao (Land of Laos).

Thao O Anourack established the initial Pathet Lao base at Con Cuong, Vietnam. Kaysone Phomvihan organized the first detachment of the new force. By the end of 1946, at least 500 Viet Minh agents had crossed into Laos.[12]

1947–1952: Building the militaries

Main articles: Royal Lao Army and Pathet Lao

On May 11, 1947, King Sisavang Vong granted a constitution declaring Laos an independent nation within the French Union. This began the building of a new government over the next few years, including the establishment of a national army, the Armée Nationale Laotienne, which was the first iteration of the Royal Lao Army.[13]

The nascent army was plagued by lack of Lao leadership, and its weaponry was a hodgepodge.[14] Thus the new Armée Nationale Laotienne consisted of light infantry battalions officered by the French. There was one paratroop battalion included.[15] The French began training Lao officers and non-commissioned officers even as they continued to lead and train the new army.

In opposition, the Viet Minh raised a subsidiary revolutionary movement, the Pathet Lao, starting with an initial guerrilla band of 25 in January, 1949.[16]

In October, 1949, the exiled Lao Issara dissolved and the three royal brothers each chose a separate destiny.

Phetsarath Rattanavongsa chose to remain in Bangkok. His stay was temporary. He would once again become the viceroy of Laos.

Souvanna Phouma chose to return to Laos via an amnesty, believing that the Lao would soon free themselves. In 1951 he became Prime Minister for the first time and held that office until 1954.

Souphanouvong, who had spent seven years in Nha Trang[7] during his sixteen years in Vietnam,[4] met Ho Chi Minh, and acquired a Vietnamese wife while in Vietnam, solicited Viet Minh aid in founding a guerrilla force.

In August, 1950, Souphanouvong had joined the Viet Minh in their headquarters north of Hanoi, Vietnam, and become the head of the Pathet Lao, along with its political arm dubbed Neo Lao Hak Sat (Lao Patriotic Front).[17] This was an attempt to give a false front of authority to the Lao communist movement by claiming to represent a united non-partisan effort. Two of its most important founders were members of the Indochinese Communist Party, which advocated overthrow of the monarchy as well as expulsion of the French.[18]

On December 1950, the Pentalateral Mutual Defense Assistance Pact was signed by the United States, France, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos; it was a tool to transfer American military aid to the French war effort in Indochina.[19] This year also marked the infiltration of at least 5,000 more Viet Minh into Laos.

In February, 1951, the Indochinese Communist Party decided to split in three to sponsor war against the French in Cambodia and Laos, along with the war in Vietnam. The new Laotian branch consisted of 2,091 members, but included only 31 Lao.

Also, by 1951, the Pathet Lao had mustered sufficient trained troops to join the Viet Minh in military operations.[12]

By October, 1951, the Armée Nationale Laotienne had raised two more battalions of infantry and begun training a battalion of paratroops. The ANL ended the year with a strength of 5,091.[20]

By the end of 1952, the Royal Lao Army had grown to include a battalion of troops commanded by Laotian officers, as well as 17 other companies.[13]

1953: First North Vietnamese invasion

By April, 1953, the Viet Minh’s People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) invaded northeastern Laos with 40,000 troops commanded by General Vo Nguyen Giap; included was a token force of 2,000 Pathet Lao led by Souphanouvong. The objective of the two-pronged invasion was the capture of the royal capital of Luang Prabang and of the Plaine des Jarres.

They were opposed by 10,000 Lao troops stiffened by 3,000 French regulars.

The North Vietnamese invaders succeeded in conquering the border provinces of Phong Saly and Sam Neua, which were adjacent to northern Vietnam and on the northeastern verge of the Plaine des Jarres.[21] They then moved aside to allow the ragtag Pathet Lao force with its mismatched scrounged equipment to occupy the captured ground,[22] and Souphanouvong moved the Pathet Lao headquarters into Sam Neua City on April 19.

The other strike, moving from Dien Bien Phu and aimed downriver at Luang Prabang, was thwarted by oncoming monsoons and dogged resistance by the French.[21]

The Vietnamese invasion was stalled, but only because the French had airlifted in battalions of Foreign Legionnaires and Moroccan Tirailleurs.

In December, the French Union Army, as part of its attempt to protect Laos from the PAVN, recaptured the Dien Bien Phu valley.[5]

1954: French defeat

In January, the PAVN launched two assaults on Laos. One thrust crossed the top of the panhandle to the Mekong River town of Thakhek. The other was again aimed at Luang Prabang. Both were thwarted in a month.

These were diversions[5] to the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which took place from March through May within ten kilometers of the Lao border, on the lines of communication into the Plaine des Jarres.[21] The ruggedness of the karst mountains of northern Laos channels movement into a few canyons; small watercraft could move from Dien Bien Phu down to the Nam Ou, and thence directly downriver to Luang Prabang, or they cross into the PDJ via Ban Ban.[23]

A notable event was the use of Civil Air Transport, which later morphed into Air America, in a covert operation to fly supplies to the embattled French in Dien Bien Phu.[24] The PAVN also launched a diversionary thrust at Seno, Laos, aimed at cutting away the panhandle from the main body of Laos. This thrust was foiled by paratroopers from the French Union’s Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

When the relief troops didn’t lift the siege in time, the bastion of Dien Bien Phu fell. One of the troopers in the relief column marching from Luang Prabang was a young Hmong named Vang Pao.

The French loss at Dien Bien Phu marked the end of the First Indochina War; the French were driven to negotiate for peace.[25] On July 20, the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Laos was signed, ending French rule.[26] Two months later, the North Vietnamese established a support group for Pathet Lao forces at Ban Nameo,[27] well within northeastern Laos.[28]

The Agreement radically changed the geography of Indochina. As part of the change the North Vietnamese now succeeded to rule of the northern half of their own country. Laos became totally independent of France. The French turned over its Lao French Union troops to the new nation; as a residual effort, it kept two bases in Laos and supplied advisors to the new Lao military.

