The Lao People's Armed Forces is charged with protecting the country. Until 1975, the Royal Laos Army were the armed forces of the Kingdom of Laos, along with the Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force and the Lao People's Navy.
Serving one of the world's least developed countries, the Lao People's Armed Forces is small, poorly funded, and ineffectively resourced; its mission focus is border and internal security, primarily in countering ethnic Hmong insurgent groups. Together with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and the government, the Lao People's Army (LPA) is the third pillar of state machinery, and as such is expected to suppress political and civil unrest and similar national emergencies, but the LPA also has upgraded skills to respond to avian influenza outbreaks. There is no perceived external threat to the state and the LPA maintains strong ties with the neighbouring Vietnamese military.
Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA; includes Riverine Force), Air Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory military service; minimum 18-month service obligation (2010)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,574,362
females age 16-49: 1,607,856 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,111,629
females age 16-49: 1,190,035 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
female: 73,038 (2010 est.)
0.5% of GDP (2006)