1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

1st MIBARS On the Record


Military Intelligence Battalion

Air Reconnaissance Support

Photo Credit: MIV

Above:  "B" Detachment executive officer, shown examining the butt plate of an M-14 rifle for cleanliness, conducts a weapons inspection in 1967 on the I Corps Compound.

The Army's Air Reconnaissance Mission

In 1918 -- The Beginnings Over Europe

Photo Credit:  The United States Army

and The National Geographic Society

In 1965 -- The Evolution Over Southeast Asia

"[Following the Korean War] . . . In addition to developing its own aerial assets, the Army took steps to improve its interaction with Air Force tactical reconnaissance.  To better exploit aerial photography produced by Air Force reconnaissance squadrons, the Army fielded the 1st Air Reconnaissance Support Battalion in 1959.  The unit consisted of a headquarters and headquarters detachment, a signal air photo reproduction and delivery company, and a photo interpretation company.  A similar unit, the 24th Air Reconnaissance Support Battalion, was activated in the Army Reserve the same year, thus becoming the first non-ASA intelligence battalion active in the reserve components since the Korean War.

"In 1961 the Army activated another Regular Army air reconnaissance support battalion to support the Seventh Army in Germany, and in 1962 these units were reorganized and re-designated as Military Intelligence Battalions (Air Reconnaissance Support), or "MIBARS."  Two years later it devised a new TOE [Table of Organization and Equipment] for this type of unit that provided for a headquarters and headquarters company and four lettered imagery interpretation detachments.  The diverse nature of the products which photo interpreters now had to manage infrared and radar imagery, as well as conventional photography led to the Army's re-designating photographic intelligence as imagery intelligence in 1964.  There were also new developments in the Army's arrangements for ground reconnaissance.  From 1957 on, each combat division had its own reconnaissance battalion. The successive restructurings of the division in 1957 and 1962 meant that reconnaissance assets previously held at the regimental level were moved down, first to battle group, and then to battalion."

The Center for Military History
U.S. Department of the Army

1st MIBARS At A Glance

With its headquarters in South Vietnam's capital city, Saigon, the 1st MIBARS (pronounced "my-bars") in 1967 was a key tactical intelligence-gathering asset for United States and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) ground forces.  Using skilled imagery interpreters and analysts, elements of the 1st MIBARS produced combat intelligence from raw aerial photography taken, under a unique intra-service agreement, by high-flying photo reconnaissance units of the U.S. Air Force.  An integral photographic laboratory produced hard-copy materials for evaluation, annotation and eventual distribution to the commanders of ground units and to staff organizations supported by 1st MIBARS.  Direct and timely delivery of intelligence products was made by an attached aviation element.

The battalion's work, including its innovative Hand-held Camera Program in which MIBARS personnel flew with forward air controllers as photographer-observers, is well documented by General Joseph A. McChristian, former U.S. Army, Republic of Vietnam (USARV) Chief of Intelligence, in his monograph for the U.S. Army Center of Military History entitled, Vietnam Studies: The Role of Military Intelligence 1965-1967.  Photographs and text that illustrate and describe the subject of GEN McChristian's analysis appear on 1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

One of five operational 1st MIBARS field units, "B" Detachment was located on the outskirts of the northern city of DaNang.  It's mission was to support allied forces in the ARVN 1st Corps area, the northernmost of the four military tactical zones that divided South Vietnam.  Commonly written I CTZ (Corps Tactical Zone) or simply I Corps (with a Roman numeral), it was pronounced "Eye Corps."


"The mission of the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) was to process, interpret, annotate, reproduce and deliver imagery obtained from tactical air force reconnaissance elements; provide air reconnaissance liaison officers; provide deployed operations parallel to the dispersion of the tactical air force reconnaissance wings and disseminate all intelligence information obtained through imagery information and visual sightings by the tactical air force reconnaissance elements.  It was located at Saigon."

