"`Get Me Ten Years': Australia's Ted Serong in Vietnam, 1962-1975."

by Anne Blair

In January 1976, Graham Martin, the former U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, reported to the Committee on International Relations of the House on the fall of the country to the Vietnamese Communists. No American advisors were involved in the final plans to save South Vietnam, he said, as "Congress had forbidden U.S. advisors" and American involvement "was confined to a wholly logistical role." A small group within the Thieu government, he said, had therefore called on "a brilliant retired army officer of another country" who had advised them to pull back to the economically rich heartland around Saigon, withdrawing all troops from the northern provinces, Military regions I and II. The South Vietnamese leadership was unable to resolve on this plan, Martin continued, until, finally, in March 1975 President Thieu himself called on his "non-American adviser," asking if is was "too late."(1)

The non-American advisor, was, of course, Australian Brigadier Francis "Ted" Serong. Serong was the longest serving western advisor in South Vietnam. In this paper I will touch on the main themes of his thirteen years in Vietnam, ending with the fall of Saigon. I hope you will in turn help me answer the question of why he, a soldier essentially defeated in all his initiatives, chose to stay so long.

Serong graduated from military college in 1937. He had entered college from the reserves, via an examination, commencing his officer training at second year level, the toughest of roads to a military career. He was a Catholic, his family members the upper working class group Irish archbishops of earlier this century had sought to place in government service by means of a network of Christian brothers schools. One consequence of the Christian brothers education was a strong anti-Communist world-view, in response to the Spanish civil war. Class and caste may be a clue to Serong's character. Add to this a father who had his two sons taught boxing in their early years, so that when they fought, they would win, and who, each summer, left them on the banks of an inland river for survival exercises, returning to pick them up two weeks later.

The CIA connection with Serong's Vietnam experiences was strong from the beginning. In 1960 and 61, he was serving as Strategic Advisor to the Armed Forces of Burma. He had been selected for this on the basis of a vote by the officers attending courses sponsored by other nations with insurgency problems-the Israelis, the former Yugoslavs, the British-and had subsequently established two training centers, at Mount Popa and near Rangoon. Here he taught the courses he had instructed in at Canungra Jungle Training Center, in Northern Queensland. Canungra had been developed specifically to preserve and consolidate the tactical lessons learned by allied troops in New Guinea and the Pacific during World War II. The CIA station in Rangoon had noted the suitability of Serong's training methods for Vietnam as early as 1961. Shortly afterwards, Secretary of State Dean Rusk would asked Canberra for Colonel Serong's dispatch to South Vietnam. In July 1962 Serong led a team of thirty men, probably the best trained professionals Australia had ever sent into combat, to serve in particular in Special Forces positions in Quang Ngai province, in Military Region I. Two of the officers were assigned to develop village security systems and to report directly to the CIA. Serong himself was both commander of the small Australian team, and Counterinsurgency Advisor to the commander of MACV, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, who was at that time General Paul D. Harkins.(2)

Serong had first queried Harkins' capacity to lead in a war of counterinsurgency when he made two self-funded reconnaissance tours of South Vietnam in May 1962. Under the heading "General Situation" he recorded "Worse than I had been led to believe, and worsening. VC plan is steadily developing. Govt. plan is developing-on paper! In fact?" "Strategic policy is passive and re-actionary. Not active. No unified control." "General Harkins has not grasped the nature of his task. Let's hope he does soon, for all our sakes." "His job is to sell unified command to Ngo Dinh Diem, [President of South Vietnam]."(3) The scene was set for a clash, not just with General Harkins, but with the constraints under which the American involvement in South Vietnam was to be conducted.

Serong's experience as the commander of the Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam (AATTV) epitomizes the dilemmas of the advisory relationship. The terms "Training" and "Team" had been substituted for the Army's original designation "Australian Army Component, Vietnam" by the Department of External Affairs. The change was to stress both that the "Team" was independent of the U.S., and that its role was limited to training and was non-combatant. Yet the Team's training methods stressed deep probe patrolling and pursuit, and Canungra-style contact drills were designed specifically to produce automatic reactions in battle and so to give advantage over an enemy reliant on commands. In Serong's words "conventional soldiers think of the jungle as being full of lurking enemies. Under our system, we will do the lurking." They would inevitably see combat, inevitably sustain casualties. Their first death in battle occurred in July 1964. Warrant Officer Kevin Conway and Master Sergeant Gabriel Alamo, Army Special Forces, were both killed in action while manning a mortar pit during the battle of Nam Dong. Captain Roger H.C. Donlon, who replaced Conway and Alamo in the mortar, was awarded the first Congressional Medal of Honor of the war. Seven other American were wounded in that engagement, for the allied advisors were operationally involved in fighting the enemy from that time on, if not before.(4)

