Lao People's Armed Forces

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Lao People's Armed Forces
Emblem of Lao People's Army.svg
Emblem of Lao People's Armed Forces
Service branchesLao People's Army (includes Lao People's Navy)
Lao People's Air Force[1]
Commander-in-ChiefBounnhang Vorachith (General Secretary and President)
Minister for DefenceLieutenant General Sengnuan Xayalath
Chief of StaffLieutenant general Suvon Luongbunmi
Military age17 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18 months (2004)
Available for
military service
1,500,625 males, age 15–49 (2005 est.),
1,521,116 females, age 15–49 (2005 est.)
Fit for
military service
954,816 males, age 15–49 (2005 est.),
1,006,082 females, age 15–49 (2005 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
(2005 est.)
Active personnel30,000
Budget$18.5 million (2019)
Percent of GDP0.5% (2006)
Foreign suppliers China
 North Korea
Related articles
HistoryFirst Indochinese War

Laotian Civil War
Insurgency in Laos

Thai-Laotian Border War
RanksMilitary ranks of Laos

The Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF) is the name of the armed forces of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the institution of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, who are charged with protecting the country.


Active forces[edit]

The army of 29,100 is equipped with 30 main battle tanks; the army marine section, equipped with 16 patrol craft, has 600 personnel. The air force, with 3,500 personnel, is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and 24 combat aircraft (no longer in service).

Militia self-defence forces number approximately 100,000 organised for local defence; the small arms utilised mostly by the Laotian Army are the Soviet AKM assault rifle, PKM machine gun, Makarov PM pistol, and the RPD light machine gun.


Until 1975, the Royal Lao Army were the armed forces of the Kingdom of Laos.

Serving one of the world's least developed communist countries, the Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF) is small, poorly funded, and ineffectively resourced, its mission focus is border and internal security, primarily in internal suppression of Laotian dissident and opposition groups.[1]

This includes the brutal crushing of the peaceful 1999 Lao Students Movement of Democracy demonstrations in Vientiane, and in countering ethnic Hmong insurgent groups and other groups of Laotian and Hmong people opposing the one-party Marxist Pathet Lao government and the support it receives from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.[1]

Together with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and the government, the Lao People's Army (LPA) is the third pillar of state machinery, and as such is expected to suppress political and civil unrest and similar national emergencies faced by the authoritarian, communist government in Vientiane; the LPA also has reportedly upgraded skills to respond to avian influenza outbreaks. At present, there is no major perceived external threat to the state and the LPA maintains very strong ties with the neighbouring Vietnamese military (2008).[1]

Tanks and armoured vehicles[edit]

photo Name Type Origin Quantity Notes
T-72B1 Main Battle Tank  Russia ~20[2]
T-34/85 Medium Tank  Soviet Union 30 Currently being retired from service and returned to Russia.[3][4]
T-54/55 Main Battle Tank  Soviet Union 15[5]
PT-76 light tank  Soviet Union 10[5]
BMP-1 Armored Personnel Carrier  Soviet Union 10[5]
BTR-60P Armored Personnel Carrier  Soviet Union 70[6]
BTR 152 Yerevan.JPG BTR-152 Armored Personnel Carrier  Soviet Union 20[5]
Dima DMT5070XFB Armored Personnel Carrier  China
Chinese Tiger 4x4 Armored Personnel Carrier  China
CS/VN3 4x4 Armored Personnel Carrier  China
Dongfeng CS/SS4 self propelled mortar system  China
BRDM-2M Armoured Scout Car  Russia At least 10[7] upgraded BRDM-2M supplied by Russia in late 2018
SR-5 Multiple Launch Rocket System  China 12
BM-21 Multiple Launch Rocket System  Soviet Union At least 10[7]
BM-14 Multiple Launch Rocket System At least 10[7]
S-125 Surface-to-air missile
9K35 Strela-10 Surface-to-air missile
2S3 Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer At least 10[7]
122-HL-70 SPH self-propelled howitzer  Laos
PCL-09 self-propelled howitzer  China
Yitian (Tianlong 6) Surface-to-air missile  China
Ural-4320 Truck  Russia
UAZ-469 Military light utility vehicle  Soviet Union
PTS (vehicle) Tracked amphibious transport  Soviet Union


photo Name Type Origin Quantity Notes
M30 howitzer nn 1.jpg M-30 122 mm howitzer towed howitzer  Soviet Union ~10[5]
122- мм гаубица Д-30 (1).jpg 122 mm howitzer 2A18 (D-30)[citation needed] ~10[5]
M-46-beyt-hatotchan-1.jpg 130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46)[8] 10[5]
155HowRightRear.jpg M114 155 mm howitzer[8]  United States 12[5]
M101-105mm-howitzer-camp-pendleton-20050326.jpg M101 howitzer 105mm (towed): M-101[8] 20[5]
US Army 51100 Gerety takes over "Wildcat" lair during ceremony.jpg M116 howitzer[8] 75mm (towed): M-116 pack 10


