NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE NUMBER
THE SITUATION AND SHORT-TERM OUTLOOK IN LAOS
tfPROYID FOR HEIEASE
K orltmtmmtn lhe
fepa"-Uon ol lit eilfittte Cetfal MMtjle Ihe fmtt' Twte. The lu-.n! Stag.f
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te tie mra Ke^ee'eh Depb'tment oi Stole:irani Chiei'fir.'il nfvoraloeiirei. Orpj"nrtleliomee VIST;t Slef: Ihe Aultonl lo Ihe Set'erei olpeeAl Opt"t the Dfeeto-oi tne .voiic-m! Seeanr, Aeene* Jite AtoKie Cne'o^lo th; ISIB.Iheteeln'.*
CM male era*tentralcj. Tin.s lu; thend u* oi the LCi|>ic:ttecaosw uW: hi. lurmdiriMnd to know ban- Additional can-tilnuy bo an'.-orueUtits*irial* vithm ih.it napiitiic drpam.srnU.
aolcior II;*c: Stalen-ei ot St 'Irim,nt ol the Armytini crnet ot Na.al Opviatiomoc Ihe Dcpaiimrin ol the Navy
o( Intelligence. USAF. forf lhe Air Force
loeJcjrl *ia*l. lor The Joint Stan
irector cfe.lor theirector, flit, lot lhe Frwuli Investi-jaimeio the Secretaryicnsc. Sprtial Oprraliotis. lor the Dcpaiiment ot rne
1 Du^.or ol SSA for Ihe National Security Agency
I Assailant Director IOT Central Releieace. CIA. foe any otlcr Depart men', or Agency
copy may be reiaircd. er destroyed by bur.iln; In accordance with applicable security ifrn th-cin'.ial Intelligence Agency by airanjcmtJl witii lhe Ofict olrrencc. ClA.
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The title of Inn estimate whenfrom Ihe trxi. should be clwiufl; FOR OFFICIAL CSE ONLY
al contrina r'ami'-nSt:,ml Dereur m
raeaxassj al UM .Title II. Vftc. Sen.and "W- irwr.l'iien cr reeelailon ofin any mrnnern or: dkarpea pcr-or. :wotufciudlaw
Dnvinp:'nt cf Detenu
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THE SITUATION AND SHORT-TFRM OUTLOOK IN LAOS
rvrr bornnational enliiv by sure and united awlhouty. lack aol natsonal loyaltyand IhcT continue lo beegional, and ramdy'iiialwats existedllie central prveenrncnl mthe pcoplr in the eouiiUyside. andhaveined Laoa have- neve.-cftertiv. LuihoiHy or won theall or the various pies who mik.Laotian nalmn The non-CommumstlaclMiiiv liave. unity oc
ro!ie<ton and have tended lo vi*u- ore another Wilh as much suspicion ai they do Ihe Corr munui left esult, noeflecii-c
nor.i up has emerged rmtf
Lao* achieved indcpcralence. These funda-mental weaknesses in tne prmtral and social latwtc of Laos have been broo-hl againhe smtart tnd aoentuated since Kong Le seieed eontiol ofarly August.since Ihe coup were madi-poviUe alnvnl inni'jhle. by Ihe incotrrcnl nature nf Ihe country. Hs lcadirs. andpeople inn. ehans has been compounded by contradictory and inconsistent1 and by the wide atlraction o( neii-trahtn. however raeuely understood amons many Laoiui.s,
