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Vietnam War The Battle for Vietnam. .

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Old 26 Sep 15, 16:36
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The U.S.Army in Vietnam: Official Australian Army View

Good evening to all...

I have, here, a book entitled "Australian Military Operations in Vietnam."

It was written by Dr. Albert Palazzo, "as an initiative of the Australian Army History Unit (Canberra 2006)", and further, "...written for members of the Australian Army, with a focus on leadership, command, strategy & tactics, lessons, and personal experiences of war."

It's purpose is in the hope that ordinary soldiers would read it and digest it's contents to apply in their training and operations, and to this end, it's smaller than A4 format also contains pictures,maps, tactical diagrams, Australian OOB, paintings and a CD. It's only a short book, running to 174 pages including the index, an is easy to assimilate all round.

After short opening chapters on the background in Vietnam, the political situation on both sides, the French effort, and the entry of both Australian and American forces into the war, it then moves on to describing the forces.

The two chapters I present to you are about the Americans...enjoy!



THE AMERICAN CONCEPT OF WAR



The American soldiers who arrived in Vietnam in 1965 brought with them a clear and deeply held institutional understanding of how to wage war.

Characteristically, the American way of war required the orchestration of intensive firepower, advanced technology, and abundant materiel in order to inflict maximum damage on the enemy. The goal was to dominate the battlefield to such an extent that the American forces would quickly break the enemy's will to resist and bring the conflict to a rapid conclusion.

The origin of the Army's concept of war lay in the American Civil War, and was reinforced by it's experiences during The Second World War and Korean War. It was also the type of battle the United States planned to wage against the Soviet Union.

Confident and committed to their concept of war, the Americnas did not make a distinction between the requirements for waging conventional and counter-insurgency wars. By contrast, British and Australian experience in counter-insurgency warfare highlighted the need for commanders to assign equal, if not greater, weight to a conflict's political dimensions instead of a focus exclusively on military considerations. Senior United States officers did not share this belief. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle Wheeler, commented with complete self-assurance that,

"..the essence of the problem in Vietnam is military."

When asked for his answer to the insurgency , the Commander of the United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam,(COMUSMACV) General William Westmoreland, replied,

"Firepower."

In 1965 it was Westmoreland's responsibility to design, implement and oversee the American plan for defeat of the VC. He was a devotee of the Army's concept of war, and his operational goal was to search out and destroy the VC as quickly as possible. Westmoreland intended to direct a war of attrition and mobility in which he would break VC resistence by inflicting casualties at a rate greater than the VC could accept.

Nor would the VC be able to hide.

Westmoreland planned a campaign the intensity and speed of which the VC could not match In the parlance of the day it's aim was to "find, fix and finish" the enemy and do it as quickly as possible.

Westmoreland's strategy was a thoroughly conventional approach to warfighting that incorporated American cultural values and made use of his force's strengths. However, it was also intellectually rigid and completely ignorant of the nature of counter-insurgency warfare. MACV (Military Assistance Command Vietnam) intended to transform the Vietnam campaign into a conventional style of war in which it would be able to being to bear it's great advantages over the enemy in firepower, technology and mass.

Whether the VC would agree to this transformation and allow themselves to be anihilated, was not a point of concern for American planners.

Even had the Americans proceeded at a slower pace, and paid greater attention to the principles of counter-insurgency warfare, the realties of their concept of war made the winning of the local people's hearts and minds prohibitively difficult. The widespread and indiscriminate application of mass firepower, and reliance on technology rather than personal contact, had severe consequences for the well being of the local people. The effect of the American way of war on the population, however, was rarely a factor in the force's mantra of killing enemy VC. In Feruary 1967, for example, the American 1st Cavalry Dviision (Airmoblie) conducted an operation in Binh Dinh province. During it's three month course, the division's ordnance expenditure included...

* 136,000 rounds of artillery
* 5,000 rounds of naval gunfire support
* 171 B-52 sorties
* 2,622 fighter-bomber sortie
* 500,000 pounds of napalm
* 35,000 pounds of tear gas

The operation was considered a success since it netted 1,757 VC
Yet it also displaced 12,000 villagers, whose homes and farms 1st Cavalry Division had destroyed.

It is not possible to determine how many of these villagers became recruits for the VC, but the American offensive probably did little to garner support of Binh Dinh's peasants.

