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Historical Dictionary

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INTELLIGENCE SERVICES, ARMY OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM

Upon creating the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s (DRV) General Staff on 7 September 1945, the Ministry of Defense authorized Hoang Minh Dao to lead a new military intelligence bureau, called Phong 2, a rough equivalent of the French Deuxième Bureau or 2nd Office (G2). This rudimentary military intelligence service followed as best it could enemy military movements in Vietnam above the 16th parallel, especially in DRV Inter-Zones IV and V (Lien Khu IV/V). Below that line, the Vietnamese were largely on their own. Military intelligence received a boost on 25 March 1946, when Ho Chi Minh signed into law decree 34, which consolidated within the Ministry of Defense a separate Bureau of Intelligence (Tinh Bao Cuc). In May 1947, the president signed a second piece of legislation creating a new High Command, consisting of a revamped Bureau of Intelligence (Cuc Tinh Bao). Until June 1948, Tran Hieu headed the Bureau of Intelligence for the High Command in the Ministry of Defense.

In central and especially northern Vietnam, this military intelligence service established offices at the provincial and district levels, though things never worked smoothly at the lower levels. Until 1949, it was mainly concerned with sabotage, commando operations, assassination missions, and local espionage. The Ministry of Defense’s Bureau of Intelligence was extended to southern Vietnam in 1948.

The internationalization of the Franco-Vietnamese war from 1950 put added pressure on military intelligence to improve its work in order to take the war to the French. In 1950, a new Bureau of Military Intelligence (Cuc Quan Bao) emerged within the General Staff under the direction of Le Trong Nghia. This change was designed to meet the increasing needs of the army as it moved to engage the French in more modern warfare and set-piece battles. In early 1955, the DRV created a new intelligence service to run clandestine networks in the south, the southern Party Commission’s Re-search Branch Responsible for Following the Enemy Situation (Ban Nghien Cuu Dich Tinh Xu Uy). See also LE GIAN; MAURICE BELLEUX; PHAM NGOC THAO; PUBLIC SECURITY SERVICES; SERVICE DE DOCUMENTATION EXTERIEURE ET DE CONTRE-ESPIONAGE; SÛRETÉ FÉDÉRALE; TRAN DANG NINH.