The Royal Lao government military also received its first aircraft from the French in 1954; nine Morane-Saulnier MS-500 Criquets were supplied for support and medevac.[5]

Because the Pathet Lao had shown no willingness to fight, and the 25,000 man Royal Lao Army was incapable of resisting the PAVN, an attempt was made to coax the Pathet Lao into a coalition with the Royal Lao Government.[29]

1955–1958: The lull

In January, 1955, French advisors began training the first Lao aviation force. Later that year, Thailand would supply Sikorsky H-19 helicopters and volunteer pilots to the Lao military. The Thais also trained thirty Lao officers in weapons use at Hua Hin, Thailand.[5]

In early 1955, a United States Operation Mission was set up in Laos. Its primary purpose was supply of military defense materials to the Royal Lao Government; 80% of its budget was dedicated to this purpose.[30] The United States paid 100% of the Lao military budget.[5] However, the embassy staff was not up to monitoring this program. There was an obvious need for a Military Assistance Advisory Group; however, the United States had signed a treaty that expressly forbade such.

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s solution was to establish the Program Evaluations Office (PEO) in December, 1955, staffed by American civilians with prior military experience and headed up by retired Brigadier General Rothwell Brown. These civilians were given U. S. State Department status. However, they did not work strictly for the State Department. On military matters, they reported to the Commander in Chief Pacific Command, with information supplied to the American ambassador; on non-military matters, they reported directly to the ambassador.[30]

1955 was also notable for the despatch of Royal Lao Government troops to Sam Neua and Phong Saly, which was much resented by the Pathet Lao. As a result of this resentment, and disputes about electoral procedures, the Laotian communists boycotted that year’s national elections.

On March 21, 1956, Souvanna Phouma began his second term as prime minister. He opened a dialogue with his brother, Souphanouvong. In August, they announced the intention of declaring a ceasefire and reintegrating the Pathet Lao and their occupied territory into the government. However, the Pathet Lao claimed the right to administer the provinces they occupied.

At the same time, they and their North Vietnamese backers ran a massive recruitment campaign, with the aim of forming nine battalions of troops. Many of the new recruits were sent into North Vietnam for schooling and training. This led to United States concern that the Royal Lao Army would be inadequately equipped and trained because there was only one small French military mission working with the RLA.[31]

In February, 1957, the Program Evaluations Office personnel began supplying training materials to the French Military Mission that was charged with training the Royal Lao Army. The rationale was that improved training would better fit the army with defending its country. As part of this process, the United States even took over paying the Royal Lao Army‘s salaries.[32]

Beginning in March, 1957, the Royal Lao Army began shuttling arms to Hmong guerrillas, to enable them to fight on the side of the RLA.[33]

In November, 1957, a coalition government incorporating the Pathet Lao was finally established. Using the slogan, “one vote to the right, one vote to the left to prevent civil war,” pro-communist parties received one-third of the popular vote and won 13 of 21 contested seats in the elections of May 4, 1958.[34] With these additional seats, the left controlled a total of 16 seats in the 59 member National Assembly.[34] Combined with independents, this was enough to deny Souvanna’s center right, neutralist coalition the two-thirds majority it needed to form a government.[34] With parliament deadlocked, the U.S. suspended aid in June to force a devaluation of the overpriced currency, which was leading to the abuse of U.S. aid.[35] The National Assembly responded by confirming a right-wing government led by Phuy Xananikôn in August.[36] This government included four members of the U.S.-backed Committee for the Defence of the National Interest (none of them National Assembly members).[36] Three more unelected CDNI members were added in December, when Phuy received emergency powers to govern without the National Assembly.[36]

In November, 1958, Brigadier General John A. Heintges reviewed the PEO. He promptly replaced General Brown, and forged a new agreement with the Lao and the French. Integral to the new agreement was the displacement of the French military trainers by Americans. As a result, PEO expanded over twentyfold. Included in the expansion were 149 Special Forces on temporary duty, and 103 Filipino military veterans working for a newly formed front company named Eastern Construction Company in Laos.[30]

1959: Second North Vietnamese invasion

On May 15, 1959, the People’s Army of Vietnam established Group 559; this unit was charged with the logistics of moving the necessities of war from North Vietnam to the South. Its foremost feat was building and maintaining the Ho Chi Minh trail down the eastern spine of Laos. Eventually, this transportation network would power the Vietnamese communists to victory. It would have to survive a relentless air campaign comparable to any interdiction bombing in World War II.

Also in May, the long awaited integration of 1,500 Pathet Lao troops into the national army was scheduled. The U. S. embassy told the Lao government that it would be difficult to gain congressional approval of aid to Laos with communists serving in the army. The Pathet Lao stalled.[37]

Under orders from Souphanouvong, the Pathet Lao battalions refused to be integrated into the Royal Lao Army. Souphanouvong was then arrested and imprisoned, along with his aides. The two Pathet Lao battalions, one after the other, escaped during the night with no shots fired, taking their equipment, families, and domestic animals with them. On May 23, Souphanouvong and his companions also escaped unscathed.[38]

In July, U.S. Special Forces Mobile Training Teams from the 77th Special Forces Group, working under the code name Hotfoot, began training the Royal Laotian army. The Green Berets were attached to the Programs Evaluation Office, and like other PEO employees, were nominal civilians. However, even in civilian dress, having traded their green berets for sun helmets, they still had a military appearance.

The RLA was being formed into Groupement Mobiles—regimental-sized units of three battalions. The training teams were assigned one per GM, with some battalions also meriting a team.[39]

On July 28, PAVN units attacked all along the North Vietnamese-Lao border. As they took ground from the Royal Lao Army, they moved in Pathet Lao as occupation troops.[37] Poor battle performance by the RLA seemed to verify the need for further training; the RLA outnumbered the attackers, but still gave ground.

Also in July, the American embassy began to contract for aerial resupply for RLA troops, hiring Robert Brongersma and his Beech 18.[40]

In September, Group 100 was succeeded by Group 959; the North Vietnamese were upgrading their military mission to the Pathet Lao, just as the Americans had expanded PEO. Both sides were raising larger client armies, in hopes the Lao would fight.[37]

1960: The neutralist coup

On August 9, 1960, Captain Kong Le and his Special Forces-trained Neutralist paratroop battalion were able to seize control of the administrative capital of Vientiane in a virtually bloodless coup,[41] while Prime Minister Tiao Samsanith, government officials, and military leaders met in the royal capital, Luang Prabang.[42][43] His stated aim for the coup was an end to fighting in Laos, the end of foreign interference in his country, an end to the consequent corruption caused by foreign aid, and better treatment for his soldiers.[41][44] However, Kong Le’s coup did not end opposition to him, and there was a scramble among unit commanders to choose up sides. If one was not pro-coup, then he had the further decision to make as to whom he would back to counter the coup. The front runner was General Phoumi Nosavan, first cousins with the prime minister/dictator of Thailand, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. With the Central Intelligence Agency‘s connivance, Sarit set up a covert Thai military advisory group called Kaw Taw. Kaw Taw would be complicit in the counter-coup that was mounted; it supplied artillery, artillerymen, and advisors to Phoumi’s forces. It also committed the CIA-sponsored Thai Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit to operations within Laos.[45]

Immediately after Kong Le’s coup, Thailand clamped down with an embargo via land blockade, cutting off the main source of imported goods for Vientiane. The United States Secretary of State, Christian Herter, made it clear that the United States supported the “legitimate government under the King’s direction.” The United States supported the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Tiao Samsanith, even though it was elected illegally.

