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The current time is: 10/23/2017 10:20:50 PM
 (1945-1991) Cold War    
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Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1076

What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/13/2017 5:53:05 PM
I've been sniffing around one of my favourite subjects again, Vietnam and specifically our Vietnam and in particular the decisions surrounding deployment and such.

In early 1964 the Defence Act 1903 was amended to incorporate 'Defence Emergency' to deal with the new threat of limited war in our near north and for the Citizen Military Forces terms of service to allow them to be called up in time of 'Defence Emergency'. The definition of Defence Emergency was deliberately kept vague to give Government latitude in when and how to call up the CMF. This was all in line with the re-orientation of the Army where the Regulars supported the CMF, which would be called up in Divisional strength to fight in the Mid-East to according to a DCGS communication the CMF supports the RA.

However within months the Government had turned away from the powers it had just granted itself and introduced Selective Service conscription to ensure certainty of numbers for Army expansion. This relegated the CMF to a distant third place in the scheme of things.

The historiography on this has been mixed. One camp saying that the threshold of limited war wasn't crossed and a Defence Emergency didn't exist so it was correct not to call out the CMF to deploy to Borneo and Vietnam. The other camp saying that if the situation was serious enough to deploy an entire Joint Force Brigade to Vietnam AND introduce conscription to sustain that and the deployment in Borneo/Malaysia then a Defence Emergency DID exist and the CMF should have been used in sub-unit strength.

To me its a typical non-decision of the era, much like our reluctance to withdraw from Vietnam despite the massive and swift drawdown of the US.

Thoughts?

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Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1316

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/13/2017 8:11:44 PM
Riain, lots of interesting points behind your questions.

Was your Citizen Military Force (CMF) similar to Canadian Forces Reserves, or was it closer to the US National Guard? You're talking 1964 – over 50 years ago – and I bet things have changed for all military groups in that time.

E.g., IIRC, Canada still had separate Reserve units for the three branches of the military. It wasn't until 1968 that the three branches became merged as land, sea and air components of a single Canadian Forces. I was pretty anti-military at the time, but I believe our Reserves were not considered capable of functioning with active troops, but were seen as capable of dealing with national crises. I believe they were also very much involved with the military cadet programs for the three services.

I shouldn't even try to speak for the various National Guards of that period, though it seemed to have been a haven for many who wished to meet military requirements without actually having to face combat. While I don't know how connections between National Guard and US Military changed because of the Vietnam War, I sense that through most of the civil unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s in the US it was the National Guard who were called out because their concern was domestic and civilian.

From what you offer, it seems to me that the government of the time wanted to cover its ass, and to redefine Australia's commitments in its region. I don't know Oz politics of the time, but I would think if both Malaysia and Vietnam are being included in the same breath, then some kind of redefinition was needed. Just going on your comments, I think the implementation of conscription was a sensible decision. In effect, it removed the concept of "Defence Emergency" from the realm of troop commitment. Given Oz's ongoing involvement in the islands north of you (which could be argued was a question of National Defence) and your commitment to supporting the US in Vietnam (which could not be argued involved the defense of Australia), an enlarged regular military, albeit a conscripted one, moved Oz out of shadow of Commonwealth commitments and gave it a larger and more consistent place on the world stage.

I'll admit, I don't see why you talk about a "typical non-decision of the era". Seems to me they got both parts of the cake: a tighter link between CMF and RA when required, but a clear split between CMF and Australian military forces when Australia wished to step beyond her defensive sphere.

Did I miss your point?

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Posts: 472

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/13/2017 8:20:54 PM
Riain,

Not "non-decision" but decisions based on a flawed perception of what the majority of public opinion would accept and not based on the situation nor what was needed to do the job. They were making decision based on how it would be accepted in the eyes of the public and effect other agendas and their popularity rather than what was needed on the ground to win.

