At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: United States Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955-75

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Columbia University Press, Mar 1, 1995 - History - 210 pages
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On December 2, 1975, the Lao monarchy was abolished and replaced by the Lao People's Democratic Republic. This marked the end of a controversial U.S. policy in which the State Department, the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the United States Agency for International Development supplied covert military aid to a nation that was technically neutral. At War in the Shadow of Vietnam is the first book to recount the full story of U.S. covert activity in Laos from 1955 to 1975. Based on newly declassifled materials as well as interviews with scores of key American and Laotian participants, it describes in detail the structure and execution of America's "secret war" and the long-term consequences. In an effort to defend the Lao kingdom - and to disrupt the flow of communist arms, material, and soldiers traversing Laos en route to South Vietnam - the U.S. created and clandestinely administered a covert military aid plan that fueled a unique and little-known conflict. Castle chronicles the close relationship between the CIA and the Lao army, the role of the CIA's proprietary airline, Air America, and the evolution of U.S.-Thailand cooperation and the impact of Thai support on the Lao military assistance program. Until now, the covert war in Laos has been documented only in fragmented and speculative fashion. By synthesizing an enormous amount of source material - much of it gathered in Laos - Castle not only deepens our understanding of American intervention in Southeast Asia but also provides a masterful reconstruction of a secretive and ultimately tragic episode in United States foreign policy.
  

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
iii
Geography
v
Indochina America and the Cold War
ix
Bankrolling the French
xi
Geneva 1954
xiii
Thailand America and a Military Buildup
xiv
NEUTRALITY THAT DOESNT WORK
xvi
The US Presence in Laos
xvii
USAID Laos
41
The Continuing Thai Connection
42
SECSTATE THEATER OF WAR
44
Ending the Tripartite Coalition
46
Returning to the Battlefield
47
Project Waterpump
48
The Issue of US Aerial Reconnaissance
49
Air Americas T28 Strike Force
51

The Programs Evaluations Office
xviii
From Left to Right
xix
The CIA and les Jeunes
1
The Kong Le Coup
2
Two Governments
3
A Rump PEO
4
The Soviet and Chinese Factor
5
Phoumis Victory
6
Moving Toward Superpower Confrontation
7
CONFLICT DIPLOMACY AND COVERT OPERATIONS
8
The PhoumiSouvanna Gambol
9
Signaling Resolve
10
Preparing for a Covert War
11
The FAR Farce
12
The Loss of Team Moon
13
From PEO to MAAG
14
Public Posturing
15
Operation Millpond
16
Thai Military Assistance to Laos
18
Sea Supply
19
Claiming the Lao Highlands
20
Searching for Turks
21
Pursuing Diplomacy
22
The Hmong Factor
24
Project Mad River
25
Deadlock
26
The Nam Tha Debacle
27
Souvanna Prevails
28
THE GENEVA FACADE SEE HEAR AND SPEAK NO EVIL
29
The PushkinHarriman Understanding
30
Withdrawing from Laos
31
A Wary Beginning
32
The Rebirth of Covert US Military Assistance
34
DEPCHIEF
35
The Kennedy Letter
36
Internal Dissension
37
Moscow Backs Out
38
A Plausibly Deniable Army
39
Flying Rice and Weapons
40
Expanding the Air War in Laos
52
The Chinese Connection
53
The FAR as a Tripwire
55
Action Without Authority
56
WILLIAM SULLIVANS WAR
59
The Vang Pao Army
61
Watching the Enemy
64
Refugee Relief
65
Bookkeeping
66
The Military Aid Pipeline
67
The Ravens
68
Managing the Air War in Laos
70
Military Assistance Advisory Group in Exile
72
The Primitive War
74
The Loss of Phu Pha Thi
76
CHANGING WAR CHANGING RULES
80
The Secret War Goes Public
81
The Congo Club
83
Easing the Ambassadors Grip
84
A General Joins the Country Team
85
Paying for the Lao War
86
Expanding the War
87
Attacking the Ho Chi Minh Trail
90
The Breakdown of the Hmong Army
92
Brother Races
93
The Final Save
94
THE DENOUEMENT OF US MILITARY AID TO THE ROYAL LAO GOVERNMENT
97
The Vientiane Agreement
99
The Demise of Air America in Laos and Thailand
101
Withdrawing the Thai SGUs
102
The End of Vang Paos Army
103
Reorganizing the US Military Presence in Laos
104
Formation of the PGNU
106
Laos Becomes the Third Domino
107
CONCLUSIONS ON A NONATTRIBUTABLE WAR
110
NOTES
121
BIBLIOGRAPHY
159
INDEX
179
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About the author (1995)

Timothy N. Castle served two tours in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, flying over Laos from Nakhon Phanom Air Force Base on thirty-eight combat support missions. Since 1990, he has traveled to Laos frequently as a researcher and senior Department of Defense POW/MIA investigator for Laos, and as a consultant for NBC News. He is senior researcher at the CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence. He is also the author of One Day Too Long (Columbia).

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