Kingdom of Laos
The Kingdom of Laos was a constitutional monarchy that ruled Laos beginning with its independence on 9 November 1953. The monarchy survived until December 1975, when its last king, Savang Vatthana, surrendered the throne to the Pathet Lao, who abolished the monarchy in favor of a Marxist state called the Lao People's Democratic Republic, which has controlled Laos since. Given self-rule with the new Constitution in 1947 as part of a federation with the rest of French Indochina, the 1953 Franco-Lao Treaty established a sovereign, independent Laos, but did not stipulate who would rule the country. In the years that followed, three groups led by the so-called Three Princes, contended for power: the neutralists under Prince Souvanna Phouma, the right-wing party under Prince Boun Oum of Champassak, the left-wing, North Vietnamese-backed Lao Patriotic Front under Prince Souphanouvong and future Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihane; the Kingdom of Laos was proclaimed when the new Constitution was promulgated in 1947, as part of the colonial French Union, obtained full independence in 1953.
Following the Franco-Lao Treaty of 1953, which gave Laos independence, the Royal Lao Government took control of the country. This treaty established a constitutional monarchy, with Sisavang Vong as King and Prince Souvanna Phouma as Prime Minister. Many attempts were made by the Three Princes and King Sisavang Vatthana to establish a coalition government; the First Government of National Unity was established in 1958 under Prince Souvanna Phouma, but collapsed after two months. The Prime Minister, who under the constitution appointed his ministers and received advice from the King, made a deal with his brother Prince Souphanouvong. Souvanna Phouma gave the Communists two seats in the Cabinet, in return Souphanouvong would integrate 1,500 of his 6,000 Communist troops into the royal army. Prince Souphanouvong was given the post of Minister of Planning and Urbanization, while another member of the Communist Party was named Minister of Religion and Fine Arts; the Kingdom of Laos was divided into five military regions.
The Royal Lao Armed Forces were responsible for the defense of the country, comprising three branches of service: the Royal Lao Army, the Royal Lao Navy, the Royal Lao Air Force, under the control of the Ministry of Defence in Vientiane. The United States supplied the Royal Lao Navy with twenty river patrol boats and sixteen amphibious landing craft. Between 1962 and 1971, the United States provided Laos with an estimated US$500 million in military assistance; the Royal Lao Government had close relations with the United States, which gave the country aid and assisted it in the campaign against the Pathet Lao and the North Vietnamese Communist movement. During 1957, the United States spent more per capita on foreign aid for Laos than it had on any other nation; that worked out as US$150 per Laotian, twice the average person's annual income. Some of the money went to support pro-American candidates in an election, while other money went to a program to support the local currency, the kip. King Savang Vatthana visited the United States in 1963 to meet with President Kennedy.
Laos was supported by France, Burma and Japan. In 1960, amidst a series of rebellions, fighting broke out between the Royal Lao Army and the Soviet Union-backed, communist Pathet Lao, a second Provisional Government of National Unity formed by Prince Souvanna Phouma in 1962 proved to be unsuccessful, the situation deteriorated thereafter as the conflict in Laos became a focus for superpower rivalry. During the North Vietnamese invasion of Laos, the Pathet Lao were backed militarily by the NVA and Vietcong. Laos was dragged into the Vietnam War since parts of Laos were invaded and occupied by North Vietnam for use as a supply route for its war against the South. In response, the United States initiated a bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese positions, supported regular and irregular anticommunist forces in Laos, including those led by Hmong General Vang Pao, supported South Vietnamese incursions into Laos, it provided supplies and funding to the central government. In 1968, the North Vietnamese Army launched a multi-division attack to help the Pathet Lao fight the Royal Lao Army.