Handicapping American planning was MACV's inability to develop a methodology that documented the efficcy of it's strategy of attrition. Possession of territory and the occupation of strategic points, both traditonal indicators of success, were meaningless in the context of Vietnam. Instead, MACV turned to statistics. The most infamous of these was the body count: each dead VC brought the United States closer to victory.

The reporting process became a self-fulfilling prophesy- and one that was not really representative of the course of the war. Moreover, the importance of submitting statistical increases encouraged commanders to expend materiel without concern for the local people. It is not known how many non-VC were included in body count submissions, but the system rewarded the reporting of the highest number possible.

There was some opposition to the attriton strategy and the concept's inability to treat the conflict as a counter-insurgency operation. However, such opposition was abherrant. It lay outside the American Army's mainstream, and was unable to breach the institution's committment to it's way of war. The most vigorous alternate strategy was the United States Marines Combined Action Platoon Program. This progam saw the forming of mixed Marine and ARVN popular force platoons. Each platoon occupied a village and provided it's defense. The platoons remained in place for the duration and their members became familiar with the local people while gradually extending the safe zone around their location. This initiative did not have Westmoreland's approval, but the Marines were a seperate service and MACV could not stop them from proceeding with this policy.

When the United States opted for military intervention in Vietnam, no one I Washington or Saigon considered the nature of the army that was to deploy, whether it was prepared for the conflict, or what it would do differently from the French. Instead, reliance on the Army's concept was complete- a faith that the course of the war showed to be seriously misplaced. Setbacks resulted not in the concept's reconsideration, but in demands for more resources in order to increase it's density.

In the aftermath of defeat, General of the Army Omar Bradley summarised his force's performance in Vietnam as,

"the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong army."

Drusus Notes.....And Bradley should have added, "and the wrong commander".




AUSTRALIAN & AMERICAN OPERATIONAL STYLES

While relations between the Australian and American soldiers were friendly, and each earned the other's respect, combat experience exposed the dramatic differences that underpinned their concepts of war and operational procedures. One of the most significant contrasts was the function of time. The 1 RAR (Royal Australian Regiment) commander, Major Essex-Clark, remembered that at his first meeting with Williamson, (Brigadier-General Ellis Williamson, commander of 173 Airborne Brigade (Seperate), the American unit assigned to work with 1 RAR), the American commented that,

"The war will be won in a few months, once the Viet Cong feel the firepower of the Brigade."

Essex-Clark, however, recognised that the insurgency's defeat would take a "long time."

Once away from Bien Hoa the different expectations of the conflict's duration became readily apparent. American patrols recieved vast areas to clear, moved toward objectives by direct path, and stuck to time-tables set by base-bound staff officers. An Australian patrol, by contrast, searched the jungle at a much slower pace than the Americans and followed a serendipitous route dictated by a combination of terrain and enemy signs. Seen from the air the respective patrols of the two allies moved so differently that on several occasions the Americans mistook the Australians for VC.

Compared to the diggers, the Yanks made extravagant claims of having cleared great tracts of land. Yet, their rapid march and telegraphed route offered the VC opportunities to slip away whenever they wished. Because 1 RAR's men did not simply traverse the ground (but sought to control it), land declared clean of VC by the Australians came with a higher degree of cerainty.

On operations, Americans displayed a cockiness which Australians neither understood nor desired to emulate. In the bush the airborne soldiers invited contact with the VC by talking, smoking, firing their weapons, retaining brightly coloured unit patches on their uniforms, marching in columns, (preferably along a track), and receiving supply from helicopters

The Australians were the opposite, they moved stealthily, patrolling slowly and silently fanning out in sections, refusing to walk on tracks, and avoiding helicopters until pickup time. One Australian observer declared,

"Keep those bloody choppers away from us- they give away our positions!"

Even in their bases the Americans continued to display a lack of caution where the VC were concerned. In the Bien Hoa compound at night the American units on either side of 1 RAR left electric lights on and routinely illuminated the approaches to their positions with flares. Watching VC would have seen a mass of lights with a small black patch (the Australians) in the middle. The VC regularly mortared the American sector of the base, but left the Australians area alone.

The American soldiers were neither slack nor poorly trained. Rather, they were confident, elite warriors who possessed a "gung-ho" attitude that was backed up with a scale of weaponry, the magnitude of which was beyond anything the Australians had previously experienced. American units taunted the VC to 'have a go', and in doing so accepted casualties as the price to pay for having the opportunity to bring their firepower to bear.

