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Lecture: The Hmong as Insurgents, 1975-Present MILS671: The Non State Soldier American Military University Martin Catino,

Ph.D., Instructor

Summary: The Hmong rebels have been fighting the Communists since the Vietnam War era, 1950s and 1960s, and continue to fight the Communist government since it came to power in 1975 in the aftermath of US withdrawal and the collapse of anti-communist resistance in Vietnam. Recruited from the CIA during that period, these ethnic minorities and highlanders fought valiantly and vow to continue the fight as a matter of principle, and in order to resist the concentration camps (re-education camps), cruelty, and genocidal programs of the government of Laos. In the last decade, they have been subject to increased government counterinsurgency efforts partnered with the army of Vietnam. Draconian measures, religious persecution, genocidal policies, and amnesty programs have reduced the Hmong rebels to a truncated force that remains dedicated to the fight in the jungles and sanctuaries in neighboring Thailand. 1. Recruitment. The Lao are comprised of both veterans of the Vietnam War as well as new recruits. Both groups are animated to fight the Communist government because of its genocidal policies toward the Hmnong, retribution against the Hmong for siding with the US, failed economic policies, and fear of internment in re-education camps where torture is a matter of course. Thus the cruelty of the regime acts as a catalyst to spur recruitment.

2. Organization. Little unclassified information is available regarding the Hmong insurgents accept for the fact that former Royal Lao Army officers hold a leading position among the rebels, but by no means a monopoly of power. Younger recruits, post Vietnam War era, also are present among the fighting forces. 3. Sanctuary and foreign support. The Hmong insurgents have sanctuaries in Thailand and use the border areas for mobility and operations. Moreover, the Hmong diaspora, those living abroad, contribute significantly with funds and support. Pressures from the government of Laos, as well as the length of the conflict, have fatigued these supporters and decreased levels of assistance. In 2007, a Federal, state, and local effort of US law enforcement officials resulted in the arrested of 9 Hmong leaders for conspiring to overthrow the government of Laosa violation of the US federal Neutrality Act. This wide sweep of Hmong leaders effectively broke the main support element of the Secret Army in Laos, as the Hmong rebels are sometimes called. 4. Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. The Hmong insurgents target government security forces, bus stations, border crossings, and markets, all of which are High Profile Targets (HPT) used to gain media attention and degrade the security and economic infrastructure of the country, the latter target being fragile due to its poor management and corruption.

5. COIN policies of the Lao government. The government of Laos has relied on military force-partnering with army of Vietnam (Vietnam Peoples Army), extermination campaigns, forced relocation and land confiscationin addition to amnesty programs. Constant pressure forcing the Hmong to move, alleged use of chemical weapons, encirclement of jungle locations (forced starvation), and harassment and punishment of family members of Hmong rebels are only a few of the chief tactics of the Lao government. 6. US policy toward the Hmong rebels. The United States has officially condemned the human rights violation of the Hmong by the government of Laos while calling for transparency and third country monitoring and aid to amnesty programs. However, US policy ends with verbal warnings and prosecutes American supporters who aid the Hmong rebels (as indicated in the major sweep operations in 2007 that detained Hmong leaders in the US).