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Combat Battalion: The 8th Battalion in Vietnam by Robert Hall

By Robert Hall

The tale of the 1969 journey of Vietnam through the 8th Battalion of the Australian military.

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This formation was responsible for operations throughout III Corps Tactical Zone. Thus the Australian Task Force was obliged to accept orders and directives issued by its US superior commander and to fit itself into US strategy. This was sometimes difficult since Australian CRW doctrine differed markedly from the US strategy to win the war. For the Americans, the Vietnam War was far more significant than for Australia. The United States saw itself as the champion of the free world against expansionist communism.

He volunteered for service in the infantry: ‘The placement staff didn’t realise I was mad. ’ David Jones, who joined 8RAR as a reinforcement, recalled: ‘We were lined up and told that if we didn’t wish to go we didn’t have to. ’ Andrew Roberts, also a reinforcement, was officially warned for overseas service at Reinforcement Wing, Ingleburn. ’ Those who had joined 8RAR before its deployment to Vietnam also had a choice. ’ But by then the cohesion created within the battalion during the lengthy period of intensive training had all but made it impossible for soldiers to opt out.

Although the appellation ‘main force’ was applied by Free World Military Assistance Forces (FWMAF) to the large, aggressive and relatively conventionally structured enemy units which engaged allied troops in combat, in reality these minor village guerilla units and the Viet Cong Infrastructure, or political organisations they supported, were in a sense the enemy’s ‘main force’. As Robert Thompson, the British counter-revolutionary warfare expert and author, noted: In a People’s Revolutionary War, and Vietnam is no exception, the primary weapon is this underground organization within the population.

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