The Australians did not have the depth of reserves that the Americans enjoyed. 1 RAR had no option but to husband their manpower because the Army simply could not replace it. Thus, they adopted a more cautious approach to the enemy. Their message was, 'You will never know exactly where we are, but we will find and kill you'

The Australian 'go slow' approach, however, did gain their ally's respect. One Australian battalion commander called the Australians, "quiet hunters- patient, thorough, trying to outhink the enemy.". He continued, "I would not like to operate at night and know there was a chance of ending up in an Aussie ambush.

In another example, 1st Infantry division, US (The Big Red One) specifically requested 1 RAR's assistance during Operation Abiline, Australian excellence at patrolling having become common knowldge, and the divisional commander wanted 1 RAR, not an American battalion, to protect his fire support and logistics bases.

Even language posed difficulties for the two allies. The Australians had to learn a host of Yank expressions in order to avoid confusion, especially during radio transmissions. A 'slick' for example, was a Huey transport helicopter, and a 'dust off' was a medevac. When 1 RAR arrived in Vietnam, it's signallers used the Able-Baker-Charlie-Dog phonetic code for radio procedure, but had to adapt to the prevailing American usage Ahlpa-Bravo-Charlie-Delta. The language problem was so serious that when Jackson (Brigadier O.D. Jackson COMUSMACV for Australian Forces, headquarters in Saigon) visited Williamson's H.Q. for the first time, he found an Australian soldier outside Williamson's tent. When asked what he was doing the soldier replied..."Sir, I'm the interpretor."

The area of American activity that drew the greatest wonder and perplexity from Australian soldiers and officers alike was the employment of helicopters.

High aerial mobility was the 173rd's raison d'etre. According to it's advocates, helicopter aviation was the upwardly mobile 'arm' in the art of war. Between the Korea and Vietnam wars the United States Army intensely debated the role of tactical aviation on the battlefield. They did not see the 'chopper' as a counter-insurgency weapon. Instead, it's advocates wanted to exploit it's manuevre potential on a nuclear battlefield against the Soviets. 173 Airborne Brigade (Seperate) was one of the first formations raised for this purpose, and was 'light' only in the sense that it was not armoured.

Essex-Clark described a typical American helicopter operation. The sequence was:

* F-100 Super Sabres bomb the edge of the landing zone.
* A1-E Skyraiders drop Napalm
* Helicopter-gunships strafe the area with machinegun and rocket fire.
*Artillery pounds the landing zone, and finally
,
* A phosphorus smoke round announces the end of 'prep-fire' and the transport helicopter begin their descent.

Essex-Clark concluded that a helicopter insertion acomplished little. At best, it saved on walking and the troops arrived fresh at the insertion point. However, the accompanying noise and firepower display revealed the Americans' planned tactical area of responsibility (TAOR), thereby allowing the VC either to slip away or set up an ambush as they desired.

Having experienced them first hand, Essex-Clark left a vivid recollection of participating in an American helicopter-borne insertion, He wrote:

"an air-mobile assault is a rollercoaster helicopter ride accompanied by screeching Wagner and thundering Guy Fawkes. It is madness, and the surrealism makes me laugh with incredulity. It is adventure, it is excitement, but it is utter fantasyland......What on earth are the VC thinking as they slip away from all this bother?"

(end of article)

Drusus Nero......The Australian Army does not mince words

Hope you enjoyed. Stand by for a couple of notes to the text....




GUNG-HO

The Australian Army seems to have a different idea of exactly what the term 'Gung-ho' means. To Aussies, Gung-Ho is derogatory, indicating a rashness, lack of care, boldness to the point of recklessness, even suicide.

To the Americans, it's a military term that means something quite different.

Coined by Marine battalion commander Evans Carlson, after his service in China as an advisor, Carlson was influenced by his time there, coming up with a tactical organisation for the squad: eight man squads, rather than 10and with sub units in groups of three. "Gung-Ho" was a philosophy developed and spread by Carlson, as a partner to his new ideas on squad tactics. Marine Intel Platoon leader, William Manchester, tells of Carlson's time on Guadalcanal and Carlson's Raiders,

Manchester, from his wartime autobiography, 'Goodbye Darkness',

Carlson's Raiders arrived, spreading their gospel, then new, of "Gung-Ho" ("Work Together"). Carlson recommended long patrols, to be conducted, of course, by intelligence men. Ultimately his Raiders circled the entire island."

