Victoria per mentum : psychological operations conducted by the Australian Army in Phuoc Tuy Province South Vietnam 1965-1971

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Copyright: De Heer, Derrill
Abstract
'Victoria per Mentum : Psychological Operations Conducted by the Australian Army in Phuoc Tuy Province South Vietnam 1965-1971' examines the Australian Army's conduct of psychological operations from 1965 to 1971 in South Vietnam. The study traces the first instances of psychological warfare in 1965, aided by the Americans, through to the establishment of 1 Psychological Operations Unit in April 1970 until November 1971, when Australians withdrew from South Vietnam. Most soldiers in the unit had no training in the art or practice of psychological warfare. Successes in the American sponsored South Vietnam amnesty program (Chieu Hoi) mirrored the success on the battlefield by Australian fighting soldiers. Psychological Warfare is a non-lethal weapon which has a multiplier effect on the enemy in the battle space. The inability to effectively demonstrate conclusively the effects of successful psychological warfare operations added to uncertainty and scepticism over the weapon's potential and actual impact on the battlefield. Conventional military leaders rejected psychological warfare as 'paper bullets' that had little or no place in a military focused agenda - shoot, blast bomb, fragment, kill and capture to defeat the enemy. Propaganda and counter-propaganda are examined to demonstrate how these effects influenced each side. The study examines difficulties the Australian 1 Psychological Operations Unit encountered when trying to provide demonstrable and tangible indicators, which meant that when forces to choose between leaflets, loudspeakers and firepower, combat leaders chose firepower. The result was that psychological warfare proved successful only in a limited tactical sense but never created the type of operational or strategic success sought by traditional weapons proponents.
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Author(s)
De Heer, Derrill
Supervisor(s)
Cain, Frank
Baker, Nikki
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Publication Year
2009
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Thesis
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Masters Thesis
UNSW Faculty
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