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Australia's Involvement In The Vietnam War

1279 words - 6 pages

Following the withdrawal of the last Australian troops in 1972 more than 46000 Australian personnel had served in Vietnam.
This is out of a population of approximately 11 million. Of these, 3000 were wounded and almost 500 were killed.
Australia became involved in Vietnam because of a longstanding alliance with the USA since World War 2.

It can be argued that Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War had its origins in the Cold War. By 1945 the world had been divided between two superpowers: the USA and the USSR. The animosity and conflict that arose between the two nations was known as a cold war because it did not involve direct conflict with the USA formally fighting a war ...view middle of the document...

As the US had dealt with another fear of post-war Australians, Japanese resurgence; keeping communism at bay became a priority. Australia’s alliance with Brittain no longer provided strategic security in the Asia Pacific region and as a result the US became out strongest ally. In order to ensure Australia’s security the government signed treaties with countries in the region; these included ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand and United States) and SEATO (ANZUS members and several other countries). Members of these treaty organizations meant that these countries would support each other in both foreign and domestic threats.

French involvement in Vietnam ended in 1954 with the signing of a truce in Geneva. The truce was signed by the French Union (representing South Vietnam) and the Viet Minh forces. Vietnam was divided into two parts at the 17th parallel and following this approximately 900,000 people (many Catholics) migrated south to avoid the repressive regime of Ho Chi Minh. The United States supported the government of South Vietnam and by 1964 was engaged in a full-scale war with the north.

By the time of the Vietnam War Australia had a forward defence policy, which was based on the principle that it would be much better to fight communism on foreign soil rather than wait until Australia is threatened.
There was also the belief that if one country in Asia fell to communism many others would follow; this became known as the domino theory. In 1964 Australia sent combat troops into Vietnam and in 1966 the Liberal Government was re-elected with Harold Holt the new Prime Minister. At this point it became apparent that the majority of Australian’s supported Australia’s involvement in the war.

“All the way with LBJ” (P; Mackay; 129) stated by Prime Minister Hold sums up Australia’s support of the US at this time. Lyndon Johnson became the president of the United States following the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963. Robert Menzies had claimed that the government of South Vietnam made a direct request to Australia for aid and support. The truth of this statement has been challenged; however, there is no evidence to support the argument that Menzies lied nor is there any valid reason for Menzies to lie. The Australian people feared communism and this was a real fear at this time throughout the free world. Australia needed a strong ally in the Asia Pacific region and the United States was that ally.

Australia’s involvement in Vietnam went from 1962 to 1972. One of the most well known military units serving in Vietnam was The...

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