I don't know if I'd agree with "massive and swift drawdown" because it was really started right after Tet in 68 and lasted until summer of 73. The "massive and swift" would be the abandonment from summer of 73 to spring of 75.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1076

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/14/2017 2:12:35 PM
Brian, the CMF was up to the change of the Defence Act in 1964 the basis for a large Army primarily for home defence. In WW2 it was the CMF that held the Japanese on the Kokoda Track, but was unable to advance beyond Australian territory into Mandate former German Papua or anywhere else until the law was changed in 1943 to expand the deployment area well to the north. The CMF was maintained by conscription during WW2 and nobody had too much of a problem with that, the all volunteer AIF was able to be deployed anywhere which suited our needs until 1943. The CMF was maintained by a short service conscription scheme between 1951-59, with the Regular Army providing a professional backbone for peacetime tasks and for career officers and NCOs as cadres.

This thinking changed in the late 50s, the conscription scheme was dropped and the idea was for the CMF to support the RA rather than the other way around, as per the General Staff Instruction of 22 Dec 1959. The CMF was reorganised along Pentropic lines, and gutted in the process, presumably to support this idea in some way. The Government tried to boost RA and CMF numbers in 1964 but continually fell below targets meaning that the CMF would not be able to meet its stated aim of mobilising in Division strength. However the NS scheme planned for 2 call ups of 2100 men in 1965 and 4 call ups of 1750 men in 1966 and beyond, a target far closer to the capacity of the CMF to meet.

One reason why the CMF wasn't called upon to provide units or subunits was because of the political costs of calling up what was seen as Australia's home defence force. But that seems to me to be a non reason because instead of calling on a volunteer force the Government decided to introduce conscription for overseas service in peacetime!

John, Nixon made 4 announcements of troop withdrawals between June 1969 and April 1970 totalling some 265,000 personnel before Australia made its first announcement that when 8 Btn RAR finished its tour in Nov 70 it would not be replaced. We then undertook 2 Btn rotations in Feb and May 1971 before drawing down to a single Btn in October 1971, by which time support for the war had gone from a landslide-election-winning issue to the polar opposite. It's typical of the thinking of the period, a refusal to use the powers to use the CMF and introducing conscription, refusing Military advice to deploy tanks to Vietnam instead of pushing for a 3rd Btn that couldn't be sustained but then following Military advice and having an extremely slow withdrawal decision once everything had turned to crap.
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Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3330

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/14/2017 2:30:07 PM
"and having an extremely slow withdrawal decision once everything had turned to crap."

 Leadership by hesitancy. I've seen it many times concerning less significant decisions involving public resources. The trouble is, poor situations don't improve with age.

Cheers

BW
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With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1076

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/14/2017 2:59:06 PM
It was pretty bad for us. For example the reason why 2sqn RAAF Canberras were deployed to Vietnam was, aside from the Govt wanting a RAAF combat sqn in Vietnam, that the RAAF wanted to free up space at Butterworth Malaysia for a 2nd Mirage sqn. RAAF Amberley near Brisbane was gearing up for F111s and didn't want the Canberras to come home, so they were sent to Vietnam; for administrative convenience!

Or that the Army higher command was pushing from mid 67 to send tanks to Vietnam, the CGS advised that they were a higher priority than the 3rd btn the Govt was advocating. Yet the OC of 1ATF was sceptical of the logistics of supporting tanks and when the decision came there was no warning order to deploy to Vietnam, the CO of 1 Armd Regt heard about the decision to send a sqn of his tanks to Vietnam on the News in Oct 67. Even then the deployment was half-arsed, half the sqn was sent in Feb 68 and the other half not until Sept after a couple of tough engagements where tanks proved valuable.