The Neutralist forces in Vientiane organized the Executive Committee of the High Command of the Revolution as the interim government in Laos the following day. General Phoumi Nosavan, stated on August 10 that he planned to retake Vientiane by force. The United States Ambassador to Laos, Winthrop G. Brown, responded to General Phoumi by stating that the United States supported a restoration of peace “through quick and decisive action.” [43]

PEO had turned its support to General Phoumi. With the help of Air America and covert aid from Thailand, the general and his troops moved north toward Vientiane from Savannakhet in southern Laos, in November.[41]

The Soviet Union began a military air bridge into Vientiane in early December; it was characterized as the largest Soviet airlift since World War II.[46] This air bridge flew in PAVN artillery and gunners to reinforce the Neutralist/Pathet Lao coalition.[47]

On their side, the United States flew four B-26 Invader bombers from Taiwan into Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, poised to strike into Laos. They were later joined by an additional eight B26s. With a dozen guns, half a dozen rockets, and a napalm canister apiece, they were a potent threat, but were never used.[48]

On December 13, Phoumi’s army began a three day bombardment of Vientiane. Five hundred civilians and seventeen of Kong Le’s paratroopers were killed by the shellfire. On the 14th, a U. S. carrier task force went on alert, and the Second Airborne Brigade stood by to seize selected Laotian airfields. The U. S. was poised to rescue its paramilitary and diplomatic advisors in Laos.

Kong Le and his Neutralists finally withdrew northward to the Plaine des Jarres. Their withdrawal was covered by artillery fire from the PAVN 105 mm howitzers rushed in from Hanoi, and supported by Soviet airdrops of crucial supplies of rations, munitions, and radios. In the retreat, Kong Le picked up 400 recruits, swelling his force to 1,200 men.[46]

Phoumi’s coup was thus successful, but the end result was the alliance of the Neutralists with the Pathet Lao on December 23. As 1960 ended, the obscure little nation of Laos had become an arena of confrontation for the world’s superpowers.[46][49]

1961: Superpowers’ involvement deepens

Main article: Vang Pao

Beginning on January 1, a new coalition of Kong Le’s Neutralists, Pathet Lao, and PAVN drove 9,000 Royal Lao Army troops from the Plaine des Jarres.[46][50]

On 3 January, the Royal Laotian Air Force received its first counter-insurgency aircraft, American-built T-6 Texans, via the Royal Thai Air Force. These four reconfigured trainers were armed with two .30 caliber machine guns and five inch rockets, and could carry 100 pound bombs. Four previously trained Lao pilots undertook transition training in Thailand; on 9 January, the pilots flew the new RLAF fighter-bombers to Vientiane. Two days later, they flew their first combat sorties, against PAVN and Pathet Lao covering Kong Le’s retreat into the Plaine des Jarres.[51]

Russian Soviet air supply continued, bringing in heavy weapons to supplement the light arms previously delivered. On January 7, the North Vietnamese presence was escalated by an additional four battalions; two of the battalions immediately moved to the point of conflict, on Route 7, which connected to Vientiane. A third PAVN battalion moved into action at Tha Thom, south of the PDJ.[33] On 15 January, the entire 925th Independent Brigade of the PAVN had crossed into Laos to reinforce the Pathet Lao/Neutralist coalition.[52]

This led to counter-escalation, as the United States began airdropping arms to a force of 7,000 Hmong guerrillas later in the month.[33] Air America was also bequeathed four H-34 helicopters from the U. S. Navy.

By the beginning of February, the first four volunteer pilots from the Royal Thai Air Force arrived to fly four more T-6s supplied to the Royal Laotian Air Force. The Thai mercenaries had been officially discharged from the RTAF, and held no official position in the RLAF. The growth of the RLAF would be nullified by its casualties, as five of the T-6s had been lost in action by the end of March.[53]

The incoming Kennedy administration found itself pitched immediately into the Laotian crisis. An interagency task force founded in early February began a two month study of possible American responses to the Laotian war. The most drastic alternative they envisioned was a 60,000 man commitment of American ground troops in southern Laos, with a possible use of nuclear weapons.

Less drastic options were elected. Even as the French ended their training mission, the American training efforts ramped up. Sixteen H-34 helicopters were transferred from the U. S. Marine Corps to Air America; maintenance facilities were established in Udorn in far northern Thailand, a few miles south of Vientiane.

On 9 March, the communists captured the only road junction between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. When RLA troops were ordered to counterattack and retake the junction, they dropped their weapons and ran. Special Forces Team Moon was assigned as advisors to the RLA unit.[54]

On 22 April 1961, Team Moon was overrun. Two sergeants were killed, and team leader Captain Walter H. Moon was captured; he was later executed while trying to escape captivity. Another sergeant was released sixteen months later.[55][56]

The B26s had been scheduled to strike at Kong Le, but the strike was stayed by an event on the far side of the world. The Bay of Pigs Invasion failed, and that failure gave pause to U. S. actions in Laos. A ceasefire was sought. Simultaneously, the Programs Evaluation Office shed its civilian guise and went above ground to become a Military Advisory Assistance Group. Emblematic of the change, the Hotfoot teams donned their U. S. uniforms and became White Star Mobile Training Teams.