And just how was a foreign advisor to press advice upon the leaders of a national army of a sovereign state? In his diary entry for September 21, 1962, Serong wrote: "I am sickened to see these little bastards getting away with murder, and to see our boys getting killed while they're graciously making up their minds whether or not they'll take our advice. Maybe they won't want to stop the insurgency". He was in Quang Ngai, commenting on the activities of the 1st Corps of the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN). He continued, "visited CIA station...Brigadier General Kelleher and Gill Strickler both distressed...in I Corps (Military Region 1) an ARVN operation compared to Sherman March through Georgia...this comes back to our `advisory' effort. We must have a `goad' and a `veto.'"(5) Built into the advisory relationship was the urge to take over.

Serong was Advisor on Counterinsurgency to General Paul Harkins, the American commander. General Harkins did not believe in counterinsurgency, but he did not want an advisor. If the U.S. government required other nation's troops to be present in Vietnam, as a show of flags in support of American foreign policy, General Harkins, understandably, did not want other nation commanders in his executive councils. Major General Charles Timmes, the head of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam (MAAG), the command structure to which the Australian team reported, told Serong in mid-June 1963 that Harkins did "not want the Australian crowd as initiators of policy" a concern, Timmes said, which had increased with the possible arrival of a New Zealand contingent. Throughout 1962 and 1963 we find Serong presenting Harkins with a steady stream of reports. A draft for a code of conduct, advice on broadening his sources of intelligence on the enemy, and a note on the key points necessary for the training of the ARVN. Serong's three requirements here were always the same: physical fitness, weapons drills, responsiveness to discipline. The same entry is repeated throughout the diaries. His training notes elaborate: inspection-concentrate on one thing each month, simple things are more important than technology, never give up a pursuit-no matter what. By February 1963 he was writing "at tonight's briefing Harkins gave the appearance of having lost his grasp of the strategic direction of the war, and being prepared to settle for the happenings of the day, the day to day trivia."(6 ) He resolved to accept an invitation from Major General William Yarborough to lecture at the Special Forces Training School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and to put his case in Washington for a unified U.S.-South Vietnamese command.

As early as September 1962 Serong had concluded that MACV's reports of progress in the war were wildly optimistic. Territory on the border was being lost in incursions into South Vietnam, he found, the numbers in the Viet Cong were increasing, and the Strategic Hamlet program, the basic internal strategy, was failing because it had been expanded without consolidation. His presentations to Harkins explaining this had no effect, although his analyses were sought by the CIA, in particular by John Richardson, then Saigon station chief, and by journalists critical of Harkins' leadership, among them David Halberstam of the New York Times. In May 1963 at Fort Bragg he elaborated on his analysis, although with some circumspection. You could get impressive figures by counting missions flown, casualties taken and inflicted, stores delivered and ammunition expended, he said, but the only real indicator of progress in a war of counterinsurgency was the volume of intelligence spontaneously offered by the population, since this was the indicator of whether or not the people believed you really could offer them security.(7)

At Fort Bragg, however, and in his talks to the National Security Council he encountered the problem of the junior ally. His advice on tactics and training methods were duly adopted into counterinsurgency courses, he was received and even feted by the representatives of the National Security Council he addressed, but in spite of some interest in his key point that the Strategic Hamlets program was "overextended", advancing too quickly and so leaving gaps for the penetration of the Viet Cong, he could have no influence on strategy.(8) And after all, Serong's rank was Colonel. No-one expected him to be formulating strategy. But he was, and his National Strategy for South Vietnam is instructive of his failure to understand the political considerations in Washington that would dictate the conduct of the war.

