Created: 12/9/1965

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The Communists haveubstantial effort over the past year to expand and improve their supply routes in the Laotian panhandle. This effort is clear evidence of Hanoi's determination to backstop the Communist military campaign in South Vietnam. It increases the Communist capability to support an even greater level of fighting there. It also raises the prospect of stepped-up military activity inside Laos, which might look attractive to Hanoieans ofour attention from South Vietnam.

The program, which has involved upgradingand trails and building new ones, is now ready to With thedvc.i: of the dry seaport,


ply network, is already reporting trucks moving south incomparable to last season. The Communists should be able to do better this season. Byumber ofand bypasses they have also reduced the vulnerability of the supply system to interdiction by air action.

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The Laotian panhandle for several years has provided Hanoirimary avenue for supporting the war effort in South Vietnam. The sequence of roads, rivers, trails, supply dumps, and base areas runs through parts of Laos which have been in Comnu-nist hands for sane four years or even longer.

Over the last year, and especially in the past several months, the Communists have been hard at work building additional truckaole roads which lead ultimately to the South Vietnamese border. The effort quite obviouslyigh priority tag. One measure of this is that Hanoi,rying need at home, has sent mechanical earth-movingto the panhandle roadfirst in this remote part of Laos.

The trogram, pushed intensively right through the summer monsoon, is now ready to show results. The North Vietnamese can now sendiles farther south than they could before, all the way to the South Vietnam border southwest of Da Nang. They have also made the system less susceptible to outages ln wet weather.

Xorebver, byumber of alternates and bypasses, the Communists have reduced theof their supply system to air action. Aerial photography shows they have built an elaborate vine-covered trellis over exposed parts of at least one section of new road. Also, convoys now move almost exclusively at night.

southbound truck convoys began movingonthonththan last year. In the past ten days an average of somerucks per day have moved past this single observation point. Last year the Communists averaged the same figure over the six-month dry season. evidence that the Communists are using fuel tanker trucks for the first time indicates that they intend to do better this dry season.

We estimate that the Communists coulddeliverons per day to South Vietnam during the six-month dry season, if tbey used the road network to its maximum. To do so, however, the Communists will have to move seven times as many trucks on the roads as they didthe lastevelopment which wouldtheir exposurer interdict ion .

A force of atathct Lao and North Vietnamese is ranged along the road net.troops may have been transferred into this area recently. These forces, like Communist forces elsewhere in Laos, are in position to launchon government positions at any time withadvance warning. At present, the prime task of these forces is to prevent Souvanna's troops from moving eastward and interfering with the movement of North Vietnamese troops and supplies over the road and trail network to South Vietnam, where they are pressing the guerrilla campaign againstand South Vietnamese forces.

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