4RAR and Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment Flags Lowered For The Last Time
flagsmilitary basesVietnam WarRoyal Australian Regiment (RAR)
In November 1971, the Australian 4RAR and Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment flags at Nui Dat base were lowered for the last time by New Zealand Regimental Policeman Private Tai Whatu and Australian Regimental Policeman Private John Skennar of Grafton, NSW. The flags marking five years occupancy of the base by Australian and New Zealand forces were lowered by a small group of 4RAR/NZ (Anzac) Battalion comprising 4RAR and a component from the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment. Vietnamisation - pulling out: The Tet Offensive of February 1968 is regarded as a turning point in the Vietnam War. The Viet Cong mounted a series of attacks on major centers throughout South Vietnam. Although the Viet Cong suffered enormous losses, it was a psychological and propaganda victory for them. Surprised at the Viet Cong’s ability to orchestrate such major attacks across the country, including an assault on the American embassy, many in the United States began to disbelieve assurances that the war was being won. The fallout from Tet also led the United States President, Lyndon Johnson, to announce that he would not seek re-election. He was succeeded by Richard Nixon who won office in November 1968. In 1969 Nixon announced that the withdrawal of American troops was a priority. In a policy known as ‘Vietnamisation’ the number of United States combat troops was gradually reduced and their places were taken by soldiers in an expanded South Vietnamese army. But the United States continued to provide assistance by supplying weapons, further training for the South Vietnamese army, and naval and aerial support for South Vietnamese soldiers on operations. Tet had had its effect. In May 1968, just 4 months later, peace talks attended by representatives of North and South Vietnam, the Viet Cong and the United States, opened in Paris. Australia’s Government, having followed the United States lead in Vietnam, was now in the position of having to also enunciate a strategy for withdrawal. In April 1970 the Australian Prime Minister, John Gorton, announced that the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8RAR) would not be replaced when its tour of Vietnam ended in November. This followed a United States Government announcement that more than 180,000 Americans would be withdrawn and, more importantly, that a complete American withdrawal would follow. Vietnamisation meant that the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam (ARVN) would double in size, necessitating additional military trainers and resulting in an expanded role for the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) whose numbers increased in the final phase of the war. However, the ARVN was ill-equipped and unable to match the North Vietnamese Army in the field. Early in 1971 Australia’s Joint Intelligence Organisation, reporting on the progress of Vietnamisation, described the ARVN as ‘uneven in quality’ and suffering from poor leadership. Australian military officials in Phuoc Tuy and Saigon reported that the local ARVN would meet significant difficulties once the Australian Task Force’s battalions left. To add to the gloomy outlook, few South Vietnamese had any confidence in their own government which was regarded as corrupt and incompetent. The biggest mistake was the failure to go about a fair and evenly distributed approach of boosting the South Vietnamese Army in the early stages, giving them a fair allocation of helicopters and artillery and the like, and above all else comprehensive training. Subsequently, after the Tet Offensive in 1968 and after President Nixon replaced President Johnson in early 1969, the catch-cry went up that ‘Vietnamisation would turn things around’ and a huge effort was attempted, finally, to boost the South Vietnamese Army.
Images hosted by: Salt Lake Community College
Original version: Collection with various creators donated by Bernie Weisz; Archival digital version: SLCC Digital Archives. IN COPYRIGHT.
JPG Files downloaded from Facebook Profile with permission of the Profile Owner, then processed using Photoshop to generate archival TIFFs.