Development of the Internal Security System
During the First Indochina War, police and internal-security
functions were regarded as a single activity. Security cadres and
personnel had three duties: guarding Viet Minh facilities, highlevel personnel, lines of communication, and troop movements;
insuring public safety in the Viet Minh-controlled areas; and
conducting counterintelligence and antisabotage work.
At the time of the DRV's formation in 1945, all of this
activity was vested in the Ministry of Interior. Within the
ministry was a large sub-element called the Directorate General
for Security, concerned with counterrevolution. This arrangement
was abolished in 1954, when the police and internal-security
functions were separated and the Ministry of Public Security was
created. After the takeover of the South in 1975, which imposed
new internal security tasks, the two functions were again
combined, this time into the Ministry of Interior, which was then
By the mid-1980s, the ministry was composed of seven major
departments: the People's Police Department, responsible for
general law enforcement; the Traffic Police Department,
responsible for traffic control; the Public Security Department,
responsible for general internal security; the Social Order
Department, responsible for detention, the family registration
system, immigration-emigration, border control, and port-of-entry
security; the Public Security Forces, responsible for both law
enforcement and internal security in the rural areas; the
Counterespionage Department, chiefly responsible for
investigative work and dossier compilation; and the
Counterreactionary Department, chiefly responsible for
investigation of religious organizations in the South.
Also in the ministry were smaller, more specialized offices
under vice ministers, including those concerned with
counterintelligence, foreign intelligence coordination (shared
with PAVN intelligence agencies and primarily concerned with
Cambodia and Laos), official communication systems operations
(including mail censorship), political indoctrination of ministry
personnel, and ethnic minorities' activities.
The Ministry of Interior was again enlarged and restructured
in 1979, when, according to Hanoi, China launched its
"multifaceted war of sabotage." This brought increased and more
systematic coordination with PAVN, especially in the China border
region. The restructuring moved the ministry closer to the Soviet
model of internal security organizations, a development
undoubtedly encouraged by Soviet Komitet Gosudavstvennoy
Bezopasnosti (KGB, Committee of State Security) advisers. It is
possible that in these shifts the ministry gained a certain
degree of autonomy from the VCP.
Tran Quoc Hoan created Hanoi's state security system in the
1940s and ran it until he stepped down or was forced out in 1982.
He then served as a director of the Central Committee's
Proselytizing and Front Department. Hoan continued to publish
extensively on security problems, and he remained an influential
figure in the field until his death in late 1986. Pham Hung
replaced Hoan as Minister of Interior in 1982 and served until
December 1986, when he relinquished the post to Mai Chi Tho.
Before his elevation to the ministry and the Political Bureau,
Tho was in charge of security in southern Vietnam as the mayor of
Ho Chi Minh City.
Data as of December 1987