Jim Stewart recalls the Australian Army Training Team in Vietnam, 2008

Transcript of sound recording

The Australian Army Training Team was deployed into Vietnam with the role of training the South Vietnamese Army, its various components - their regular battalions and their local forces, their popular forces and regional forces, their militias you might say.

But the role changed over time when besides trainers we had members attached to various units of the South Vietnamese Army in various key positions, particularly where they could bring their expertise to bear, such as the control of artillery fire, control of aircraft fire and evacuation of casualties by aircraft and things like that where the South Vietnamese weren't very well experienced.

The small teams, the mobile army training teams, they worked in villages, training the villagers to look after themselves, how they could set up security in their villages. We also had teams operating with specialists in night operations, teams operating what they call 'sensors' - that's to pick up the movement of enemy Viet Cong and Viet Minh in the jungle.

There was a problem with interpreting, with translating, and also there was a problem that the South Vietnamese soldiers themselves. They'd been at war for many years, ever since in fact the days of Dien Bien Phu, against the French, and I'm afraid they were rather tired of it and their enthusiasm was lacking at times. But we, the training team, were a very highly competent and motivated group of people - warrant officers and officers - and they really did do a lot of good work. In fact, many of them, when the decision of the government to scale down our whole effort in Vietnam occurred in late 1971, a lot of the training team members left the South Vietnamese units they were training with a great deal of regret, because they felt that the job was not complete, and they felt that they may have been letting the Vietnamese down.