Air defence[edit]

photo Name Type Origin Quantity Notes
SA-7.jpg Strela 2 Surface-to-air missile  Soviet Union
M1939-37mm-hatzerim-1.jpg 37 mm automatic air defence gun M1939 (61-K) Air defence gun
S-60-57mm-hatzerim-1.jpg 57 mm AZP S-60 Automatic anti-aircraft gun
14,5-мм счетверенная зенитная пулеметная установка конструкции Лещинского ЗПУ-4 (1).jpg ZPU auto anti-aircraft gun
ZU-23-2 in Saint Petersburg.jpg ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun



Human rights violations[edit]

According to numerous independent journalists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, Lao Human Rights Council, United League for Democracy in Laos and humanitarian and human rights organisations, the Lao People's Army has repeatedly engaged in egregious human rights violations and the practice of corruption in Laos.[12][13]

Human rights violations committed by the Lao military include kidnapping, rape, torture, extrajudicial killing, military attacks against civilians, mass starvation against the ethnic minority, Hmong people, illegal logging in co-operation with the Vietnam People's Army-owned front companies and other violations of international law, the Geneva conventions, and acceptable norms of behaviour. According to a report by Amnesty International in 2007: "Thousands of ethnic Hmong women, men and children live in scattered groups in the Lao jungles, hiding from the authorities, particularly the military. Amnesty International is calling for an immediate end to armed attacks on these people."[12][13]

In 2013, attacks by the Lao People's Army against the Hmong people and others intensified, with soldiers killing four unarmed Hmong school teachers in addition to engaging in other human rights abuses according to the Lao Human Rights Council, the Centre for Public Policy Analysis and others;[14] the LPAF and its military intelligence play a major role in the arrest, imprisonment and torture of foreign prisoners in Vientiane's notorious Phonthong Prison and the communist Lao gulag system where Australians Kerry and Kay Danes were imprisoned and where civic activist Sombath Somphone may be imprisoned following his arrest in December 2012.[15]

Laotian and Hmong veterans who fought against North Vietnam, Vietnam People's Army (VPA), communist Pathet Lao forces, and LPAF to defend the Kingdom of Laos and US, Laos and the Kingdom of Thailand's national security interests during the Vietnam war and its aftermath, including the Lao Veterans of America, established the Laos Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery in 1997.

The United League for Democracy in Laos, Amnesty International, the Centre for Public Policy Analysis, the Lao Veterans of America and other NGOs continue to raise concerns about the LPAF's serious human rights violations, internal suppression of the population, systemic corruption, brutal attacks against unarmed Laotian and Hmong political and religious dissident and opposition groups, one-party authoritarian rule in Laos as well as the LPAF's very close relationship with the VPA and VPA military-owned companies engaged in illegal logging in Laos.[16]


  • The Centre for Public Policy Analysis The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, Washington, D.C.
  • Laos Memorial, Memorial to Lao and Hmong Veterans who fought against Lao People's Army and Pathet Lao during Vietnam, Arlington National Cemetery, USA,
  • Lao Veterans of America, Inc., Lao and Hmong Veterans who fought against Lao People's Army, Pathet Lao and North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency".
  2. ^ Fediushko, Dmitry (19 December 2018). "Russia begins deliveries of upgraded T-72B1 MBTs to Laos". IHS Jane's 360. Moscow. Archived from the original on 19 December 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  3. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (2010). The Military Balance 2010. London: IISS. ISBN 978-1-85743-557-3.
  4. ^ The Tank That Helped Russia Defeat Nazi Germany Has Finally Retired (In Laos). The National Interest. 10 January 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Laos Army Equipment". Global Security. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d Gibson, Neil; Fediushko, Dmitry (22 January 2019). "Laotian military parades Russian- and Chinese-made equipment". Jane's 360. London, Moscow. Archived from the original on 23 January 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d John Pike. "Laos Army Equipment". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  9. ^ John Pike. "World Military Guide". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Laos". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d "Library of Congress / Federal Research Division / Country Studies / Area Handbooks / Laos / Tables". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  12. ^ a b Amnesty International, (23 March 2007), "Lao People's Democratic Republic: Hiding in the jungle - Hmong under threat" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ a b The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, CPPA, Washington, D.C. (1 August 2013),
  14. ^ Businesswire, (4 March 2013) "Laos: Attacks Intensify Against Lao, Hmong People"
  15. ^ Scoop Independent News, Auckland, New Zealand, (19 March 2013) "Laos Officials Criticized for Obstructing Investigation"
  16. ^ Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), (29 August 2013),

External links[edit]