Australian Army Training Team Vietnam
The Commander of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), Colonel Ted Serong, arrived in Saigon, South Vietnam, on 31 July 1962. The 15 officers and 15 senior NCOs (warrant officers/sergeants) that made up “The Team” arrived in Saigon on 3 August 1962. The AATTV was sent to Vietnam in a training and advisory capacity, as part of the US Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). Members served 12 to 18-month tours of duty. They were sent to Vietnam singly or in drafts, as the unit did not exist outside Vietnam.
AATTV members operated with the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN), Montagnards, Territorial Forces (Regional Force and Popular Force), Mobile Strike (Mike) Forces, and other local units. Attached to units or battalions as trainers, advisers, and occasionally leaders, team members usually worked in the field, accompanying units on operations. They worked with various groups from the United States, such as the US Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency, and under the auspices of the already well-established US Army Advisory system, throughout South Vietnam.
AATTV was increased to 73 personnel in September 1964, and then to 112 in June 1965. The Team reached a peak strength of 217 members in November 1970. As part of an overall reduction of the Australian commitment, the size of the Team was decreased gradually from April 1971, before its complete withdrawal in December 1972.
Members of the AATTV were rarely together as a single unit, apart from on ceremonial occasions, such as ANZAC Day and the presentation of the US Army Meritorious Unit Commendation by General Abrams (Comd MACV) at Vung Tau on 30 September 1970. Members operated as individuals, in pairs, or occasionally in groups of no more than ten. Their role in Vietnam was to train and advise South Vietnamese units in their fight against the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong. As a result of their unique deployment, Team members worked in many provinces of South Vietnam. Although primarily deployed in the field, on 9 February 1971 the AATTV conducted the first course held at the new Jungle Warfare Training Centre in Nui Dat. AATTV soldiers also served in Mobile Advisory and Training Teams (MATTs) operating within Phuoc Tuy province, in III Corps.
Team members acted as advisers during combat operations and assisted with artillery and aerial fire support. They occasionally led South Vietnamese or Montagnard sub-units on operations.
The AATTV remained in Vietnam after the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) was withdrawn in 1972. It was stationed in Phuoc Tuy province and focused on training. It also assisted with training Cambodian soldiers of the Forces Armées Nationale Khmer (FANK). The Team was withdrawn from active service on 18 December 1972. It has the distinction of being the longest-serving and most highly decorated Australian unit of the Vietnam War: it was operational for over ten years and four of its members were awarded the Victoria Cross.