March 12

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Mar 12, 1972:

Australians withdraw from South Vietnam

The last remnants of the First Australian Task Force withdraw from Vietnam. The Australian government had first sent troops to Vietnam in 1964 with a small aviation detachment and an engineer civic action team. In May 1965, the Australians increased their commitment with the deployment of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RAR). The formation of the First Australian Task Force in 1966 established an Australian base of operations near Ba Ria in Phuoc Tuy province. The task force included an additional infantry battalion, a medium tank squadron, and a helicopter squadron, as well as signal, engineer, and other support forces. By 1969, Australian forces in Vietnam totaled an estimated 6,600 personnel.

The Australian contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The effort was also known as the "many flags" program.

Australia began to withdraw its troops in 1970, following the lead of the United States as it drastically reduced its troop commitment to South Vietnam.

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