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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I have not precise details concerning the supporting units which will be thinned out with u reduction of the task force from a 3- battalion to a 2-battalion task force. I will get the necessary information from my colleague, the Minister for the Army, and let the honourable member have the answer to that. The additional military assistance teams will in fact total about 1 30 men. Two of these teams, and possibly more than 2, have already been formed. Some of them have been formed from personnel who have already been in Vietnam. In other words, it has been done through the use of people already stationed in Vietnam. The total military assistance teams will not be able to be increased in that way. Additional personnel will have to be sent to Vietnam for the purpose. These are the teams, as the honourable member will know, whose task it will be to work with regional force and popular force companies and platoons, especially in Phuoc Tuy Province, because of the increasing responsibility on these local forces as our task force is reduced.

In addition to that a cadre of about 20 training personnel will be sent from Australia to Vietnam. This action was mentioned in the announcement by the Prime Minister concerning the withdrawal of the battalion. This cadre will be to establish what could be called a jungle training centre at Nui Dat. It will be stationed in the area which will be vacated by the withdrawal of one of the Australian battalions and will in fact be starting operations before the withdrawal of the 8th Battalion. Its first task will be to train Vietnamese instructors, and then there will be a small pilot force. After the withdrawal of the 8th Battalion it is hoped that 400 to 500 junior leaders will be going through this course at any one t:me. This school is being established at minimal cost to Australia by the use of about 20 instructors who will provide the stiffening and the cadre for the total school, which is something that the South Vietnamese had requested on more than one occasion, to get the maximum use of Australian tactical doctrines spread throughout the South Vietnamese army. I do not have in my mind the precise destination of the 8th Battalion when it returns to Australia, but I Will get that information also for the honourable member. I am not sure, without checking, from which task force area that battalion was dispatched when it first went to Vietnam, but I will get that information for the honourable member. Was there any other aspect of your question that I have not answered?

Mr Barnard - No.

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