Lao People’s Army - a credible force of the Lao State - a reliable friend of the Vietnam People’s Army
Sharing the same goals and requirements of Indochina’s revolution and the viewpoint “Indochina is one battlefield”, Pathet Lao troops always fought shoulder to shoulder with Vietnamese volunteer soldiers during the struggle against colonialism and imperialism to gain and maintain national independence and freedom. After being formed, Pathet Lao forces closely worked with Vietnamese volunteer soldiers to conduct small-to-large scale operations, gaining significant victories in Xiengkhor and Ma River campaigns (1949), destroying the defensive line of the French troops in North Laos, opening a new phase during which the Lao People’s Army (LPA) would take the initiative in the battlefield. Notably, in April 1953, Laotian - Vietnamese coalition conducted the Upper Laos Campaign, the first large-scale campaign of the LPA, winning a great victory and liberating the entire provinces of Sam Nuea and Phongsaly as well as part of Xiangkhouang province; while facilitating the victory of the following campaigns in Central Laos, Lower Laos and West Laos. Carrying on the offensive, during the Winter - Spring Campaign 1953 - 1954, in Laos battlefield, the Pathet Laos forces in collaboration with Vietnamese volunteer troops annihilated 8,000 enemy troops, captured plenty of enemy weapons and equipment, liberated 10,000 km2 (excluding Houaphanh province), and made significant contributions to the victory of the peoples of three Indochinese countries, which forced the French Colonialists to sign the Geneva Accords of 1954 on ending the war, restoring peace in Indochina and acknowledging the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. As a result, France and several allied countries had to acknowledge the Pathet Laos as an independent and legitimate political organization owning an army and having a rendezvous zone located in the provinces of Houaphanh and Phongsaly.
|Forces of the Lao People’s Army in the Parade held on December 2nd, 2015 (photo: VNA)
Nevertheless, no sooner had the Geneva Accords signed than the U.S. intervened into the three Indochinese countries and put Laos, South Vietnam and Cambodia under its protectorate umbrella. The U.S. installed a puppet government and provided military aid to realize neo-colonialism in Laos.
In response to the situation, the PLA under the leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party opportunely shifted to the strategy: integrating political struggle and armed struggle, with the latter playing the directly decisive role. It both reorganized its forces and worked with Vietnamese volunteer troops to accelerate operations fighting the enemy in battlefields concurrently, particularly in important directions. From October 1954 to August 1956, the Pathet Lao troops and Laotian people defeated offensives on various scales launched by the puppet government, annihilating nearly 5,000 enemy troops. To keep up the momentum of victory, the Pathet Lao troops proactively worked with Vietnamese volunteer troops to organize battles aimed at destroying and reducing the enemy strength, especially the campaign of Luang Namtha liberating 8,000 km2 and more than 70,000 people. Laotian army and people’s victories of strategic significance forced the U.S. to sign Geneva Accords on Laos (July 23rd, 1962). However, the U.S. quickly reneged on the agreement unilaterally, set up another puppet government and organized a “special force” led by Vang Pao.
To defeat the US and its lackeys’ escalation of war, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party advocated launching a people’s war, building up its armed forces with focused regular groups of force including strong mobile battalions, and developing guerrilla forces nationwide. Accordingly, the Lao People’s Liberation Army gradually matured in scale, organization, weapons and equipment and improved its capability to cooperate with the Vietnamese volunteer troops to conduct many other campaigns, and gained constant victories. From 1964 to 1973, it continuously defeated the enemy in Sonexay operations 1, Sonexay operations 2, Nam Bac campaign and Plain of Jars - Xiengkhuang campaign (1971), which offered Lao revolution both advantages and opportunities. Those and decisive military victories in the battle of Vietnam forced the U.S. to sign the Paris Peace Accords on Vietnam (January 27th, 1973) and the Vientiane Agreement on Laos (February 21st, 1973). Moreover, in collaboration with the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising in Vietnam, troops and people of Laos under the leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party all rose to fight the enemy, successfully fulfilling the national liberation revolution, establishing the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, marking a new chapter in the Lao modern history, and bringing the “Land of a Million Elephants” to a new era of Homeland construction and protection.
