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Lecture 18

ASIAN AM 160 Lecture 18: Asian American History Lecture 18
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3 Pages
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Fall 2016

Department
Asian American Studies
Course Code
ASIAN AM 160
Professor
Cheng Cindy
Lecture
18

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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
belonging
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
livelihood
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
Vietnam
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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Description
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 18 to late 19 centuries  As stateless population; Hmong history punctuated by displacement and struggles for belonging  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 livelihood 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 Vietnam 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  During 10 years of battle, U.S. maintained secret base at Long Tieng valley, south of Plain of Jars  Through self-contained radio net and shuttle service of helicopters and aircrafts, CIA transported materials and men from Long Tieng to over 200 airstrips near Hmong villages across northeastern Laos 
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