What you should have been taught about Laos

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In early 1961, the Central Intelligence Agency launched what would become the biggest CIA paramilitary operation at that time in U.S. history in one of the most unlikely places: Laos, a country that today is home to about 6.75 million people. The plan, called Operation Momentum, was initially implemented by Bill Lair, a veteran CIA operative in Southeast Asia. The operation, which Lair began with some of his former Thai paratroopers, would put tiny and obscure Laos at the center of the CIA’s Southeast Asia strategy—and would make it, for a time, a principal focus of America’s foreign policy.

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