Patrolling: Fire Support Bases
Gunners from 1st Field Regiment rebuild a command post at Fire Support Base Bruiser with some of the many sandbags filled during the years of the conflict, 1969. [Image courtesy of Arthur Burke]
Where possible, local people were employed to help fill the sandbags, 1968. [Image courtesy of John Siladi]
Battalion Headquarters could also be deployed into the field, either at a fixed location – a fire support base (FSB) – or in a more mobile form. FSBs, which were generally set up with the Battalion’s artillery battery, mortars and armour, enabled a more flexible rapid response with greater coverage for operations beyond the immediate vicinity of the main Task Force base. The FSBs, often named after wives or girlfriends such as Susan, Diane, Coral and Beth, could remain in position for months and as the war progressed they played an increasingly important supporting role for operations in outlying areas.
One permanent FSB was established on ‘the Horseshoe’, a circular hill about 8 kilometres southeast of Nui Dat and just north of Dat Do. It was constructed in March 1967 as a preliminary step in the building of the Dat Do to the sea barrier minefield. The base provided an extensive view of the surrounding countryside as well as an effective ready reaction force and so was retained despite the failure of the minefield. Australian troops maintained the Horseshoe FSB until June 1971, when the base was handed over to ARVN troops.