Combat Battalion: The Eighth Battalion in Vietnam

Combat Battalion: The Eighth Battalion in Vietnam

Combat Battalion: The Eighth Battalion in Vietnam

Combat Battalion: The Eighth Battalion in Vietnam

Excerpt

The infantry's role in combat is to close with the enemy and to kill or capture him. Behind this cold appraisal of the infantry's brutal task lies the flesh and blood of men. Despite the popular fascination with military technology it is the men—and particularly the men of the infantry—who must go forward in combat and exert their will over their enemy. The human factor is an essential ingredient of successful infantry combat operations. Yet an understanding of the human factor in combat has seemed strangely absent from Australian military historiography of the Vietnam War.

Many of the unit histories of the Vietnam War tend to recount a series of operations without attempting to explain their implications for the men who fought through them. Many, like Lex McAulay's The Fighting First, or J. M. Church's Second to None, are the battalion Operations Log and Commander's Diary turned into running text (although Church does include some interesting insights into the role of the commanding officer). To this limited foundation is sometimes added the recollections of those who were there. But typically these histories follow the chronology of the Commander's Diary in lockstep: detail piles upon detail according to chronological order. Though particular incidents scream for a digression that would provide context or deeper analysis, the authors find it impossible to escape the tyranny of chronology. This approach may form a useful record for those who served with the battalion and whose memories provide the context . . .

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