Tour of Duty In the Republic of Vietnam (RVN)

Arrived RVN:

23 DEC 1965

Departed RVN:

19 APR 1971

Previous Station:

Fort Bragg, NC

Authorized Strength







Shelby L. Stanton, Vietnam Order of Battle: A Complete Illustrated Reference to U.S. Army Combat and Support Forces in Vietnam 1961-1973, 2003, Stackhouse Books, Harrisburg, PA

The New Arrival's Introduction To 1st MIBARS In Vietnam

Graphic Credit: MIV

1. Introduction: Welcome To Vietnam!

    We hope your tour here will be both interesting and enjoyable.  It will certainly be challenging.  The war we are now fighting and the situation within which we find ourselves are unique for our nation and its armed forces.  There are problems here to tax even the most experienced and conscientious of individuals.

    This pamphlet will serve to provide you with certain basic information that should make your adjustment to this environment easier and safer.  Within a month of your arrival to this unit, you will be given a formal briefing that will expand upon the general areas covered herein, while introducing new subjects more pertinent to your duty assignment.

     Read and heed this information.  It was compiled and is presented for your benefit.  We solicit your recommended changes to this brochure.

General Information Brochure -- Vietnam, 1st MI Battalion (ARS) (FLD A), APO 96307, 1966

The 1st MIBARS' Expansive Role in Aerial Reconnaissance

"The 45th MID [Military Intelligence Detachment] was re-designated as Detachment E, 1st MIBARS in the fall of 1968. . . The 45th MID's primary responsibility was the interpretation of any and all aerial imagery flown over the two provinces and immediately adjacent areas and the provision of reports to all interested units in the AOR [Area of Responsibility]. Imagery was received primarily from the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW) at Tan Son Nhut, the 432nd TRW at Udorn, Thailand, Army Mohawk units and Marine and Navy units. A secondary but vitally important mission was the hand-held photography program that was implemented at all MIBARS detachments including the 45th MID at Phu Cat and Phu Bai. The hand held program consisted of MIBARS imagery interpreters (IIs) using 35mm SLR cameras (Pentax or Nikon) with long focal length lens to photograph targets of interest nominated by units who either due to timeliness needs or not being able to justify an RF4C mission would request our support. Nearly all of these hand held missions were flown in the 220ths [220th Aviation Company, US Army] O1 Bird Dogs. The success of the hand held photography program was a vital part of the battalion's activities that resulted in a Meritorious Unit Citation for the 1st MIBARS in 1968. The 45th MID/Det E in company with the 220th flew missions over the A Shau valley, Khe Sanh, the DMZ and other areas of upper I Corps.

"Some imagery taken by image interpreters from the 45th MID/Det E were used as evidence at the Paris peace talks of North Vietnamese incursions into the DMZ, in violation of the 1954 Geneva Accords particularly images of what became known as the "Big Ass Flag."

Some imagery taken by image interpreters from the 45th MID/Det E were used as evidence at the Paris peace talks of North Vietnamese incursions into the DMZ, in violation of the 1954 Geneva Accords particularly images of what became known as the "Big Ass Flag." . . . I joined the 45th MID in June 1968, after a brief assignment at HHC in Saigon. I was an imagery interpretation team leader and became the Operations NCOIC [non-commissioned officer in charge] until returning to the US in May 1969. I was one of several image interpreters, both officer and enlisted, who flew hand held photography missions in the 220th's O-1's out of the Phu Bai."

John T. Nichols, Imagery Interpretation Section, HHC and 45th MID, 1968-1969.
220th Aviation Company (Surveillance Airplane Light)(Reconnaissance Airplane)(Utility Airplane), Second Quarterly 2014, CATCOM E Newsletter, www.catkillers.org.


For overview information on the 1st MIBARS, check the authoritative sources such as those below.

Content varies, and these sites do not permit direct linking to the applicable page on their site.

 Surf On "1st MIBARS" or use in combination with search terms derived from the information below.


Global Security.Org



U.S. Army Center of Military History


Lineage and Honors

U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry


The Flying Eye Battalion

Return To 1st MIBARS In Vietnam! MAIN PAGE