Bad news for Manchester, obviously, but good news for the Army and Marines!


LANGUAGE BARRIERS

The differences in application of military 'slang' between Aussies and the American Army would have been patchy inside the Australian Army. On another forum, once, long ago, a veteran Australian told me that his unit, serving prior to Vietnam, was already using Able-Baker-Charlie-Delta as common practice. Non-plussed, I can only pass this on as a further example of the confusion this problem caused in the Australian Task Force in SVN.

Much of the American slang has now passed into common usage in the civilian world as well, an enduring legacy, spread, no doubt, by returning vets.


"UTTER FANTASYLAND"

The description of an American airmobile assault by the viewing Australian officer, Essex-Clark is unique. Apart from it's humour, it is also the ONLY example of an eyewitness account from the period (that I'm aware of anyway) that uses the name WAGNER in association with this type of action. That certainly got me thinking when I first read it.

Perhaps, and this is pure speculation, screenwriter John Mileus ran across this description when writing that iconic scene into his script for Francis Ford Coppola's epic film, "Apocalypse Now". I wonder, though, whether this isn't just a word to describe the feelings of Essex-Clark, rather than an actual occurrance of Wagner being played! You be the judge.

In any case, this scene from the movie has become the very cliche' from an impression of a Vietnam that I thought never existed.

Mileus gives us another hint though that almost confirms the origins of his ideas for Kilgore's 'chopper' assault as this very description quoted above, namely, the reference to....Fantasyland!, a section of Disneyland.

In the film, Sam Bottoms as "Lance", while reading mail from home, drops acid and freaks out. His grip on reality slips further and further as the story unfolds, as he reads, he comes across a line from the letter, from a friend or relative who has just been to California and is telling him..."Theres never been a place like Disneyland, or has there?"
Lance looks up from his letter, saying..."Jim..it's here, it really is here"......and a short time later, still affected by acid...

"F**K!! This is better than Disneyland!!""

(finis)

It's been a real pleasure bringing this post to you all. I hope you enjoyed. If you have any comments, nit pick, or corrections, feel free to post away. All welcome

Meantime, may your camels never run!!!

Christopher
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  #2  
Old 26 Sep 15, 20:38
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Christopher,

An interesting read. And I'm sure there was, at least I hope there was, more to it than just bashing the Americans. But the entire article seems limited to the year that 1 RAR was attached to the 173rd and the period before the despatch of the ATF. In fact it was probably for the impending departure of the ATF that it was written. So I don't know how accurate an evaluation can be made with regard to how the US Army fought the war seeing as how it's period of evaluation is so small, but I take its point. How the American way of war is described is correct, if you are in agreement with Russell Weigley and his theory which Dr Albert Palazzo recites almost verbatim.

There are however, a couple of things that I would like to point out. First, the deployment of conventional US Army, and Australian, combat units to Vietnam in 1965 was because the North was beginning to infiltrate its own conventional forces to the South. At the same time some of the local VC forces had begun to operate as Main Force units up to a Division in size. So a conventional outlook by the US Army was not necessarily a bad view to have had in 1965-67. The first big battles the Americans engaged in, Operation Hump and the Ia Drang, were against VC Main Force and regular NVA troops respectively, and yes, firepower contributed to the defeat of both. Allies 2: Communists 0.

And not being able to communicate because of slang and a different phonetic alphabet? That's really overstating a minor point. I'm sure the usage of slicks, gunships, Chinooks and Cobras became a part of the Australian soldier's vernacular by 1968, if not sooner. Likewise it was Australia who was behind the times in using the passé Able-Baker alphabet when the NATO standard of Alpha-Bravo had become, well, the standard. I'm sure they must have already heard it from the British Army with whom they operated in Malaysia, Singapore and Borneo. Did the Australians need interpreters with the Brits too?

I won't go over what appears to be jealousy over the lack of resources available to the Australians compared to the Americans, particularly with regard to aviation. That would be rectified when the Australian government decided to provide more air support to the ATF.

Not a bad article, but more of an insight into what the Australian's needed to hear to make themselves seem equal to a modern western army operating in Australia's back yard.

Cheers,
Dan.
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Old 26 Sep 15, 20:46
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The Australian Army would have done rather better if they hadn't started to lay an extensive minefield.

