Project 404

Project 404

operational plan
name = Project 404

caption =
scope = Diplomatic Military Attachés
planned =
planned_by = United States Department of State
objective = Counterinsurgency
Foreign internal defense
executed = (?) 1962 - (?) 1975
executed_by = U.S. Army Attachés
U.S. Air Force Attachés
Air America
outcome = North Vietnamese Army and Pathet Lao Conquest of Royal Lao Government 1975

Project 404 was the code name for a covert United States military advisory mission to Laos during the later years of the Second Indochina War, which would eventually become known in the United States as the Vietnam War. The purpose was to train the Royal Laotian Army as well as indigenous Hmong, and Yao tribesmen to fight the Pathet Lao communist insurgency. This was extended to include combat against the North Vietnamese Army, which was occupying large portions of Laos as a staging, transit and resupply area for its operations in South Vietnam.

Project 404 began sometime after the completion of Operation White Star, and was smaller in scope. "White Star" began in 1959 as "Operation Hotfoot" with the deployment of 107 United States Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets) of the 77th Special Forces Group —later named the 7th SFG in May 1960—under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur D. "Bull" Simons. Because Laos was ostensibly a neutral party to the conflict between the United States and North Vietnam, the soldiers did not wear United States Army uniforms.

In 1961, however, the United States lent full and open support to the Vientiane government and the program was renamed "Operation White Star" with U.S. soldiers openly wearing their uniforms. Operation White Star formally ended in July 1962 when Laotian neutrality was officially established. Counterinsurgency efforts were then managed covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency with direct oversight by William H. Sullivan the U.S. Ambassador to Laos.

Civil Air Transport, and Air America were the CIA proprietary airlines which serviced the "customers", including Royal Lao Army troops, Laotian civilians, Thai military "volunteers", and the Laotian U.S. Embassy U.S. Army Attachés (ARMA) and U.S. Air Force Attachés (AIRA) who were covertly assigned to Project 404 as military advisors and technical support.

ee also

*Battle of Lima Site 85
*First Indochina War
*International Agreement on the Neutrality of Laos
*Laotian Civil War (also known as the Secret War in Laos)
*Operation White Star
*Ho Chi Minh Trail
*North Vietnamese invasion of Laos
*Royal Lao Army
*Royal Lao Air Force
*Lieutenant Colonel Lee Lue
*Major General Vang Pao
*Vang Sue
*William H. Sullivan U.S. Ambassador
*Vietnam War (aka the Second Indochina War)

External links

* [ Senate Committee on POWs: "Covert Operations"]
* [ Air America, CAS, Project 404, etc. website]
* [ Air America Association web site]
* [ Online Archive Materials about Air America in the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech]
* [ Air America] - Roll of honour and images.
* [ Air America ] by Christopher Robbins
* [ The Ravens, Pilots of the Secret War in Laos] by Christopher Robbins
* [ Laos List (partial list of U.S. personnel in Laos)]


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