Even after its federation and nominal independence in 1901, Australia’s foreign policy was for years strongly influenced by Britain. Sir Robert Menzies was elected Prime Minister of Australia in 1949 and maintained leadership for sixteen years. Many of the trade unions called the governments support of America’s decisions and foreign policy in Vietnam ‘blood for dollars’, or ‘diggers for dollars’. The 1964-1972 anti-Vietnam anti-conscription movement was specifically aimed at ending Australia’s intervention in Vietnam and the associated conscription scheme. The Vietnam War was the longest war in American history and the most unpopular American war of the 20th century. Suddenly Australians were made aware of the problems of refugees. Another major reason why the war became increasingly unpopular in America was the cost of the war. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial, Served: 49,211Died: 520Wounded: 2,396Men awarded the Victoria Cross: 4. 18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded. Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War was driven largely by the rise of communism in Southeast Asia after the Second World War, and the fear of its spread which developed in Australia during the 1950s and early 1960s. Most of the protest/anti-war movement was strongly against conscription. Beginning in 1955, heused ARVN troops to reverse Communist land redistributionin South Vietnam and return landholdings to the previous owners.Fearful of Viet Minh popularity and activity in rural areas—whichhad increased as a result of Diem’s cancellation of the scheduled 1956elections—Diemuprooted villagers from their lands and moved them to settlementsund… The US government began to implement a policy of “Vietnamisation’, the term coined for a gradual withdrawal of US forces that would leave the war in the hands of the South Vietnamese. In 1950 as the communist-backed Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, began to gain the ascendency in the First Indochina War, the Vietnamese nation had two parallel administrations; the Dem… 1968 began with a major offensive by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, launched during the Vietnamese lunar new year holiday period, known as “Tet”. Major protests were held in Washington in 1971. 520 died as a result of the war and almost 2,400 were wounded. Their arrival in South Vietnam in July 1962 was the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The advance of Japanese imperial forces into the Asia-Pacific brought an aggressive imperial power clo… The fear of communism eventually overtaking Australia was initially the main reason for Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Part of the narrative of Australia’s Vietnam War in the more than 40 years since our commitment ended has been that Australian soldiers returning from their deployments were badly treated by their fellow Australians. ", © 2020 Returned & Services League Of Australia, https://www.facebook.com/RSLNewSouthWales/, https://www.linkedin.com/company/rslnsw?originalSubdomain=au, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3rFzs0MFUDG-49jis1G2fw, Subscribe to receive information from RSL NSW. Removing Jungle in Vietnam Agent orange- A powerful Herbicide used to remove foliage and potential food for the soldiers. Australia responded with 30 military advisers. In 1961 and 1962 Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam’s leader, repeatedly requested security assistance. In August 1966 a company of 6RAR was engaged in one of Australia’s heaviest actions of the war, near Long Tan. The Vietnamese civil war began in 1959. From 1965 to 1972, 15,381 national servicemen served in the Vietnam War, with 200 killed and 1,279 wounded. Upon taking office, Ngo Dinh Diem quicklydeveloped a reputation for using force rather than democratic meansto initiate change. Australian support for South Vietnam in the early 1960s was in keeping with the policies of other nations to stem the spread of communism in Europe and Asia. Opposition to conscription focused both on preventing young men being forced into such a war and on the coercive and militarist nature of the scheme itself. Protesters included a group of men who had served in the conflict and called themselves the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of WWI. By 1969 anti-war protests were gathering momentum in Australia. The Australian government dispatched the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) in June 1965 to serve alongside the US 173rd Airborne Brigade in Bien Hoa province. It was the first war to come into American living rooms nightly, and the only conflict that ended in defeat for American arms. A third RAAF squadron (of Canberra jet bombers) was also committed in 1967 and destroyers of the Royal Australian Navy joined US patrols off the North Vietnamese coast. Menzies wanted to achieve a better lifestyle for all Australians and was bitterly opposed to communism. Unlike 1RAR, the taskforce was assigned its own area of operations and included conscripts who had been