The North Vietnamese Military Adviser in Laos

A First Hand Account

by Paul Fritz Langer, Joseph Jermiah Zasloff


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An analysis of the North Vietnamese role in Laos. Excerpts are presented from the testimony of a member of the Communist Lao Dong Party who served as military adviser in northern Laos from February 1964 until his defection in December 1966. As adviser to a Pathet Lao battalion, this captain operated within the framework of the North Vietnamese military and political-administrative support system. Vietnamese political and administrative activities are directed through Group (Doan) 959 at Gia-Lam, about 4 km from Hanoi. The Group receives its instructions from the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party. Purely military matters relating to the insurgency in northern Laos, however, are handled through Northwest Military Region Headquarters at Son La in North Vietnam. The captain's testimony leads to the conclusion that North Vietnamese support for the Pathet Lao forces plays a vital role in their ability to maintain the insurgency against the Royal Lao Government. The Pathet Lao leadership relies heavily on the Vietnamese advisers, who conduct military and political training courses for the Pathet Lao cadres, provide education to Lao technicians, and furnish logistic support. According to the captain "everything is initiated by the North Vietnamese advisers, be it important or unimportant. If the North Vietnamese advisory machinery were to get stuck, the Pathet Lao machinery would be paralyzed."

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research memorandum series. The Research Memorandum was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1973 that represented working papers meant to report current results of RAND research to appropriate audiences.

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