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Team 19 in Vietnam

Team 19 in Vietnam: An Australian Soldier at War

David Millie
Foreword by Gordon R. Sullivan
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    Team 19 in Vietnam
    Book Description:

    Historical accounts and memoirs of the Vietnam War often ignore the participation of nations other than Vietnam and the United States. As a result, few Americans realize that several members of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), including Australia, allied with South Vietnam during the conflict. By the late 1960s, more than eight thousand Australians were deployed in the region or providing support to the forces there.

    InTeam 19 in Vietnam, David Millie offers an insightful account of his twelve-month tour with the renowned Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in Quang Tri Province -- a crucial tactical site along the demilitarized zone that was North Vietnam's gateway to the south. Drawing from published and unpublished military documents, his personal diary, and the letters he wrote while deployed, Millie introduces readers to the daily routines, actions, and disappointments of a field staff officer. He discusses his interactions with province senior advisor Colonel Harley F. Mooney and Major John Shalikashvili, who would later become chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. This firsthand narrative vividly demonstrates the importance of the region and the substantial number of forces engaged there.

    Few Australian accounts of the Vietnam War exist, and Millie offers a rare glimpse into the year after the Tet offensive, when Presidents Johnson and Nixon both made it clear that the U.S. would withdraw its troops. This important memoir reveals that responsibility for the catastrophe inflicted on Vietnamese civilians is shared by an international community that failed to act effectively in the face of a crisis., reviewing a previous edition or volume

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4328-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Maps
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    General Gordon R. Sullivan

    The western democracies began to use military advisors to impede the militant spread of communism shortly after World War II ended. It wasn’t long after the French departed from Indochina that the effort began in South Vietnam. The United States took the lead, but the Australian Army started to send advisors in the earliest days and was steadfast in its support of the advisory effort throughout the period of deployments by their units that paralleled the buildup of American units. From the outset, Australian officers and warrant officers were welcome in advisory teams at every level. Many had experience in...

  6. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. 1 Leaving Home for War: May 1968
    (pp. 1-6)

    “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”¹ When I heard the commander in chief of the United States of America, Lyndon B. Johnson, make this announcement on 31 March 1968 I thought: “This is not a good omen.” As history has shown, my concern was to be confirmed.

    My departure day for Vietnam was approaching. I had been posted to operational service in South Vietnam by the Australian Army. It was not a surprise that a family farewell of some magnitude was upon me. The time away...

  8. 2 The Big Picture: 1950–1968
    (pp. 7-14)

    Resistance to foreign occupation in Vietnam had been growing steadily since well before World War II. Aspirations for self-determination for countries under colonial rule had been pursued and rebuffed after World War I. Vietnamese resistance during the Japanese occupation had been supported by China and the United States. A nationalistic alliance within Vietnam evolved after 1945 with an emphasis on anti-imperialism and land reform. When the war against the French concluded in 1954, representatives of the Vietminh and the French signed a cease-fire agreement in July.¹ Thereafter the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) gradually developed policies to unite the...

  9. 3 Travel to Quang Tri and Orientation: 14–24 May 1968
    (pp. 15-28)

    I spent the weekend prior to my departure for Vietnam in Sydney with Captain Adrian Nesbitt, a classmate in our times together at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Canberra. He had served with the Team from July 1965 to November 1966 in IV Corps. Chatting with him helped me make the mental transition from peace and harmony to conflict and discord. His sister and her husband were at Sydney Airport to bid me farewell on the evening of 13 May, a very kind gesture and much appreciated.¹ Later in the evening the advance party for the 4th Battalion Royal Australian...

  10. 4 Australian Army Advisors in the Province: May 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 29-44)

    On arrival in Vietnam each member of the Australian Force Vietnam (AFV) received a small card titled “NINE RULES.” The preamble said:

    We as a military force and as individuals are in this country to help the Vietnamese Government and People to win their long and courageous fight against the Communists. The product of victory is a democratic State with stable government and contented people. The Communists will use any weapon to discredit the Government and countries, like ours, in the eyes of the Vietnamese people. Don’t let your behaviour be a propaganda weapon which helps in any way to...

  11. 5 Counterinsurgency in Mai Linh Sub-Sector: May–August 1968
    (pp. 45-78)

    To assist in countering local insurgency, each province chief had his own military headquarters, known as sector headquarters, to command and control the Territorial Forces in the province. The Territorial Forces were composed of Regional Force (RF) companies and Popular Force (PF) platoons. Regional Force troops were recruited by the province chief from within the province and organized into companies, each about one hundred in strength. In 1968, Quang Tri Province had nineteen RF companies. Their role was to provide security to the lines of communications and key installations within the province and to provide a reaction force for the...