The truce supposedly went into effect the first week of May, but was repeatedly breached by the communists.[57] With the Royal Lao Army ineffective, the Hmong guerrillas were left as the only opposition to the communists. In early June, they were forced from their beleaguered position at Ban Padong by an artillery barrage followed by a ground assault. Under command of General Vang Pao, they fell back to Long Tieng.[58]

The U. S. Central Intelligence Agency had begun secretly recruiting Lao montagnards into 100 man militia companies.[55] Riflemen trained for these militias would receive eight weeks basic training, then serve several months in their militia. Once they had that experience, which often included their first combat, they were further recruited into battalions of irregular troops called Special Guerrilla Units. The battalions were filled out along ethnic lines, most being Hmong, but some being Yao (Iu-Mien) or Lao Theung (Lao Saetern). SGUs, once formed up, underwent three further months training by Thai officers and sergeants in Phitsanloke, Thailand.[59]

By summer, the CIA had mustered 9,000 hill tribesmen into the ranks of the Armée Clandestine. It was aided by 9 CIA agents, 9 Special Forces augmentees, and 99 Thai Special Forces troopers from the Police Aerial Resupply Unit.[60]

By autumn, the future course of American involvement was set. Paramilitary trainers would train guerrilla units, with resupply coming via airdrops, and specialized short takeoff and landing aircraft using makeshift dirt airstrips. Other trainers would try to mold the Royalist regulars into a fighting force. Fighter-bombers would serve as flying artillery to blast the communist forces into retreat or submission.

In December, the Royalists decided to assert control over the provincial capitol of Nam Tha, which was on the northwestern border, almost in southern China. GMs 11 and 18 were stationed there, and soon came under pressure from the communists.[57]

1962: Disaster and a new government

By February, the Royal Lao Government’s hold on Nam Tha seemed tenuous enough that it was reinforced by the paratroopers of GM 15. That gave a numerical edge to the defenders and should have guaranteed Nam Tha’s retention. The presence of armed American Special Forces advisors should have stiffened them with military expertise.

In May, a PAVN assault broke the RLG forces and routed them. The Royalist soldiers fled southward across the entirety of northwestern Laos into Thailand, a retreat of over a hundred miles.

Faced with this fiasco, the U. S. forced the RLG into a coalition with the Pathet Lao and Kong Le’s Forces Armee Neutrale. This technically fulfilled the Geneva Agreements on Laos and triggered the treaty requirement that foreign military technicians be withdrawn from Laos by October. The United States disbanded its Military Assistance Advisory Group and withdrew its military mission. The Vietnamese communists did not; they repatriated only a token 40 technicians out of an estimated 2,000.[61]

July 1962 saw the field tests of Pilatus Porter Short Takeoff and Landing aircraft by Bird and Sons. The original two Porters’ performance was degraded by heat and height robbing power from engine performance. One of the Porters crashed in December, killing all on board.[62]

Several companies of hill tribes irregulars were sent to Hua Hin, Thailand for training.[63]

1963: Stasis

In January, the second Pilatus Porter crashed; its pilot escaped with serious burns.

Vang Pao gathered three SGU battalions into Groupement Mobile 21 and spearheaded a drive into Sam Neua. His offensive was resupplied by supplies airdropped by the civilian aircraft of Air America and Bird and Sons.

By the middle of the year, the Pathet Lao and Neutralists had begun to squabble with one another.

In the meantime, the United States re-established a Military Assistance Advisory Group to support its efforts in Laos, basing it in Bangkok. The Requirements Office of the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane was manned by civilians and monitored the need for U.S. military aid to Laos.

In August, the Royal Laotian Air Force received its first four T-28 Trojans that had been adapted for counter-insurgency warfare.

The irregular companies trained the previous year in Thailand were now formed into a battalion called SGU 1. Irregular forces proliferated throughout the country. In Military Regions 3 and 4, action, intelligence, and road watch teams infiltrated the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

In December, Vang Pao was promoted to Brigadier General by King Sisavong.[64]

1964: The air war opens

Main article: Operation Barrel Roll

Barrel Roll operational area, 1964

On 1 April, the USAF set up Waterpump, which was a pilot training program in Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base to supply Lao pilots for the Royal Laotian Air Force.[65] The RLAF also began augmenting its ranks with Thai volunteer pilots in 1964.[66]

Run by a 41 man team from Detachment 6 of the 1st Air Commando Wing, this facility was an end run around the treaty obligation that forbade training in Laos. Besides training pilots, Waterpump encouraged cooperation between the RLAF and the Royal Thai Air Force. It was also tasked, as a last resort, to augment the RLAF to counter a renewed Communist offensive in Laos.[65]

In Laos itself, there was an effort to train Laotians as forward air guides. Meantime, the Butterfly forward air control program began.[67]

Even as the air commandos established themselves in Udorn and Laos, several Lao generals attempted a coup in Vientiane. With the capital in turmoil, the Communists on the Plaine des Jarres attacked and overran the Royalist and Neutralist positions.[68] The United States then released the necessary ordnance for the RLAF to bomb Communist encampments, beginning on May 18.

On May 19, the United States Air Force began flying mid and low-level missions over the renewed fighting, under the code name Yankee Team.[65] They also began reconnaissance missions over the Laotian panhandle to obtain target information on men and material being moved into South Vietnam over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. By this time, the footpaths on the trail had been enlarged to truck roads, with smaller paths for bicycles and walking. The Trail had become the major artery for use by North Vietnam to infiltrate South Vietnam.

On 9 June, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered an F-100 strike against the enemy in retaliation for the shoot down of another U.S. aircraft.

The summer of 1964 was marked by a successful attack by the Forces Armee Royale. Operation Triangle cleared one of the few roads in Laos; Route 13 connected the administrative capitol of Vientiane with the royal capitol of Luang Prabang.[68]

The Plain of Jars activities expanded by December 1964, were named Operation Barrel Roll, and were under the control of the U.S. ambassador to Laos, who approved all targets before they were attacked.

1965: The widening war

Barrel Roll and Steel Tiger operational area, 1965

This year began with an event that showed how the commanding generals of the five military regions of Laos were essentially warlords of their own domains.

In February, Commanding General of Military Region 5 Kouprasith Abhay mounted a coup against the group of generals whom had attempted a coup the previous year. Among the losers fleeing into exile were General Phoumi Nosavan.[68]

On April 3, the U.S. began Operation Steel Tiger over the Laotian panhandle and the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to locate and destroy enemy forces and materiel being moved southward at night on the Ho Chi Minh Trail into South Vietnam. However, since circumstances made it a highly complex matter in regard to the neutrality of Laos, target approval had to come from the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. Additionally, the U.S. ambassadors in South Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand were involved in controlling these U.S. air operations.

