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Team 19 in Vietnam

An Australian Soldier at War

David Millie. foreword by General Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.)

Publication Year: 2013

Historical accounts and memoirs of the Vietnam War often ignore the participation of nations other than Vietnam and the United States. As a result, few Americans realize that several members of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), including Australia, allied with South Vietnam during the conflict. By the late 1960s, more than eight thousand Australians were deployed in the region or providing support to the forces there.

In Team 19 in Vietnam, David Millie offers an insightful account of his twelve-month tour with the renowned Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in Quang Tri Province -- a crucial tactical site along the demilitarized zone that was North Vietnam's gateway to the south. Drawing from published and unpublished military documents, his personal diary, and the letters he wrote while deployed, Millie introduces readers to the daily routines, actions, and disappointments of a field staff officer. He discusses his interactions with province senior advisor Colonel Harley F. Mooney and Major John Shalikashvili, who would later become chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. This firsthand narrative vividly demonstrates the importance of the region and the substantial number of forces engaged there.

Few Australian accounts of the Vietnam War exist, and Millie offers a rare glimpse into the year after the Tet offensive, when Presidents Johnson and Nixon both made it clear that the U.S. would withdraw its troops. This important memoir reveals that responsibility for the catastrophe inflicted on Vietnamese civilians is shared by an international community that failed to act effectively in the face of a crisis., reviewing a previous edition or volume

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Foreign Military Studies

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations, Maps

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

The western democracies began to use military advisors to impede the militant spread of communism shortly after World War II ended. It wasn’t long after the French departed from Indochina that the effort began in South Vietnam. The United States took the lead, but the Australian Army started to send advisors in the earliest days ...

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pp. xv-xvi

The diary of my military service experience in Vietnam laid in my desk for about thirty-five years. As the pages were filled with cryptic entries of a controversial conflict, I realized I had a duty arising from my involvement there. This was to present the events in a readable form for my family and for people who might have an interest. ...

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1. Leaving Home for War: May 1968

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pp. 1-6

“I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”1 When I heard the commander in chief of the United States of America, Lyndon B. Johnson, make this announcement on 31 March 1968 I thought: “This is not a good omen.” As history has shown, my concern was to be confirmed. ...

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2. The Big Picture: 1950–1968

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pp. 7-14

Resistance to foreign occupation in Vietnam had been growing steadily since well before World War II. Aspirations for self-determination for countries under colonial rule had been pursued and rebuffed after World War I. Vietnamese resistance during the Japanese occupation had been supported by China and the United States. ...

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3. Travel to Quang Tri and Orientation: 14–24 May 1968

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pp. 15-28

I spent the weekend prior to my departure for Vietnam in Sydney with Captain Adrian Nesbitt, a classmate in our times together at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Canberra. He had served with the Team from July 1965 to November 1966 in IV Corps. ...

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4. Australian Army Advisors in the Province: May 1968–April 1969

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pp. 29-44

The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) component in Quang Tri Province in 1968 typically numbered about fourteen members, an officer and thirteen warrant officers. Individuals were allotted to a U.S. Army advisory team. ...

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5. Counterinsurgency in Mai Linh Sub-Sector: May–August 1968

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pp. 45-78

To assist in countering local insurgency, each province chief had his own military headquarters, known as sector headquarters, to command and control the Territorial Forces in the province. The Territorial Forces were composed of Regional Force (RF) companies and Popular Force (PF) platoons. ...

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6. Pacification in Mai Linh District: May–August 1968

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pp. 79-104

The responsibility for the policy and organization of pacification programs and material support rested mainly on a number of U.S. civil agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. Information Service, the U.S. Department of State, and the USAF Logistic Support Group. ...

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7. With the Vietnamese People in Quang Tri: May 1968–April 1969

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pp. 105-122

I have elected to place this chapter of the story here, as the security of the people of South Vietnam was at the core of the conflict. They were a central element of my experience while in the country, and I judged that the people aspect be presented now, rather than later. ...

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8. Transition from District to Province: September 1968

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pp. 123-136

During our handover discussions in May, Major Michael Casey (AATTV) indicated that the Mai Linh advisory position for an Australian Army major was not very challenging. His debriefing with the commanding officer AATTV in Saigon included the recommendation that the sector operations officer position would be a more appropriate position. ...

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9. Sector Staff Work: The Oil and the Glue: September–December 1968

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pp. 137-164

The previous chapter outlined events associated with my transition to the sector operations advisor position. This chapter describes my day-to-day routine experiences as the Team 19 planning and operations officer up to the end of 1968. Significant projects are narrated in later chapters. ...

