George and his partner had arrived at the 3rd Military Region Headquarters in the center of Savannakhet. The Commander insisted that they be taken to the “best” Chinese restaurant in town. There, they were served a superb ten- or twelve-course formal dinner of Peking Duck, trimmings, and numerous delicacies. As in initial meetings at each of the military headquarters, much alcohol with many toasts was presented during and after the meal in the form of French wines and cognacs, Chinese Scotch, and beer.
The next morning, after being briefed on the area, George and his partner departed by Jeep with an armed escort, also by a Jeep mounted with machine guns. They drove on a dirt road in very poor condition to the border village of Ban Vat, about 130 KM away. The infantry company of about 60 men had been notified by their battalion radio that they should expect George’s arrival that afternoon. Upon his arrival, he was welcomed by a military formation in rank with an appropriate salute to the Military Region Commander.
George was shown the company’s positions along the border and given the chance to inspect their weapons and equipment. It became immediately apparent that there was a shortage of communication equipment. There was one voice radio for communication with the battalion headquarters in Savannakhet, and a few hand-held walkie-talkees for communication between the patrols on the border and the company in Ban Vat. The equipment was old and in poor operating condition.
George noted in his report that the inability to communicate between troops and command was a sure formula for defeat. If they were going to rely on either the Laotian army or the Montagnard tribes, which must be seen as different entities and different allies with different purpose, against the Pathet Lao or North Vietnamese, there would have to be an updating of equipment to start with.
I write of George’s service and experience in Laos in my book: Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranked military officer convicted of spying.
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