The attack resulted in the army demobilizing, leaving the conflict to irregular forces raised by the United States and Thailand. Massive aerial bombardment against Pathet Lao and NVA forces was carried out by the United States, it has been reported that Laos was hit by an average of one B-52 bombload every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973. US bombers dropped more ordnance on Laos in this period than was dropped during the whole of the Second World War. Of the 260 million bombs that rained down on Xiangkhouang Province on the Plain of Jars, some 80 million failed to explode, leaving a deadly legacy. Laos is the most bombed country, per capita, in the world; because it was heavily affected by cluster bombs during this war, Laos was a strong advocate of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to ban the weapons and assist victims, hosted the First Meeting of States Parties to the convention in November 2010. In 1975, the Pathet Lao, along with Vietnam People's Army and backed by the Soviet Union, overthrew the royalist Lao government, forcing King Savang Vatthana to abdicate on 2 December 1975.
He died in captivity. A ceasefire was attained in February 1973, following the Paris Peace Accords between the United States and North Vietnam. In April 1974, another Provisional Government of National Unity was established, with Prince Souvanna Phouma as Prime Minister. However, by this time, Pathet Lao forces controlled large areas of the
Muang Phuan was a historical principality on the Xiangkhoang Plateau, which constitutes the modern territory of Xiangkhouang Province, Laos. Among the Lao and Thai muang has a dual meaning of “city” or more broadly “country of” and xieng means “walled.” The two terms were used together for major city states under the Southeast Asian mandala model, thus Muang Xieng Khouang would be transcribed as the “Walled City/Country of the Phuan”. The Xiangkhouang Plateau is semi-arid but has important iron ore resources and has been inhabited since the Bronze Age; the region is an important area for trade as it occupies the major passes along the Annamite Cordillera to access Vietnam and the coast. The Tai Phuan or Phuan people are a Buddhist Tai-Lao ethnic group that migrated to the area, now Laos during the 13th century. According to legend the Phuan people were led by Chet Chuong, the second son of Khun Borom who founded the city-state of Muang Phuan. In the mid-14th century Muang Phuan was incorporated into the Lan Xang Kingdom under King Fa Ngum.
Under the Mandala model, cities or kingdoms would enter into tributary relationships with their neighbors depending on regional power. It was not uncommon to pay tribute to more than one power concurrently. In 1434, Muang Phuan entered into a tributary relationship with the Dai Viet. However, by 1478 the Dai Viet attempted to annex Muang Phuan as a prefecture, which contributed to war between Lan Xang and the Dai Viet; the Dai Viet army withdrew during that conflict, Muang Phuan returned as a tributary to Lan Xang. However, the peace was short-lived and by 1531 Muang Phuan rebelled against King Photisarath who put down the rebellion after two years. Throughout the 16th and 17th century Muang Phuan remained part of Lan Xang. During the 16th century, expressive Buddhist art and architecture flourished; the capital was dotted with temples in a distinct Xieng Khouang style, i.e. simple low roofs with a characteristic ‘waist’ at the foundation. In 1930, Le Boulanger described it as ‘a large and beautiful city protected by wide moats and forts occupying the surrounding hills and the opulence of the sixty-two pagodas and their stupas, of which the flanks concealed treasures, obtained the capital a fame that spread fear wide and far.”
In 1707 when Lan Xang was divided between the Kingdoms of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, Muang Phuan entered into tributary relations with the Kingdom of Luang Prabang. By the 1720s Muang Phuan was supporting the Kingdom of Luang Prabang in wars against the Burmese, Siamese. Under Chao Kham Sattha again Muang Phuan went to war against the Governor of Thakhek, a tributary to the Kingdom of Vientiane. In 1751 Chao Ong Lo went so far as to directly attack the Kingdom of Vientiane and was defeated, retreating to Houa Phan where he began to raise another army; the Kingdom of Vientiane named Chao Ong Lo's brother Ong Bun as regional governor of Muang Phuan. The armies of Muang Phuan split between the brothers in civil war, Chao Ong Lo prevailed; however the conflict drained the region so much so that for the next 37 years Muang Phuan remained a tributary to Vientiane. In 1779 the Kingdom of Vientiane was captured by the Siamese led by General Taksin, Muang Phuan as a tributary of Vientiane became a Siamese vassal state while maintaining tributary relations with Dai Viet.