called up under the National Service Scheme, introduced in 1964. Even the smallest protest about Australian or US nuclear or war policies tended to be branded by the government and mainstream media of the day as “communist inspired” or “fellow-travelling” with communists. Vietnam remained Australia’s longest war until Afghanistan. Opponents of the war were galvanized by the indiscriminate bombing and napalming of Vietnamese civilians, the view that the war was a civil one rather than part of a “downward thrust” of “communism” towards Australia, the perception on the part of many on the left that it represented a form of imperialism on the part of the United States, and the fact that Australia was supporting an undemocratic and … After three hours of fierce fighting, during which it seemed the Australian forces would be overrun by the enemy’s greater numbers, the Viet Cong withdrew, leaving behind 245 dead and carrying away many more casualties. As to why Australia made such a decision,my take is that it felt it “owed one” to the USA because of American actions in WW2 which helped prevent a Japanese invasion.Also,Australia may have feared Chinese expansion-North Vietnam being a front for China in this view. Prior to World War II, the Australian government still looked to London for leadership, diplomatic guidance and, when necessary, military protection. The Vietnam War was a military campaign launched by North Vietnam against South Vietnam. The extension of the war into a sovereign state, formally neutral, inflamed anti-war sentiment in the United States and provided the impetus for further anti-war demonstrations in Australia. The United States supported the South, while China and Russia supported the North. You will notice that during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars there was no major protesting because the kids in college and middle class kids would not be drafted to go fight the wars. 60,000 soldiers had been sent to the front, a third of them conscripts. While the invasion succeeded in capturing large quantities of North Vietnamese arms, destroying bunkers and sanctuaries, and killing enemy soldiers, it ultimately proved disastrous. Many Australians were opposed to involvement in the Vietnam War and even more objected to the use of conscripts there. third, the war was very unpopular with Americans and was not supported. (The domino theory.) The Vietnam War In 1965 the USA launched Operation Rolling Thunder: the bombing of military targets in North Vietnam. The anti-war protest began in 1962 when the first Australian troops were sent to Vietnam to fight with America. This was the belief that if one country fell to communism, it was likely that the … As part of its preparations for sending troops to the war, the Menzies Government had earlier announced in November 1964 a “birthday” ballot national service scheme under which 20 year old males would register and the required number of conscripts would be drawn from a twice-year lottery. The Unnecessary War The reason why the Vietnam War was a waste of time was because the of four things. Escalation proceeded through a series of small steps, none of which seemed t… 50,000 Australians, including ground troops, air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam. In the well-known Moratoriums of 1970, more than 200,000 people gathered to protest against the war, in cities and towns throughout the country. The battle eliminated communist dominance over the province. Vietnam War (1954–75), conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam and its allies in South Vietnam, the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The official death toll was 521, the third-largest of any conflict Australia had joined, but far smaller than those of the two world wars. … The 8th Battalion departed in November but, to make up for the decrease in troop numbers, strength was increased and its efforts, like those of the taskforce, became concentrated in Phuoc Tuy province. When the Khmer Rouge came to power in April 1975 it imposed a cruel and repressive regime that killed several million Cambodians and left the country with internal conflict that continues today. Opposition to conscription mounted, as more people came to believe the war could not be won. The Domino Theory. war, from both sides, were extensive and brutal due to guerilla warfare and the use of chemical weapons. This information was televised in detail, sparking anti-war movements and weakening the morale of Americans fighting in Vietnam. By early 1965, when it had become clear that South Vietnam could not stave off the communist insurgents and the North Vietnamese for more than a few months, the US commenced a major escalation of the war. Following the end of the Second World War the French had sought to reassert control over French Indochina. The withdrawal of troops and all air units continued throughout 1971 – the last battalion left Nui Dat on 7 November, while a handful of advisers remained in Vietnam the following year. 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