CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Office of Current Intelligence
Communist Activity in the Laos Panhandle
Communists appear to bemajor base area in the mountainous regiontbe border between southeastern LaosSouth Vietnam.
reports received overseveral months have indicated that thereconsiderable southbound troop^movementarea from farther north in Laos, Inpbotoanalysis has revealed that theare making steady progress in theirlink op North; Vietnam wtth this border area
etwork of new and Improved motorable roads. On the South Vietnamese side of the border, Viet Cong operations during the recent rainy monsooD season appear to have been designed totheir control over these strategic border areas.
Troop Movements Into the Panhandle of Laos
Since the beginning of the rainy season last May, there has been no vehicular trafficsouth on the key supply route which leads south from North Vietnam through the Mu Gia Pass to the Muongchepone area of Laos (see map). In spite of the rains, however, there has been amovement of troops to South Laos.
flow of southboundPathet Lao, often in company-size groups. The netless northbound) movement since Juneto be in the neighborhoodroops.
4. The5 order-ojT-battle figures for the southern provinces of Laos (those south ofathet Laoorth Vietnamese in the area. The movement south, therefore, ofen would representpercentignificantover the number of troops assigned to this area in previous years.
Roadbuilding ln the Panhandle of Laos
Although through vehicular traffic from North Vietnam to the southern provinces has been stopped by ground softening and high water,along portions of Routeorth of Ban Phone Uouang, road repair and construction has continued throughout the summer.
Perhaps tbe main undertaking has been tbe constructionew road (designated) leading to Tcbepone from the Hu Gia Pass area. This route, which will serve as anto branches off Routeoint about iles south of Mu Gia Pass. It then snakes through the hills southward toward Tche-pone. This road is as yet unfinished, with aboutiles remaining to be constructed. ill reduce byhird the distance for trucks moving from Mu Gia Pass
to Tchepone. By providing an alternative truck route, it will also make the aerial interdiction task considerably more difficult.
selection of Tchepone as theterminus of this new road suggests thatthe coming dry season there will be anin the volume of southbound trafficthe eastern border regions rathero the Huong Phalane area. to support the Pathet forces east ofwould normally move on theleading throughMouang.
8. Farther south, the Communists havelnued their roadbuilding activity in theborder regions. Recent photography indi-cates that Routeouth of Ban Dong is traffic-able in the dry seasonew miles south of Ban Bac. Two spurs lead east fromouth Vietnam. One,, is truck&ble and apparently is in present use to within five miles of the South Vietnamese border, where theortion of Savannakhet Province abuts South Vietnam's Thua Thien Province, The second spur originates aboutiles to the south on However, this road (designated) swings southew miles and may be designed to connect with Pathet Lao roads located farther south or to serve as-afeeder road to Pathet Laoin the mountain fastness rather thanirect supply route to the border. It is still too early to make any sure prediction of its path, however,
9, There have been other signs that theareoad net in the region to the east of Ban Phone. Recent photography indicates that an old French road) leading east from Ban Phone toward the borders of Quang Nam,in,and Kontum provinces in South Vietnam isopen to light vehicular traffic. There has also been some photography indicating vehicular+ in eastern Attopeu Province.
10. Photography has indicated that those roads are serving numerous Pathet Lao defensivein southeastern Laos. Over the past six-months, photoanalysis has uncovered what appears to betrenchwork, numerous AAA emplacements, and many training,nd regroupment areas. Borne of these installations are connected to areas of Viet Cong insurgency across the border by trailsfor cart traffic.
increased emphasis on the southernregion probably reflects tbe high priorityplaces on the continued control of theeffect an extension of North VietnameseNorth Vietnam with the Communistthe South Vietnamese highlands. Recent Vietin South Vietnam probably haveview on the necessity of retaining this
Communists probably feel that thishas been reasonably secure in the past, mightby the increased commitment of the UScampaign against the Viet Cong. They maythat the US is planning cross-borderLaos designed to cut off the supply routesfrom North Vietnam. Chinese propaganda hasmonths charged the US with planning to "sealLaos belowh parallel.Original document.