Late in 1965, the communists greatly increased their infiltration along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The United States decided to concentrate airpower upon a small segment of the Trail closest to South Vietnam and used most extensively by the enemy. As a result, Operation Tiger Hound was initiated in December 1965, utilizing aircraft from the Air Force, the United States Navy, and U.S. Marines, the Vietnamese Air Force, and the Royal Laotian Air Force. On 11 December, B-52 heavy bombers were called in to this tactical operation, in their first use over Laos.

1966

In the far northwest, Team Fox, an intelligence team of Mien hill tribesmen began long range reconnaissance of southern China.

In July, Royal Lao Government (RLG) forces seized Nam Bac. Three Infantry Regiments, one independent infantry battalion, and one artillery battalion took Nam Bac and established a defensive line north of Luang Prabang.[69]

On the Plain of Jars, the Pathet Lao advance gradually slowed due to the destruction of its supplies by airpower, and Laotian troops then counter-attacked. By August 1966, they had advanced to within 45 miles of the DRV border. North Vietnam then sent thousands of its regular troops into the battle and once again the Laotians were forced to retreat.

Steel Tiger operations continued down the length of the panhandle in 1966, with special emphasis upon the Tiger Hound area. Since most of the communist truck traffic was at night, the Air Force developed and began using special equipment to detect the nighttime traffic.

Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger and Tiger Hound operational areas

1967

In eastern Laos, U.S., Royal Laotian, and VNAF aircraft continued their attacks on traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During 1967, B-52s flew 1,718 sorties in this area, almost triple their 1966 record. The major targets were trucks which had to be hunted down and destroyed one-by-one. This seemed to be irrational thinking to many Americans flying these combat missions for these trucks could have been destroyed en masse before, during, or after their unloading from the freighters that had hauled them to North Vietnam if bombing of Haiphong had been permitted.[citation needed]

In northern Laos, the Communists continued their slow advance across the Plain of Jars in 1967. Laotian victories were few and far between, and by the end of the year, the situation had become critical even with the air support which had been provided by the Royal Lao Air Force.[citation needed]

Laotian tribal irregulars were operating out of Nam Bac, under CIA direction from Luang Prabang, some 60 miles south of the guerrilla base. In midyear, over the objections of Lao colonels, American advisors pressured Royal Lao troops into forming their smaller units into combat battalions. Despite the poor training of the Lao soldiers, some of whom had never fired a weapon, these raw new units were moved northward out of Luang Prabang over a several month period to garrison Nam Bac. By mid-October, some 4,500 government troops held the valley to secure the air strip for their resupply, a la Dien Bien Phu. The American intent was the establishment of Nam Bac as the keystone of an “iron arc” of defensive positions across northern Laos.[70]

In response, the PAVN 316th Infantry Division was dispatched to Laos to assault Nam Bac.[citation needed] The Royalist garrison was soon surrounded. They had American-supplied 105mm howitzers for artillery support. They could also call on Royal Lao Air Force T-28s for close air support. U. S. Air Force fighter-bombers struck the Communist supply lines. Communist gunfire closed the Nam Bac airstrip to fixed wing resupply. Air America copters flew in supplies and evacuated the wounded; American C-123s parachuted supplies ferried from Udorn RTAFB to the beleaguered government troops. The Royalist troops would not launch a clearing attack to regain use of the runway for resupply. On 25 December, a Vietnamese artillery barrage kicked off their offensive.[70]

1968: Royal Lao Army neutralized

Ho Chi Minh Trail, 1967

On 13 January the North Vietnamese launched a multi-division attack on the Royal Lao Army at Nam Bac, Laos. Some of the government troops began withdrawing from the valley. After about a third of the defenders had retreated, the final assault on the Royalist garrison came out of a heavy mist and hit the Royalist command post. Its communications with the defenders was cut; the rout was on.[71] The heavy weapons and scale of the PAVN attack could not be matched by the national army and it was effectively sidelined for several years.[72] Most of the government soldiers scattered into the surrounding hills; about 200 of the defenders were killed in action. Of the 3,278 Royalist soldiers, only about a third returned to government service. The Royalists had suffered such a staggering defeat that their army never recovered; the government was left with only tribal irregulars using guerrilla tactics fighting on its side.[71]

Throughout 1968, the communists slowly advanced across the northern part of Laos, defeating Laotian forces time and time again, and eventually the U.S base Lima Site 85 was overrun. This success was achieved despite U.S. military advice and assistance. In November, the U.S. launched an air campaign against the Ho Chi Minh Trail because North Vietnam was sending more troops and supplies than ever along this route to South Vietnam. This new operation, named Operation Commando Hunt, continued until 1972, with little success.

1969

Communist Base Areas, southern Laos

On 23 March 1969, the Royal Lao Army launched a large attack (Cu Kiet Campaign) against the communists in the Plain of Jars/Xieng Khoang areas, supported by its own air units and the U.S. Air Force. In June, the enemy launched an attack of its own and gained ground, but by August, Laotian forces attacked again and regained what had been lost. In all these operations, the U.S. Air Force flew hundreds of Barrel Roll missions; however, many were canceled because of poor weather.

Pathet Lao forces were supported by PAVN’s 174th Vietnamese Volunteer Regiment. By September, the 174th had to fall back to regroup. In mid-September, they launched a counterattack and recovered the Plain of Jars. Forces participating in the campaign included the 316th and 312th Infantry Divisions, the 866th Infantry Regiment, the 16th Artillery Regiment, one tank company, six sapper and engineer battalions, one Nghe An Province local force battalion, and ten PL battalions.

On 11 February, the offensive (Campaign 139) opened. By the 20th, control of the Plain of Jars was secure. RLG forces withdrew to Muong Xui. On 25 February, the RLG abandoned Xieng Khoang city. Xam Thong fell on 18 March and Long Thieng was threatened. On 25 April, the campaign ended. After the end of the campaign, the “316th Division, the 866th Regiment, and a number of specialty branch units were ordered to stay behind to work with our Lao friends.”[73]

1970

At the beginning of 1970, fresh troops from North Vietnam advanced through northern Laos. The Air Force called in B-52s and, on 17 February, they were used to bomb targets in northern Laos. The enemy advance was halted by Laotian reinforcements, and for the remainder of the year it was a “seesaw” military campaign.

1 May – elements of SVN PAVN units (28th and 24A regiments) join with North Vietnamese Army and Pathet Lao to seize Attopeu.[74]

Although communist movements down the Ho Chi Minh Trail grew during the year, the U.S. war effort was reduced because authorities in Washington, believing the U.S. objectives in Southeast Asia were being achieved, imposed budget limits. This reduced the number of combat missions the USAF could fly.

