Military Wiki
Lao People's Army
Tri-service Flag
The Flag of Laos
Founded 1975
Service branches Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force
Lao People's Navy
Headquarters Vientiane
Commander-in-Chief Choummaly Sayasone
Minister for Defence Lieutenant General Doungchay Phichit
Military age 15 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 personnel 30,000 (ranked 85)
Budget $55 million (1996-97)
Percent of GDP 0.5% (2006)
Foreign suppliers  Vietnam
Related articles

First Indochinese War
Laotian Civil War
Insurgency in Laos

Thai-Laotian Border War

The Lao People's Army is the name of the armed forces of Laos, who are charged with protecting the country. Until 1975, the Royal Laos Army were the armed forces of the Kingdom of Laos, along with the Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force and the Lao People's Navy.


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, including 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 opposed the one-party Marxist Pathet Lao government and the support it receives from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. 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 neighboring Vietnamese military (2008).[1]

According to numerous independent journalists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, and humanitarian and human rights organizations, the Lao People's Army has repeatedly engaged in egregious human rights violations and the practice of corruption in Laos, including kidnapping, rape, torture, extrajudicial killing, military attacks against civilians, mass starvation against the ethnic minority, Hmong people, illegal logging in cooperation with the Vietnam People's Army-owned front companies and other violations of international law, the Geneva conventions, and acceptable norms of behavior. 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." [2][3] 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 the Lao Human Rights Council, the Centre for Public Policy Analysis and others.[4] 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.[5]

The army of 130,000 was equipped with 30 main battle tanks. The army marine section, equipped with 16 patrol crafts, had 600 personnel. The air force, with 3,500 personnel, was equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and 24 combat aircraft. Militia self-defense forces numbered approximately 100,000 organized for local defense. The small arms utilized mostly by the Laotian Army is the Soviet AKM Assault rifle, PKM Machine gun, Makarov PM pistol, and RPD light machine gun.

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 U.S., 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.[6]

Tank and armoured vehicle

photo Name Type Origin Quantity Notes
Pt-76 afv.jpg PT-76 light tank USSR 25[7]
T-54-.jpg T-54/55 Main Battle Tank USSR 30[8]
BTR-60PB front left.JPEG BTR-60P Armored Personnel Carrier USSR 130[9]
BTR 152 Yerevan.JPG BTR-152 Armored personnel carrier USSR 30[10]
Izvidniško oklepno vozilo M8 Greyhound.JPG M8 Greyhound Armored Car USA 25[11]
ZSU-23-4 Shilka, Togliatti, Russia-2.JPG ZSU-23-4 Light Armored anti-aircraft USSR 10 [12]


photo Name Type Origin Quantity Notes
M30 howitzer nn 1.jpg M-30 122 mm howitzer field howitzer USSR 40[13]
M-46-beyt-hatotchan-1.jpg 130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46)[14] field gun USSR 16
122- мм гаубица Д-30 (1).jpg 122 mm howitzer 2A18 (D-30)[15] Howitzer USSR 48
155HowRightRear.jpg M114 155 mm howitzer[16] howitzer USA 10
M101-105mm-howitzer-camp-pendleton-20050326.jpg M101 howitzer 105mm (towed): M-101[17] USA 25
US Army 51100 Gerety takes over "Wildcat" lair during ceremony.jpg M116 howitzer[18] 75mm (towed): M-116 pack USA 10


Air defense

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photo Name Type Origin Quantity Notes
SA-7.jpg Strela 2 Surface to air missile USSR 120
S-60-57mm-hatzerim-1.jpg 57 mm AZP S-60 Automatic anti-aircraft gun USSR 18
M1939-37mm-hatzerim-1.jpg 37 mm automatic air defense gun M1939 (61-K) Air defense gun USSR 18
ZU-23-2 in Saint Petersburg.jpg ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun USSR 48
14,5-мм счетверенная зенитная пулеметная установка конструкции Лещинского ЗПУ-4 (1).jpg ZPU auto anti-aircraft gun USSR 100+



See also

  • Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force
  • Amnesty International
  • 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.


  1. CIA Factbook: Laos
  2. Amnesty International, (23 March 2007), "Lao People's Democratic Republic: Hiding in the jungle - Hmong under threat"
  3. The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, CPPA, Washington, D.C. (1 August 2013),
  4. Businesswire, (4 March 2013) "Laos: Attacks Intensify Against Lao, Hmong People"
  5. Scoop Independent News,Auckland, New Zealand, (19 March 2013) "Laos Officials Criticized for Obstructing Investigation"
  6. Lao Veterans of America,Inc. (LVA), (29 August 2013),

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