Records of Headquarters Australian Force Vietnam (Army Component)

Accession Number AWM98
Collection type Official Record
Object type Official Record
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975

Item copyright: Commonwealth of Australia copyright

Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use, permission from copyright holder must be sought for commercial use

Australia's military involvement in the war in Vietnam lasted from 1962 to 1973. The initial commitment in July and August 1962 consisted of a group of 30 instructors from the Australian Army Training Team (AATTV) who assisted United States Army advisors in training Republic of Vietnam (RVN) ground forces in jungle warfare, village defence and related activities. This was followed by a detachment of 6 Caribou aircraft with requisite flying and maintenance personnel in 1964 and an Army battalion, the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), and supporting logistical services in 1965. Command of these forces was exercised by Headquarters Australian Army Force Vietnam (HQ AAFV).

In March 1966 Cabinet increased Australia's commitment in Vietnam to a Task Force consisting of two infantry battalions, an artillery regiment, an armoured squadron, a cavalry squadron and other supporting arms and services. The force known as 1 Australian Task Force (1ATF) was based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy Province, east of Saigon.

The increase in force levels and the introduction of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) units required a larger headquarters with joint service capability and HQ AAFV was therefore upgraded to administer the three services. From May 1966 it became known as Headquarters Australian Force Vietnam (HQ AFV) with Major General Kenneth Mackay appointed as its first commander (COMAFV). HQ AFV was located within the Free World Military Assistance Office (FWMAO) on Tran Quoc Toan, in the Cholon district of Saigon (Coulthard-Clark, p 81).

COMAFV was responsible for overseeing the national interest and matters of Australian administration of the Australian forces in Vietnam but did not have operational control of Australian forces. 1 ATF was under the operational command of Headquarters II Field Force Vietnam (HQ IIFFV). As well as being the AFV Commander, COMAFV was responsible to and under the operational command of the Commander United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam (COMUSMACV).

HQ AFV comprised a Headquarters company, which was responsible for the local administration of the Headquarters as well as civil labour and transport. There were three branches comprising service advisers responsible to COMAFV for the efficiency and direction of their service and were the personal advisers to COMAFV on their service matters. The three branches were: General Staff (GS) Branch with sections responsible for operations, staff duties and training, intelligence, civil affairs and psychological operations, signals and public relations; an Adjutant General (AG) Branch with sections responsible for medical, legal, amenities and provost matters; and a Quartermaster General (QMG) Branch with sections responsible for supply and transport, catering, ordnance, electrical and mechanical engineers, movements and transportation. There was a Chief Engineer, who, although located at HQ AFV, spent approximately two days per week at 1 ATF coordinating engineer tasks. Other attached sections included Liaison, Force Operational Research Section, an element of 11 Movement Coordination Troop, a detachment of the AFV Provost Unit and the AFV Cash Office.

By 1969 opposition to the war was growing in Australia and by late 1970 Australia had begun to wind down its military effort in Vietnam. Following the withdrawal of Australian troops in 1971 it was announced that HQ AFV would be disbanded and the remaining force would be named the Australian Army Assistance Group, Vietnam (AAAGV). The change over date was 5 March 1972. Most Australian troops remaining in Vietnam arrived home by December 1972, with the final small group following in June 1973.

The records in this series were transferred from the Department of Defence to the Australian War Memorial from November 1981 - March 1982. The consignment was accessioned as OW82/11. The series was designated AWM98 in the mid 1980s when the Memorial adopted its new numbering system for Official Records.

While the bulk of files in this series relate to the period 1965-1972 a small number of files fall outside of this date range.

Files were removed from this series in 1982 and were used as research material for a report prepared by the Australian Army and tabled by the Minister for Defence in December 1982 entitled Report on the use of herbicides and insecticides and other chemicals by the Australian Army in South Vietnam. As the records were declared open for public access they were placed in an artificial series known as AWM181, Herbicide Series. Being no longer used for this purpose, in 1998 these records were removed from AWM181 and incorporated back into AWM98.


The records of series AWM 98 are those created by the Army Component of Headquarters Australian Force Vietnam (HQ AFV). The files contain material relating to the operations and activities of HQ AFV and the Army units under its command. Subordinate units were required to submit reports to HQ AFV on a regular basis documenting their individual activities and operations. There are no RAAF or Royal Australian Navy (RAN) records in the series. Records of the AFV (RAAF Component) are in a separate series, A2049.

The files cover a wide range of topics including amenities, casualty and accident reports, civil affairs, equipment and supplies, operating procedures, operations reports, personnel matters, security, training, transport, works projects and visits.

System of arrangement and control:

The system of arrangement and control is the original Department of the Army filing system, as used when the records were created.

Registered files:-

Registered items have a three-part item number conforming with the Department of the Army registry classification of correspondence catalogue. The first number represents the primary topic of the item, the second and third numbers refine the topic further.

The registered files are controlled by a card index, AWM104. This index is also the control series for other records relating to the Vietnam War including AWM103, AWM116 and AWM100. Researchers should note that most of the unit records previously allocated to series AWM100 will have been removed from this series and allocated their own series number by the end of 2004.

Non registered files:-

Non registered items (not having registered item numbers) were given imposed numbers by the Australian War Memorial (AWM), beginning at 1 and continuing serially. They are single numbers, not two or three part numbers like the registered items. They retain their original titles. Where no title was found, the AWM has imposed one that best describes the item¿s contents. All imposed information is enclosed in square brackets.

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