Also in Australian parlance: a "torch" is synonomous with a "flashlight"- not in America.
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Old 27 Sep 15, 00:00
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Actually, I posted it as an example of American bashing...

What shocked me, was it's publication date...2006.

As little as 10 years ago, the Australian Army was making public statements to this affect, and encouraging it's soldiers to think likewise.

I wanted to see what the reaction from the more learned memvers of the forum might be.

But to do that, I had to present it unspoilt, with no bias from me. My personal comments are clearly not part of the text, everyone can see that, ( with the exception of one about Westmoreland. And I'm certainly not the first person on this earth to feel that Westy could have done a whole lot better, like resigning, or 'manning-up' to the chaos his conception of the war caused. He died, unrepentent, of course, the year before this hit the shelves)

So, any axe I might have to grind is seperated. But as you can see, I have not much to grind from my point of view.

The Army sure does. One has to wonder whether they pull this out to show visiting American serviceman and officials.

And, I must apologize for waiting for at least one outraged post. It was the only way to make an example of this work.

In any case, no-one can say for sure what the outcome would have been , had Australian methods and tactics been adopted.

Dr. Palazzo and the Australian Army seem to feel otherwise, and I'm sure they had a genuinely retrograde crystal ball, a thing of beauty on someone's desk , that could look back over their shoulder with perfect hindsight, and make incredibly obtuse staements like the above...
And not only that, officially encourage their soldiers to take it all with something other than a massive dose of salts.

I'm sure the Americans here would like to comment differently, but you have to present it first, and gauge a reaction, before revealing true intentions.

Anyhow, this stands as an example of how NOT to write history and give military advice and such in this day and age.

Still makes an entertaining read, though...but VERY politically incorrect!

Post away, my American friends...pull this one apart with your great store of knowledge. It would be a pleasure to be able to 'share' this thread on the Australian Army's official website, once we have about a dozen comments that pull it down.

I can't of course, but we and the average hundreds of people a day that visit this fine site, might very well run across it. We can, and I'm sure, will, give this the treatment it deserves.



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Old 27 Sep 15, 09:31
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I forgot to add that the poster above, Dan Martel, has made some fine points, and disposed of this "Official View" in a few short paragraphs, without any prompting from me. Just as I wanted it, a reaction unspoilt by commentary.

I also risked being seen as holding the same views myself. Dan showed a lot of maturity to attack the post head-on, rather than the messenger.

Mr. Whitehouse also showed bravery. He is Australian, (I'm not, I'm English)

Good work Dan! and Mr. Whitehouse!


Rep point well earned.

Anyone else noticing anything at all, or if you just want to let off steam, (this is a Vietnam forum...controversial)...go right ahead. Thats when a forum of any kind works best.

Christopher....
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Old 27 Sep 15, 13:57
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To pick up a bit on what Dan M noted: Yes, the Americans were there to take on the Main Force and NVA. And Yes, the Americans were taught to find the enemy, hopefully fix him, and call in supporting arms to do the real damage, therefore sparing American lives. It was drummed into me in OCS. The 5th Special Forces Group did sent personnel to the British Army Jungle Training Course at Koa Tinggi, and we had British Army training films on infantry company ops in the jungle in the MIKE Force. We even had an Australian Infantry training manual or two in our S-3 Section. Captain "Roo" Rothwell, who had been with 1RAR in 1965, gifted me his 1964 edition of the "Infantry Training Volume 4, part 2, The Platoon" which incorporated the previous "Tropical Warfare" volume.

Poor choice of showing the differences in English. "Zed" for "Zebra" ect are simplistic. Yanks learned not to call Aussies "guys", but blokes or mates, stealing or undermining was "whiteanting", the commo man was 'signals', etc., and most importantly, Aussie infantry didn't have 'squads', they had 'sections'. Oh, and other than the Thompson, the Owens Machine Carbine was the finest submachine-gun ever built, however grotesque it looked.

In short, the Australian Army was a very different Army from our own based upon its experiences in WWII, Korea, Malaya, and Borneo. Yes, it was much better at patrolling and more familiar with counterinsurgency thanks to those last two campaigns. But they also replaced the Bren LMG with the M-60, so they had a Machine group with each section (squad), normally commanded by the Asst Section (Squad) leader.
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Old 27 Sep 15, 20:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drusus Nero View Post
I forgot to add that the poster above, Dan Martel, has made some fine points, and disposed of this "Official View" in a few short paragraphs, without any prompting from me. Just as I wanted it, a reaction unspoilt by commentary.