1olitical elementsf.nm the Ce.mmun.it-dominatedSnuvanna Phouma -ovnnn.fntIhr Kevoluimiury Committeeby Phi'unn and Houn Oum atand Kmc Savang at Ihe, itaibeen unwilling to Alimr none nl ihem has thelhei status, and the military strength to voiilain the I'allirti The Lac'ian Army, sprrad Ihni inpjlea lated unilvawn, uncertain in lisajority of the commander* lean to Phocmi and the Revolutionary Committeesome Mill support Souvanna's gnt-ernmenl. Others seek toeutral po-ition in Ihe struggle anon- the non-Com munlil tactions Few- ol Ihem. however,willing lo flgni one another. Someare anii-Paihrt Lao and ready lo do battle with that enemy
nocr cover of the confusion, and taking advantage of both ihr stalemate among ihe imrrlerneni* and the drserr 'I Souvanna and Kwig Lrrgoliatid end to lhe civil conTiici. the Pathct Lao have Slradlly improved Iheir political and military positions Thus. Kong Le's act of mutinyhain nl events in Lao* whsrn could lead lo the country's departure from its wciern orientation and its entry mlo lhe Communist orbit
ong Le's mutinv and its aftermath1 hod deep rrpen-uss.ons ina. particularly in Thailand and South Vietnam Trui'ands Prime Minister. Saril. ineed thaiommunist takeover orabnJimenieulralist. coalitionaos would serioiisly ihtcatrn Thai security. Either development Mr feels, would dan-erously expose his co miry toinfiltration. subversion, and attack, and would generate slnmu pressures inside Thailandeutralist policyhe believes it would uivC, rmine his own personal position He almost certainly new* CS policy in Ihr Ltrutan crisisnt idmg a
demon.tialion of whal sup|-ti lie route! fl-pert from Ih* I'Sommunisicmmcm wereccur Thua lor. hi lui> urrn mmi disillusioned byn Ihr Laulun ir.us.o br irxl.-cunr and -mbiguous
ar*ull ol Ihr development! in Laos and theovember coup attempt in Ration Pie Kh-nt Diets ol Sooth Vietnam piobaUy has lotl borneii ronudrncreMport fuiiv tut anlt-Communivl. Hr may bdieir ll.at Ihr Saieon ro-ip mod wasa parllv strmulaird by Kong Le': coup and the 'ailure of ihe US lo extend Orneial Piioui lull and immediate support SSonoter. these even's, corning on the heels ol L'S eflort* lo con mice hun lotightly Ihr reigns ol power in Mr. own gov-ernmenl have pecoably lur ther undrrminrd hi" confidence an US ludgrneni From Dwm* point ofn arrti-Coo. nuoitt Laos pro-'ides *xr shieldorth Vietnamese attack, and so-ilhernt least, must be ker in anli-Communist hands to avoidexposing hu own borders to infiltration and a'.lark.
The outcome of the ammediate etui*.at internal eonuderalirns apply ret* pn-manly with Ihe interplay of ine Intentions and capabilities of Ihe major Laotian demerits Souianna rT,jmi theoi.r* Le. raid Ihr Pathet Lao
1 Somonna. Compared with other Laotian poliiicum Souvanna hasnd appral among Ihe peoples ol Lanv Ke is still Prime Ministerontrol* no otganucd polilicil apparatus, he lack* administrative control ol Ihe eounlrr-raie and command of Ihe Laotian military,e It not trusted by theuorum ol ihe Nanon.il Assctnbiy. enosen in highly eorrupiemains in Vientiane but almostumber of ll> members, tl Iree of duress, would oppose Souvanna or delect lo Ihe Phoomi croup