In 1962 Serong wrote that the most important thing was that there be a strategy, "something we can see as a positive and forward thing." So far so good, but, as we shall see surprisingly difficult to achieve. Then, "there must be a determination to carry the war to North Vietnam, to roll it back on themselves. It is erroneous to believe that if we continue to react the enemy will tire. He will not, because he is being sustained by China. The U.S. will tire before China, although U.S. has the greater strength, and could force China down if the game became build-up versus build up." The American domestic climate was not ripe for the roll-back, he continued, but what could be done was to negotiate with the Laotian government to cut off North Vietnamese access to South Vietnam through Laos, via the Ho Chi Minh trail. The Laotian city of Tchepone could be commercially developed, and so denied to the enemy, and the whole 17th parallel fortified for eventual war, U.S. regiment to Vietnamese regiment, against the North Vietnamese Army. Since Hanoi began to release materials from its archives in 1995, an oft repeated theme has been surprise that the U.S. did not act to cut off the trail through Laos.(9) This surprise may well be feigned, since fortifying the 17th parallel was never an option in Washington. Serong did not realize that W. Averell Harriman, in 1963 undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, whom he regarded for years as his best ally on the National Security Council, would be the strongest opponent to the disruption of the Laos Accords, which he, Harriman, had negotiated in the first place. He understood that the American public might not accept war with China, but not that the Vietnam war itself was of secondary importance to the real issue, which was American relations with Russia. He could not see from his vantage point in South Vietnam that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the real issue for U.S. foreign policy planners.

1964 saw the downturn in the war which paved the way for President Lyndon Johnson's July 1965 decision to commit ground troops to Vietnam. The overthrow and death of President Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963 had ushered in a period of extreme instability. Coup followed coup in Saigon, with each new government dismissing commanders and province chiefs loyal to the previous regime. In these conditions, no village security strategy could be pursued nation-wide. North Vietnam and the Viet Cong stepped up the pressure in the South. By late 1964 the nine battalions of the South Vietnamese reserve no longer existed-the members had deserted or been incapacitated.

It is at this point, in October 1964, that Serong places the instruction to him from Major General Sir Walter Cawthorn, head of Australian Intelligence, which kept him in Vietnam. Cawthorn, visiting Vietnam on his yearly circuit of the SEATO countries, said to Serong "Get me Ten Years." With ten years grace, he said, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand could all be made strong enough to resist the pressures of Communist insurgency. And according to Serong, that is exactly what happened: he maintains that from March 1965 until April 1975 the efforts of himself and others in South Vietnam bought ten years for the economic strengthening of the states of Southeast Asia.(10)

From 1965 Serong instructed in counterinsurgency tactics wearing a business shirt and tie. He was not in military uniform, because he was with the CIA, having been seconded in March 1965 from the Army to the Department of State, the public cover for his contract with the Agency. His postings in Vietnam henceforth indicated officially that he was with the United States Aid Agency or with the U.S. Information Service. His major project from 1965 to 1967, however, was to consult on the building of a National Police Field Force (PFF). The PFF was the culmination of his counterinsurgency philosophy. His vision was that the countryside could be kept safe for the farming population by forward patrolling, on a colonial policing model. His model was the British imperial patrols of the northwest frontier of India. In Southeast Asia, an elite was to be selected from the ranks of the ARVN and trained in Canungra-style guerrilla warfare by a team of professionals working from a camp in Dalat. Serong's selection criteria remained the same: physical fitness, weapons training, responsiveness to discipline.

During 1966 Serong had a free hand in recruiting his own team of trainers. Joining him was Laurie Crozier, a mining engineer fluent in several Asian language. Serong had met Crozier earlier when he was on service with the Australian Embassy in Saigon. Monty Rodulfo, formerly with British Intelligence, had long monitored the Indian frontier from Assam. He now joined the PFF. George Warfe and Frederick Lomas had fought in World War II and later instructed at Canungra. Lieutenant Commander Tommy Wright Serong had met in Burma. Like several others who joined the PFF team Wright was of mixed Anglo-Burmese parentage, and was being squeezed from public office in his country of birth. As news of the enterprize spread, men from many former British possessions applied to join. Most notably, a group of white mercenaries from Rhodesia turned up one evening in Dalat to offer their services. They were accepted.(11)

The period 1966 to 1968 was one of intense rivalries in the American presence in South Vietnam. It was the time of expansion and open-ended cheque financing under the Johnson administration between the arrival of the ground troops in 1965 and the first widespread public doubts about the U.S. involvement in Vietnam in 1968. The war had to provide opportunities for all the elements of the Defense Forces and the civilian agencies. If the Army was present in Vietnam, the Airforce must have something to do there also. If the Marines were represented, the Navy must have an equally important role. A bewildering array of MACV, CIA and AID programs grew up, all competing for dominance. The evidence of the Serong Diaries is that when the Saigon government was in crisis, a not infrequent situation, the proponents of the various programs jockeyed to gain the ear of the most likely incoming leader of South Vietnam.(12)

