U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs Office
The highest-ranking U.S. military officer to visit Laos since 2007 visited the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Feb. 13.
Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, met with senior officials from the Lao Ministry of Defense to discuss issues related to ongoing and future military cooperation.
The visit demonstrates the increasingly close bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Laos, as well as the U.S. government’s commitment to greater engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Wiercinski met with Maj. Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath, vice-minister of national defense. During the meeting, the leaders hailed the growth in ties between the two militaries.
U.S. military cooperation with Laos has grown increasingly stronger in recent years, with a focus on military education and training programs, de-mining and humanitarian assistance activities. During the past 15 years, U.S. Pacific Command has contributed $9.4 million in funding for projects, such as new schools and medical facilities in rural areas.
Other highlights of Wiercinski’s visit included a tour of the Lao People’s Army Museum and a stop at the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise visitor’s center to learn about programs that assist victims of unexploded ordnance. Wiercinski was also the guest of honor at a special dinner hosted by Karen Stewart, U.S. Ambassador to Lao P.D.R.
As USARPAC commander, Wiercinski leads all Army forces in the Asia-Pacific region, totaling more than 70,000 full-time Soldiers and 11,400 civilians employed throughout the Pacific and 9,000 more in the National Guard and Army Reserve.
USARPAC conducts more than 169 activities in 26 countries, annually, as well as 16 exercises with Asia-Pacific partners and allies.