Vietnam Vanguard

Vietnam Vanguard

The 5th Battalion's Approach to Counter-Insurgency, 1966

Edited by: Ron Boxall, Robert O’Neill

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The Vietnam War, and Australia’s part in it, was a major military event, calling for willingness to face death and destruction on the battlefield on the part of those sent there, especially the men of our infantry battalions who formed the spearhead of our forces in Vietnam. For many reasons, the Australian public know relatively little about what our Army did in Vietnam during the war, particularly during the years of our peak commitment, 1965–72. This book attempts to make the true nature of the war clearer to readers, emphasising how hard fought it was during major operations.

Twenty-seven of the contributing authors of this book were involved in the 1966 deployment of the 1st Australian Task Force into Phuoc Tuy Province. This formation was the first Australian Army force larger than an infantry battalion group to be deployed into a major war since World War II. 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR), was in the vanguard as the task force’s first element committed to operations to seize and occupy Nui Dat base and embark on establishing dominance over the enemy.

The narratives presented in this book give rare insights into thoughts of the soldiers at the time and how they have come to view the Australian Government’s hurried expansion of its initial commitment to that war, the Army’s state of preparedness for that wider involvement, and how those in its forefront adapted to get the job done, both in and out of operations, despite numerous shortcomings in higher level planning.

Both professional soldiers and conscripted national servicemen have contributed viewpoints to these pages.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Feb 2020
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: History; Social Sciences: Military & Defence Studies
Australia; Southeast Asia: Vietnam

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Vietnam Vanguard »

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  1. The Challenge (PDF, 0.5MB)Robert O’Neill doi
  2. Why was 5 RAR Stationed at Nui Dat? (PDF, 0.2MB)David Horner doi
  3. Facing New Realities: From Holsworthy to Nui Dat (PDF, 0.1MB)Stan Maizey doi
  4. 5 RAR on Operations, May–September 1966 (PDF, 3.6MB)Max Carroll, Peter Isaacs, Roger Wainwright and Robert O’Neill doi
  5. Intelligence Work in Phuoc Tuy after Long Tan (PDF, 0.1MB)Robert O’Neill doi
  6. Into the Hills: Operations Canberra and Robin – October 1966 (PDF, 7.1MB)Max Carroll and Peter Isaacs doi
  1. Operation Queanbeyan – October 1966: Unfinished Business from Operation Canberra (PDF, 9.4MB)Max Carroll, Michael Deak (Michael von Berg) and Barry Campbell doi
  2. A Platoon Commander’s War – Part 1 (PDF, 0.2MB)Roger Wainwright and Terry O’Hanlon doi
  3. Contact with the Enemy – Through Soldiers’ Eyes (PDF, 0.1MB)Bob Kearney, Ted Harrison, Dan Riley and John O’Callaghan doi
  4. A Platoon Commander’s War – Part 2 (PDF, 0.2MB)John Hartley and Harry Neesham doi
  5. Advisers? Activities Beyond the Battalion (PDF, 0.2MB)Ron Boxall and Ron Bade doi
  1. Fire Support: 103 Field Battery Royal Australian Artillery in Action (PDF, 0.1MB)George Bindley, John Griggs, Peter Aspinall, Doug Heazlewood and Brian Mortimer doi
  2. The Medical Problems of Operations in the Hills (PDF, 0.1MB)Tony White and Ian McDougall doi
  3. The Challenges of Air Support (PDF, 0.1MB)Jim Campbell, Bob Supple, Bob Askew, Robert O’Neill and Bill Davies doi
  4. The Development of the Reconnaissance Platoon (PDF, 0.1MB)Michael Deak (Michael von Berg) doi
  5. John Warr as Commanding Officer: His Approach to the War (PDF, 0.1MB)Max Carroll, Peter Isaacs, Michael Deak (Michael von Berg) and Mark Warr doi
  6. Conclusion: The Development of a 5 RAR Approach (PDF, 0.1MB)Robert O’Neill doi

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