Siam was depopulated from the history of warfare with the Burmese in the 18th century, the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767. To exert greater control of the lands and people of Muang Phuan, the Siamese launched the first of several forced migration campaigns to resettle large parts of the Phuan population to regions under firm Siamese control. Chao Somphou, the son of Chao Ong Lo, set about restoring and rebuilding the temples and defenses of Muang Phuan. According to some accounts his palace grew to rival that of the King of Vientiane. In 1789 or 1790 King Nanthasen of Vientiane believed rebellion was possible and sent an army to capture Muang Phuan. Chao Somphou fled to Hua Phan, King Nanthasen continued north to capture Luang Prabang in 1792. In 1793 Chao Somphou was imprisoned in Vientiane. Muang Phuan appealed to the Dai Viet, a combined force of 6,000 Phuan and Vietnamese crossed into Xiengkhouang and began to march toward Vientiane. King Nanthasen not wanting to create a wider conflict negotiated an arrangement where Muang Phuan would pay equal tribute to the Kingdoms of Vientiane and the Dai Viet in exchange for the release of Chao Somphou.
Chao Somphou returned to Muang Phuan. By 1800 King Inthavong of Vientiane feared a resurgence of power in Muang Phuan, sent his brother Chao Anouvong to capture Chao Somphou. Chao Somphou died as a prisoner in Vientiane around 1803. Chao Somphou's nephew Chao Noy took control of Muang Phuan in 1803, he was an authoritarian ruler who increased taxes to augment the military. In 1814 he violently suppressed a Khmu rebellion. In 1823 he was accused by a half-brother of seeking independence, was summoned to Vientiane under the guise of answering for his actions during 1814. King Inthavong imprisoned Chao Noy for three years. On the death of his brother King Anouvong of Vientiane, allowed Chao Noy to return to Muang Phuan where he sought a tributary relationship with the Dai Viet Emperor Minh Mang. Whether Anouvong's actions were part of a wider plot to rebel against the Siamese is controversial, what is clear is that Anouvong did rebel and sought to draw all the La
Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina
The Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina, known as Meigo Sakusen, was a Japanese operation that took place on 9 March 1945 towards the end of World War II. With Japanese forces losing the war and the threat of an Allied invasion of Indochina imminent, the Japanese were concerned about an uprising against them by French colonial forces. Despite the French having anticipated an attack, the Japanese struck in a military campaign attacking garrisons all over the colony; the French were caught off guard and all of the garrisons were overrun with some having to escape to Nationalist China where they were harshly interned. The Japanese replaced French officials, dismantled their control of Indochina; the Japanese were able to install and create a new Empire of Vietnam, Kingdom of Kampuchea and Kingdom of Laos which under their direction would acquiesce with their military presence and forestall a potential invasion by the Allies. French Indochina comprised the colony of Cochinchina and the protectorates of Annam and Tonkin, the mixed region of Laos.
After the fall of France in June 1940 the French Indochinese government had remained loyal to the Vichy regime. The following month governor Admiral Jean Decoux signed an agreement under which Japanese forces were permitted to occupy bases across Indochina. In September the same year Japanese troops invaded and took control of Northern Indochina, in July 1941 they occupied the Southern half as well; the Japanese allowed the administration to continue on albeit as puppets. By 1944 with the war going against the Japanese after defeats in Burma and the Philippines they feared an Allied offensive in French Indochina; the Japanese were suspicious of the French. The Vichy regime by this time had ceased to exist, but its colonial administration was still in place in Indochina, though Decoux had recognized and contacted the Provisional Government of the French Republic led by Charles de Gaulle Decoux got a cold response from de Gaulle and was stripped of his powers as governor general but was ordered to maintain his post with orders to deceive the Japanese.
