Vietnam War: Battle of Balmoral – Australia assists recovery of Vietnamese remains – 2024

As you know, I’ve written several articles on the 1968 Battles of Coral and Balmoral  – principally analyzing the Vietnamese accounts – see free-to-read: – 56 pages with maps etc.

I ‘ve noticed a recent item on a local NSW website – that recounts recent Australian-assisted efforts assisting the recover of bodies/remains  of the Vietnamese casualties from the Battle of Balmoral in Binh Duong Province ie:  “Australia Helps Vietnam Find Fallen Soldiers from the Battle of Balmoral”. The short article notes: “After 15 years of search efforts, a team including Australian veterans have helped authorities to identify the resting place, in Binh Duong province, of a large number of fallen Vietnamese soldiers from the Battle Of Balmoral.(Andrew Goledzinowski, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam).” The article shows an Australian Army major (? RAEME) assisting Vietnamese searchers at a site in Binh Duong.

Regards, Ernie Chamberlain

Here’s hoping ADF is in ‘safe pair of hands’

MEMO to Hon Richard Marles, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence.

Dear Richard (if I may be so bold), there are moments when personal and political ambition versus national interest, sometimes opposing concepts, collide.

One has arrived, and you have made what may be the most important ministerial decision affecting the ADF’s future direction and leadership.

It is so critical your entire stewardship may be judged by future generations on the basis of that decision alone.

Forget about AUKUS, Hawaiian shirts and cocktails at the Hale Koha Club, Waikiki or golf at the Navy-Marine Club, Pearl Harbour, or even how many VIP jets the PM needs, this will be your Rubicon.

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Here’s hoping ADF is in ‘safe pair of hands’ | Australian Defence History, Policy and Veterans Issues (

“Redefining Australian Defense: A Shift Towards Tactical and Strategic Deterrence”

Amidst the unveiling of the 2023 Defence Strategic Review, a significant departure from Australia’s traditional defense stance emerges, emphasizing tactical and strategic deterrence. Central to this shift are the concepts of “impactful projection” and “national defense,” redefining Australian deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles elaborated on the notion of “impactful projection,” stressing the need for the defense force to hold adversaries at risk far from Australian shores, signaling a departure from past strategies.

This paradigm shift is echoed in the Defense Strategic Review’s assertion that Australia lacks effective defense capabilities against higher threat levels, advocating for collaboration with the United States and other key allies to maintain regional stability and deter aggression.

While efforts to reshape the Australian Defence Force are underway, the Royal Australian Air Force appears to face a gap in survivable long-range strike capabilities, a concern heightened by the region’s escalating security risks.

Despite discussions about the B-21 Raider, the review deems it unsuitable for acquisition, leaving a void in Australia’s defense capabilities. However, alternative options exist, including large, sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles developed by the United States Air Force in collaboration with defense companies.

As Australia navigates evolving security challenges, exploring viable alternatives becomes imperative to ensure robust defense capabilities in an increasingly volatile geopolitical landscape.

“Up There: Australia’s New Defence Recruitment Drive Takes Flight”

Australia’s Defence Department unveiled its latest recruitment campaign on March 17th, urging Australians to consider careers in aviation, medical, intelligence, space, or cyber fields within the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The initiative showcases various aircraft from the RAAF fleet, including F-35A Lightning II and F/A-18F Super Hornet jets, an E-7A Wedgetail, and a C-17A Globemaster heavy airlifter.

What sets this campaign apart is its innovative use of technology. Filmed from an L-39 jet equipped with a high-definition gimbal camera, it marks the first time this advanced equipment has been deployed in Australia for such purposes.

Federal Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Matt Keogh, emphasized the campaign’s focus on highlighting the diverse range of roles within the Air Force. Beyond piloting, it encompasses technical positions such as mechanics, technicians, electronic warfare specialists, cyber experts, and space domain professionals.

Keogh emphasized the importance of recruiting individuals with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills, aligning with the evolving technological landscape not only within the Defence Force but also across broader society.

The campaign aims to attract individuals from various backgrounds, including high school students considering their future career paths and mid-career professionals seeking a change. Keogh stressed the significant support and benefits offered to those joining the Defence Force, including financial assistance for education, housing support, and healthcare benefits.

Air Marshal Robert Chipman, Chief of Air Force, emphasized the modern and technologically advanced nature of the Air Force, urging young Australians to consider the challenging and purposeful career opportunities it offers.

Major General Wade Stothart, Acting Chief of Personnel, highlighted the campaign’s target demographic of Australians aged 16 to 35. He emphasized the appeal of Air Force careers, offering opportunities to work with cutting-edge technology, receive world-class training and education, and enjoy benefits such as competitive salaries, job security, and flexible hours.

Stothart also outlined the various recruitment pathways available, catering to individuals at different stages of their careers, from recent school leavers to mid-career professionals seeking a new direction.

With its blend of technological innovation, diverse career opportunities, and comprehensive support, the “Up There” campaign aims to bolster recruitment efforts and attract top talent to serve in Australia’s Defence Force.