S Souvanna is neutralist and kfltsl. but we do nolvc thai heommunis!leadership qualities are weakened bv iiuillful disregard olfaeti. and over-weaning srll-euiifj-dence. partrcularlv with rvgard to hu ataliiy lo dial witli and contiol Hie Pallid Law He believe* most ol Ihe Pathet Lao tn ue pall kits who.rnntcgrat.sl uiio LtsHun political and social file, woukllicir Ctwiiniumsl eoloiaiion. Those few haidtwivwho would remain Cote atalew. couhl be k> pi in cheek Aoneding'y. the mils Mr-Siblc solutran lor Lao. in Souianna's mini,egotiated iptllcrncm wiih iheao along Hie lines of theagirtin.nt.eutra! foreign pvoty Souvanna i> mo* ing Laos ineel ion ihal lieot several years ll should move However, we believe tliat ilmosingaster pace than Susanna woukl evu.itc-nance if he were master ol his goscinm.nl and lire from the pressures Kong Le anil the Patncl Lao exeit on him in Vientiane
Early in Ihe cri*u. goorann* appar.nth/ hid heped lo ircnjlhcn hu negotiating poo-lionii ihe Palliei Lao He was unable
ui* Kong Le lo this end becauseended to be moreo the Paihct Leo than to Souvanna At one limeprobably believedombiiialiuti of Kong Le and Pathet Lso military pressure on the one hand, and US political pressure un Phoumi on ihe other, would foice Hie latterhusgovernment*over Ihe troops and arras com rolled by lh: Revolutionary Commitlee. Although hr haso open negotiations wlt'i ihe Boon Oum-Phoumi gioup.een unallraclire to Phoonn. and. aleemed to be ralculatid intuits Bccenily Souvanna has allempled toIns position by recruitint severalji.frentiane However, tr-umlv are probably inflllralPd by ihe Pathel Lao
ouvanna also hoped to win osei Ihe Iroopt in Hie Luang pi abin; aiea which hail attempted toeutral po'itton However. Ihiv liope wa* dashed by ihe pro-Savannakhel coop ofovember and Ihr suIf'iefrctioii ol Uenervl Ouan tonn-khel Thisw ioand he altrmptrd io eemi>en-aie loc tt by drawingo lh- Cnrnniumas m
U.lli (Iiiand uiternalftmi.il -ji'i.i. Un iiiinila-r. i* rnm.m miCew Lm Hak Xal aiuwuik-cd an
j-liilli. ill lu t 41 ivulkkijl cojlltmml
gosrnimin NLHX Tlic asjminvmlwuM inul Ilk-iuid pom CixnniuiChina and Kuth Vmi.-nik legation IOourmtr-In iiiviiiialc leu vkrhuniii'economic iiimIalaans. luc iholaUi-hmrm n. IclrecanriitcatMwis with Surlh Vsrt.um. and fur On-r.uig ol lhe Laos-Chm. bonierbci.i-AnvXll-DUll ItlcnJShip Wlle Pionc Mim.irr.olt to Pr-pm? and Hanoi beginning,f Soviet lood and POL In VientianeiunninvMut siatf ha* taken ui> icudcrce inThus.owry ln-aWlyuppCute eVrmtiU it appear thai Ihis will eon llnue. anil ihat as opposition lo hitne will keep en needing bioadei*mc -prruV >upt>otthe Conscninia Bhw Souvanna piobabh Id. hopes loCom iiiiiikI inilueme in cheek, but someeasure* lo protiet his po-Hion bv mwnuo llie Communists are lire"*able and nwrt. i; not all. olvr been Itighlvtoomination nf lhe Vientiane Government
