Commemorating the courageous spirit of Battalion 2
This military unit avoided slaughter at the hands of enemy forces by outwitting their attackers and escaping danger.

Sixty years have passed since the night when the Lao People’s Army’s Battalion 2 broke through an enemy blockade, averting a clash that would have meant almost certain death.
This dramatic event during the Lao revolution occurred on May 18, 1959, in Xieng Khuang province, at a site near what is now the provincial airport.
The incident occurred at 7.30 pm, when about 300 people, mostly soldiers and their families, were under siege by enemy forces that had surrounded them. Night was falling, surrender was not an option and the revolutionary troops did not know if they would make it out alive.
But the commanders of Battalion 2, as the unit was called, appointed a new command committee which devised a plan to break through the enemy blockade. This committee consisted of Mr Chamnien Bounloth (head of command), Mr Thongsavad Khaykhamphithoun (political committee), Mr Suay Bounchaleun (deputy head of command), and Mr Luaysengkham Kommadam (deputy political committee). 

Members of the public look at maps and photos of Battalion 2’s commanders and a former battalion office at Xieng Khuang provincial airport. (File photo) 

As three battalions of enemy forces surrounded Battalion 2 and were as close as 10 metres from the soldiers in some areas, their leaders had to come up with a carefully thought out plan so that everyone would survive.
The attacking troops ordered the battalion to lay down its weapons and surrender within 24 hours, promising favours and privileges for those who did so.
Battalion 2’s men knew they were completely outnumbered and would certainly be killed if the siege ended with a shootout. So they decided to deceive the enemy while planning their escape.
Before breaking through the blockade, Battalion 2 set up a unit to trick the enemy into believing that the troops were still in the area. The unit’s head, Mr Aao, pretended to strike a bell while calling out the name of each soldier in the battalion. But in fact the soldiers had escaped to a nearby village. Late at night, Mr Aao and his unit withdrew in safety to join the other personnel of Battalion 2.  
According to a document published by the Party Committee on Propaganda and Training Board, as Battalion 2’s soldiers were determined not to surrender, they decided to seek refuge in a wooded area near Mai village. This area was about 15 km from the enemy’s blockade.
At around 7 am on May 19, 1959, enemy forces quickly attacked the area where Battalion 2 had been earlier, hoping to force the troops to lay down their weapons. But they were dismayed to find nobody there.
Major Khamsouk Insisiengmay, the commander of the opposing forces, ordered six battalions to track down Battalion 2 with the aim of wiping everyone out. This included the use of aircraft to search for the hidden group around the Plain of Jars. 
Battalion 2 spent more than 10 days evading the enemy, passing through about 30 villages, including some in Vietnam. Soldiers engaged in at least 10 skirmishes with enemy forces and won all of them. Finally, the men and their 92 families reached the safety of territory that was controlled by the revolutionaries.
The successful evasion of the enemy was a result of the wise decision taken by Party supporters. It was a great triumph of the armed forces under the leadership of the Party and is recognised as being important in the history of the nation, the Party and the army. It has been held up as a shining example of the wisdom of the Lao Army and the revolutionary Party, who subsequently went from strength to strength in their quest for victory.
The Party committee, military command committee, government staff, Party members and everyone in Battalion 2 reinforced the tradition of their forebears and Lao patriots to never surrender.
Their careful planning and determination defeated the plans of the enemy through solidarity and perseverance.
The incident demonstrated the shrewd tactics employed by Battalion 2 and its ability to triumph over American forces and their henchmen. It spurred on the revolutionaries, who became stronger and even more determined. The defeat of the enemy on this occasion put the power of the Lao Patriotic Front on the international stage. 
What inspired Battalion 2 to break through the blockade?  
The leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, government officials, Party members and members of Battalion 2 had undergone ideological training that convinced them to be loyal to their country and the goals of other revolutionaries. They were not afraid of the threat posed by the enemy. The members of Battalion 2 worked with local communities to turn people against the opposing forces and persuaded them to have confidence in the revolution. Their efforts were supported by Vietnam’s army and citizens.
Today, this area is a training ground for the Lao People’s Army, which continues to learn from the courage and clever tactics demonstrated by Battalion 2 all those years ago.
If you travel to Xieng Khuang, you can visit the provincial airport and see photos of Battalion 2’s commanders and maps of their escape route.
The spirit of Battalion 2 inspired others to continue the fight for liberation and showed that victory was possible, even on occasions when they were outnumbered.

By Xayxana Leukai
(Latest Update May 24, 2019)

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