Comment: “Australian Army Intelligence Operations Vietnam War 1968”

Photo: Baria water town in the town centre.

Author: Ernie Chamberlain

Johny Bineham’s 8mm footage is unique – particularly of Baria Town during Tet 1968 and the “Acorn” snatch operations of Viet Cong “infrastructure” (VCI) cadre in the villages.

Brigadier R.L. Hughes – Commander 1 ATF from 20 October 1967, “gradually phased out cordon-and-search operations. They required a large manpower effort, normally involving one battalion, and sometimes the entire task force. … In their place, Hughes said, ‘we developed a series of little operations, we called ‘acorn operations’ (named after the radio callsign used to refer to intelligence officers and units).

He explained … Within half-an-hour you could pick up your half a dozen, or so, suspects and get out again, with no problems at all. … acorn operations were in Hughes’ opinion, most effective in targeting the Viet Cong infrastructure: they caused considerable consternation to the Viet Cong and disrupted their activities while requiring minimal task force resources.”

In May 1969 – noting the risks of enemy armed resistance during Div Int’s Acorn Operations, HQ 1 ATF promulgated GS Instruction 4/69 on “Acorn Security Squads” that directed the Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron and 1 Field Regiment RAA to provide armed squads to support Det 1 Div Int Unit’s Acorn Operations.

These SAS and Field Regiment “flying squads” were to be at ‘’two hours notice-to-move” and “to operate under orders of OC Det 1 Div Int Unit” who would brief them “on the concept of operations and conduct.”

This GS Instruction also specifically clarified that offensive Acorn Operations were planned and initiated by the Detachment with support from other ‘arms Corps’ elements assigned under Det 1 Div Int Unit command.

Johny Bineham’s material – information from his 8mm film and his 2013 book has been an important contribution to the book: Uprooting the Viet Cong Underground: Acorn Intelligence Operations in Phước Tuy Province (and the Phoenix Program) – to be distributed later this year.

Email: [email protected]

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