• Short Summary

    Unlike Vietnam, no uniformed United States' combat soldiers are stationed in Laos. But there is?

  • Description

    Unlike Vietnam, no uniformed United States' combat soldiers are stationed in Laos. But there is an American community, which, including dependants, numbers almost 3,000.

    Most of them live in a compound in Vientiane -- the country's capital.

    For years, United States' money, channelled through aid, has kept the Laotian economy afloat. The Americans care for refugees, pay government salaries and support -- directly and indirectly -- the 50,000 regular and 30,000 irregular soldiers of the Laotian army. U.S. economic aid to Laos averages 50 million U.S. dollars (21 million pounds sterling) a year.

    The 1962 Geneva Conference declared Laos neutral and banned foreign intervention. But when North Vietnam sent in their troops, the United States stepped up its aid to the Vientiane Government.

    Central Intelligence Agency men shunning publicity, became soldiers in sports shirts, helping to direct the war.

    Travel by air was vital and civilian contractors arrived -- Air America and Continental Air Services.

    They transported troops and ammunition and moved refugees as the tide of war shifted.

    The U.S. airmen are not only pilots; they operate beacons, weather stations and ground facilities as well. Should they suddenly leave, civil aviation in the country will grind to a halt.

    It is hoped that a compromise will be reached and that Air America and Continental will be replaced by other private contractors, untarnished -- in communist eyes -- by the war.

    The American presence in Laos will certainly, however, be reduced quite quickly. Just how fast and how much depends on two things: the decisions of the new half-communist government in Laos and the willingness of the United States' Congress to provide money for Laos's post-war re-construction. Neither of these have yet been clarified.

    SYNOPSIS: Unlike Vietnam, no uniformed United States' combat soldiers are stationed in Laos. But there is an American community, which, including dependants, numbers almost three thousand.

    Most of them live in a compound in Vientiane -- the country's capital. It is called compound KM-6. Despite the alien surroundings, the village has touches of suburbia, U.S.A.

    The largest group of United States' citizens work at the huge US Aid Compound in Vientiane. For years, United States' money, channelled through aid, has kept the Laotian economy afloat. The Americans care for refugees, pay government salaries and support - directly and indirectly -- the fifty thousand regular and thirty thousand irregular soldiers of the Laotian army.

    United States' economic aid to Laos averages fifty million U.S. dollars a year. Some kind of aid programme will probably continue there even though it will now be shared with the communist Pathet Lao. The 1962 Geneva Conference declared Laos neutral and banned foreign intervention. But when North Vietnam sent in their troops, the United States stepped up its aid to the Vientiane Government. United States' Central Intelligence Agency personnel, shunning publicity, became soldiers in sports shirts, helping to direct the war. At forward bases they advised commanders, handled communications and directed air strikes.

    Travel by air was vital and civilian contractors arrived -- Air America and Continental Air Services. With a total of some eighty assorted aircraft and as many helicopters, these airlines have supported Laotian forces. They transported troops and ammunition and moved refugees as the tide of war shifted. The operation continues during the cease-fire because some Laotian forces are out off in the mountains and depend entirely on supplies by air. The Pathet Lao have already called for the removal of these U.S. airlines. But if they go, something must replace them. The U.S. airmen are not only pilots; they operate beacons, weather stations and ground facilities as well. Should they suddenly leave, civil aviation in the country will grind to a halt.

    It is hoped that a compromise will be reached and that Air America and Continental will be replaced by other private contractors, untarnished--in communist eyes -- by the war.

    The American presence in Laos will certainly, however, be reduced quite quickly. Just how fast and how much depends on two things....the decisions of the new half-communist government in Laos and the willingness of the United States' Congress to provide money for Laos's post-war re-construction. Neither of these have yet been clarified.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVABOCOMZCTR9AQKLG0UANAZ9WRI
    Media URN:
    VLVABOCOMZCTR9AQKLG0UANAZ9WRI
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    28/03/1973
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:02:38:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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