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 DefenceGeneral Chansamone Chanyalath
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, Armoured Vehicles and Trucks[edit]

Photo Model Type Origin Quantity Notes
T-72B1 Main Battle Tank  Russia 30[2]
T-54/55 Main Battle Tank  Soviet Union 30[3]
T-34/85 Medium Tank  Soviet Union 30[4][5] Currently being retired from service and returned to Russia.
PT-76 Light tank  Soviet Union 25[6] 30 were in service in 1996.[7] Currently 25 are in service.
BTR-60PB Armored Personnel Carrier  Soviet Union 70[8] Currently 70 are in service. BTR-60s have been seen in service as recently as January 2019
BTR 152 Yerevan.JPG BTR-152 Armored Personnel Carrier  Soviet Union unknown [9]
BTR-40 Armored Personnel Carrier  Soviet Union 10[10]
BRDM-2M Armoured Car  Russia 10[11] Upgraded BRDM-2M supplied by Russia in late 2018. At least 10 in service.
Light Armoured Vehicle/Light Assault Vehicle
Dima DMT5070XFB Armored Personnel Carrier  China unknown
Chinese Tiger 4x4 Infantry Mobility Vehicle  China unknown
CS/VN3 4x4 Infantry Mobility Vehicle  China unknown
KrAZ-6322 Truck  Russia
Ural-4320 Medium Truck  Soviet Union
GAZ-3308 Medium Truck  Russia
FAW Jiefang 141 Medium Truck  China
Ural-43206 Light Truck  Soviet Union
GAZ-66 Platform Truck  Soviet Union
BAIC 4x4 vehicles Military light utility vehicle  China
UAZ-469 Military light utility vehicle  Soviet Union
BJ2022JC Military light utility vehicle  China
PTS Tracked amphibious transport  Soviet Union
Shaanxi SX2190 Launched bridge  China
Shaanxi SX2190 Floating bridge  China


Photo Model Type Origin Quantity Notes
Dongfeng CS/SS4 Self Propelled Mortar System  China
SR-5 Multiple rocket launcher  China
BM-21 Grad 122mm Multiple Rocket Launcher  Soviet Union
BM-14 Multiple rocket launcher
2S3 Akatsiya 152mm Self-Propelled Howitzer
122-HL-70 122mm Self-Propelled Howitzer  Laos
PCL-09 122mm Self-Propelled Howitzer  China
M30 howitzer nn 1.jpg M-30 122 mm howitzer towed howitzer  Soviet Union ~10[12]
122- мм гаубица Д-30 (1).jpg 122 mm howitzer 2A18 (D-30)[citation needed] ~10[12]
M-46-beyt-hatotchan-1.jpg 130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46)[13] 10[12]
155HowRightRear.jpg M114 155 mm howitzer[13]  United States 12[12]
M101-105mm-howitzer-camp-pendleton-20050326.jpg M101 howitzer 105mm (towed): M-101[13] 20[12]
US Army 51100 Gerety takes over "Wildcat" lair during ceremony.jpg M116 howitzer[13] 75mm (towed): M-116 pack 10


Air defence[edit]

Photo Model Type Origin Quantity Notes
S-125 Neva/Pechora Short-Range SAM System  Soviet Union
9K35 Strela-10 Vehicle-Mounted SAM System  Soviet Union
Yitian (Tianlong 6) Surface-to-Air Missile  China
ZSU-23-4 Shilka Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun  Soviet Union
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



Photo Model Type Caliber Origin Notes
AK-47 Assault rifle 7.62×39mm  Soviet Union
9A-91 Carbine 9x39mm  Russia
QBZ-95 Bullpup rifle 5.8×42mm DBP87  China
Type 56 Assault rifle 7.62×39mm  China
Type 81 Assault rifle 7.62×39mm  China
AMD-65 Assault rifle 7.62×39mm  Hungary
Pindad SS2 Assault rifle 5.56×45mm NATO  Indonesia
IMI Galil ACE Assault rifle / Battle rifle 5.56×45mm NATO  Israel /  Vietnam Laos received Vietnamese-made Galil ACEs in January 2019.
RPD Light machine gun 7.62×39mm  Soviet Union



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.[18][19]

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."[18][19]

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.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22]


  • 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. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (2010). The Military Balance 2010. London: IISS. ISBN 978-1-85743-557-3.
  5. ^ The Tank That Helped Russia Defeat Nazi Germany Has Finally Retired (In Laos). The National Interest. 10 January 2019.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Administrator. "PT-76". Pancerni 2. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.[verification needed]
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Laos Army Equipment". Global Security. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d John Pike. "Laos Army Equipment". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  14. ^ a b John Pike. "World Military Guide". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Laos". Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  16. ^ Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  17. ^ a b c d "Library of Congress / Federal Research Division / Country Studies / Area Handbooks / Laos / Tables". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  18. ^ 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)
  19. ^ a b The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, CPPA, Washington, D.C. (1 August 2013),
  20. ^ Businesswire, (4 March 2013) "Laos: Attacks Intensify Against Lao, Hmong People"
  21. ^ Scoop Independent News, Auckland, New Zealand, (19 March 2013) "Laos Officials Criticized for Obstructing Investigation"
  22. ^ Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), (29 August 2013), Archived 27 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]