Mine warfare, in its various forms, is a favoured weapon used by insurgents against government forces. By June 1966, when the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) arrived in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, the Viet Cong and People’s Army of Vietnam forces were well entrenched in the province and used mines extensively. The mine campaign risked few enemy lives and was a powerful statement to everyone, including civilians, that the Viet Cong were still in the war and not a spent force. The intense patrolling practised by 1ATF inevitably put its men in close contact with enemy mines. Indeed, 1ATF suffered more casualties from the Viet Cong mine warfare campaign than from any other single cause, yet enemy casualties were minimal. So why did the enemy mine campaign collapse in the period July to December 1970 and continue its rapid decline until 1ATF ended combat operations in September 1971? Counterinsurgency has been described as a competition in learning and, facing a well-organised mine campaign against them, 1ATF learned and adapted to the enemy’s mine warfare techniques. Supported by statistical analyses of operational research data, this book details the complex tactics adopted by 1ATF to eventually defeat the Viet Cong mine campaign, and how enemy forces were reduced to a negligible military presence in Phuoc Tuy Province.
Dr Andrew T. Ross was a former operations research analyst with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) of the Australian Government Department of Defence. He is also a political scientist and military historian, and a Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra. He was the author of many studies published by DSTO, and since that time (with Dr Robert Hall) has completed numerous other studies written under contract for DSTO and UNSW. Much of the latter involved Ross in building complex computerised databases for his analysis of insurgency warfare campaigns involving Australia. Ross was the major contributor to the 2015 Cambridge University Press publication The search for tactical success in Vietnam: An analysis of Australian Task Force Combat Operations (other authors were Robert Hall and Amy Griffin).