VALE RAY DE VERE, MC, OAM

Word has just come through from the 2/14 Light Horse Regiment advising of the passing this morning of Ray De Vere MC, OAM.

Further information will be forwarded as it comes to hand.

May rest in peace – Lest we forget.

TET OFFENSIVE ANNIVERSARY

The Tet Offensive of 30 January 1968 erupted throughout the Republic of Vietnam when more than 80,000 enemy troops assaulted 36 of the Republic’s 44 provincial capitals and 64 of its 242 district capitals. Five of the country’s six autonomous cities were attacked. Major military and air bases such as Tan Son Nhut and Bien Hoa were attacked while others were hit by rocket and mortar fire. In Hue the enemy forces waged a determined resistance, finally being driven out of the old imperial capital after a month of bitter fighting.

The Central Military Party Committee of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam began planning a strategic offensive in April 1967. It was believed that a decisive military victory could be achieved by launching simultaneous surprise attacks on Saigon, Hue and Da Nang plus attacks on most of South Vietnam’s province capitals, autonomous cities and some military bases and major regional villages. It was expected that the surprise attack combined with a general uprising of the people would bring victory. Throughout 1967, training, organisational and logistics preparations intensified in North Vietnam, along the Ho Chi Minh trail and clandestinely within the target cities and villages.

In October 1967, the Politburo decided that the general offensive would be launched during the traditional Tet holiday period in January-February 1968. Tet was a sacred holiday in the Vietnamese calendar. People travelled the country to be with their families for the festivities. A ceasefire was negotiated in recognition of the significance of the holiday and soldiers from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) took leave from their units to be with family. The movement of people and preparations for the festivities masked the movement of the Viet Cong and People’s Army assault forces into their attack positions.

Enemy preparations did not go entirely unnoticed by the US military and its South Vietnamese allies. Although specific targets and timings were unknown, by mid-January 1968 various indicators suggested that the Viet Cong would launch a major offensive against objectives in heavily populated areas. Adapting to this threat, the US command in Vietnam bolstered its forces near the centres of civilian population. The Tet holiday ceasefire was cancelled on 30 January, but due to poor communications within the South Vietnamese army many of their units remained at about 50 per cent strength when the offensive struck the following day.

Militarily, the offensive was a failure. The Viet Cong and People’s Army suffered massive losses. The general uprising had failed to materialise. The trashing of the sacred Tet holiday and the breach of the ceasefire incensed many of the Republic’s citizens. There was a surge in volunteers for military service in the South’s armed forces and the South Vietnamese army had performed much better than expected. The strategic and psychological effects of the offensive were more significant than the enemy’s temporary military achievements. An attack on the US embassy in Saigon, though all 19 of the enemy troops were killed or captured before they could get into the building, seemed to shock Americans. A wave of pessimism swept through the American public and political support for the campaign waned.

In the Australian area of operations in Phuoc Tuy Province, southeast of Saigon, the enemy assault fell on the province capital, Baria, at 5am on 1 February. Baria was a substantial town of more than 18,000 people. The enemy’s D445 battalion and Chau Duc District Company swept into the town from the north and west. They met solid resistance from local South Vietnamese security forces and, at 8.30am, an Australian rifle company mounted in armoured personnel carriers counterattacked, breaking the Viet Cong hold on the key positions and, with ARVN support, ejected the enemy from the town by nightfall that day. The fight then shifted to Long Dien village.

Long Dien, five kilometres east of the capital, was a substantial village with a population of over 15,000. It rivalled Baria as the commercial hub of the province. The fighting in Long Dien lasted four days and there was evidence that civilians supported the Viet Cong by pointing out the residences of village officials and hiding the Viet Cong soldiers from the searching Australian and South Vietnamese forces.

Civilian casualties in Phuoc Tuy Province during the Tet Offensive were 67 killed and 106 wounded. In Baria, about 60 buildings were totally destroyed, with more than 100 seriously damaged. The struggle in Long Dien resulted in 28 buildings destroyed and nearly 100 damaged.

