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Operation White Star was the code name for a U.S.
military advisory mission in Laos during the first few
years of the U.S. involvement in the Indo-China
conflict. It was also known as Project White Star. The
mission, involving mostly U.S. Army Special Forces
Soldiers, was to train the Royal Laotian Army and
indigenous tribesmen (Hmong and Yao) to conduct
guerrilla warfare against the Pathet Lao communist
insurgency. As the North Vietnamese increased their
activities in Laos the mission included combat against
the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).
Operation White Star began in 1957 with the deployment of
over 100 Soldiers from the 77th Special Forces Group (later
designated 7th SFGA) under
the code name of Project Hotfoot.
Simons was the first commander of Operation White Star. The
Green Berets initially wore civilian clothes and had DoD civil
service IDs. After some time, the mission was officially
disclosed and uniforms were worn.
1st SFGA also provided personnel to the mission.
Operation White Star ended in July 1962
1. when Laos became a
"neutral" country. Covert counterinsurgency efforts in Laos were
continued by Special Forces Soldiers who were "seconded" to the
Central Intelligence Agency.
Follow-on Laos Missions. The involvement of SF Soldiers in
Laos did not end with the end of Operation White Star. Various
other covert and / or clandestine missions took place through
the 1960s while the Vietnam War was occurring in the adjacent
country to the east. Many SF Soldiers were attached to the CIA's
programs in Laos. Some served as 'singletons' in remote
mountainous areas for 18 months with hill tribesmen. Their
contact with the outside world was by radio communications and
perhaps a monthly resupply be a small CIA contract aircraft.
Contract Air. While 'Air America' is the more famous air
service that assisted the CIA in Southeast Asia other firms
worked there as well supporting the agency's efforts.
Continential Air Service, Inc. (CASI) provided essential
contract flying services to the Central Intelligence Agency and
to the SF Soldiers operating at remote locations in Laos.
2. One of the aircraft used by
CASI was the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter - a small single-engine
turboprop aircraft known for its unique STOL capability. It
needed only the length of a football field to takeoff and even
less to land.
Websites about Operation White Star
Operation White Star by Wikipedia
Personal recollection of Operation White Star by Donald E.
PSYOP in Laos. The history of psychological operations
conducted by the United States in Laos during the 1960s.
White Star by Special Operations.com
Historical Documents of the Laos Crisis, U.S. Department of
State, Office of the Historian.
News Articles, Papers and Publications about Opn White Star
Paddock, Colonel Alfred H., "Personal Memories of Operation
White Star in Laos, 1961", Small Wars Journal, April
10, 2013. Col Paddock served in the U.S. Army from 1957-1988 and
served three combat tours in Laos and Vietnam with SF.
Books about Operation White Star
Baber, Asa. Land of a Million Elephants, Morrow
Conboy, Kenneth. The War in Laos, Osprey Books,
Garner, Joe. Code-name: Copperhead, Simon & Shuster,
Sutton, Richard. Operation White Star, Daring Books,
1. President Kennedy authorized the withdrawal of the MAAG
White Star teams in Laos not earlier than May 7, 1962. See
Withdrawal of Certain Military Units from Forward Positions in
Laos, National Security Action Memoradum No. 149, April 19,
1962. Posted on the website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Libary and Museum.
2. Learn more about CASI and Laos in a
posting by the CIA on its website.