40 - Long Tan Mission Analysis | The Principles of War Podcast
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What was the desired Endstate for D/6 at Long Tan?

We start the Mission Analysis for Long Tan to determine the Center of Gravity.  We start in 1965 as we look for tactical, operational, strategic and grand strategic centres of gravity.  Using COL Eikmeier’s Ends, Ways and Means methodology, we need to understand the desired end state first – and this is where our analysis starts.

Have a listen to this Professional Military Education podcast to gain an understanding about how D Coy, 6 RAR was decisively engaged by an enemy with a force ratio of 20:1.  Surprise and Flexibility are principles to inflict on your enemy, not by your own side – how was the planning and deployment impacted by decisions at home?  Have a listen to find out some interesting facts about the deployment of 1 ATF to Nui Dat?


In 1965 1 RAR sent a 3 man advanced party to plan their deployment.  LT GEN Wilton was already working on the contingency planning for escalation to a full Task Force.  We discuss what the benefits of a Task Force are over a single Battalion commitment.  President Johnson was already looking for an increase in the Australian commitment in mid 1965.

The Secretary of the Department of Defence issued a letter to LT GEN Wilto – ‘the proposal that we should aim at the possible commitment in Vietnam of a task force totalling some 3,500 personnel lapses.  There is to be no implication or understanding of any kind that this development will take place.  It is important that this should be clearly understood by the Army personnel who had knowledge of the Defence Committee conclusion on the subject.’ Cabinet explicitly banned any planning for a Task Force on the 18th of August, 1965, exactly 1 year before the Battle of Long Tan. The Cabinet’s plan was to continue with a 1 Battalion deployment.

Seven months of planning were lost, impacting training and the organisation of the Task Force.

What was happening within the Australian Government and how was it impacting the preparations for the deployment of 1 ATF into Vietnam?

How was the composition of the Task Force determined?

1 ATF Tasks for Nui Dat

The TF would come under the Commanding General II FFV who could allocate it any of the following tasks.  (This is the best we can find as far as orders go, and there is no clear endstate, apart from that derived from these tactical tasks).

  1. secure and dominate the assigned TAOR in Phuoc Tuy province;
  2. conduct operations related to the security of Highway 15 (linking Vung Tau and Saigon) as required;
  3. conduct other operations in Phuoc Tuy as required;
  4. conduct operations anywhere in the ARVN III Corps Tactical Zone (CTZ) and subsequently in the area of the adjacent province of Bihn Tuy in the ARVN II CTZ as agreed by COMAFV and COMUSMACV.

We looking at the considerations for the placement of the base at Nui Dat.

What was Op Hardihood and what was its impact on the Phuoc Tuy province?

What was LT GEN Wilton’s concept around Command in Vietnam?  What were his thoughts on Mission Command?

We conduct Mission Analysis in order to determine the desired endstate for the deployment of 1 ATF to Nui Dat and the orders for D/6 as they patrolled out to Long Tan.

Check out the show notes for the podcast for all of the information that we cover in this episode as well as the images and other details that didn’t make it into the podcast.

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