Following the Tet Offensive battles, 1 Australian Civil Affairs Unit (1ACAU) initiated a program to re-house those families made homeless. Nearly 140 houses were built in Long Dien district with the program ending in early August 1968. A further 26 houses were built in Baria. The commander of the Australian forces in Vietnam conceded that there was “almost certainly some psychological advantage to the VC because of the battles in Baria and Long Dien”. But in the longer term this psychological advantage may have been moderated by the efforts of the Australian Civil Affairs Unit. A report of the re-housing program noted:

This military Civic Action Project has attracted both written and verbal statements of appreciation from the local officials and villagers. More importantly, it has enhanced the Australian Army image in what was previously a hostile community at Long Dien. As such it may be considered a successful exercise although any long-term effort is difficult to assess in view of the continuing marginal situation which exists in and around Long Dien.

Following the battles of Tet 1968 some of the province’s citizens continued to provide political and financial support, intelligence and supplies to the Viet Cong. Enemy units continued to make night-time penetrations into the villages on a regular basis and support for the Viet Cong did not vary significantly as a result of these urban operations. While local support for the Australian forces might have improved, it did not do so decisively.

Dr Bob Hall is a lecturer at the UNSW Canberra in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society. 

This article is published under a Creative Commons Licence and may be republished with attribution.

Australian Institute of International Affairs

55TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TET OFFENSIVE

Today marks the 55th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, a key turning point of the Vietnam War.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh said the Tet Offensive played a significant role in changing public opinion about the war.

“The Tet Offensive marked a significant escalation in the scale and intensity of the Vietnam War, shaking the resolve of South Vietnam and her allies.” Minister Keogh said.

“During the Offensive more than 100 towns and cities across South Vietnam were attacked during what was supposed to be a time of truce; the Lunar New Year, Tet Nguyen Dan (Tet) holiday period.” 

Although most of the attacks were quickly defeated, graphic footage of the fighting in Saigon and Hue was broadcast around the world, including in Australia.

“The bitterness and desperation conveyed in the footage deeply affected many people worldwide, turning public sentiment further against the war, ultimately leading to Australia officially ending our commitment to the Vietnam War on 11 January 1973,” Minister Keogh said.

“This was a war that was at times contentious at home, and for some veterans their service not recognised as it should have been. This year, the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, we will honour the service and sacrifice of all who served, and their families.”

Throughout 2023 the Australian Government is recognising the contribution of our Vietnam veterans, both during the Vietnam War, and the contribution they have made in our community since.

On Vietnam Veterans’ Day, 18 August 2023, a national commemorative service will be held at the Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra to recognise the 50th anniversary.

For more information about the service and the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the war, visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website: www.dva.gov.au/VietnamCommemorativeService

 

GREEN REJECTION OF NUCLEAR A LOAD OF GARBAGE

Nick Cater – UPDATED 2:22PM JANUARY 18, 2023,

Photo: The Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. processing plant in Kalgoorlie

Chris Bowen’s ambition to turn Australia into a renewable energy export powerhouse stalled last week when the giant Sun Cable Australia-Asia PowerLink entered voluntary liquidation.

It seems that exporting rays of sunlight to Singapore is as difficult as it sounds. Writing a convincing business plan to install millions of solar panels in the Northern Territory, capturing their intermittent output in giant batteries and sending this through thousands of kilometres of underwater cables is a formidable challenge, even if it’s backed by two renewable energy devotees with very deep pockets.

Australia’s best hope of cashing in on the global clean-energy boom stems not from the thought bubble of a hirsute software entrepreneur, but from the sweat and genius of its mining engineers. Kalgoorlie is at the centre of the so-called green mining boom. It is fast becoming the Dallas of clean energy by doing what it does best: digging up dirt, extracting minerals and sending them to market. The WA outback is to lithium-ion batteries what Texas is to oil. It is rich in deposits of lithium, cobalt, nickel and rare earth elements for which global demand is insatiable.

The Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. processing plant in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Picture: Getty Images Finding the half tonne of minerals contained in a Tesla battery requires digging up 250 tonnes of dirt, which is good news for a town that makes its money that way. Global car manufacturers have been competing to secure deals with Australian lithium miners. Last July, for example, Ford Motor Co bought up a third of Liontown Resources’ production and threw in a $300m loan facility to expand Kathleen Valley mine, 350km north of Kalgoorlie.

The love for electric vehicles, however, like the love of sausages, is severely tested by seeing how the object of one’s affection is made. The green mining boom is as gritty and dirty as every other boom that has graced the WA goldfields region since the discovery of gold in 1893. Surrounding roads are lined with road trains hauling ore, giant earth movers, chemicals and explosives. Massive new creators are transforming the natural landscape, but this time the wilderness campaigners don’t seem particularly bothered.

