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          The image of little shoulder patch on the top might remind some of you a familiar emblem that everyone had forgotten completely, for it represented a so humble, down-to-earth militia group with which none wanted to associate. And the words "Nhan Dan Tu Ve" alone would make many Vietnamese grin widely, from ear to ear, for it also reminds them another slang "Truyen Dai Nhan Dan Tu Ve" ("The long story of the People Self Defense Force,"(PSDF)).

Why it is so funny? At the later stage of Vietnam war, newspaper readers in Saigon could find on the local news section uncounted accidents in that militia force. The mishaps occured so daily that "Truyen Dai Nhan Dan Tu Ve" became a slang, a housename at that time, suggesting something was so routine or boring that no one wanted to hear about it any more. But make no mistake, the People Self Defence Force in the rural areas was another different story. It was an effective, potential measure and organisation for fighting the Viet Cong insurgency war, because no one could know the terrain, village, and local residents better than the PSDF's members themselves. And on the last days of Vietnam war, when all the "eagles," and "hawks" had flew away, those "Robin Hood" folk stood up, fought some last unknown battle against the advancing Communist army, especially at some Catholic and Hoa Hao sectors. Even in Saigon, a group of PSDF younsters, under the dirrection of some lost, disbanded soldiers also made a final, heroic stand. This moving story is in the process of translating in English and will be posted here as a tribute to the PSDF's members for their patriotic response, at the darkest moment of South Vietnam when most of their fellow countrymen have given up. But first, let's take a look at some photos and a short introduction of PSDF.

          Photos are contributed by D.T.Vu


          When the enemy attacked during the TET, thousands of Vietnamese citizen asked the government to give them arms so that they could defend themselves, their families and their property from attack. The Government answered the appeal of the people by furnishing them weapons through the Peoples Self-Defense program, which was established by the Mobilization Law pf June 1968. Thus the PSDF came about through the spontaneous demand of the people for it and it represents a cooperative program between the people and their Government. All able-bodied men in the age groups of 16-17 and 39-50, except those joining RVNAF on a voluntary basis, and males between 18-38 deferred from military service on grounds other than physical disability are required by the Mibilization Law to be members of PSDF. Women and youth together with older men can volunteer for the PSDF and thousands have responded. All previous militia type organizations in existence before the Mobilization LAw, like Combat Youth and Popular Militia, are now a part of PSDF.

The basic objectives of the PSDF are:

1/ To provide the people with the means to defend their families, homes, and hamlets/villages in both rural and urban areas;
2/ To assist the National Police and Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam in maintaining security and public order;
3/ To promote community development activities for self-help and improvement of hamlets/village in both rural and urban areas;
4/ To assist the police in identifying the enemy.

The PSDF must take part in the Popular Political Mobilization efforts of the government. The PSDF are important and respected members of the hamlet by virtue of having been given the responsibility to bear arms provide protection against the enemy; It is necessary to protect the people against the enemy's political program as well as his military threats

(Source: Peoples Self Defense Force Handbook by Col. Terry E. Rowe)

To be continued...

Ancient Army vignette

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