1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

MIBARS Operations

"B" Detachment's Operations Area

 On The I Corps Compound

"B" Detachment's latrine on the I Corps Compound

Photo Credit: MIV

Above:  Arguably the most important "B" Detachment facility on the I Corps Compound and undoubtedly the site of much philosophical thought  on matters related to the war in Vietnam.  Those who were there will no doubt recognize the latrine -- loved by those who needed it but reviled by those compelled by fate to attend it.  If there was running water on the I Corps Compound, only the ARVN had it.  

And This Is The Very Place . . .

" . . . monthly . . . you had to take your little white quinine pill to protect against malaria. . . . these pills brought on a quick bout of diarrhea. The two-holer was on overtime the days those pills were handed out. After a couple months of this, I decided to opt out I kept the pill under my tongue until the Sgt. passed on to the next guy and then spit it out. I figured Id take my chances with the mosquitoes, and possibly malaria; which, at the time, seemed to be preferable to the monthly trek to the outhouse especially if both holes were occupied."

Gene Pianka, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation Section, 1967-1968

The "B" Detachment Operations Area

Annotated aerial view of "B" Detachment's operations area on the I Corps Compound, taken from a 1st MIBARS publication

Photo Credit: 1st MIBARS publication, Republic of Vietnam: Aerial Reconnaissance Information Booklet, 1 September 1967.

"B" Detachment shared space with ARVN military intelligence and US Army Technical Intelligence organizations in one corner of the I Corps Compound.  The detachment was self-sufficient, using organic equipment to provide the electrical power and clean water needed to support its operations.

A Orderly Room

The "Orderly Room" was an area actually comprised of the Commanding Officer's Office and "B" Detachment's reception area, overseen by the First Sergeant and the Detachment Clerk.

B Supply Room

Located in the same building as the Orderly Room, the Supply Room was a secured area holding equipment and small arms and ammunition and served as the office of "B" Detachment's Supply Sergeant.

C ARVN II Operations

Not a part of "B" Detachment.  This area housed personnel of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam's (ARVN) G-2 (combat intelligence) staff who worked with "B" Detachment on the II (imagery interpretation) mission.

D Technical Intelligence

Not a part of "B" Detachment.  This area housed an American technical intelligence officer who was attached to the ARVN I Corps Headquarters.  

E ES-38A and Reproduction Section Building

The Reproduction Section's area.  Included were the ES-38A van, which was butted into the end of a building, and the frame building itself.

F Water Tank

An open rubber tank which held the voluminous amounts of water needed to operate the ES-38A and which required continual refilling from a tanker truck.  The tanker truck can be seen in the photograph above adjacent to the "E" label. 

G Motor Maintenance

An open area for conducting vehicle maintenance.  Protection from the sun and the rain was provided by a carport, and parts and materials were stored on the trailer portion of a 2-1/2 ton tractor-trailer.

H Signal Unit Elements

Not a part of "B" Detachment.  This signal unit was attached to the ARVN I Corps Headquarters.

I Personnel Bunkers

Sandbag structures designed to protect personnel during an artillery attack on the "B" Detachment operations area.

J II Vans

The II vans were part of the Imagery Interpretation Section complex of  structures, along with the TIIF and the operations building.  The II Vans held tables, storage cabinets, work stools for the examination of aerial imagery and the preparation of reports.


Part of the Imagery Interpretation Section complex, the Tactical Imagery Interpretation Facility (TIIF) held specialized equipment for the examination and evaluation of aerial imagery. 

L Operations Building

Part of the Imagery Interpretation Section complex, this site-built addition to the overall TIIF facility connected the individual TIIF and II vans along their rear walls where large cargo doors were located.

M Vehicle Parking

Parking areas for "B Detachment vehicles.  The visitors area and detachment sign were located just above the "I" label.

N POL Storage

The Army term for oil and gas was -- and is -- "petroleum, oil and lubricants," or "POL" for short.

O Generators

"B" Detachment provided it's own electric power using trailer-mounted generators that were parked under this carport-type of enclosure.

P Conex Stores

In effect, "B" Detachment's storage shed.  A Conex was a double-doored, steel freight container -- about the size of a small truck -- used to transport material by sea or air.  Often called a "Conex Box." 

Q Film Library

A Conex Box, or shipping container, used for holding rolls of aerial film in cans.

R Burn Area

The burn area was used to dispose of classified materials.  Negative film, paper prints, reports, etc., were placed in an open 55-gallon drum with holes punched around its bottom.  Gasoline was added, along with a lighted match.  In the confined area of the drum, vaporized gasoline could be volatile.  On one occasion, debris was propelled about 50 feet high, the result of too much accelerant and the shotgun affect of the circular drum.  Troops were dispatched to scour areas outside of the walls for classified materials.

Other Latrine

While not labeled in this photograph, nostalgia requires that "B" Detachment's sanitary facility be identified -- the shadow of it's rear wall appears as a black square to the left of the "N" label and below and slightly to the left of the "K" label.

This photo shows the detachment's operations area as it existed during the Spring of 1967.  Contrary to the "Boundary of Detachment Area" legend line at the top of the picture, the detachment area was never fenced off from the rest of the compound.  

Photo Credit: MIV


View of "B" Detachment's area of the I Corps Compound in 1967. 

Building housing "B" Detachment's orderly and supply rooms and commanding officer's office

Photo Credit: MIV

"B" Detachment offices (shown in the photo above at A and B) -- third door from the left with trooper emerging.  The bicycles and motor scooters belonged to personnel from ARVN military intelligence operations which occupied space (C) on either side.   A technical intelligence officer, not related to MIBARS,  occupied the first office (D).

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Working With the ARVN The Tet Offensive 1968

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