Country Listing

Laos Table of Contents


Manpower and Conditions of Service

As of mid-1994, there were approximately 37,000 persons, or slightly more than 4 percent of the labor force of approximately 1,574,100 males and females between the ages of thirteen and thirty-two, in the military. There was an eighteen-month minimum military conscription draft for males seventeen to twenty-six years. Most draftees serve the minimum time. The ground forces are the primary destination for draftees. The other, smaller services seem to get sufficient numbers of voluntary recruits to fill their ranks.

Life in the LPA is austere. Pay is low, and there is a shortage of uniforms and equipment, including most basic supplies. Consequently, it is not a popular career path for most young Laotian males. In late 1989, LPRP chairman Kaysone Phomvihan complained in a major speech to senior LPA officers that: "Our youths throughout the country have failed to associate with the army and failed to use the army as a school to carry out practices as they were expected to do in the past." Seminars were held in many districts during 1989-90 to discuss requiring local authorities to help enforce compliance with draft laws, which many Laotian youths were actively seeking to avoid.

During the Pathet Lao's struggle against the RLG, women--for the most part voluntarily--played a significant role fighting alongside men in combat units. Women also served in a medical corps and as porters for combat units.

After 1975, however, the role of women in the armed forces changed significantly. Although not subject to the draft, women are part of the active armed forces but serve only in minor administrative functions. Women do, however, serve in police and militia forces.

Data as of July 1994