Instead Decoux's army commander General Eugène Mordant, secretly became the Provisional Government's delegate and the head of all resistance and underground activities in Indochina. Mordant however was careless - he was too talkative and had an incapacity to keep his preparations secret, so much so that the Japanese Kempeitai swiftly uncovered the plot against them and discussed the next move against the French. British intelligence, mission Force 136 air-dropped several Free French operatives into Indochina in late 1944, they provided detailed information on targets related to ship movements along the coast to British headquarters in India and China, who in turn transmitted them to the Americans, During the South China Sea raid in January 1945 American carrier aircraft sank twenty-four vessels and damaged another thirteen. Six U. S. navy pilots were shot down but were picked up by French military authorities and housed in the central prison of Saigon for safe keeping. The French refused to give the Americans up and when the Japanese prepared to storm the prison the men were smuggled out.
The Japanese demanded their surrender but Decoux refused and General Yuitsu Tsuchihashi, the Japanese commander, decided to act. Tsuchihashi could no longer trust Decoux to control his subordinates and asked for orders from Tokyo; the Japanese High Command were reluctant for another front to be opened up in an poor situation. They ordered Tsuchihashi to offer Decoux an ultimatum and if this was rejected at his discretion a coup would be authorised. With this coup the Japanese planned to overthrow the colonial administration and intern or destroy the French army in Indochina. Several friendly puppet governments would be established and win the support of the indigenous populations. In early 1945 the French Indochina army still outnumbered the Japanese and comprised about 65,000 men, of whom 48,500 were locally recruited Tirailleurs indochinois under French officers; the remainder were three battalions of the Foreign Legion. A separate force of indigenous gardes indochinois numbered 27,000. Since the fall of France in June 1940 no replacements or supplies had been received from outside Indochina.
By March 1945 only about 30,000 French troops could be described as combat ready, the remainder serving in garrison or support units. At the beginning of 1945 the understrength Japanese Thirty-Eighth Army was composed of 30,000 troops a force, increased by 25,000 reinforcements brought in from China and Burma in the following months. In early March 1945 Japanese forces were redeployed around the main French garrison towns throughout Indochina, linked by radio to the Southern area headquarters. French officers and civilian officials were however forewarned of an attack through troop movements, some garrisons were put on alert; the Japanese envoy in Saigon Ambassador Shunichi Matsumoto declared to Decoux that since an Allied landing in Indochina was inevitable, Tokyo command wished to put into place a "common defence" of Indochina. Decoux however resisted stating that this would be a catalyst for an Allied invasion but suggested that Japanese control would be accepted if they invaded; this was not enough and the Tsuchihashi accused Decoux of playing for time.
On 9 March, after more stalling by Decoux, Tsuchihashi delivered an ultimatum for French troops to disarm. Decoux sent a messenger to Matsumoto urging further negotiations but the message arrive
In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. A modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries; the term is similar to the idea of a senate, synod or congress, is used in countries that are current or former monarchies, a form of government with a monarch as the head. Some contexts restrict the use of the word parliament to parliamentary systems, although it is used to describe the legislature in some presidential systems where it is not in the official name. Parliaments included various kinds of deliberative and judicial assemblies, e.g. mediaeval parlements. The English term is derived from Anglo-Norman and dates to the 14th century, coming from the 11th century Old French parlement, from parler, meaning "to talk"; the meaning evolved over time referring to any discussion, conversation, or negotiation through various kinds of deliberative or judicial groups summoned by a monarch.
By the 15th century, in Britain, it had come to mean the legislature. Since ancient times, when societies were tribal, there were councils or a headman whose decisions were assessed by village elders; this is called tribalism. Some scholars suggest that in ancient Mesopotamia there was a primitive democratic government where the kings were assessed by council; the same has been said about ancient India, where some form of deliberative assemblies existed, therefore there was some form of democracy. However, these claims are not accepted by most scholars, who see these forms of government as oligarchies. Ancient Athens was the cradle of democracy; the Athenian assembly was the most important institution, every free male citizen could take part in the discussions. Slaves and women could not. However, Athenian democracy was not representative, but rather direct, therefore the ekklesia was different from the parliamentary system; the Roman Republic had legislative assemblies, who had the final say regarding the election of magistrates, the enactment of new statutes, the carrying out of capital punishment, the declaration of war and peace, the creation of alliances.
