approved for release
national intelligence estimate number
probable communist intentions
Submitted by tfcrWjg DIRECTOR OP CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
The following intelligence organizations participated In the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the navy, the Atr rorce, and The Joint Staff.
Concurred tn by1 ii STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD
ononcurring mere The Director ofand Research, Department of Slate; the Assistant Chief of Staff for IntelUgence, Department of the Arms; the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Intelligence),of the Navy; the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, USAF; the Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff; the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations; and the Director of the National Security Agency. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the US1B, and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.
PROBABLE COMMUNIST INTENTIONS IN LAOS
the recapture of Vientiane byPhouml. Communist activityos has been vigorous and designed toa broad range of possible future moves. The Soviets have airlifted artillery andand probably North Vietnameseas well to supportnd the Pathet Lao. Pathet Lao units have beento step up military activitythe country. Soviet, Chinese, and North Vietnamese efforts areubstantial logistic buildup in key centers of Northnear the Laos border and also somein Sam Ne ua. Meanwhile, the three Bloc capitals have charged tbe US and Thailand with intervention and have called for aof the Internationaleconvening of4 Geneva Conference. Hanoi has specifically declared that foreign Intervention gives them the right also to intervene.
The Kong Le forces,trong, now occupy positions in the Vang Vieng area astride the main route north from Vientiane leading to Luang Prabang and Xieng Kliou-ang. There arc alsoathet Lao troops in this general area, some of which are directly in support of Kong Le. Since Phoumi's recapture of Vientiane, Soviet planes have been dropping substantial amounts (estimatedons) of equipment and supplies to these troops.Phoumi's forces are moving forward, he has not yet followed up his Vientianeby actually launching an attempt totbe Kong Le forces from their newThus far, the Kong Le forces do not appear lo beounterattack. Rather, they seem to be regrouping andwhile awaiting Phoumi's move,hoping that they can defeat his forces andsychological and militaryin which they could, with the help of Pathet Lao forces and "stay behinds" inrecapture the capital. If tliis plan fails, the Kong Le forces arcosition to withdraw to central and north Laos, or toin small bands in the surrounding
hus far in the current crisis the Pathet Lao has been husbanding Its assets andthe fighting largely to Kong Le and his followers. Tlie amount of military equipment inands hasesult ofoUan army units tn Sam Neua, of's distribution of arms in the Vientiane area, and Soviet and North Vietnamese direct support. The eon-fusion and disorganization of the Laotian Army following the Kong Lo coup provided the Pathetespite in which to consolidate its positions In the countryside, recruit, and tram and deploy its forces In the south as well as in the north. We believe that in thethe Pal het Iao forces will be better and more fully equipped and better trained and led as the result of augmented Bloc aid. The Communists probably estimate that with covert assistance the Pathet Ijto would be able to maintain itself as an effectIve guerrilla force and to prevent the establishment of non-Communist control throughout Ijlos.
4 Meanwhile, the Communists aretheir control of Sam Neua province. Bloc aircraft huve been building up supplies in Sam Neua, We believe that the road from Sam Neua Info North Vietnam Is beingand It may already be open fortraffic To counter the Boun Oum-Phoumi government in Vientiane, agovernment claiming to be tbe legal and legitimate government of Laos may be set up nl Sam Neua. The Communists
would try to give thisational front flavor and try to get Souvanna Phouma. whom they continue toftB legal Prime Minister, to come to Sam Neua to head it. The Bloc countries would probablyandam Ncua government, and It is probable that military elements would be infiltrated from North Vietnam to protect the Sam Neua area if necessary.
The primary interests of the Communist powers in the Laotian situation arc to prevent the consolidationS-backed regime in Laos, to retain the Communist foothold in Laos and hi expand the area of Communist control. They also see an excellentlo embarrass the US on thescene and to aggravate differencesthe US and its allies, especially the UK and France. In addition, in view of Chinese complaints at the recent Moscow Conference that Soviet policy is insufficiently aggressive, Moscow will wish not to appear laggard in supporting embattled pro-Communist forces. In general, the Bloc probably sees theas one in which the risks do not appear to be very high and the rewards might be considerable. Accordingly, we believe itcertain that Moscow. Peiping, and Hanoi will be active and militant in the Laotian
Wc believe the Communists will increase their diplomatic pressures on the US.their pro testations, however, thedo not want the Laotian situation as It now stands to be stabilized throughaction. We thus believe that Communist diplomatic activity would be an adjunct to, ratherubstitute for, other action.
Both the logistics buildups Inui. and the publicfrom Moscow, Peiping, and Hanoi can be viewed us preparation for Communistinterventionubstantial scale, most probably with North Vietnamesehe Communists were to feel that theirin Laos were failing, it is possible that such au intervention would occur. This would be particularly the case if sizablenon-Communist military forces wereand the Communist position in Laos were seriouslyn approaching any decision toubstantial military intervention the Communists would of course be mindful of the risk lhat the West would meet action with counteraction. They might, however, feel that the dunger of expanding hostilities could be held to an acceptable level by limiting the scale of theiras for example by using only Northby undertaking concurrent international political action.
'The Director of Intelligence and Research,ot State, believes that the last part ot the sentence should. or If thelrt position In Laos, or the Bloc's presume were seriouslyhe Communists, by iheir actions and statements haveeavyot their presllRe In Laos. Moreover, partlyonsequence of the recent conference of Communist parties In Moscow, the Bloc Is under considerable pressure to demonstrate the validity of its contention that the "imperialists" can no longer suppress rcvoluUonary movements and lhal Ihc Bloc enn and will support such movements.
e believe it more likely thai the Bloc leaders would estimate thai their longer term prospects are good for gaining theirIn Laos through collapse of Uie non-Communist government and without the risks of overt military intervenUon. Theybelieve that Phoumi's recapture ofmarks only the beginningew phaserotracted struggle for Laos. Thus, we believe that the Bloc course in supporting the Kong I* and Pathet Lao forces will belargely by the developing military and political situation. BlocUie form of airlift, military equipment and supplies, technicians, and probably selected combatbe governed to some extent by the nature and extent of US aid to the Laotian Government and will almostigh level for Uie immediate future. Bloc leaders will seek thereby to preserve and strengthen Communist military andassets in Laos, to keep Laostate of civil war, to keep the US deeply Involved in thr difficult task of maintaining cohesive anU-Communist forces in being, and toopportuniUes to advance the Communist cause as they arise.Original document.