From 1965 to 1972, Australian armed forces served in the Vietnam War under the banner of the United States of America. The act of going to war, so common in Australian history, became perhaps the single most controversial issue in the short history of our nation. Whilst traditionally the populace were supportive of Australians in war, many were opposed to the idea of Australia fighting what was believed to be someone else's war. With so much dissension in society, Australia soon found itself fighting a war on two fronts; one in the jungles of Vietnam, and another in the city streets. The Vietnam War was a defining moment in our history, with our nation developing its own identity.
Traditionally, Australia had relied on Britain to make its decisions and to protect it. We possessed no embassies, meaning our interests were not truly reflected abroad, and Britain even held the power to declare war for us. In WWII, the Japanese overwhelmed the British in our region. Though we traditionally viewed them as our protectors, the British were unable to meet this commitment, and we were only saved by the intervention of the US forces. The shift between protectors was clearly shown when on the 27th of December; John Curtin said "I make it clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links to the UK" (Evans, page 22). The process of shifting between protectors helped to dispel a lot of the myths of the time. We began making our own decisions and making an independent agenda. The main factor in our new world of politics was national security. The leaders of the time realised that in order to survive a communist onslaught, we would have to put our trust in "great and powerful friends".
Vietnam had been a French colony since 1858, but when they were driven out during World War II, Ho Chi Minh's Vietminh, a nationalist group with communist ideals formed a government in Hanoi, situated in the northern region of Vietnam.