The Roman Senate controlled money and the details of foreign policy. Some Muslim scholars argue. However, others highlight what they consider fundamental differences between the shura system and the parliamentary system. Although there are documented councils held in 873, 1020, 1050 and 1063, there was no representation of commoners. What is considered to be the first parliament, the Cortes of León, was held in the Kingdom of León in 1188. According to the UNESCO, the Decreta of Leon of 1188 is the oldest documentary manifestation of the European parliamentary system. In addition, UNESCO granted the 1188 Cortes of Alfonso IX the title of "Memory of the World" and the city of Leon has been recognized as the "Cradle of Parliamentarism". After coming to power, King Alfonso IX, facing an attack by his two neighbors and Portugal, decided to summon the "Royal Curia"; this was a medieval organisation composed of aristocrats and bishops but because of the seriousness of the situation and the need to maximise political support, Alfonso IX took the decision to call the representatives of the urban middle class from the most important cities of the kingdom to the assembly.
León's Cortes dealt with matters like the right to private property, the inviolability of domicile, the right to appeal to justice opposite the King and the obligation of the King to consult the Cortes before entering a war. Prelates and commoners met separately in the three estates of the Cortes. In this meeting new laws were approved to protect commoners against the arbitrarities of nobles and the king; this important set of laws is known as the Carta Magna Leonesa. Following this event, new Cortes would appear in the other different territories that would make up Spain: Principality of Catalonia in 1192, the Kingdom of Castile in 1250, Kingdom of Aragon in 1274, Kingdom of Valencia in 1283 and Kingdom of Navarre in 1300. After the union of the Kingdoms of Leon and Castile under the Crown of Castile, their Cortes were united as well in 1258; the Castilian Cortes had representatives from Burgos, Toledo, León, Seville, Córdoba, Murcia, Jaén, Segovia, Ávila, Cuenca, Valladolid, Madrid and Granada.
The Cortes' assent was required to pass new taxes, could advise the king on other matters. The comunero rebels intended a stronger role for the Cortes, but were defeated by the forces of Habsburg Emperor Charles V in 1521; the Cortes maintained some power, though it became more of a consultative entity. However, by the time of King Philip II, Charles's son, the Castilian Cortes had come under functionally complete royal control, with its delegates dependent on the Crown for their income; the Cortes of the Crown of Aragon kingdoms retained their power to control the king's spending with regard to the finances of those kingdoms. But after the War of the Spanish Succession and the victory of another royal house – the Bourbons – and King Philip V, their Cortes were suppressed. Claims that Spain was united under the Catholic Monarchs in the late 15th century are belied by these facts.
French Protectorate of Laos
The French protectorate of Laos was a French protectorate forming part of the French Colonial Empire in Southeast Asia. It consisted of much of the territory of the former kingdom of Lan Xang and was part of French Indochina from 1893 until it was granted self-rule within the French Union in 1946; the Franco-Lao Treaty of 1953 establishing Laos as an independent member of the French Union. Under the Geneva Conference following France's withdrawal from Indochina after the First Indochina War, Laos was granted independence in 1954. After the acquisition of Cambodia in 1863, French explorers led by Ernest Doudart de Lagrée went on several expeditions along the Mekong River to find possible trade relations for the territories of French Cambodia and Cochinchina to the south. In 1885, a French consulate was established in Luang Prabang, which along with the royal province of Vientiane, was a vassal kingdom to Siam. Siam, led by king Chulalongkorn, soon feared that France was planning to annexe Luang Prabang and signed a treaty with the French on 7 May 1886 which recognised Siam's suzerainty over the Lao kingdoms.
By the end of 1886, Auguste Pavie was named vice-consul to Luang Prabang and was in charge of expeditions occurring in Laotian territory, with the possibility of turning Laos into a French territory. In 1888, Chinese forces known as the Black Flags declared war on Siam and its vassal state of Luang Prabang by sacking the city. Pavie and French forces intervened and evacuated the Lao royal family to safety. Additional French troops from Hanoi arrived to expel the Black Flags from Luang Prabang. Following his return to the city, King Oun Kham requested a French protectorate over his kingdom. Pavie sent Oun Kham's request to the French government in Paris; the bill designating Luang Prabang a protectorate of France was signed on 27 March 1889 between both sides despite a Siamese protest. After an ultimatum was given by Pavie, now resident minister to Siam in Bangkok, in August 1892 to the Siamese government, both countries went to war in 1893, culminating in the Paknam incident when France, contrary to promises it had made to Great Britain, entered Bangkok with warships.