I also risked being seen as holding the same views myself. Dan showed a lot of maturity to attack the post head-on, rather than the messenger.

Mr. Whitehouse also showed bravery. He is Australian, (I'm not, I'm English)

Good work Dan! and Mr. Whitehouse!


Rep point well earned.

Anyone else noticing anything at all, or if you just want to let off steam, (this is a Vietnam forum...controversial)...go right ahead. Thats when a forum of any kind works best.

Christopher....
(Well, thank you for the accolade, but I was British-born- so I usually try to have a buck each way !).

I think that there was mutual respect. But there were essential differences in doctrine which have already been explored in this forum.The Americans, having comparatively abundant resources, were able to use firepower prophylactically while the Australian approach had to be far more austere.
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  #8  
Old 27 Sep 15, 20:51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lirelou View Post
To pick up a bit on what Dan M noted: Yes, the Americans were there to take on the Main Force and NVA. And Yes, the Americans were taught to find the enemy, hopefully fix him, and call in supporting arms to do the real damage, therefore sparing American lives. It was drummed into me in OCS. The 5th Special Forces Group did sent personnel to the British Army Jungle Training Course at Koa Tinggi, and we had British Army training films on infantry company ops in the jungle in the MIKE Force. We even had an Australian Infantry training manual or two in our S-3 Section. Captain "Roo" Rothwell, who had been with 1RAR in 1965, gifted me his 1964 edition of the "Infantry Training Volume 4, part 2, The Platoon" which incorporated the previous "Tropical Warfare" volume.

Poor choice of showing the differences in English. "Zed" for "Zebra" ect are simplistic. Yanks learned not to call Aussies "guys", but blokes or mates, stealing or undermining was "whiteanting", the commo man was 'signals', etc., and most importantly, Aussie infantry didn't have 'squads', they had 'sections'. Oh, and other than the Thompson, the Owens Machine Carbine was the finest submachine-gun ever built, however grotesque it looked.

In short, the Australian Army was a very different Army from our own based upon its experiences in WWII, Korea, Malaya, and Borneo. Yes, it was much better at patrolling and more familiar with counterinsurgency thanks to those last two campaigns. But they also replaced the Bren LMG with the M-60, so they had a Machine group with each section (squad), normally commanded by the Asst Section (Squad) leader.

The make-up of a section was usually eight to ten men, commanded by a corporal:- two forward scouts armed,initially, with Owens but later with its replacement, the F1 SMG; the Section Commander, armed with an SLR,then the gun group ("upon contact, move to the right or the higher ground"), comprising two of three troops with an M60 and SLRs, and the remainder, being the rifle group:-SLRs.
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Old 27 Sep 15, 20:51
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Reference my above post. My apologies for running off before I proofed it, but she who must be be obeyed was adamant about my leaving . Obviously the "Machine group" in the Infantry section was "Machinegun group". And I wanted to add that Aussie 'grunts' were 'Diggers' and the man (signalleer) carrying the radio was the "chook", Aussie slang for chicken. Any radio operator who's humped the PRC 25 or 77 at a fast pace with the long antenna out should recognize the bobbing chicken motion associated with it.
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Old 28 Sep 15, 22:04
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Below is a link to an American's view of the Australian performance in the Vietnam War on the Axis History Forum. The thread dates back to October 2009, but it is informative and the American poster "EKB" (I wonder if he is any relation to the person with the same handle on this forum) seems to know what he's writing about. The exchange between him and his Australian interlocutors is not without interest. Read on if you wish:

Link: Australian performance in Vietnam

Here's the opening thread from poster "EKB" quoted below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by EKB, "Australian performance in Vietnam," Axis History Forum
Well, you know what they say about shooting from the hip. You could put the same question to Australia. Institutional resistance to maintaining permament special training programs is common in all of the armies.

For starters, the jungle warfare training center at Canungra, Queensland, was closed from 1945-1955. The Australians did not have any counter-insurgency training programs in place during this period; indeed they did not even have a written guide prepared on the subject, such as the U. S. Marine Corps Small Wars Manual of 1940.