1971

Main article: Operation Lam Son 719

Because of significant logistical stockpiling by PAVN in the Laotian Panhandle, South Vietnam launched Operation Lam Son 719, a military thrust on 8 February 1971. Its goals were to cross into Laos toward the city of Tchepone and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, hopefully thwarting a planned North Vietnamese offensive. Aerial support by the U.S., was massive since no American ground units could participate in the operation. On 25 February, PAVN launched a counterattack, and in the face of heavy opposition, the South Vietnamese force withdrew from Laos after losing approximately half of its men.

Combined offensive to take Plain of Jars. On 18 December, PAVN and Pathet Lao forces launched counteroffensive (Campaign Z) to recover the Plain. Volunteer forces included the 312th and 316th Divisions, the 335th and 866th Infantry Regiments, and six artillery and tank battalions. Xam Thong fell and the push continued toward Long Thieng.[75]

Lower Laos – the 968th Infantry Regiment and Pathet Lao forces reclaimed the Tha Teng and Lao Nam areas, and liberated the Bolovens Plateau.[75]

1972

During the dry season 1971–72, PL/PAVN forces dug into defensive positions and fought for permanent control of the Plain of Jars. Units participating included the 316th Infantry Division, the 866th, 335th, and 88th Regiments, and nine specialty branch battalions under the command of Senior Colonel Le Linh. Seven PL battalions also participated.

On 21 May, RLG forces attempted to seize the Plain. The battle lasted 170 days (until 15 November 1972). The communists claimed to have killed 1,200 troops and captured 80.[76]

When PAVN launched the Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive) into South Vietnam on 30 March, Massive U.S. air support was required inside South Vietnam and its air strikes in Laos dropped to their lowest point since 1965.

In northern Laos, the communists made additional gains during the year but failed to overwhelm government forces. In November, the Pathet Lao agreed to meet with Laotian Government representatives to discuss a cease-fire.

1973–1974

Main article: Paris Peace Accord

The US pulled out of Laos in 1973, as stipulated by the Paris Peace Accord. North Vietnam was not required to remove its forces under the terms of the treaty.

The national government was forced to accept the Pathet Lao into the government. During 1974 and 1975 the balance of power in Laos shifted steadily in favour of the Pathēt Lao as the U.S. disengaged itself from Indochina. Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma was tired and demoralised, and following a heart attack in mid 1974 he spent some months recuperating in France, after which he announced that he would retire from politics following the elections scheduled for early 1976. The anti-communist forces were thus leaderless, and also divided and deeply mired in corruption. Souphanouvong, by contrast, was confident and a master political tactician, and had behind him the disciplined cadres of the communist party and the Pathēt Lao forces and the North Vietnamese army. The end of American aid also meant the mass demobilization of most of the non-Pathēt Lao military forces in the country. The Pathēt Lao on the other hand continued to be both funded and equipped by North Vietnam.

In May 1974 Souphanouvong put forward an 18-point plan for “National Reconstruction,” which was unanimously adopted – a sign of his increasing dominance. The plan was mostly uncontroversial, with renewed promises of free elections, democratic rights and respect for religion, as well as constructive economic policies. But press censorship was introduced in the name of “national unity,” making it more difficult for non-communist forces to organise politically in response to the creeping Pathēt Lao takeover. In January 1975 all public meetings and demonstrations were banned. Recognising the trend of events, influential business and political figures began to move their assets, and in some cases themselves, to Thailand, France or the U.S.

1975

In March 1975, confident that the U.S. no longer had the stomach to intervene militarily in Indochina, the North Vietnamese began their final military offensive in South Vietnam, which by the end of April carried them to victory with the fall of Saigon. A few days earlier the Khmer Rouge army had entered Phnom Penh. The Pathēt Lao now knew that victory was within reach, and with the Vietnam war over the North Vietnamese authorised the seizure of power in Laos. Pathēt Lao forces on the Plain of Jars supported by North Vietnamese heavy artillery and other units began advancing westward.[citation needed]

In late April, the Pathēt Lao took the government outpost at Sala Phou Khoum crossroads which opened up Route 13 to a Pathēt Lao advance toward Muang Kassy. For the non-Pathēt Lao elements in the government, compromise seemed better than allowing what had happened in Cambodia and South Vietnam to happen in Laos. A surrender was thought to be better than a change of power by force.[citation needed]

Demonstrations broke out in Vientiane, denouncing the rightists and demanding political change. Rightist ministers resigned from the government and fled the country, followed by senior Royal Lao Army commanders. A Pathēt Lao minister took over the defence portfolio, removing any chance of the Army resisting the Pathēt Lao takeover. Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma, dreading further conflict and apparently trusting Souphanouvong‘s promises of a moderate policy, gave instructions that the Pathēt Lao were not to be resisted, and the U.S. began to withdraw its diplomatic personnel. The Pathēt Lao army entered the major towns of southern Laos during May, and in early June occupied Luang Phrabāng. Panic broke out in Vientiane as most of the business class and many officials, officers and others who had collaborated with the U.S. scrambled to get their families and property across the Mekong to Thailand. Recognising that the cause was lost, Vang Pao led thousands of his Hmong fighters and their families into exile – eventually about a third of all the Lao Hmong left the country. Pathēt Lao forces entered an almost deserted Vientiane in August.[citation needed]

For a few months the Pathēt Lao appeared to honour their promises of moderation. The shell of the coalition government was preserved, there were no arrests or show-trials, and private property was respected. Diplomatic relations with the U.S. were maintained, despite an immediate cut-off of all U.S. aid. (Other western countries continued to offer aid, and Soviet and eastern European technicians began to arrive to replace the departed Americans.) But in December there was a sharp change in policy. A joint meeting of the government and the Consultative Council was held, at which Souphanouvong demanded immediate change. There was no resistance.[citation needed]

On 2 December King Savang Vatthana agreed to abdicate, and Souvanna Phouma resigned. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was proclaimed, with Souphanouvong as President. Kaisôn Phomvihān emerged from the shadows to become Prime Minister and the real ruler of the country. No more was heard of elections or political freedoms: non-communist newspapers were closed, and a large-scale purge of the civil service, army and police was launched. Thousands were dispatched for “re-education” in remote parts of the country, where many died and many more were kept for up to ten years. This prompted a renewed flight from the country. Many of the professional and intellectual class, who had initially been willing to work for the new regime, changed their minds and left – a much easier thing to do from Laos than from either Vietnam or Cambodia. By 1977 ten percent of the population had left the country, including most of the business and educated classes.[citation needed]

