SNIE 58/1-62/RELATIVE MILITARY CAPABILITIES OF OPPOSING FORCES IN LAOS

Created: 1/31/1962

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

FOR RSUDACfc-

A

national intelligence estimate

: ;

(This estimate supplements and In some.respects supersedes

ubmHiod.IRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

ir by Ihe UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD As indicated ove'loo'2

'

"if /of/owing iniel/igoricc organized1ions participated in the preparation of this estimate:

The Central Intelligence Agency ond theeniint*et ol the Deport.te,h* Army. Ihe Navy, the Air Force, ana* The Jomt Stcrff.

Diiedot of Intelligence and Stisoreh, OeparIntent oiDWodor, Defewo Intelligence Agency

Auhtanl Chief of Staff lor Intelligence. Deportment ol ihe Army

Auiildnl Chid ol Naval Operation*Deportment of the Novy

Assistant Chief of Start.SAF

D rector lor Intelligence, Joint Staff

Director of the National Seawrry Agency

Abstaining;

The Atomic Energyto the USB, and the Anuiant

Director, Federal Bursoothe wbjeet being ow'llae of

RELATIVE MILITARY CAPABILITIES OF OPPOSING FORCES IN LAOS

the problem

To estimate the relative military capabilities of theand antigovernment forces now in Laos.

the estimate

In' we described substantial improvements in training, equipment, morale, and deployment of the Royal Laotian Army (FARhich had occurred since the cease-fire in May We estimated that the government forces would probablylight edge if fighting were resumedattern comparable to that prior to the cease-fire. Wc also pointed out that lack of motivation, unstable morale, and poor leadership had been in the past critical weaknesses of the government forces, and that their steadfastness under fire was still uncertain despite the training and newthey had received. We also stated our belief that the antigovernment forces would be quickly and effectivelyfrom North Vietnam to the degree necessary toany important antigovernment position threatened by the government forces.

In recent weeks units of the FAR have had several military clashes with antigovernment forces and have been

SNIKRelative Military Capabilities of Oppo&lne Forres Inated

forced to withdraw each time: (a)ndAK units of Mobile Groupn sweeping operations in the Nam Beng Valley region southwest of thestronghold and supply depot of Moung Sai were hit and dispersed by enemy forces; (b> onanuary,cries of air strikes and of probing and sweepingin the Nhommarath-Mahaxay area, someilometers north and east of Thakhek, government forces mounted an attack on Mahaxay. The antigovernment forces in thocounterattacked and, in the ensuing action, the 8th Infantry Battalion of Mobile Groupas dispersed (though later reorganized aboutiles to the rear) andh Infantry Battalion of Mobile Groupithdrew under enemy pressure; (c) onanuary, government forces attacking at Ban Namkilometers east of Nam Tha in northern Luang Prabangrepulsed and over theweek driven back to Nam Tha. General Phoumi hasattalion of troops from Paksane to reinforce his two battalions at Nam Tha, but the position of theforces there is still seriously threatened. Although tlie evidence as to the numbers involved is inconclusive, North Vietnamese cadres and combat troops supplemented the Pathet Lao/Kong Le forces, and it Is likely that they played an important part in the recent operations.

e now estimate that there areorthtroops in0adre andas compared withstimated in. Two battalions of North Vietnamese (as manyen) may have entered Laos in recent weeks; the balanceeassessment of indications previously available, and to new evidence. Our estimates of the numbers of North Vietnamese in Laos are highly tenuous because of the various possible interpretations of the available evidence. Moreover, the numbers may change quickly; the North Vietnamese are well organized and prepared to move units easily to and fro across the Laotian-North Vietnamese border.

The performance of FAR units in recent skirmishes was not as unsatisfactory as it generally was immediately before the cease-fire. It is clear, however, that problems of morale and leadership are still critical. We now believe it was too optimistic to estimate inG2 "that the government forces wouldlight edge if fighting were resumedattern comparable to that prior to the cease-fireonsequence of the strengthening of both sides over the past severaln particular, we believe that the FAR is unable to deal with any substantial number of North Vietnamese forces, whom they greatly fear. The Communists are able to bring these forces into play where they wish or need to do so.

Although outnumbered by the Lao armed forces, the antigovernment forces now in Laosuperiority in artillery and armor. They are generally capable oftheir main forward positions and of conducting local operations to counter aggressive actions by the government forces. Without further external reinforcements, they could, by concentrating their forces, seize and hold certain key positions now held by government troops. If reinforced by additional combat units from North Vietnam, they could quickly overrun the remainder of Laos.

Original document.

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