Australia and the Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War

Australia enters - 1962

Members of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam’s (AATTV) first contingent disembark from the aircraft that has brought them to Saigon on 3 August 1962. These men were at the vanguard of Australia’s decade-long involvement in the war and were among the first of some one thousand soldiers to serve in the AATTV. [AWM P01011.004]

Members of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam’s (AATTV) first contingent disembark from the aircraft that has brought them to Saigon on 3 August 1962. These men were at the vanguard of Australia’s decade-long involvement in the war and were among the first of some one thousand soldiers to serve in the AATTV. [AWM P01011.004]

In the early 1960s South Vietnam was a land beset by problems. The government was under threat from a growing communist insurgency, losing control over the countryside outside major towns and cities and facing internal dissent. The South Vietnamese government sought assistance from the United States and her regional ally, Australia. Both countries responded with civil and military aid. Australia’s contribution was small in comparison to America’s, but sufficient to show loyalty to the United States, Australia’s most valued ally. The United States was keen to avoid the appearance of replacing French colonialism with American imperialism, and the involvement of other countries from the region, such as Australia, helped avoid this perception by suggesting a more international approach.

Colonel F P (Ted) Serong, DSO OBE, Commander of the AATTV from 1962 to 1965. [AWM P01508.001]

Colonel F P (Ted) Serong, DSO OBE, Commander of the AATTV from 1962 to 1965. [AWM P01508.001]

Australia’s initial military contribution to South Vietnam was modest; comprising a team of 30 advisers who worked in various areas of the country under the command of Colonel F.P. ‘Ted’ Serong. Known as the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), they gave Australia a presence in South Vietnam and were seen as an embodiment of the Australian doctrine of ‘Forward Defence’ - meeting threats at their source rather than waiting to fight an enemy on Australian soil.

Colonel Serong arrived in Saigon, South Vietnam’s capital, on 31 July 1962. His men followed on 3 August. This small unit was the vanguard of Australia’s decade-long involvement in the Vietnam War.


Showing the disposition of major Army units between 1962 and 1967, these three maps trace Australia’s growing involvement in the Vietnam War. They illustrate Australia’s deployments, relative to the location of other major Army units, in the years before the commitment peaked in 1968. [All maps are believed to have been published by the Royal Australian Survey Corps and have been reproduced with permission of the National Library of Australia.]

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Map 1962-64 ‘Location of some major units 1962-64’

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Map 1965 ‘Expected location of some major units as at 1 September 1965’

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Map 1967 ‘Location of some major units as at 1 September 1967’