During the war in Vietnam, there was a second, secret war in the mountain land of Laos. The US conducted a clandestine campaign against the North Vietnamese Army, which occupied large parts of that country as part of its Ho Chi Minh Trail logistics system. That once-secret war has since been declassified in large part, and it’s time for the participants to gather and discuss it with interested academics.
That’s going to happen in Wisconsin in September. All we have at the moment is a heads-up. We’ll have more details soon.
The nominal players were the People’s Army of Vietnam (who are not expected at the conference) on one side, and the marginally effective palace-guard Royal Lao Army on the other. (It was always US and Lao against North Vietnamese. The Pathet Lao communist group were never much more than a stalking horse for the NV). But the effective fighting on the anti-communist side was carried out by Hmong tribesmen, advised and guided by CIA officers under “Project 404.” Most of these CIA officers were former, or sheep-dipped, SF soldiers. Many of them were legends in SF, the Agency, and beyond. Unfortunately many of them are gone (Tony Poe, George Bacon III, many more).
The Hmong warriors and their American blood brothers had plenty of help in the form of aviation support, both from similarly sheep-dipped Air Force “Raven” FACs, and fast movers from South Vietnam and Yankee Station. This operation has been dismissed, especially by historians and journalists of the Left, but for many years it confounded the PAVN logistical elements charged with maintaining the Trail (Group 559), and bled the NVA in what was supposed to be a secure rear area for them. That it did not strategically defeat the North Vietnamese is true, but it was also never independently possible (any more that victory on the Burma Road would cause Tojo to surrender in World War II). It is, after forty to fifty years, an education in what special operations in general and UW/GW in particular can do strategically as a force multiplier — and what they can’t.
Like we said, we’ll have more on the event shortly. If you’re in or near Wisconsin, it will be worth your while; and if you’re interested in SF or Hmong history, it will be worth the travel. You may not only learn about that history, but meet the men that made it!