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In 1950 as the communist-backed Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, began to gain the ascendency in the First Indochina War, the Vietnamese nation had two parallel administrations; the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) (recognised by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China) and the State of Vietnam (So V), an associated state in the French Union (recognised by the non-communist world).

In 1954, after the defeat of the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Geneva Accords of 1954 split the country geographically, with the DRV to the north of the 17th parallel and the So V in the south.

Relationships between the AATTV and US advisors were generally very cordial, but there were sometimes significant differences of opinion on the training and tactics that should be employed.

For example, when Serong expressed doubt about the value of the Strategic Hamlet Program at a US counter Insurgency Group meeting in Washington on , he drew a "violent challenge" from US Marine General Victor "Brute" Krulak.

In this regard the Australian government's initial response was to send 30 military advisers, dispatched as the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), also known as "the Team".

In April 1966 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) was established in Phuoc Tuy Province, based at Nui Dat.Captain Barry Petersen's work with raising an anti-communist Montagnard force in the central highlands between 19 highlighted another problem—South Vietnamese officials sometimes found sustained success by a foreigner difficult to accept.Warrant Officer Class Two Kevin Conway of the AATTV, was killed on 6 July 1964, side by side with Master Sergeant Gabriel Alamo of the USSF, during a sustained Viet Cong attack on Nam Dong Special Forces Camp, becoming Australia's first battle casualty.According to historian Paul Ham, the US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, "freely admitted to the ANZUS meeting in Canberra in May 1962, that the US armed forces knew little about jungle warfare".

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Given the experience that Australian forces had gained in Malaya it was felt that initially Australia could contribute to the situation by providing advisors who were experts in the tactics of jungle warfare.Nevertheless, Australian troops from the Australian Embassy Platoon remained deployed in the country until 1 July 1973, and Australian forces were deployed briefly in April 1975, during the Fall of Saigon, to evacuate personnel from the Australian embassy.

Like most retirees, James Mc Kune, almost 80, keeps busy with hobbies, including interests in construction and motorized vehicles, and planning his next trip — he loves visiting large cities and meeting new people.… continue reading »

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