Possums & Bird Dogs: Australian Army Aviation's 161 Reconnaissance Flight in South Vietnam

By Peter Nolan | Go to book overview

8
The Tet and Second
General Offensives:
January–July 1968

By January 1968, the United States had committed almost 500 000 troops to the war in Vietnam. The build-up of enemy forces had been equally large. It was a war of attrition, with neither side being able to turn the tide in its favour. The enemy sought to break this deadlock by launching the Tet Offensive, with the dual aims of striking a debilitating blow against the US-led forces and inspiring a popular uprising by the South Vietnamese people against their government and its foreign supporters.1

As the lunar new year festival of Tet at the end of January approached, intelligence sources indicated that a major offensive was likely, but it was difficult to predict where the enemy might strike in strength. In Phuoc Tuy, signals intelligence reported an uncharacteristic radio silence. As Saigon and the nearby military installations at Bien Hoa and Long Binh were clearly prime targets, the Australian commander, Major General Vincent, committed the task force to operations outside Phuoc Tuy province in support of American forces defending the northern and eastern approaches to the capital. Operation Coburg saw the deployment of 2RAR/NZ and 7RAR to an area of operations some 55 kilometres to the northwest of Saigon. The battalions were supported by A Squadron 3 Cavalry Regiment, 1 Field Squadron, 161 Recce Flight, the RAAF’s 9 Squadron and US artillery

-105-

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