The World: A Soldier's Life

Laos was supposedly neutralized by the 1962 Geneva accords, but it is actually overrun by an antipasto of Asian troops. U.S.-supported mercenaries from Thailand and opium-growing Meo tribesmen from the northern hills help out the Royal Laotian Army. China has something like 20,000 troops in the country; they build roads while keeping a jealous eye on the North Vietnamese. Since 1952 Hanoi has had troops in Laos, which it used to describe as "deserters" and "volunteers." Now that it has the biggest single army in the country—65,000 troops—it does not acknowledge them at...

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