US Sees Imminent Missile Strike on Israel by Iran, Proxies

The US and its allies believe major missile or drone strikes by Iran or its proxies against military and government targets in Israel are imminent, in what would mark a significant widening of the six-month-old conflict, according to people familiar with the intelligence. The potential assault, possibly using high-precision missiles, may happen in the coming days, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss confidential matters. It is seen as more a matter of when, not if, one of the people said, based on assessments from US and Israeli intelligence. Brent crude, the global benchmark, spiked more than 1% to trade above $90 a barrel following the news. Oil is up 16% this year, buoyed by war risk premium since the conflict in the Middle East began. Iran has threatened to hit Israel in retaliation for an attack on a diplomatic compound in the Syrian capital of Damascus last week that killed senior Iranian military officials. Israel has not explicitly acknowledged it was behind that attack, though it has traditionally followed a policy of ambiguity on operations in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere. Israel’s Western allies have been told Israeli government and military facilities may be targeted but civilian facilities are not expected to be, they said. US officials are helping Israel on planning and sharing intelligence assessments, the people said. Israel has told allies it is waiting for this attack to take place before launching another ground offensive against Hamas in Rafah in Gaza, though it’s not clear how soon that operation may begin. US and Western intelligence indicates an attack from Iran and its proxies may not necessarily come from Israel’s north, where Tehran’s ally Hezbollah in Lebanon is located, the people said. Israeli officials are in agreement with the allied view. They’ve also publicly threatened Iran that if it hits Israeli soil, Israel will hit Iranian soil. Earlier on Wednesday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated a vow to retaliate against Israel for the Damascus strike, which he said was tantamount to an attack on Iranian territory. Foreign diplomatic missions already are preparing for the potential strikes, making contingency plans for evacuation amid requests from Israeli authorities about emergency supplies like generators and satellite phones, one of the people said, noting that they were not aware of any western missions planning immediate evacuation. While the US has pushed Israel for a cease-fire in Gaza, the Biden administration has also signalled it’s prepared to back the country in the event of an attack by Iran or its proxies.

What about Ukraine’s Abrams tanks?

What about Ukraine’s Abrams tanks?

Recent losses underscore the importance of doctrine and training—not just weapons—in war.


APRIL 11, 2024 03:53 PM ET

In early March, press reports of the battle at Berdychi, five miles northwest of Avdiivka, asserted that the Ukrainian 47th Mechanized Brigade lost three M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, at least four M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and two Assault Breacher Vehicles in combat there. These losses represent 10 percent of the brigade’s tanks, five percent of its infantry fighting vehicles and about one-third of its armored engineer vehicles.

In late March, independent visual reporting confirmed four destroyed Abrams tanks in the vicinity of Avdiivka. Make that 12.9 percent of Ukraine’s Abrams lost in one battle.

However. these reports also said the capture of the rubble of Avdiivka cost the Russians “at least 16,000 dead, probably tens of thousands of wounded and nearly 800 armored vehicles.” Vague reports of Ukrainian losses suggest a few thousand killed, thousands more wounded, and fewer than 100 armored vehicles lost. The Ukrainians claimed the battle effectively halted the advance of the Russian 2nd and 41st Combined Arms Armies.

The M1A1 Abrams figured prominently, albeit not in detail, in these news accounts of Avdiivka and Berdychi. Such reports will likely feature prominently in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s next series of demands for more U.S. and European financial and material support.

But the Ukraine war persists in begging the question: are advanced weapons like the M1A1 Abrams truly force multipliers in Ukraine? Or are they destined to be lost and abandoned on the battlefield?

While many defense pundits wax eloquently about the technological sophistication of Western combat vehicles, the Forecast International Weapons Group once again maintains technology alone is not the key to modern armored warfare. How these weapons are employed tactically is, and always will be, the key factor.

Both the Ukrainian and Russian armies have exhibited a remarkable lack of aptitude, let alone inclination, to properly exploit the potential of advanced weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine. This is not surprising, however, as both armies provide a mirror image of each other in terms of modern tactical sophistication…or, more precisely, the lack thereof.

If the Western combat vehicles in Ukraine, such as the Abrams, are employed with crews and commanders well-grounded in Western armored warfare doctrine, the impact on the battlefield could be devastating for Russian forces. But if Ukrainian forces insist on employing these Western weapon systems according to their existing Soviet-style doctrine, the results on the battlefield will remain mixed at best, disastrous at worst. Even the most sophisticated weapon in the world is utterly useless in untrained (or poorly trained) hands.

Sadly, as the slaughter in and around Avdiivka and Berdychi reflect, continues to indicate the Ukrainians have NOT embraced Western armored combat doctrine. Indeed, the Ukrainians are still operating in the same discredited Russian mode.

Technology does not win battles. Properly trained soldiers win battles.

Indo-Pacific region mission

The commander of the U.S. military in the Indo-Pacific region, Admiral Aquilino, has identified the Chinese Communist Party and Russia as significant threats in the area. These threats are outlined in the U.S. national defense strategy, particularly emphasizing Russia’s illegitimate invasion of Ukraine.

Admiral Aquilino oversees all U.S. military operations across the expansive Indo-Pacific region, which spans 36 countries from India to Carabosse, encompassing 14 time zones and half of the world’s population. This vast area is commonly referred to as IndoPACOM.

His responsibilities include managing various volatile situations, ranging from the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (KDZ).

Admiral Aquilino articulated his primary mission as twofold: firstly, to prevent conflicts in the region, and secondly, to be prepared to effectively engage and succeed if conflicts arise.

Central to the latter objective is the integration and synchronization of U.S. forces with allies and partners. Admiral Aquilino emphasized the significance of alliances, friendships, and partnerships throughout the region, both in military and economic terms.

He highlighted the immense strength derived from collaborative efforts, stating that the combined capabilities of the U.S. and its partners far exceed those of any potential adversary. This, he believes, underscores the challenge faced by any adversary in confronting the interconnected network of like-minded nations in today’s globalized world.

Admiral Aquilino pointed to several joint exercises as examples of this collaborative approach. For instance, the Talisman Sabre exercise, originally a bilateral U.S.-Australian event, has evolved to include the participation of 12 to 14 nations, demonstrating the broadening scope of cooperation across the Pacific region.