The Police Field Force was to fall foul on the one hand of the new commander of MACV, General William C. Westmoreland, who had taken over from General Harkins in June 1964, and on the other of President Johnson's special non-military Chief Pacification Advisor, Robert W. Komer. The first hint of Gen. Westmoreland's opposition to the Police Field Force concept came on South Vietnam's National Day in October 1965. On seeing representatives of the PFF march by, Gen. Westmoreland exclaimed "Why, they're not police, they're soldiers!" The American commander's objections to the organization of the Police Field Force, as suggested by Serong, are expressed in a secret November 1965 report to the then Ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge. Westmoreland began "You will recall that I expressed strong reservations over the program for the organization of Police Field Forces...specifically as proposed by Colonel Serong." He continued "the concept set forth by Colonel Serong is contrary to the current assignment of roles and missions to the various Vietnamese forces involved in fighting the war and in pacification"..."The Police Field Force in order to accomplish the mission they have assigned to themselves would eventually find it necessary to expand in order of magnitude approaching the Popular Force...In my opinion the operational problems which would eventuate would be unimaginable."(13)

When Robert Komer arrived in South Vietnam in 1966, he found that two men were constantly proffering advice and memos regarding pacification. One was John Paul Vann, who had returned to Vietnam with AID after his first period of service as a military advisor with MACV in 1962 to 1963, and the other was Serong. Komer eventually ignored Serong's attempts to contact him. Komer gave no support to the Police Field Force. His objection to the PFF was that there were no American advisors trained in the colonial policing methods necessary to the PFF concept. And here is the nub of a central problem. Komer was prepared to ask the British to find him Bhutanese troops trained in colonial policing, but did not encourage a further contribution from the junior allies in the American alliance. Indeed, when Ambassador Maxwell Taylor in 1965 heard of the success of AATTV member Barry Petersen in organizing the montagnards of the central plateau in self-defense, under the aegis of the CIA, Taylor's key question was "Why is an American not doing this [work]?"(14)

In 1968 Serong began to contract to the Rand Organization, on CIA instructions that a Rand contract would act as a suitable cover for his continuing operations in Vietnam. He retired from the Australian Army at that point. In his affiliation with Rand, he developed manuals on irregular warfare: these were commissioned by the Pentagon and paid for by Department of Defense money. He instructed at the National Defense College of South Vietnam from its foundation under the leadership of General Vinh Loc in 1968. He believed that improved training for its officers would make the ARVN a more professional Army, with the result that corruption and the problems of political appointments would be lessened, or, at the least, the political appointments might be better ones. The Defense College folded in 1972 for lack of U.S. dollar support. He soldiered on. For the Ohio based Batelle think tank he acquired land for a Vietnam Institute of Science and Technology, an attempt to duplicate the South Korean economic miracle. He studied the problems of city administration, and, in particular, the future shape of urban insurgencies. But as Serong watched in some dismay from Saigon, the U.S. Congress began to turn against the war, and eventually cut the funding for it, until, as he bitterly recorded, in 1975 the ARVN simply ran out of bullets.(15)

The mood of Saigon in 1974 is captured in an unpublished manuscript by Serong, entitled "One Month In September." The world energy crisis of October 1973 had strangulated petroleum supplies for the war. The American advisors had departed, leaving only a small Embassy representation. What USAID money there was appears to have been diverted by the Saigon middle class into funding for local and, preferably, overseas university places for their children. Law degrees were particularly popular, Serong noted "a four year refuge from combat for the boys; and to preserve the decencies the thing is extended to the girls, who have as yet no draft obligations." He went on "the government hopes by this device to keep the potentially explosive students quiescent...[This situation] cannot last much longer."(16)

In 1974 Commander of the Armed Forces Nguyen Van Thieu held the title of President of South Vietnam. Thieu's Prime Minister was Tran Thien Khiem, one of the chief agents in the 1963 coup against Ngo Dinh Diem. In December of 1974 Tran Thien Khiem approached Serong, asking him to draw up a plan for the survival of the country. Serong recommended the evacuation of Military regions I and II, on the basis that the ARVN had two thirds of their combat forces deployed in the north, where there was less than one third of the wealth and one tenth of the population. The only hope of survival for South Vietnam was to shorten overextended supply lines, Serong argued. Further, he continued, a withdrawal to the South would make the enemy's task of occupation harder. But, he added, the troops would have to be pulled out and the population evacuated within a matter of weeks if there were to be a fighting chance. At that time, President Thieu could not accept the proposal, in part because it would mean the abandonment of the old imperial capital at Hue.