PKoii-ii. Tht posrlinn Ot Plsoumi. and id Ihr Revolutionary Committer he ha* set up with Hnun Ouni.umber ol -erinu-wraknes es InLaos, there areO0 rombat noons.ol wisnm air undii command*is wobabty loyal In Plioumif 'hese troops ace sratlrfcd wkl.lv iliioufh the area, andheir hand* lull attempting to cope with kval Pathrtnelivitlex In the Thakhel-Sivannakhet am Piaximi habout lino troopslie process of leciunmg and otganinn- anauaiwn. II i* unliaely Hintoop* without corit^urd CSeoukt or would ofcr very strong or eflrr-llvr resistance toa delermined atlark on Ihcli i- -ii by Vientiane and Patdel Lao forces
uulilaryIsase roark-inlvi un, Im- ruviicd aisttitiorul L'S aid aiul moralMoiesivrr. tin- pro-Sa.aiinaRlsM coop ulans Piabjii= goalie improvedJ.ljrs ami iKiiiJu.il |io>iIk-iiv Kniily -ill Hie coiii-miiid-is in lhe Loanu PraUmghaw pwd^Cd their support lo him Srn-ial unall mills uperaling against the Pathelam Nrin uie briny supplied in Plinuitllarrsr to his gu-lame Phoumi is nal Isowisir. Ineommunicatioii> with thesen Xunglu* militant Mro tnta-tineii are be^iit -ujiil.xl wilh arms byo and air run. ntly eonduclingli-Pat hit Lao ope rations
T'.se RevUulionjrvaiably has snrne nohiiral api-al inonn Oumikmbei nljI lamilv Of Clinin|ia-ok whfh rulit xiiillwriiuntil Laos aa.v Ihe^ the Second World Warwr believe that Knun Oum and Phmtmisll pnlilwai apjieal out'sneoss nliJit-jl and iiiditarv leaoerscsult ol the Konu Le enuji has brtn only paitmllv nude up tn- the Luang Prabang coup and Oeneral Oubefeelinn Moreover Phoumihe past proved lo be an undeprndaW. and. alareless mill'an- leaiter. hJgrh am-tstlloutinio.iated
in Use press-ill sal-itntion air probably i. combination ofpride amion.i. lions He is lio-Jmrd sy whai. In be
inadicjuair ISami .inolicy. Hcwever, hes mver in'c-iiled lo come in terms with Souvanna and ptnlnUt has IHl thai Ihe L'Sin Ihe final analysis, support him He would like to retake Vientiane by lorre andertainly has plans |nr such an operalmn
Sainifi. Tlve King apjwars iopeisonale has been rxlntn slayconstiluiinrulhe ha* never asserird. oprnlv and(inlrnllal authmity and influnrrll is quite cleat that hr didr 1s
Souvanna arvlignjlMfi.ar ho hat been unwilling lo ulinii* endvvolu'ionary Commit Ire at Savannaklict received the Kin?'* piivale approval, -mlwip in Liijfij Pijbang probably liad hi. ta-.ai:hougli thus lai ho has beenlo avoidhimself wiih eiihcrouibir that the King hasic Mfk-ani WhirKl-rra-seenes roar In Ihe anil-Souvanna plotting and maneuvering llunlikely, however, that he will openlytrong personal stand, or one which hr believes wocld crwUofer the posit-an of (he monarchy
omj te. There i% some eircumitan'ial evidence that Kong Le sray have pax led his COUpSouvanrva HowercT Kong. LP's August revolt apiiarently was conceited am' cxeruird on very sheet notice, and it may haveecision made pckmarilv by Kong Le hinwlf He probab'y was motivated largely by pe sons! grievances ar.sing from Ihe way in which his 2nd Paralroopbest combat anil tn thermedbeen treated.he le.oii has assumed propcrtu .m.
