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LÊ THIẾT HÙNG (LÊ VĂN SỬU, LÊ VĂN NGHIỆM, LÊ QUỐC VỌNG, 1908–1986)

One of the major architects of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s (DRV) army. Born in Nghe An province in upper central Vietnam, he left for Thailand in 1923 before moving on to Guangzhou (Canton) in late 1924, where Ho Chi Minh inducted him into the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League in 1925, told him to learn Chinese fast, and enrolled him in the Whampoa Military Academy to study modern military science. Working in these Sino-Vietnamese networks, Le Thiet Hung became a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang) and an officer in the Chinese nationalist army. He also secretly became a member of the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) in 1930. During the 1930s, he served as a mole for the Vietnamese and Chinese communist parties, providing important intelligence on the final nationalist attacks Chiang Kai-shek launched against the Jiangxi communist soviets. In 1941, Ho Chi Minh instructed Le Thiet Hung to help create what became the Vietnamese national army. In mid-1945, Le Thiet Hung served as the first director of the Cao Bang Military Academy and helped the Viet Minh take power in the Cao Bang region. With the creation of the DRV, he returned to upper central Vietnam to command what became known as military Inter-Zone IV (Lien Khu IV). In late 1945, he served as chief of this zone. Following the signing of the Accords of 6 March 1946, the ICP recalled him to Hanoi to represent the government in a joint military commission with the French to oversee the withdrawal of Chinese nationalist troops by their French counterparts. This task required a Vietnamese officer with the rank of general. In 1946, Le Thiet Hung received this honor, when he was named major general (though it appears to have only been officially bestowed in 1948). Between 1947 and 1950, Le Thiet Hung was the first general inspector of the Army, commander of the Bac Kan front, and headmaster of the Politico-Military Middle-Level Refresher Academy. Between 1950 and 1954, he served as the headmaster of the Vietnamese Infantry Academy as well as chief of the Bureau for Politico Military Training. In 1950, he traveled to Yunnan province in southern China to run the army’s military academy (Truong luc quan) in collaboration with Tran Tu Binh. In tandem with the Chinese, he oversaw the training and politicization of thousands of Vietnamese officers and soldiers in this academy. He was also on watch when 4,000 soldiers undergoing rectification in China in 1952 “admitted” under heavy questioning to working for enemy intelligence services in order to placate their accusers. See also INDOCTRINATION; TORTURE.