Accession Number:



Special Air Warfare and the Secret War in Laos: Air Commandos, 1964-1975

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

Air University Press

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



During retirement, I was intrigued by the lack of comprehensive historical research devoted to one of the long wars fought by the USAF Air Commandos, the Secret War in Laosa gap in written Special Operation Forces SOF history. It is a story of the growth of the Air Commandos from a detachment-level operation sent to Thailand to the later establishment of the 56th Special Operations Wing. The lack of coverage can in part be attributed to the secrecy surrounding the war and classification restrictions on relevant documentation. Further, many special operators remain reluctant to discuss the details of their involvement in classified operations. Although peeling back the cloak of secrecy can be difficult, it is important to the special operations profession to capture the legacy of the Air Commandos involvement in the Secret War in Laos and provide an open-source history for the Air Commando community. Much of the motivation and desire to complete this work is in their honor and sacrifice in this endeavor. Work on this project began with a two-year research plan to develop an irregular warfare course for use in military schools focused on the dynamics of strategic and operational art in a war, conducted vis-a-vis a covert interagency environment. The preliminary preparation for the course consisted of gathering as many books on the war in Laos as possible over sixty at the time as well as what could be uncovered through online research. Museums with a primary focus on USAF Special Operations and offices of SOF historians provided material and sound advice about how to contact Air Commando veterans who served in Laos. Although research material was gathered from national to local archives as well as major universities and air museums, the two definitivesources for a book of this kind were the Air Force Historical Research Agency, at Maxwell AFB, Alabama and the command history office of the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Humanities and History

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]