Accession Number:



The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: The War in Northern Laos, 1954-1973

Descriptive Note:


Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The War in Northern Laos, 1954-1973, is one of three volumes concerned with the war in Laos that will be published in the Center for Air Force Historys United States Air Force in Southeast Asia series. Two volumes, Aerial Interdiction in Southern Laos, 1960-1968, by Jacob Van Staaveren, and Aerial Interdiction in Southern Laos, 1968-1972, by Bernard C. Nalty, describe Air Force activities in southern Laos this volume covers the north over the total period. The two areas of Laos, north and south, had vastly different types of conflicts. Interdiction of supplies and personnel flowing down the Ho Chi Minh Trail from North to South Vietnam took precedence in the south, while the Air Force, in the north, directly aided the government of Laos with training and military assistance, as well as with missions supporting ground forces engaged in conflict. The war in northern Laos was complex and confusing, with three separate fractions contending for power and territory. The 1954 Geneva Agreements on Laos recognized Laos as a neutral state but prohibited it from forming military alliances with other governments. The Royal Laotian Army in 1955 numbered around 10,000, but the French, who trained the army before 1955, had not allowed Laotian officers in positions of authority. The Laotian Army Air Force, an air force in name only, was a small section of 200. As the United States struggled to overcome these deficiencies -- the Geneva accords prevented establishment of bases or even advisory groups -- subterfuge and deception became common, and the irregular forces often were the most effective. Because of the Geneva restrictions, the U.S. ambassador in Vientiane evolved as the final authority on any overt Air Force action, an inefficient and difficult situation that persisted throughout the entire period of U.S. assistance to Laos. This book describes the triumphs, frustrations, and failures of the Air Force in northern Laos between January 1955 and April 1973.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: