By James E. Parker, Jr.
When I applied for paramilitary work with the CIA in the spring of 1970, one Studies and Operations Group (SOG) interviewer said the work would require someone with “hang.” Once hired on contract and in training, I was to learn that trans-lingual word “hang” was the province of one of the case officers up in the mountains of Laos. “Hog” was the case officer’s call-sign. He was one memorable individual—the role model for new hires in the CIA paramilitary business.
To put Hog’s story in context you have to start back with Bill Lair, the case officer in the Lao program that CIA trainers talked about most. He had gone to East Asia in the early 1950s about the time General MacArthur was fired from his job as Supreme Commander of UN forces in Korea. Sort of a changing of the guard. Lair’s job in Thailand was to organize and train a special group of Thai police, eventually called PARU, to act as the vanguard force against any communist threat to the Thai border.
With a base training camp on the coast below Bangkok, Lair would take PARU recruits out into the mountainous jungle west near Burma and personally train them in survival skills and small unit tactics. If the recruits didn’t match up to Lair’s high standards of toughness and adaptability, they were released from the program. By the late 1950s, Lair had developed a well-trained Thai force that could go anywhere along the border to engage the local population to fight advancing communists.