Many Flags, One War - 5/26/1965

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War has been the response to national and international conflicts for centuries. The Vietnam War being of the most brutal this century. On this day May 26, 1965, eight hundred Australian troops departed for Vietnam. And it is also on this day that New Zealand announced that it will too send an artillery battalion. In 1964, the Australian government had first sent troops to Vietnam in the form of an insignificant aviation’s detachment along with an engineer civic action team. By this time, they were increasing their commitment to the war with the dispatch of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RAR).

worlAustralian presence in Vietnam continued to grow as the years progressed. In 1966, the country increased its troop strength by forming the First Australian Task Force. The task force established its base of operations near Ba Ria in the Phuoc Toy province. Included within the task force were two battalions of infantry, a helicopter squadron, signal forces, a medium tank squadron, engineer forces, and other support. By 1969, the Australian military presence in Vietnam totaled to approximately 8,000 military personnel.

Initially, New Zealand also began to increase its Presence in Vietnam. They sent a small engineer detachment to the South, but later in 1965, they sent an artillery battery in July. As time progressed, the New Zealand contingent was placed under the operational control of the First Australian Task Force, and would grow to over 1,000 men. The Free World Military Forces, was the organization under which the New Zealand and Australian contingents were part of. Also known as the “many flags” program, The Free World Military Forces was an effort made by President Lyndon B. Johnson which enlisted allies for South Vietnam and the United States. 

By ensuring the support of other nations, President Johnson hoped to create an international agreement of his policies in Vietnam. In 1970, the United States began to drastically reduce the troop commitment in South Vietnam. Soon thereafter New Zealand and Australia did the same, in true ally style. 

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