iup ramiflcaltons whichbly did not anticipateis ability to cope with. He has now ueconie so im pi hated wth Souvanna and :he Pathet Lao thai lie probably cannot turn back Although there have been some indications Ihal his control over his troops has beenKong Le ll sill) an Important element in Hi1 situation and eould stillonsiu-rrable nu.nbercops to ha personal
he role ol Kong Le with respect lo the acllviite' of the Souvanrva govrrnmrnt is nol clear LntrJt appeared Ihal .ica veto poaer over those poiiliral and milltaiy decisions ol the Souvanna govern-mcnl which he considered Important lo him Now. however, ithai Us diieet inilu-enee on iheeing usurped by Ihe Palao. All hough Kong Le hasSouvanna'* freedom of action. It ts also clear lhat Souvanna has used Koru lar
I? Sluartiy aPer Ihe coup Kon- Le cillarallv can promised his position with it-spiel to tin Pathrt Lao when he distributed Hie arm. stored In Vientiane loncluduig many PatlMt Laso. in the surrounding area Atthoutih he probably did thu lo buiklossible ullack Irorn Luang Prabani -rid 3av:>nnakhcl. once the arm* were distributed his favorable balam. of md.-lary power in the Vientiane area eftsathet Lao was lost Who'ever Imown wi-Jie. mav have been Kong Le lifts become inrr.avapt.ve o! Hie Palhet Ltto IIwerr to koe out and an anti-pjthet Lao goterruwcnl take over.ould probably join Ihe Pathel Lao
n Txr Fottxt Lao The hand of the Palhet Lao has been strengthened greatly tjf rsmts smceig la? coop. Any Agues eonc-rn-ing tne strength ol iheir aimed guiHillas alecuiatiteertain ihal these number ts higher ifan al any tirw in Ihe past We estimate their present Hicn^lh
bend ft.OOO Tltey hate oblaned considerable aims and ammunition frome anderancajkuuiu;during Ihe rouln. rarer* at Paksune and their detent and disarming ofeua ga'nson They probably hare been rem tor col by radie* remit ly trained in North Vietnam, and they probably have concentrated increasing ni.nbrrs ol troops in Iht areas around Vientiane. Thaklut-Savannakhet. pi. Saly. and Luang Pia bang Thr Palhet lao and Vientiane Icsc-c* in Ihe Vi.-ntiane area are tleplnyed inannei as lo eilher de.end or allask the city, and Ihe loeees fac.ng Phoumi along ihe Ham Ca Dinh line are of botn Pathel Ut-and Vientiane units Al present. anti-Palliel Lao operations are going on only in Phong Saly and Xtrog Khouar.g
The Pathel Lao probably view treii nationolden opportunity rtlher lo force acceptance of their pattH-ip.il urn Inr^Tminenl and iheir Iwrtfii |bSsmJ aV-mandv. or In setae control of Lao, by anneal artkn if they conclude lhat ti- can douickly and without risking out-ide thlt-rvrn-hen We do not hrtirse Ihal Ihr Pathet
Peiping andlikely lo let Ihls opportunity pan Tlic longer thr presentcontinues Ihe brller the Pathel Lao will ue ab> to consolidate their political and null-
hey would prefer lo gain their obievliies through nceotialioris and political actione this wuuM reduce the chances ol oul-Jnlervemion Events tineoup have moved along* or able ftaciics They hav profiled greatly irum di>-ur.iH among Ihe non-CommuniBl political and military leaden JJcrrorer theyostage md have bunonsiderable leverage onnd Konc Le. and Qumim.stmernber af in* government afterhimself, has apparently becorne lien
niiongh Pairitaciics have empva-siard negotiations, psychologicalnd political action, they haveairty high level of military pressure on the Laotian aimed forces and hare built up their guvirilla strength in keyuts Ihemavorable position to seise by ttmte laige pans of Iheincluding such key poims as Lt-ang Prabang. Savannaki.et. Ihe Phong Saly. II Ine Palhet Lao were to exert llirir lull guerr.Ha war fair capabilities, live Lao-.ian armed lotees. in their ntcwntcondil lon. probably could ni Ter. nl the lev of large parts of Iheumber of key towns.
II. POSSIBIE fUTUM DEVflOPMlNTS
If present trends continue, lh* situation in Laos will remain one or confusion, drill, anl disintegration Ulllmately this would probably result In the fragmentation of the country, wiih iheo pi on rsl by Ihe Bloc, assuming con'.iol over most of Ihr north nnd the Rcvotvisonary Committee ai-limptin; to leteparate slate in Ihe south Withou- larpe amounts ol outsidea srpaiate southern Laos probablynot survive foe long.