  12. 6 Pacification in Mai Linh District: May–August 1968
    (pp. 79-104)

    The responsibility for the policy and organization of pacification programs and material support rested mainly on a number of U.S. civil agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. Information Service, the U.S. Department of State, and the USAF Logistic Support Group. In the field, CORDS with military support delivered the programs. The funded programs provided the long-term building blocks for economic, social, and political development that would be influential in partially determining, with the military effort, the sustainability of the sovereign state of South Vietnam. By these means we were determined...

  13. 7 With the Vietnamese People in Quang Tri: May 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 105-122)

    I have elected to place this chapter of the story here, as the security of the people of South Vietnam was at the core of the conflict. They were a central element of my experience while in the country, and I judged that the people aspect be presented now, rather than later. Our advisory team role was to do our best to help provide the people of Quang Tri with opportunities for a better life.

    My first encounter with a large number of Vietnamese people was at a Sunday morning Mass in Quang Tri City. A children’s dialogue Mass was...

  14. 8 Transition from District to Province: September 1968
    (pp. 123-136)

    During our handover discussions in May, Major Michael Casey (AATTV) indicated that the Mai Linh advisory position for an Australian Army major was not very challenging. His debriefing with the commanding officer AATTV in Saigon included the recommendation that the sector operations officer position would be a more appropriate position. On 20 June 1968 my Australian commanding officer informed me that I was to stay in Mai Linh. This was not of concern to me at the time, as I was still becoming familiar with the general operating environment. Working with the U.S. Army in a foreign country in a...

  15. 9 Sector Staff Work: The Oil and the Glue: September–December 1968
    (pp. 137-164)

    The previous chapter outlined events associated with my transition to the sector operations advisor position. This chapter describes my day-to-day routine experiences as the Team 19 planning and operations officer up to the end of 1968. Significant projects are narrated in later chapters.

    Planning had been under way for a few days for a Territorial Forces sector operation on 16 September. A helicopter assault was to be launched from an airfield to the northwest of the Ga Bridge using Mai Linh forces. The pickup point was between Highway 1 and the Thach Han River to the immediate north of the...

  16. 10 Pacification Campaigns, Strengthening the Spine: 1968 and 1969
    (pp. 165-192)

    A province senior advisor (PSA) in South Vietnam had a very broad range of activities and programs within the scope of his responsibilities. There were 217 programs countrywide. In this chapter I will cover my involvement in some of the programs related to pacification. They have been grouped together here for convenience of presentation, as they all contributed to our drive for peace and a better way of life for the people of South Vietnam.

    Military activity in Quang Tri Province had been intense in the first half of 1968. Allied forces operating in the area to the south of...

  17. 11 Operation Fisher, Refugee Relocation at Gia Dang: September–December 1968
    (pp. 193-226)

    Being a displaced person within your own country during a war is a traumatic experience. For your own government to neglect you in that situation adds further torment to your life and that of your family. To have to dwell and survive in coastal sand dunes while displaced and neglected makes for a very bleak existence. So, helping to alleviate the circumstances of these Vietnamese people seemed to be a worthy task. Operation Fisher is an example of a well-executed pacification project, with objectives arising from national plans and professional implementation coming from a multinational team of Vietnamese and Americans...

  18. 12 Contingency Planning for Tet 1969: January–February 1969
    (pp. 227-242)

    A series of friendly force initiatives during Tet 1969 indicated battlefield dominance rested clearly with the allies. Command, staff, and troop efforts were rewarded by a relatively peaceful period. Any repeat of an enemy offensive along the lines of Tet 1968 was thwarted. Here is how Team 19 contributed to the contingency planning to achieve this outcome.

    The counteroffensive by the GVN and MACV was gaining traction during the second half of 1968. Implementation of the national pacification plan was continuing. Within the allied forces there was a consciousness that the NVA and the VC should not be allowed to...

  19. 13 Sector Staff Work: The Oil and the Glue: January–April 1969
    (pp. 243-266)

    I pick up the story from Boxing Day 1968 by way of introduction to the activities of 1969. A coordination meeting was held for a cordon and search operation for the next day. We were informed that “block” was to be the term to use instead of “cordon.” The joint operation had the hallmark of the Stilwell/Truong doctrine. The 1st ARVN Regiment, elements of the 1/5 Infantry Brigade, and sector forces were to participate in the operation. The advisors present at the meeting had an observer role, as we were not to be involved in the operation. Planning was done...