The new green job opportunities we have been frequently promised are as dirty and sweaty as the old ones. Ardea Resources plans to employ 500 people over the 25-year life of its Kalgoorlie Nickel Project’s integrated nickel manganese cobalt battery material refinery hub, assisted by $119m in investment by the former federal Coalition government. They will be driving a fleet of 120-tonne excavators and 90-tonne trucks at 13 open-cut sites at Goongarrie Hill, 80km from Kalgoorlie. They will process ore in high-pressure acid-leached autoclaves. The resulting discharge will be filtered and the solids dry-stacked.

This energy-intensive, chemical-thirsty and land-hungry process adds to the substantial carbon debt that is attached to every electric vehicle. If the unrefined ingredients of a single EV battery were to be transported by train to Esperance, they would fill at least four wagons.

Figures produced by car manufacturers show an electric vehicle must be driven for approximately 100,000km before its overall emissions are lower than an equivalent diesel or petrol vehicle.

These material realities of the imagined transition to a green economy are discounted by the renewable energy lobby. As US policy analyst Mark P. Mills bluntly points out, no energy system is actually “renewable” since all machines require the continual mining and processing of millions of tonnes of primary materials and the disposal of hardware that inevitably wears out.

Mills estimates that compared with hydrocarbons, the machines to produce renewable energy require a 10-fold increase in the quantities of materials extracted and processed to produce the same amount of energy. Mills calculates that by 2050 the quantity of worn-out solar panels will constitute double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste together with more than three million tonnes a year of un-recyclable plastics from worn-out wind turbine blades. By 2030, more than 10 million tonnes per year of batteries will become garbage.

The failure to offset the costs against the supposed environmental benefits of renewable energy is part of the dodgy accounting clean-energy advocates would like us to ignore. They turn a blind eye to the 8000 tonnes of steel required to generate a terawatt of electricity with solar panels. They look the other way while 8000 tonnes of concrete are delivered by a conga- line of trucks and poured into the ground to support wind turbines with the same capacity. Coal, gas and nuclear require something less than a tenth of those basic raw materials to generate the same amount of power.

The truth seldom acknowledged by advocates of renewable energy is that reducing dependence on hydrocarbons by shifting to wind, solar and batteries alone will dramatically increase our dependence on minerals. The assumed benefits of decarbonising the electricity grid must be offset against corresponding increases in mining and processing.

In 2005, the mining sector produced 9 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020 it was 20 per cent. While the sector has been making considerable strides in reducing emissions, there is no scalable technology available to achieve the massive gains a target of net zero by 2050 requires.

The task will be even harder if we want to bring more of the processing onshore, as we must if we are to avoid increasing our energy dependence on China, currently by far the world’s biggest processor of lithium and other critical minerals.

That might change were we ever to elect federal and state governments with the courage and foresight to decriminalise nuclear power, freeing up mining companies to scope the use of mine-based small modular reactors. A 2021 report commissioned by the Minerals Council flagged SMRs as a realistic option for decarbonising large regional settlements and off-grid mining operations. Water-free and offering decades of uninterrupted power, they could replace reliance on diesel generation in many situations and potentially power the production of green hydrogen. The federal government’s outright rejection of nuclear energy, however, leads inexorably to a future based on wishful thinking that is green in name only.

Nick Cater is the executive director of the Menzies Research Centre.

 

VALE: 2790930 PETER JOHN PHILLIPS, 6 RAR & 8 RAR (SVN)

Sadly, we have received news from Peter’s wife, Marianne, that Peter John PHILLIPS has passed away.

Basic funeral details (at this time) are Monday 6th February 2023 @ 14-30 – full details & location will be provided when known.

Please join with us in offering our deepest sympathy to those who will mourn the passing of a loved one.  Another 6 RAR family member, taken too soon.

LEST WE FORGET

Allan Whelan, Secretary

VALE: Donald ‘Don’ Stewart Willey – ex A Coy 6RAR

Sadly, we have been informed that Donald (Don) WILLEY, who served in A Coy in the mid 1970’s, passed from cancer in July 2022 at the age of 73.

In recent years, Don was an active member of 11th Light Horse Troop Toowoomba.

Please join with us in offering our deepest sympathy to those who will mourn the passing of a loved one.  Another 6 RAR family member, taken too soon.

