Military:  Laos

Military branches:

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 or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18-months (2012)

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:

male: 71,400

female: 73,038 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

country comparison to the world: 168

Military - note:

serving one of the world's least developed countries, the Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF) 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 neighboring Vietnamese military (2008)

Transnational Issues:  Laos

Disputes - international:

southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Thailand but disputes remain over islands in the Mekong River; concern among Mekong River Commission members that China's construction of dams on the Mekong River and its tributaries will affect water levels; Cambodia and Vietnam are concerned about Laos' extensive upstream dam construction

Illicit drugs:

estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2008 was 1,900 hectares, about a 73% increase from 2007; estimated potential opium production in 2008 more than tripled to 17 metric tons; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem (2007)