e believe ll more llkele. however, that the pace of events will quicken over the next
week. art.uick tkluryouim fervt-i.e illuaiiuii eilliei' willsornelocniolpoliiiealaHlknient orenerale into aidespread civil war.oWkvl settlcnicnl la*tvdomproniisc agreementhe Vienuane Mtsl Savannaklict groups macL ve that odds arell Souvanu and Phoumi ate not likely lo find mutually acceptable lerni* for cooperation at Iba* laic pointieu conflictelation* hrtd belwecn litem aic not likely lo lected in good laith Although it is rnn-eerrable that Hal Kingnduced to 1more miluenee than he has in the past, we do not beUeve he can be induced to take personal charge ol Ihe situation Mvroner.
do nothat Souvanna iso resign voluntarily II an eflort it made to upset his government byrria) meeting of Ihe Ma'.ional Ava-mbJr in Luang Praban-o-coufidi-nce molron.could maintain lhat the d. pulies and Ihe King, as prisoners ol rebel lucres, were acting under duress He could dctlarc then-act illegalalid, and main'.nu ihal he was Ihe legal head of the gc -will. II. on the other hand. Souvanna were lor red out by palitieal |nt-ssores. the Pathet Lao would prob-o'ilv step up sharpiy their military activity. Consequently. It is probable that anymeasuresust Souvvtna will be inel-fectual unless enf>reed by military meant
hus, ae believe lhat Laos is head.nccivil war. with tupporlert of thetheLao and thef Kongone tide and anti-Pathet Lao elements and supporter* of th* Savannakhrt ^roup on the cthtr Thr conflictry.iiKihoumlon VI-nt lane orouvannaonghet Laoatt:.ck on Luang Praising Both sides have major problems of logistics.niealiona. and transport Thrwould probablv be one of wldely-acatteird small-unil operation* in which the staying power, the .raining, and Ihe lelatnely *lir.rler supplem North Vietnam aouW give the Pathe* Lao guerrillas an advantage Withou' extensive outside assistance, the Pltoumi forces would probably soon collaiMC.
Hie countiy open lo early domination by Die Cummunuli.
lirtlrcrnrat ta reached be
twecn Plwun> and oVuim. na, Ihe USbf faced with the followingA bt uvanna -olulam.ultimate Cummanui Mioremaer* terioui adverseIhe VS position In Souiheasl Asia,ire kmeci run woulddm Soullicait Asia lb) Arar in which Hie Plinumf forcescouKI nol prevail or even su.xtctuivc outude assistancelo Phoumiivil warpiooaWyouvannaIhe th*ihe introduction ot
North Wtnamce or even Chinese-volunteers'- While alnitially, extensiveto Phoumlatjl war woi'ld no) "lave Iheof Ihe Western member* ol StATO or pos-miy of aaost Tier WoeW optnioii. IfIt would lengthen the SEATOagainst further Communistton
'm if thr varmus nou-Commur.ivl minted-Ht emus by a
political i- 'i.i liii fundamenlalaiuf socivl pn&Hins of Lao* win rvmain and.esult of recent eeenis, wdlor morethan tw-lure PBll<el Uo -rased siiengi.'i will be grater and more Cu>urnunuid In villages througliwul the country Solutions lorcajVm- if indeed there are solulioni. can be worked ourong i"f lime. Meanwhile. Ihe urgenl threats of Ihe Puthrt Lao on one hand and the crnlriluca! icace ofmly on Ihe other,erale agamvt thr solution of long-lcrm problem*
Coniequenity.ce that any non-Commumsl government assumingi in the wake of ihe present ctivis wouhi. in time, face -ery hravy prcssuir- lo movenion and Pathet Lav Integra-lion intoal life of Ihe country, o. face the likclihnthe Mtuatmn gravitating again towardar. II will be cxitcmHv dilTkull lor Use nonIrad.r* of Laos lo resist ihn pressure ana lo contain Ihe Patheluch greater degree of unny. determination and nationalism than they have in Ihe pstil, lajur tfieri ire measuns luhen peoples Ofl receive extensivenstance to thli end