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MEETINGS 2013-2017

428th Meeting : "Thai Forward Air Guides in Laos: their role in the 2nd Indochina War”.

Tuesday, 23 January, 2018.

A Talk by Paul Carter.

The Talk:

Thai Forward Air Guides (FAGs) were CIA contract employees who coordinated battlefield operations in support of Thai and allied forces in the secret war in Laos. Their story has never been written in the English language. Paul Carter’s 21-year U.S. Army career and five war zone deployments provided him not only the background and experience to document this history, but gave the Forward Air Guides confidence that sharing their stories would result in a skillful study. Thai Forward Air Guides’ primary duties were to coordinate U.S. aircraft activities, and liaison between the Thai military and CIA. In 1970, Thailand was embarking on its largest military expeditionary effort in modern times, sending large numbers of troops into Laos. This was a joint fight with the CIA, but there was a problem. Large numbers of Thai forces required an effective means to control U.S. airstrikes, reconnaissance and medical evacuations. In response, the CIA recruited over 100 Thai military-aged males, their only qualification being to speak English. They went to a U.S. military course of 10-14 days and were immediately deployed to battlefields in Laos. It was an anomaly of warfare likely never to be replicated, where foreign civilians were given a modicum of military training and placed on a battlefield to coordinate U.S. airstrikes. Mr. Carter’s lecture will focus on who the Thai Forward Air Guides were, their motivations, their training and activities in Laos, as well as efforts to gain post-war recognition and alumni activities today.

The Speaker:

Mr. Paul Carter is a doctoral candidate at Chulalongkorn University. He holds a Master’s degree in Thai Studies from Chulalongkorn University, with a thesis on “Thai Forward Air Guides in Laos during the Second Indochina War”. He is a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer, having served in Afghanistan with the 82D Airborne Division in 2002-2003. He subsequently spent seven years at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington D.C., focusing on Iran and Iraq. In 2007-2011, he was deployed to Iraq’s combat zones for four tours, providing critical information to U.S. forces while informing U.S. national policy makers on Iraqi trends and developments. In 2013, the U.S. Office Director of National
Intelligence awarded him the U.S. President’s Daily Brief Professional Recognition Award for co-authoring 14 U.S. Presidential Daily Briefs from 2011-2014 on Middle East topics vital to U.S. national security. Mr. Carter is also a special lecturer each year on Cross Cultural Communications at Mahidol University, International Business class.


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