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Lecture 18

ASIAN AM 160 Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Royal Lao Army, Pathet Lao, Vang PaoPremium

3 pages22 viewsFall 2016

Asian American Studies
Course Code
Cheng Cindy

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The Hmong in Laos
Hmong are people without nation; stateless
After conflicts with repressive Chinese dynastic rulers of Qing dynasty, mass (often
forced) migration of Hmong to Southeast Asia during 18th to late 19th centuries
As stateless population; Hmong history punctuated by displacement and struggles for
In Laos, became second class citizens
o Lived in isolated regions (mountain peaks, elevation of 3000-5000ft)
o Not allowed to attend schools
Late 1950s, estimated 290,000 Hmong living in mountain tops of North Laos
o About 8% of country’s population of 3 million
Due to marginal status in Laos, relied on coalitions with external forces to secure
o Ally with forces (France) to secure “semi-sovereign) status in Laos
o Avoid another displacement
Hmong Involvement in Indochina Conflict
During first Indochina conflict, many clans sided with French; few joined Pathet Lao
In 1954, CIA began recruiting Hmong as anti-communist force in Northern Laos
Hmong believed assistance in U.S. war effort lead to political sovereignty in Laos,
creation of Hmong state in Laos
CIA found new leader, Vang Pao, Hmong officer in Royal Lao Army
Secret Army of Armee Clandestine
Mid-1960s, CIA and General Vang Pao transformed 9000 Hmong fighters into 30,000
strong Hmong militia
o 10% of Hmong population
Strategically located in Plain of Jars in Northeastern Laos to hold off Pathet Lao forces
3 main missions
o Fight Pathet Lao in Northern Laos
o Maintain covert U.S. military presence without violating country’s neutrality
o Defend critical American installations
America’s Secret War in Laos 1964 – 1975
1964 1965, U.S. authorized clandestine bombing in neutral Laos to block communist
lines of communication between Northern and Southern Vietnam
4 elements of America’s secret war in Laos
o Southern Laos: U.S. air force launched massive bombing campaign against Ho
Chi Minh trail, slow flow of Northern Vietnamese men and material to South
o Northern Laos: U.S. Air Force engulfed Plain of Jars
o Relied on CIA Secret Army of 30,000 Hmong to fight battles in northeastern Laos
blocking Pathet Lao
o Relied on Royal Lao Army to fight conventional war against Pathet Lao
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