  20. 14 Operation Kangaroo, Cam Vu Resettlement: December 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 267-276)

    Planning on the pacification counteroffensive had commenced in early October 1968. One specific Quang Tri Province project was founded on an area named Cam Vu, a rural village complex six kilometers to the west of Dong Ha. Eight evacuated hamlets had been identified for resettlement. The number of displaced people to be returned to their residences was estimated to be about six thousand.

    The people of these hamlets had been evacuated from their homes during the enemy Tet offensive in February 1968. They were presently in a temporary camp near Dong Ha township. Province officials believed that a relocation of...

  21. 15 Faith at Work: May 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 277-292)

    Little did I realize before taking up my post in Quang Tri that a significant part of my time as a military advisor would be spent in both urban and rural environments, working mainly on issues that were the core of the counterinsurgency and pacification effort in South Vietnam. This chapter arises from my experiences with people of many faiths and practices in the province.

    In Quang Tri, I had the opportunity to participate in the celebration of the Mass in a number of Catholic churches in the city and environs. Within a few weeks I was comfortable, from a...

  22. 16 Paris Peace Talks and Ripple Effects: May 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 293-300)

    The doors were opened to commence peace negotiations when the president of the United States of America made his surprising announcement on 31 March 1968. The conference of diplomats opened in Paris on 10 May 1968.¹ The talks were to continue throughout my year in South Vietnam and for some years thereafter. The prospect of a peace by negotiation fuelled hopes of an early settlement of the war, certainly so for the troops. The talks in Paris cast shadows over our efforts in Vietnam, some pleasant, most dark. They had what I describe as a ripple effect on some of...

  23. 17 Australian Leaders in South Vietnam: May 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 301-316)

    The Australian Army hierarchy, from Canberra to the headquarters in Saigon, had a high degree of interest in the deployed AATTV. In 1968–1969 the Team provided to MACV more than ninety highly skilled and experienced advisors throughout South Vietnam. Australian leaders, from the AATTV’s commanding officer upward in the Australian chain of command, spent quality time on visitation to deployed Team members in South Vietnam. There were considerable benefits for higher ranking Australians in traveling the country. Also, Australian visitors provided a morale boost to Team members, as well as sustaining an invaluable network of U.S. military leaders throughout...

  24. 18 The Shield in a Limited War: May 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 317-332)

    During my orientation into Quang Tri Province and the northern region in May 1968 I quickly realized that I had to become professionally and mentally adjusted to the enormous military campaign that was under way. My earlier preparation had been soundly based. Now the reality had to be understood so that I could become an effective member of MACV and AATTV. The experiences described so far happened mostly in the populated areas. The combat forces of the allies provided an outer protective shield. The following is a snapshot account of the shield in Quang Tri Province.

    The NVA had refuge...

  25. 19 Colonel Harley F. Mooney Leads the Way: August 1968–April 1969
    (pp. 333-352)

    What are the qualities required of a commander in a multicultural, multidisciplined conflict environment? Character, leadership skills, knowledge, experience, skills in the organization of people, common sense, communication skills, adaptability, diplomacy, management skills, and abilities as a teacher and mentor may be some of the key qualities. Professionalism of a high order is an essential ingredient. A province senior advisor needed to be a master of facilitation to motivate and bring together a committed group of people from a variety of cultures, to achieve goals set by two governments, the United States and the GVN. In Quang Tri Province, on...

  26. 20 The Omega and a New Alpha: 1970–2012
    (pp. 353-364)

    As a teenager I enjoyed swimming, often in the ocean surf. As a veteran I can equate the highlights and low points of my Quang Tri experience to some of the attributes of body surfing. In the sea, waves roll toward the shore in a never-ending cadence. At the entry, known surface currents and unknown undercurrents are hazards that need to be managed. The approaching crest of a wave is a decision point for the rider, to go or to back off. Occasionally in Vietnam I felt I was in a big wave, as some of the major events in...

  27. Epitaph
    (pp. 365-366)
  28. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 367-368)
  29. Appendix A: Some of the Characters, 1968–1969
    (pp. 369-374)
  30. Appendix B: Aircraft and Weapons
    (pp. 375-376)
  31. Appendix C: Chronology, 1968 and 1969
    (pp. 377-380)
  32. Appendix D: Abbreviations and Terms
    (pp. 381-384)
  33. Notes
    (pp. 385-394)
  34. Bibliography
    (pp. 395-398)
  35. Index
    (pp. 399-416)