336. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Intelligence Research (Evans) to the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Intelligence (Armstrong)1


  • Auto-defense Forces in Northern Laos

As the result of your inquiry of DRF this morning, Barbara Fagan2 has explored the nature of the Laotian auto-defense forces with PSA and has come up with the following answer.

The term “auto-defense,” originally called “popular uprisings,” refers in Laos to the organization by Lao army agents and certain tribal leaders of selected civilians in Phong Saly and Sam Neua into small resistance groups to undertake small-scale actions against specific targets in Pathet Lao occupied areas. The resistance groups are furnished food, clothing, money and arms as necessary by the army. Originally such “popular uprisings” were conceived as a small-scale civilian undertaking which would not directly involve the Royal Army, although guerrilla contact with Army commandos was to be maintained. In practice some Lao Army regulars in civilian clothing play a direct role in organizing the auto-defense.

Crown Prince Savang has been, since the spring of 1955, the principal advocate of the development of this semi-guerrilla type force. At the present time, Savang is urging use of the auto-defense forces as an alternative to major offensive action by the Lao Army as a means of disrupting Pathet Lao supply and communication lines in the disputed provinces and of preventing Communist consolidation of political control over the local population.

Considerable hit-and-run activity was reported particularly in Phong Saly this past summer, but since then little has been reported concerning the current activities of “auto-defense” units until the recent report (Vientiane 806, December 273) that guerrilla and auto-defense operations have interdicted all but one Pathet Lao supply route into Phong Saly.

… not all communications concerning “auto-defense” have been made available to DRF.

  1. Source: Department of State, INR Files: Lot 58 D 776. Top Secret,
  2. Intelligence Research Officer, Department of State.
  3. Document 330.