The kingdom was forced to recognise French control over the eastern side of the Mekong River. Pavie continued to support French expeditions in Laotian territory and gave the territory its modern-day name of Laos. Following Siam's acceptance of the ultimatum, to cede the lands east of the Mekong including its islands, the Protectorate of Laos was established and the administrative capital moved from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. However, Luang Prabang remained the seat of the royal family, whose power was reduced to figureheads while the actual power was transferred over to French officials including the vice consulate and Resident-General. In January 1896, France and the United Kingdom signed an accord recognising the border between French Laos and British Burma. In 1898, Laos was integrated into the French Indochina union, created in 1887 by unifying French possessions in Vietnam and Cambodia. A colonial governor was installed in Vientiane and Laos was reorganised from two provinces to ten provinces.
The royal seat at Luang Prabang was still seen as the official ruler of the province and a royal court still remained, but it was to be consisted of French appointed officials. The remaining nine provinces were directly ruled under the French government in Vientiane, with each province having a resident governor and military post. To financially support the colonial government, taxes were imposed on the population. In 1902, a treaty with Siam forced the kingdom to surrender lands on the western side of the Mekong River; these lands now form the western half of Champasak Province. In 1904, the present border between Laos and Cambodia was established after Siam ceded Meluprey and Champassak territories to the French. French plans to expand the territory of Laos ended in 1907, after Siam began co-operating with the British to control French expansion in Indochina, which the British Empire feared would have led to a French annexation of Siam, upsetting the region's balance of power. Within French Administration in 1904, despite Cambodia's historical claim, Laos ceded Stung Treng Province in exchange of the royal capital of Champassak, temporally under Cambodia's Administration.
In addition, prior to the Holy Man's Rebellion, the province of Kontum and Pleiku was placed under the French Protectorate of Annam. Having been unsuccessful in their grand plan to annex Siam and with Laos being the least populated of its Indochinese possessions and lacking seaports for trade, the French lost much interest in Laos, for the next fifty years it remained a backwater of the French empire in Indochina; the Kingdom of Luang Phrabāng remained a protectorate with internal autonomy, but in practice it was controlled by French residents while the rest of Laos was governed as a colony. King Sisavang Vong, who became King of Luang Phrabāng in 1904, remained conspicuously loyal to the French through his 55-year reign. Economically, the French did not develop Laos to the scale that it had in Vietnam and many Vietnamese were recruited to work in the government in Laos instead of the Laotian people, causing some conflicts between locals and the government. Economic development occurred slowly in Laos and was fuelled by rice cultivation and distilleries producing rice alcohol.
The French did not plan to expand the Laotian economy and left commercial activity to the local populations. Geographic isolation led to Laos being les
Ho Chi Minh trail
The Hồ Chí Minh trail was a logistical system that ran from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to the Republic of Vietnam through the kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia. The system provided support, in the form of manpower and materiel, to the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and the People's Army of Vietnam, or North Vietnamese Army, during the Vietnam War, it was named by the Americans after North Vietnamese president Hồ Chí Minh. The origin of the name came from the First Indochina War because there was a Viet Minh logistics line called the Route of Ho Chi Minh, in 1961, as the present trail developed, Agence France-Presse announced on the radio that a North–South trail had now opened, they named the corridor La Piste de Hồ Chí Minh, or in English the Hồ Chí Minh Trail; the trail ran in Laos, was called by the communists the Trường Sơn Strategic Supply Route, after the Vietnamese name for the Annamite Range mountains in central Vietnam, the communists further identified the trail as either West Trường Sơn or East Trường Sơn.