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10. Pacification Campaigns, Strengthening the Spine: 1968 and 1969

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pp. 165-192

A province senior advisor (PSA) in South Vietnam had a very broad range of activities and programs within the scope of his responsibilities. There were 217 programs countrywide. In this chapter I will cover my involvement in some of the programs related to pacification. ...

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11. Operation Fisher, Refugee Relocation at Gia Dang: September–December 1968

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pp. 193-226

Being a displaced person within your own country during a war is a traumatic experience. For your own government to neglect you in that situation adds further torment to your life and that of your family. To have to dwell and survive in coastal sand dunes while displaced and neglected makes for a very bleak existence. ...

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12. Contingency Planning for Tet 1969: January–February 1969

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pp. 227-242

A series of friendly force initiatives during Tet 1969 indicated battlefield dominance rested clearly with the allies. Command, staff, and troop efforts were rewarded by a relatively peaceful period. Any repeat of an enemy offensive along the lines of Tet 1968 was thwarted. ...

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13. Sector Staff Work: The Oil and the Glue: January–April 1969

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pp. 243-266

I pick up the story from Boxing Day 1968 by way of introduction to the activities of 1969. A coordination meeting was held for a cordon and search operation for the next day. We were informed that “block” was to be the term to use instead of “cordon.” The joint operation had the hallmark of the Stilwell/Truong doctrine. ...

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14. Operation Kangaroo, Cam Vu Resettlement: December 1968–April 1969

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pp. 267-276

Planning on the pacification counteroffensive had commenced in early October 1968. One specific Quang Tri Province project was founded on an area named Cam Vu, a rural village complex six kilometers to the west of Dong Ha. Eight evacuated hamlets had been identified for resettlement. ...

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15. Faith at Work: May 1968–April 1969

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pp. 277-292

Little did I realize before taking up my post in Quang Tri that a significant part of my time as a military advisor would be spent in both urban and rural environments, working mainly on issues that were the core of the counterinsurgency and pacification effort in South Vietnam. ...

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16. Paris Peace Talks and Ripple Effects: May 1968–April 1969

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pp. 293-300

The doors were opened to commence peace negotiations when the president of the United States of America made his surprising announcement on 31 March 1968. The conference of diplomats opened in Paris on 10 May 1968.1 The talks were to continue throughout my year in South Vietnam and for some years thereafter. ...

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17. Australian Leaders in South Vietnam: May 1968–April 1969

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pp. 301-316

The Australian Army hierarchy, from Canberra to the headquarters in Saigon, had a high degree of interest in the deployed AATTV. In 1968–1969 the Team provided to MACV more than ninety highly skilled and experienced advisors throughout South Vietnam. ...

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18. The Shield in a Limited War: May 1968–April 1969

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pp. 317-332

During my orientation into Quang Tri Province and the northern region in May 1968 I quickly realized that I had to become professionally and mentally adjusted to the enormous military campaign that was under way. My earlier preparation had been soundly based. ...

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19. Colonel Harley F. Mooney Leads the Way: August 1968–April 1969

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pp. 333-352

What are the qualities required of a commander in a multicultural, multidisciplined conflict environment? Character, leadership skills, knowledge, experience, skills in the organization of people, common sense, communication skills, adaptability, diplomacy, management skills, and abilities as a teacher and mentor may be some of the key qualities. ...

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20. The Omega and a New Alpha: 1970–2012

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pp. 353-364

As a teenager I enjoyed swimming, often in the ocean surf. As a veteran I can equate the highlights and low points of my Quang Tri experience to some of the attributes of body surfing. In the sea, waves roll toward the shore in a never-ending cadence. ...


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pp. 365-366

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pp. 367-368

This writing and research project based on my Vietnam diary commenced in 2007. Without the unfailing support of my wife, Eva, the emerging manuscript would not have matured into a publication. Other people played an invaluable part in the journey, and I thank them for their part as members ...

Appendix A: Some of the Characters, 1968–1969

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pp. 369-374

Appendix B: Aircraft and Weapons

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pp. 375-376

Appendix C: Chronology, 1968 and 1969

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pp. 377-380

Appendix D: Abbreviations and Terms

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pp. 381-384


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pp. 385-394


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pp. 395-398


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pp. 399-412

E-ISBN-13: 9780813143286
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813143262

Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Foreign Military Studies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Millie, David.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal narratives, Australian.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Participation, Australian.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Regimental histories.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Vietnam -- Quảng Trị (Province).
  • Australia. Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam.
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