LEST WE FORGET

Allan Whelan, Secretary

UKRAINIAN PIE SONG

What a clever rewrite and tribute. Full of heart and wit.

Turn up the volume. .  Time magazine’s selection of Volodymyr Zelensky as Man of the Year is so well deserved.

Australia Speeds Up Purchase of ‘Smart’ Sea Mines to Deter China

By Ben Westcott (Bloomberg) —

The Australian government is looking to speed up the purchase of a new generation of sea mines to protect its ports amid growing concern over China’s military build-up and expanding influence in the Pacific.

The Department of Defence said in a statement Monday the “smart” sea mines would be able to discriminate between military targets and other shipping vessels and be “a significant deterrent to potential aggressors.”

The news was first reported by Australia’s Nine newspapers on Monday, which said the cost could be as much as A$1 billion ($700 million) although the final total was still considered confidential. The department did not release information on the cost of the mines.

Australia has sought to bolster its military forces in recent years to help counter China’s rapid military expansion in the region. In the past year, there were at least two reported incidents of confrontations between Australian and Chinese forces, including one just off Australia’s north coast.

At the same time, Beijing has broadened its diplomatic footprint in the Pacific, signing a security agreement with the Solomon Islands that could see Chinese warships docked just 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from the Australian mainland.

Australia is currently in negotiations with the US and the UK to acquire a fleet of nuclear submarines by 2040 as part of the wide-reaching AUKUS security partnership. An announcement on the design of the new vessels is expected within months.

 

Chopper fail is a sad but familiar story

THE decision to replace the utility helicopter Australia should never have acquired with the latest generation of the one we should have is to be welcomed. It does little credit to those who recommended and those who originally agreed to the MRH-90 Taipan acquisition.

The recent decision to retire the entire MH-90 fleet early is also correct, though it is a damning indictment of Defence’s materiel acquisition organisation and process. Defence bought the 40 MRH-90 Taipan fleet at a cost of $3b to complement and then replace the Australian Army Black Hawks and RAN Sea Hawke helicopters.

CLICK LINK to continue reading

Chopper fail is a sad but familiar story | Australian Defence History, Policy and Veterans Issues (targetsdown.blogspot.com)

 

THE REAL VOICE

Australia Day, 2023.

As you and I were celebrating our wonderful country with family and friends, the inner-city elites were marching in the streets, setting Australian flags on fire, demanding we cancel Australia Day.

In stark contrast, Alice Springs – my home town – was on fire with crime and violence.

Forget “Invasion Day” – my neighbours are more worried about home invasions.

“Genocidal colonialism” is usually the last thing on your mind when a gang of machete-wielding thugs bursts into your house in the middle of the night.

That didn’t stop the woke elitists taking to the streets in Sydney and Melbourne and Canberra, though.

You and I have heard their arguments before.

The activists scream about reparations while trouble-free white Teal voters feel good about themselves for standing up for ‘justice’ (before heading off to their beach holiday retreat for the long weekend).

But this time there’s a sinister undertone to their protests.

While the professional activists and white managerial strivers shout to the wind about the injustices of Australia Day, Alice Springs is falling apart.

While they will go home and sleep soundly, Indigenous women and children are scared in their beds as alcohol fuelled violence rages around them.

It’s gotten so bad Albo finally realised he had no choice but to turn up.

I’ve been calling on the Prime Minister for months to take a break from his overseas trips, visit the Territory and take some real action.

This week – after months of avoiding us – Albo finally got on the private jet to Alice Springs.

But so far all we’ve heard from him is talk.

He doesn’t have the courage to take REAL action in a way that will actually curb the violence and chaos.

To make matters worse, Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has rolled up to complain that if only we had a Voice to Parliament we could have stopped this earlier.

What a crock.

Let me tell you, Linda, I am Indigenous.

I’m from the Northern Territory.

I have a voice.

I am literally in the Parliament.

And you didn’t listen.

I told you abolishing cashless debit cards and opening the floodgates of alcohol would cause absolute chaos and it has.

The alcohol bans have to come back, not just for a week, but fully and properly.

I have put forward a law in the Senate that will help fix these issues.

Albo and Linda need to come to the table and get it passed.

Forget the Voice. Forget all the activist rubbish. The safety of Indigenous women and children has to come first.

This Australia Day, it’s time Albo gets serious and stops talking about problems and starts fixing them.

Yours for REAL solutions,

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
Senator for the Northern Territory