According to the United States National Security Agency's official history of the war, the Trail system was "one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century". The trail was able to supply troops fighting in the south, a military feat unparalleled given it was the site of the single most intense bombing campaign in history, with bombs dropping on average every seven minutes. Parts of what became the trail had existed for centuries as primitive footpaths that facilitated trade; the area through which the system meandered was among the most challenging in Southeast Asia: a sparsely-populated region of rugged mountains, triple-canopy jungle and dense primeval rainforests. Pre First Indochina War the routes were known as the Southward March, Eastward March, Westward March and Northward March. During the First Indochina War the Việt Minh maintained north–south communication and logistics by expanding on this system of trails and paths, called the routes the Trans-West Supply Line and the Trans-Indochina Link.
In 1959, Hanoi established the 559th Transportation Group under the command of Colonel Võ Bẩm to improve and maintain a transportation system to supply the NLF uprising against the South Vietnamese government. The North Vietnamese effort concentrated on infiltration across and below the Demilitarized Zone that separated the two Vietnams; as early as May 1958 PAVN and Pathet Lao forces had seized the transportation hub at Tchepone, on Laotian Route 9. This had been accomplished due to the results of elections in May that had brought a right-wing government to power in Laos, its increasing dependence on U. S. military and economic aid, an antagonistic attitude toward North Vietnam. The 559th Group "flipped" its line of communications to the western side of the Trường Sơn mountains. By 1959, the 559th had 6,000 personnel in two regiments alone, the 70th and 71st, not including combat troops in security roles or North Vietnamese and Laotian civilian laborers. In the early days of the conflict the trail was used for the infiltration of manpower.
This was due to the fact. After the initiation of U. S. naval interdiction efforts in coastal waters, known as Operation Market Time, the trail had to do double duty. Materiel sent from the north was stored in caches in the border regions that were soon retitled Base Areas, which, in turn, became sanctuaries for NLF and PAVN forces seeking respite and resupply after conducting operations within South Vietnam. There were five large Base Areas in the panhandle of Laos. BA 604 was the main logistical center during the Vietnam War. From there, the coordination and distribution of men and supplies into South Vietnam's Military Region I and BAs further south was accomplished. BA 611 facilitated transport from BA 604 to BA 609 and the supply convoys moving in either direction, it fed fuel and ammunition to BA 607 and on into South Vietnam's A Shau Valley. BA 612 was used for support of the B-3 Front in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. BA 614, between Savannakhet and Kham Duc, South Vietnam was used for transporting men and materiel into MR 2 and to the B-3 Front.
BA 609 was important due to a fine road network that made it possible to transport supplies during the rainy season. The notion of barefoot hordes pushing loaded bicycles, driving oxcarts, or acting as human pack animals, moving hundreds of tons of supplies in this manner was supplanted by trucks, which became the main method of supply transportation; as early as December 1961, the 3rd Truck Transportation Group of PAVN's General Rear Services Department had become the first motor transport unit fielded by North Vietnamese to work the trail and the use of motor transport escalated. Two types of units served under the 559th Group: "Binh Trams" and commo-liaison units. A "Binh Tram" was the equivalent of a regimental logistical headquarters and was responsible for securing a particular section of the network. While separate units were tasked with security and signal functions, a "Binh Tram" provided the logistical necessities. Located one days march from one another, commo-liaison units were responsible for providing food, medical care, guides to the next way-station.
By April 1965, command of the 559th
History of Laos
Evidence for modern human presence in the northern and central highlands of Indochina, that constitute the territories of the modern Laotian nation-state dates back to the Lower Paleolithic. These earliest human migrants are Australo-Melanesians — associated with the Hoabinhian culture and have populated the highlands and the interior, less accessible regions of Laos and all of South-east Asia to this day; the subsequent Austroasiatic and Austronesian marine migration waves affected landlocked Laos only marginally and direct Chinese and Indian cultural contact had a greater impact on the country. Tai and Lao people southward migration into Laos only occurred after the eighth century of the common era; the modern nation-state Laos emerged from the French Colonial Empire as an independent country in 1953. Laos exists in truncated form from the thirteenth century Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. Lan Xang existed as a unified kingdom from 1357–1707, divided into the three rival kingdoms of Luang Prabang and Champasak from 1707–1779, fell to Siamese suzerainty from 1779–1893, was reunified under the French Protectorate of Laos in 1893.