This was typical, the Govt decided they wanted in on Vietnam but gave no guidance on what they wanted the military to achieve but meddled in what units were deployed and how.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Posts: 472

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/14/2017 3:43:02 PM
Riain,

I'd have to go back and check but I think the announcements were for future not immediate troop withdrawals so I'm standing by my statement that it really wasn't a quick withdrawal. Maybe its a case of The US or S Vietnamese asking that your troops went through the slow withdrawal to help offset US withdrawal? Again I'd have to check but I wonder the schedule of ROK withdrawal and if it would shed any light?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1076

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/15/2017 6:04:40 PM
John, I don't know when the troops actually left Vietnam, but I was under the impression that about 100,000 troops left Vietnam in 1969 and the next announcement for 150,000 were to leave Vietnam by the end of 1970. The point being that we were some 10 months behind the US' decision curve when it came to withdrawal, despite the unpopularity of the war at home and the controversy of conscription for overseas service. The Chairman-Chief of Staffs Committee General Wilton was advising the government that it didn't make military sense to conduct a phased withdrawal, despite the US doing exactly that.

Wilton is an interesting figure and probably important in the conscription issue when he graduated from Duntroon in 1930 he left Australia for the British Indian Army and didn't return to Australia until May 1939. Thus he didn't get the exposure to the CMF during his early career and thus as CGS when the issue came up he didn't have any experience with the CMF and was dismissive of it.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Posts: 472

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/16/2017 6:41:33 PM
Riain,

You had a 550,000 troop number to draw down from is my main point so even if your numbers are correct your looking at less than 50% of the total. So basically when you started to withdrawal there was still 450,000 US troops in-country. Plus there was a lot of "playing with the numbers" going on. Like Air Groups stationed in Thailand flying mission in Vietnam everyday not counting against the number or the B-52's that weren't stationed I'm Vietnam but flying everyday in Vietnam or Air America in Cambodia and Laos or SEAL, Marine or Army units "at sea" off the coast but doing missions on the ground X number of days a week so as to not count against the official number.

Also like I said it might be that the S Vietnamese and/or the US asked yours and the S Korean troops to stay to help offset the lost combat power until enough ARVN could be trained or proven in battle competent to fill the void.

I also don't want to downplay the unpopularity but I think the hindsight does tend to over state it at least in the US.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1076

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/17/2017 6:28:08 AM
Yes, and the US had made 4 announcements over a 10 month period to pull almost half of them out before we decided to make our first withdrawal.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Posts: 472

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/17/2017 1:25:41 PM
Riain,

When were your elections? Everybody running for President in 68 ran on to varying degrees a "end the war" platform so as soon as the winner takes office at the beginning of 69 it would have been political suicide to not announce troop withdrawals. Did your government hold elections in late 68 with the candidates promising withdrawal? And again my best speculation is that South Vietnam and/or the US asked you to stay.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1076

Re: What constitutes a Defence Emergency?
Posted on: 4/17/2017 4:33:58 PM
You learn something new every day: for some reason in the 60s the HoR and Senate elections were not held concurrently like they were in the 40s and 50s and since 1974 onwards. So the electoral cycle was - Nov 63 HoR, Dec 64 Senate, Nov 66 HoR, Dec 67 Senate, Oct 69 HoR, Nov 70 Senate and Dec 72 HoR.

However that's not the full story, Menzies retired at the start of 66 and Holt became PM and won a massive victory in Dec 66. Holt then disappeared when swimming in Dec, so Senator Gorton had to resign, stood for Holt's seat and won it becoming PM, however during that time the Tet offensive was underway and as a private person with no seat in Parliament he announced that Australia's commitment to Vietnam wouldn't be increased. In April 197- he announced that 8 RAR wouldn't be replaced when its tour ended. He was removed as PM in March 71 but remained Deputy Liberal Leader and Defence Minister. McMahon continued the drawdown and there was little left when the Coalition was destroyed at the 72 election by Labor's Gough Whitlam who recalled the final troops.

I think the biggest reasons why we took so long to draw down, were that we were behind the US decision curve and because the military argued for an all or nothing withdrawal, saying there was no military sense in a phased pullout.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

 (1945-1991) Cold War    
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