This Is
The American Forces Thailand Network

Secret AFTN Radio Service into Laos

 
In March, l970, the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, informally requested an ADS system that would feed AFTN to it. .  As Dick Hiner, deputy chief of the network at that time, recalls, "the good news was that there were Marines and other U.S. military at the embassy and I could justify service from an AFRTS program perspective.  The bad news was that the Laos government had not granted permission and the Thai government had not approved providing service from their country to another. In a 'it's bettter to beg forgiveness than ask permission' decision," Hiner approved the Udorn station to feed a circuit across the river to Vientiane.
 
Hiner adds that there were sensitivities that the network adhered to and one was "not to mention that Thailand was supporting the war in Vietnam.  Someone on the ambassador's staff in Vientiane would call the embassy in Bangkok and complain that AFTN was airing sensitive information every time they heard a live newscast from the States."  Finally, Hiner had the signal terminated and told the staff in Laos that they would have to go through channels to have service restored.
 
After Hiner left Thailand, there was further study about restoration of the radio service  to Laos.  On September 1, l970, Col.  LaFollette and Lt. Col. Edgar W. Duskin, GS, U.S. Army Attache signed a (MOU) Memorandum of Understanding. 
 
Despite their pledge not to interfere with the operations of the network, at least once in l972 the embassy lodged a complaint about radio service when the Udorn engineers realigned the microwave transmitters between Udorn and Ramasun Army station. The test tones generated by the engineering work interfered with the clandestine  transmission into Laos.
 
 
 
Sources:  AFTN Unit History, Jan-Mar, l970, July-Sept, l970, AFHRA, Maxwell AFB, AL
 
Brass Button Broadcasters by Trent Christman, pg. 120