Once in power, the Pathet Lao economically cut its ties to all its neighbors (including China) with the exception of the DRV and signed a treaty of friendship with Hanoi. The treaty allowed the Vietnamese to station soldiers within Laos and to place advisers throughout the government and economy.[citation needed]

Evacuation of the Hmong

A dramatic event during the takeover of Laos by the communists was the evacuation of Vang Pao and other Hmong leaders by air from Long Tieng. The end came for Vang Pao on May 5, 1975 when he was called before Souvanna Phouma, the Prime Minister of Laos, and ordered to cooperate with the communist Pathet Lao. Vang Pao took the general’s stars off his collar, threw them on the desk of Souvanna Phouma, and stalked out of the room. Four days later the official Pathet Lao newspaper warned that the Hmong would be exterminated “to the last root.”[77]

Jerry Daniels, Vang Pao’s CIA case officer, was the only American remaining in Long Tieng and he began to plan an evacuation of the Hmong. However, he had only one airplane to evacuate the 3,500 Hmong leaders and families he judged to be at risk of execution by the Pathet Lao then advancing on Long Tieng. Brigadier General Heinie Aderholt in Bangkok helped to find additional planes and sent three pilots flying two C-46 and one C-130 transport aircraft to Long Tieng. The planes were “sheep-dipped” to remove any U.S. markings as the operation was carried out in secret. The pilots were American civilians: Les Strouse, Matt Hoff, and Al Rich.[78]

With the three American planes, the evacuation began in earnest on May 13 with each transport aircraft making four flights each that day from Long Tieng to Udorn, Thailand and transporting more than 65 people per airplane on each trip – far more than the 35 maximum passengers dictated by safety conditions at mountain-ringed Long Tieng. Thousands of Hmong clustered around the airstrip at Long Tieng awaiting evacuation and the situation became increasingly ugly. On May 14, Vang Pao and Jerry Daniels were evacuated secretly by helicopter to Thailand and the air evacuation came to an end. The next day the Pathet Lao marched into Long Tieng unopposed.[79] Daniels accompanied Vang Pao to exile in Montana and then returned to Thailand to help the Hmong refugees there.[80]

What nobody had anticipated was the tens of thousands of Hmong left behind in Long Tieng and Laos would follow Vang Pao and other Hmong leaders to Thailand. By the end of 1975 about 40,000 Hmong had succeeded to reaching Thailand, traveling on foot through the mountains and floating across the Mekong River.[81] How many died or were killed in the attempt to escape Laos will never be known, but the flight of Hmong and other Laotian highland peoples into Thailand would continue for many more years. They faced repression at home from the communist government as the price of their collaboration with the Americans. Most of the Hmong in Thailand would eventually be resettled in the United States and other countries. Between 1975 and 1982, 53,700 Hmong and other highland Laotian refugees were resettled in the United States and thousands more in other countries.[82]

Aftermath

Twenty two years following the end of the Laotian War, on May 15, 1997, the U.S. officially acknowledged its role in the Secret War, erecting a memorial in honour of American and Hmong contributions to U.S. air and ground combat efforts during the conflict. The Laos Memorial is located on the grounds of the Arlington National Cemetery between the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In 2004, following several years of pressure from a coalition of U.S. conservatives and liberal human rights activists,[83] the U.S. government reversed a policy of denying immigration to Hmong who had fled Laos for refugee camps in Thailand in the 1990s. In a major victory for the Hmong, fifteen thousand Hmong were later recognised as refugees and afforded expedited U.S. immigration rights by the U.S. government.[84]

A legacy of the civil war is continuing casualties from unexploded ordnance (UXO) dropped by the U.S. and Laotian Air Forces from 1964-1973. More than 2 million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos, 30 percent of which failed to explode immediately. However, UXO remains dangerous to persons coming in contact, purposefully or accidentally, with bombs. Casualties in Laos from UXO are estimated at 12,000 since 1973. In 2006, 33 years after the last bomb was dropped and after decades of UXO clearance programs, 59 people were known to have been killed or injured by UXO.[85] So abundant are the remnants of bombs on the Plain of Jars that the collection and sale of scrap metal from bombs has been a major industry since the Civil War.[86]

