America's Secret War

About This Episode


While the United States was publicly engaged in the Vietnam War, a secret conflict was raging just next door in the country of Laos. Under the command of the CIA, a full-blown military operation engulfed Laos, with a select few of the U.S. Armed Forces participating. At Long Tieng, a secret airbase in the heart of Laos, the CIA trained an army of allied guerilla fighters including a large number of the Hmong people, to assist in destroying enemy supply lines.

America's Secret War uncovers the history of this covert war through the stories of Hmong elders and a rich collection of never-been-seen archival images, maps, and documents, including recently declassified CIA intelligence. Highly personal testimonials paint a vivid portrait of life in Laos during the war and the journey to the United States. The film underscores that the Secret War — unacknowledged by the CIA until 1994 — was and is an integral part of the Vietnam War’s history, a history that is still only partly (and only very recently) recognized. Like a brilliantly colored Hmong story cloth tapestry, this documentary illustrates the journey to a new life. It's an invitation to walk in another man’s shoes and to remember, honor and understand the Hmong experience.