Thursday, November 14, 2013

Remembering Vietnam Veterans From Australia, New Zealand, and Canada


**Read through series by clicking on NEWER POST at bottom of pages**

In July and August 1962, at the request of then-US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk- Australia sent 30 military advisers to Vietnam. Because of the experience the Aussies had with jungle warfare and counter-insurgencies in Malaysia and Borneo the Americans regarded their input as invaluable.
"Australia's initial commitment to supporting the American stance in Vietnam consisted of the deployment of a team of military advisers. On 26th July, 1962, the Minister for Defence announced Australia's intention to send 30 instructors to the Republic of South Vietnam, 4 going to the Military Aid Council Vietnam (MACV) Headquarters in Saigon, 22 to regional locations in the Hue area and 4 to Duc My.(1) This team would be headed by Colonel F.P. Serong, previously Commanding Officer at the Jungle Training Center, Canungra, Queensland and would fall under the command of the Australian Army Forces, Far Eastern Landing Forces Headquarters in Singapore.(2) The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) arrived in the Republic of Viet Nam in August, 1962." Quoted from "Australia's Military Involvement in the Vietnam War by Brian Ross  (additional citations below)*

Personnel and aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force
Deplaning August 1964
Republic of Viet Nam

The Americans and Australians, with their varying types of experiences, possessed very different tactics and fighting styles.

"Whilst American instructors expounded the virtues of the rapid deployment of large numbers of troops, massive fire power, and decisive battles, Australians concentrated on individual marksmanship, the independence of platoons from battalion HQs, small scale patrols and ambushes. These differences frequently brought Australian advisers into conflict with their American superiors. The Australian policy of "economy of effort" was directly opposed to the American idea of "concentration of force".(6)

In addition to ground forces, eventually there would be medical personnel, air force personnel, infantrymen, tankers, and naval forces hailing from Australia and New Zealand. These combined forces were known as ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). This would be the first war which involved New Zealand that did not include forces from Great Britain.

And, although the Canadian Government was not involved politically or militarily, many Canadians joined or allowed themselves to be drafted into the US Military- mainly in the Marine Corps and the US Army.

We will focus our spotlight on each of these nations and their involvement with the war in Vietnam and that includes any and all medical personnel whether military or civilian. We will first begin with the largest contingent to serve in Vietnam, and that would be the folks from Australia whose Army is known as "Diggers". The soldiers from New Zealand, nicknamed "Kiwi" because of the presence of images of their national bird on emblems. The origin of the nickname "Digger" has been widely debated. Knowing that our friends from Oz love a good argument, we will stand by to see their comments!

Attributions: (1) p.8, Australia's Military Commitment to Vietnam, Paper tabled in accordance with the Prime Minister's Statement in the House of Representatives on 13 May 1975. (2) p.1, Horner, D.M., Australian Higher Command in the Vietnam War, Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No.10, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National Univsersity, 1986. (6) pp.56-58, McNeill, I. "Australian Army Advisers: Perceptions of Enemies and Allies".

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