See also

Notes

Notes
  1. ^ A word is in order about secrets. It is easy on one hand to adopt a stance of reverence about classification and assume that because someone has stamped a document SECRET or TOP SECRET that actually means it was so sensitive that it had to be kept classified. On the other hand, it is easy to become skeptical and assume that classification has no meaning, that it is a ritual to conceal bad policy and embarassment…..[87]
References
  1. ^ Bombing Laos
  2. ^ Branfman, Fred Wanted May 18, 2001
  3. ^ Wiseman, Paul (2003-12-11). “30-year-old bombs still very deadly in Laos”. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-12-11-laos-bombs_x.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  4. ^ a b c http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0026)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g War in Laos. p. 5. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. p. 2. 
  7. ^ a b At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955 – 1975. p. 7. 
  8. ^ a b http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query2/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0027)
  9. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query2/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0028)
  10. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query2/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0032)
  11. ^ a b c http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0028)
  12. ^ a b http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query2/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0031)
  13. ^ a b http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query2/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0030)
  14. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. pp. 3–4. 
  15. ^ War in Laos. p. 4 & 5. 
  16. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. p. 3. 
  17. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955 – 1975. pp. 7, 142–143. 
  18. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0031)
  19. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955 – 1975. p. 9. 
  20. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. p. 4. 
  21. ^ a b c At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955 – 1975. pp. 9–10. 
  22. ^ War in Laos. p. 4. 
  23. ^ Raven FAC homepage (EAPLS)
  24. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955 – 1975. p. 10. 
  25. ^ War in Laos. pp. 4–5. 
  26. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0004)
  27. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?cstdy:1:./temp/~frd_6n5k::
  28. ^ Maps, Weather, Videos, and Airports for Ban Nameo, Laos
  29. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955 – 1975. p. 14. 
  30. ^ a b c At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U.S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government 1955 – 1975. p. 18. 
  31. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0033)
  32. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query2/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0036)
  33. ^ a b c http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0042)
  34. ^ a b c Stuart-Fox, Martin, A history of Laos, p. 103.
  35. ^ Martin, p. 104.
  36. ^ a b c Martin, p. 105.
  37. ^ a b c http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0037)
  38. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government 1955 – 1975. pp. 19–22. 
  39. ^ War in Laos. pp. 7, 13. 
  40. ^ War in Laos. p. 7. 
  41. ^ a b c http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0039)
  42. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. pp. 32–33. 
  43. ^ a b www.nakquda.com “The Laotian Civil War: The Intransigence of General Phoumi Nosavan and American Intervention in the Fall of 1960”
  44. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government 1955–1975. p. 20. 
  45. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. pp. 33–35, 40, 59. 
  46. ^ a b c d http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0041)
  47. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. p. 39. 
  48. ^ War in Laos. p. 10. 
  49. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U. S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government 1955 – 1975. pp. 21–25, 27. 
  50. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0043)
  51. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Shadow War in Laos. pp. 48–49. 
  52. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Shadow War in Laos. p. 50. 
  53. ^ Shadow War: The CIA’s Shadow War in Laos. pp. 47, 50–51. 
  54. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam. pp. 29–31. 
  55. ^ a b War in Laos. p. 9. 
  56. ^ At War in the Shadow of Vietnam. p. 31. 
  57. ^ a b War in Laos. p. 13. 
  58. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+la0045)
  59. ^ Spymaster. p. 158. 
  60. ^ The Ravens: The Men Who Flew in America’s Secret War in Laos. p. 134. 
  61. ^ War in Laos. pp. 13, 15. 
  62. ^ War in Laos. p. 16. 
  63. ^ War in Laos. p. 17. 
  64. ^ War in Laos. pp. 14–18. 
  65. ^ a b c Beginning&Nbsp; Of Air Operations&Nbsp; In Laos
  66. ^ War in Laos. p. 18. 
  67. ^ War in Laos. p. 18. 
  68. ^ a b c War in Laos. p. 14. 
  69. ^ Victory in Vietnam, p. 213.
  70. ^ a b Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA’s Crusaders. pp. 153–154. 
  71. ^ a b Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA’s Crusaders. pp. 154–156. 
  72. ^ Victory in Vietnam, p. 214.
  73. ^ Victory in Vietnam, p. 255.
  74. ^ Victory in Vietnam, p. 257.
  75. ^ a b Victory in Vietnam, p. 288.
  76. ^ Victory in Vietnam, p. 302.
  77. ^ Thompson, Larry Clinton, Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010, 54
  78. ^ Thompson, 55–56
  79. ^ Thompson, 57–58; See also Morrison, Gayle, L. Sky is Falling: an Oral History of the CIA’s evacuation of the Hmong from Laos, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1999
  80. ^ Thompson, 60–61
  81. ^ Thompson, 60
  82. ^ Thompson, 244
  83. ^ “Acts of Betrayal,” by Michael Johns, National Review, October 23, 1995.[dead link]
  84. ^ Minnesota Lawyers. http://www.nvo.com/beaulier/hmongimmigration/, accessed 14 Apr 2011
  85. ^ “Lao PDR” Journal of Mine Action http://maic.jmu.edu/journal/12.1cp/laopdr/laopdr.htm, accessed 14 June 2011
  86. ^ Thompson, p. 47
  87. ^ Woodward, Bob (1987). Veil : the secret wars of the CIA, 1981–1987. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. xv. ISBN 978-91-29-58762-3. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dd1I41lKaRkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=secret+war&ots=TaTcm-wLV6&sig=cemdJJGpmFugGMn-ZgB6c5UWf7s#v=onepage&q=secret%20war&f=false. Retrieved 10 Sep 2010. 

References

Government documents

  • Military History Institute of Vietnam, Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People’s Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975. Trans. by Merle Pribbenow. Lawrence KS: University of Kansas Press, 2002.
  • Nalty, Bernard C. War Against Trucks: Aerial Interdiction in Southern Laos, 1968–1973. Washington DC: Air Force Museums and History Program, 2005.
  • Van Staaveren, Jacob, Interdiction in Southern Laos, 1960–1968. Washington DC: Center of Air Force History, 1993.
  • Vongsavanh, Brig. Gen. Soutchay, RLG Military Operations and Activities in the Laotian Panhandle. Washington DC: United States Army Center of Military History, 1980.

Histories

  • War in Laos, 1954–1975. Kenneth J. Conboy. Squadron/Signal Publications, 1994. ISBN 978-0-89747-315-6, 9780897473156.
  • At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: United States Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955–1975. Timothy Castle. Columbia University Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-231-07977-8, 9780231079778.

Memoirs

Secondary sources

  • Adams, Nina S. and Alfred W. McCoy, eds. Laos: War and Revolution. New York: Harper & Row, 1970.
  • Breaux, Jarred James, The Laotian Civil War: The Intransigence of General Phoumi Nosavan and American Intervention in the Fall of 1960. Morrisville, N.C.:Lulu, 2008.
  • Blaufarb, Douglas, The Counterinsurgency Era.
  • Champassak, Sisouk Na, Storm Over Laos. New York: Praeger, 1961.
  • Conboy, Kenneth with James Morrison, Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. Boulder CO: Paladin Press, 1995.
  • Corn, David, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA’s Crusades. Simon & Schuster, 1994. ISBN 978-0-671-69525-5, 9780671695255
  • Duiker, William J., The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam 2nd ed. Westview Press, 1996.
  • Issacs, Arnold, Gordon Hardy, MacAlister Brown, et al., Pawns of War: Cambodia and Laos. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1987.
  • Karnow, Stanley, Vietnam: A History. New York: Viking, 1983.
  • McGehee, Ralph W. Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA. New York: Sheridan Square, 1983.
  • Morrison, Gayle L. Sky is Falling: an Oral History of the CIA evacuation of the Hmong from Laos, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1999
  • Robbins, Christopher, Air America. New York: Avon, 1985.
  • Robbins, Christopher, The Ravens: Pilots of the Secret War in Laos. Bangkok: Asia Books, 2000.
  • Thompson, Larry Clinton, Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010. [[1]]
  • Warner, Roger, Shooting at the Moon: The Story of America’s Clandestine War in Laos. South Royalton VE: Steerforth Press, 1996.

 

THE END @ COPYRIGHT Dr Iwan suwandy 2011

 
 

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