By Robert Hall
The tale of the 1969 journey of Vietnam via the 8th Battalion of the Australian military.
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Extra resources for Combat Battalion: The 8th Battalion in Vietnam
In its ‘shadow’ system of government the enemy combined Phuoc Tuy and the neighbouring Long Khanh Province into what it called Ba Long Province. Within Phuoc Tuy the NLF administered four districts: Chau Duc, Xuyen Moc, Long Dat and Cau Su, with several ‘special zones’ with their own local administration— Baria Special Zone, Vung Tau Special Zone and Long Son, an island within a sea of mangrove forest (see Map 1). In Ba Long Province the enemy operated a number of so-called ‘main force’ units, manned by local Viet Cong as well as North Vietnamese Army personnel, and under the control of Military Region 7.
28 The predominance of conventional war thinking, a belief in the efficacy of massive firepower liberally applied and a lack of awareness of the subtleties of CRW were soon reflected in the strategy the USA intended would win the war in Vietnam. Unlike its Australian counterpart, the US Army believed the war in Vietnam was essentially a military rather than political problem. Prevented from taking the war to North Vietnam and convinced that its superior firepower and mobility would quickly overwhelm the enemy, MACV (Military Assistance Command Vietnam) adopted a strategy of attrition.
Rather than occupying a central place in the strategy, security of the villages was seen as an afterthought, safely relegated to the most poorly trained, led and equipped troops—the RF and PF and the poorest of the ARVN units. The importance of internal security was recognised in Abrams’ 1969 MACV Strategic Objectives Plan, which placed new emphasis on the provision of security to the Vietnamese people thereby permitting the expansion of effective civil authority. 44 Abrams thought it especially important that the command move away from the over-emphasized and often irrelevant ‘body count’ preoccupation .