After 1975, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic still faced serious challenges. Hostile forces were plotting to overthrow the government. Even somewhere, the remnants of the puppet government army in collaboration with reactionaries brazenly opposed the authorities and killed the people. Thus, strengthening defence and security in that period was “a top task and a matter of key importance” to Laotian army and people. Following that guideline, the Party and the State of Laos focused on building the LPA and improving the national defence potential to firmly safeguard national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. In this regard, main regiments, divisions as well as forces, such as air defence forces, air forces, tank - armoured forces, signal forces were founded; military academies and universities were gradually built and perfected. Together with force building, the Party and the Government of Laos attached great importance to building a politically strong Army and considered this as the basis to enhance synergy and combat strength. Hence, the LPA has become increasingly mature and strong, deserving to be a loyal and credible political, fighting force of the Party, the State and the People of Laos, making contributions to the successful implementation of national construction and protection.
Now and in the upcoming time, the world and regional situation continues to be complicated and unpredictable, directly impacting the national construction and protection cause of the Lao Party, people and armed forces. Stepping up their acts of sabotage through the “Peaceful Evolution” Strategy, the hostile forces have taken advantage of difficulties in economy, international situation and relations to incite separatism and division between the Party and the people and the armed forces , undermine and destroy the solidarity bloc within the Lao peoples as well as the bonds between the three Indochinese countries. That imposes new higher requirements for the LPA’s task of Homeland protection. Therefore, the LPA must be built into a politically, ideologically, organizationally strong one to meet the requirements set by the tasks and reality mentioned in the Resolution of the 10th National Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the Resolution of the 4th Lao Army Congress. To do this, the LPA has adopted various measures synchronously, with a focus on the followings.
Attaching great importance to building a politically strong military to consolidate the political will, combat goal and ideal of cadres and troops. In this regard, the LPA has taken synchronous measures, focusing on political and ideological education for all soldiers to grasp Marxism - Leninism, the Party’s guideline to build all-people, all-around national defence and security, and the LPA and unit’s tasks in the new situation. Moreover, it is important to make troops fully aware of partners, opponents as well as the hostile forces’ plots and tricks. The Army has also attached great importance to the ideological work, the work of building pure, strong party organizations, the successful implementation of the policy on military rear, and the maintenance of the Party’s ideological battlefield within the armed forces.
Enhancing the quality of training and combat readiness of the LPA to meet the increasingly higher requirements set by the task of Homeland protection. In this regard, the work of training should be renovated at all levels, phases and steps. Renovation of training contents, curriculum, and methodology must be seriously and closely carried out at all organs and units. Given the requirements, tasks and area of each force, the LPA would focus on training its troops independent and collaborative operations; training its troops to master modern weapons and equipment; training its troops night-time operations and maneuvers in complicated areas. It would also attach great importance to training cadres, especially campaign and strategic level cadres both at home and abroad to unceasingly enhance their faculty of military art and science, command, staff and operation.
Effectively exploiting and using existing weapons and equipment, step by step invest in modern weapons and equipment. In this regard, the LPA has attached great importance to promoting the internal strength. It has actively encouraged technical initiatives and innovation, repaired and upgraded existing weapons and equipments; while striving to gradually manufacture common weapons and equipment. In addition, it should take advantage of military science and technology achievements, particularly in information technology and electronics to modernize several its sectors.
Expanding international defence cooperation to exchange information, share experience in combat and cadre training, and take advantage of external strength to build the LPA and strengthen national defence. The LPA should actively take part in multilateral cooperation forums; build up and propose initiatives for regional security to raise the prestige and position of the LPA in the international arena. In this regard, fostering the special, pure, faithful solidarity between the LPA and the Vietnam People’s Army to make contribution to developing the friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two Parties, States and peoples of Laos and Vietnam is among important motivations for enhancing the synergy and combat strength of the Lao people’s armed forces, meeting the requirements set by the task of national protection in the new condition.
In commemoration of the 68th founding anniversary of the LPA(January 20th 1949 - January 20th 2017), taking the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the Lao Defence Attaché Office in Vietnam, I wish all cadres and troops of the Vietnam People’s Army - reliable friends of the LPA- good health and all the best. May the special solidarity between the two Armies, Parties, States and peoples be increasingly deepened and developed.
Colonel BANGSY XAYSOMKHOT
Head of Lao Defence Attaché Office in Vietnam