The borders of the modern state of Laos were established by the French colonial government in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Archaeological exploration in Laos has been limited due to rugged and remote topography, a history of twentieth century conflicts which have left over two million tons of unexploded ordnance throughout the country, local sensitivities to history which involve the Communist government of Laos, village authorities and rural poverty; the first archaeological explorations of Laos began with French explorers acting under the auspices of the École française d'Extrême-Orient. However, due to the Lao Civil War it is only since the 1990s that serious archaeological efforts have begun in Laos. Since 2005, one such effort, The Middle Mekong Archaeological Project has excavated and surveyed numerous sites along the Mekong and its tributaries around Luang Prabang in northern Laos, with the goal of investigating early human settlement of the valleys of the Mekong River and its tributaries.
Anatomically modern human hunter-gatherer migration into Southeast Asia before 50,000 years ago has been confirmed by the fossil record of the region. These immigrants might have, to a certain extent and reproduced with members of the archaic population of Homo erectus, as the 2009 fossil discoveries in the Tam Pa Ling Cave suggest. Dated to between 46,000 and 63,000 years old, it is the oldest fossil found in the region that bears modern human morphological features. Recent research supports more accurate understanding of migration patterns of early humans, who migrated in successive waves moving west to east following the coastlines, but used river valleys further inland and further north than theorized. An early tradition is discernible in the Hoabinhian, the name given to an industry and cultural continuity of stone tools and flaked cobble artifacts that appears around 10,000 BP in caves and rock shelters first described in Hòa Bình, Vietnam and also in Laos; the earliest inhabitants of Laos – Australo-Melanesians – were followed by members of the Austro-Asiatic language family.
These earliest societies contributed to the ancestral gene pool of the upland Lao ethnicities known collectively as “Lao Theung,” with the largest ethnic groups being the Khamu of northern Laos, the Brao and Katang in the south. Subsequent Neolithic immigration waves are considered dynamic complex and are intensely debated. Researchers resort to linguistic terms and argumentation for group identification and classification. Wet-rice and millet farming techniques were introduced from the Yangtze River valley in southern China since around 2,000 years BC. Hunting and gathering remained an important aspect of food provision. Earliest known copper and bronze production in Southeast Asia has been confirmed at the site of Ban Chiang in modern north-east Thailand and among the Phung Nguyen culture of northern Vietnam since around 2000 BCE. From the 8th century BCE to as late as the 2nd century CE an inland trading society emerged on the Xieng Khouang Plateau, around the megalithic site called the Plain of Jars.
The Plain, nominated to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 is still being cleared from unexploded ordnance since 1998. The jars are stone sarcophagi, date from the early Iron Age and contained evidence of human remains, burial goods and ceramics; some sites contain more than 250 individual jars. The tallest jars are more than 3 m in height. Little is known about the culture which used the jars; the jars and the existence of iron ore in the region suggest that the creators of the site engaged in profitable overland trade. The first indigenous kingdom to emerge in Indochina was referred to in Chinese histories as the Kingdom of Funan and encompassed an area of modern Cambodia, the coasts of southern Vietnam and southern Thailand since the 1st century CE. Funan was an Indianised kingdom, that had incorporated central aspects of Indian institutions, statecraft, culture, epigraphy and architecture and engaged in profitable Indian Ocean trade. By the 2nd century CE, Austronesian settlers had established an Indianised kingdom known as Champa along modern central Vietnam.
The Cham people established the first settlements near modern Champasak in Laos. Funan expanded and incorporated the Champasak region by the sixth century CE, when it was replaced by its successor polity Chenla. Chenla occupied large areas of modern-day Laos as it accounts for the earliest kingdom on Laotian soil; the capital of early Chenla was Shrestapura, located in the vicinity of Champasak