In the early 1950s, Australian Army staff officers (like John Wilton) rejected the idea of sending their troops to Malaya for those reasons and felt the Diggers could be of no immediate value to the British counter-revolutionary efforts. The Canungra jungle warfare center was reopened in 1955 only after the Aussie government conceded to British pressure in sending troops to Malaya. Unfortunately the jungle training given at that time was programmed in haste and also emphasized conventional warfare rather than hunting guerrillas, so it was not entirely useful for conditions in Malaya. The Australians of 2 RAR subsequently received their advanced jungle warfare training from Gurkhas and other Commonwealth army instructors.

When Australian infantry units arrived in Malaya during 1955, the commanding officer of 2 RAR (Lt. Col. J. G. Ochiltree) was not shown a copy of the British manual entitled The Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya (ATOM), nor was he aware of its existence. Ochiltree was also critical of Canungra's method of teaching Australian soldiers to fire their rifles from the hip because it reduced shooting accuracy and in his opinion, it allowed some guerrillas to escape. He believed that British experience in Malaya proved that it took just a split-second longer to raise the weapon to the shoulder and this resulted in a more accurate shot. For more details, see Emergency and Confrontation by Peter Dennis and Jeffrey Grey.

As David Horner relates in his history of the Australian SAS, high ranking officers in the Australian Army were disappointed with the performance of the SAS during and after Vietnam conflict and they proposed to disband the entire regiment in the early 1970s. Specialized training camps are typically seen as an unnecessary expense in peacetime and often the target of budget cuts.
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  #11  
Old 29 Sep 15, 12:13
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Thanks Redzen...!

Great to get a little balance, eh?

It's Australian civilian practice to shoot from the mouth, as well!

Sounds like the Australian military shares this common cultural trait right down to their underwear!
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Old 29 Sep 15, 12:26
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Incidently, I took a quick look at the reference section of a new book on the Aussies in vietnam, chanced upon at the local bookshop.

There were 14? references about Essesx clark, every one of them devoted to 1965.
His report looks like something he would write for his promotion prospects.

Furthermore, Another new book from the same Army History Unit series, also on the same shelf, gave me a wonderful smile as I read that of the now 13 books in the series, only two of them were reprinted, both in 2009.

One of those two was Palazzo's "Australian Operations in Vietnam."

So, we can surmise that the 'Army History Unit' should now also be able to confirm publicly that this attitude from the above post still prevails in Army circles.
I'd certainly like to know if they have published anything to the contrary!........We'll watch carefully for more from AHU

We can see the Australian Army "Official View" hows now taken another big hit.

Thanks to Redzen...another nail in the coffin!
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Old 29 Sep 15, 21:59
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Redzen, appreciated the link to that web site. The comment that caught my attention was this by 419:

Quote:
The lost opportunity that is most germane here is the failure of the U.S. to respond positively to early overtures for co-operation from Ho Chi Minh after WWII and long before America had committed itself to support the French leading to their calamity at Dien Bien Phu.
Obviously 419 hadn't read his history, or equally important, had not analyzed what he read with the realities of 1945 in mind. A self-proclaimed President of a country, legally a federation of colonies and protectorates of a WWII Ally, firing off telegrams to the White House, expecting them to be read and answered by the President? A known Comintern Agent whose government had no international recognition, though the French recognized it (minus Cochinchina) tacitly by negotiating with him for over a year before the break came, seeking the intervention of the US against an Ally who was in real danger of losing an election that would bring the Communists to legitimate power in post-war France. All at a time when the Marshall Plan was being ironed out, and getting NATO on its feet with France playing a major role was a U.S. objective.

Hopefully, EKB's views are based on more solid facts.

As to the comment that 2RAR (?) had to be trained by the Gurkhas, well of course. The Gurkha Independent Parachute Company was attached to the Jungle School for that very purpose. And in the opinion of several American attendees, that was the premiere jungle operations school in SEA, not the MACV Recondo course. The purpose of the Recondo course was to train LRRP elements. The Purpose of the Jungle Operations Course was to train Noncommissioned officers and junior company level officers in combat operations in a jungle environment.
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Old 30 Sep 15, 02:02
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re..This darned machine won't let me rep you....

SUPER post

You've put a good couple of nails in here.

History forum 4...australian army...0

i keep hitting the rep yin-yang...blasted thing! I'll have to wait before you get you point.!
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Old 30 Sep 15, 20:18
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Very strange thread. If nothing else, the idea that the US Army was bad at counterinsurgency and overly reliant on firepower in Vietnam is hardly controversial within the US Army - Krepinevich, Nagl, Sorley etc.
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