In the events of the ensuing five months, Serong's large range of Vietnamese contacts, established over thirteen years, would play an important role. In early 1975 Ngo Cac Tinh, at that time a cabinet minister, attempted to sell the "surgery plan" to the other Vietnamese generals. Nguyen Van Chau, a powerful Catholic civilian who had held various posts in the government, kept Serong informed of developments in the Catholic communities of Military regions I and II, the people who had most to fear from a Communists takeover. Time was slipping away. He gave Thieu a deadline: the redeployment must be completed by mid-February. In January Serong told Bishop Thuan, the auxiliary bishop of Saigon "to prepare for 1955 all over again."(17)

In mid-March, Ngo Cac Tinh informed Serong that President Thieu wished to consult with him. Serong told Ngo Cac Tinh that the war was over, and had, in everything that mattered, been over for three weeks. Two days later, the North Vietnamese Army poured into South Vietnam from the unprotected flank in Laos, attacking at Ban Me Thout, in Military Region II. The roads in the north were cut off. The only means of evacuation was by sea and air. In the panic which followed, many officers and provincial officials used their authority to save themselves and their own, as thousands fled south, towards Saigon.

Thieu resigned his post and flew out of the country on April 21. That night, a group of Vietnamese officers visited Serong's compound in Phan Dinh Phung Street. They asked him to tell them what to do, in the absence of their own commanders. Over the next few day Serong gave orders. He had no hope that any battle against the North Vietnamese could be won; what he was seeking to do was to give the ARVN troops fighting to the north and southwest of the city a chance to save their lives. On April 27 navy captain Nguyen Van Anh, then South Vietnamese vice-minister for planning, and Pham Van Lieu, marine colonel and former chief of police, both men well known to Serong, Anh from his Defense College days, informed him that they wished to take the remnants of the South Vietnamese navy out through the river mouth. This they could not do, they said, until the incumbent commanders, who seemed paralysed, were relieved of their duties. The three men gained the appropriate authority from the new President, Duong Van Minh. Nguyen Van Anh and Pham Van Lieu subsequently took the vessels and as many as they could fit aboard through heavy fighting out into the South China Sea to the awaiting Seventh Fleet.

Serong himself left from the barricaded U.S. Embassy compound twenty four hours before Duong Van Minh made his unconditional surrender to the North Vietnamese. He was evacuated with 4,000 others to the hold of the cargo vessel The Green Port of New Orleans. In Hong Kong a few days later he learned from CIA's George Jacobson that only one South Vietnamese pilot had asked for more fuel to make a return journey to the city.

A strong impression I have of Serong in South Vietnam is of him on foot. He is on foot in Saigon, gathering information, arranging documentation for escapes in the last days; on foot checking a road for ambushes, demonstrating the proper use of a weapon in dumbshow, inspecting the site of a battle. He had the gift of leadership. The people he chose for responsibility attest to achieving beyond what they had previously thought their capabilities. He was an original, and so struck some as a charlatan, as he is portrayed in Frank Snepp's Decent Interval. He did not suffer fools gladly, and made his share of enemies.(18)

He continued to serve what he saw his mission in Vietnam long after his own government had disengaged. His attitude to the saving of South Vietnam might be summed up by a hypothetical he put to a Rand seminar in 1970: In the case of two Alpine climbers, one lower on the rope and dependent on the other, if the man higher up begins to lose his purchase, his spikes will not hold, the ledge is crumbling, when does he cut the rope? The seminar debated the various possibilities. The question was finally referred to Serong. The answer was forthcoming. You don't cut the rope; you both go over, together.

1.U.S. Congress. House. Hearing before the Special Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on International Relations. The Vietnam-Cambodia Emergency, 1975 Part III-Vietnam Evacuation. Testimony of Ambassador Graham A. Martin. 94th Cong., 2nd sess., January 27, 1976. H. 461.

2. At the time of writing, the evidence for Serong's contacts with the CIA in Burma rests on weekly interviews of the author with Serong, 1994 to 1996. Serong's later Vietnam assignments with the CIA are well documented in the Serong Papers, Melbourne, commencing with a positive reply to a proposal to him to join the Agency from a General Walsh dated 15 May 1964. That former Secretary of State Dean Rusk asked for Serong specifically during negotiations regarding an Australian contribution to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war was confirmed by the author's interview with Sir Garfield Barwick, former Australian Minister External Affairs, Sydney, October 1995. For further details of Australian officers' assignments with the CIA, see Ian McNeill, The Team: Australian Army Advisers in Vietnam 1962-1972 (Canberra, ACT: Australian War Memorial, 1984), 34-67 and 378-385.

3. Transcript from Serong notes on 1962 visit to Vietnam, "May '62 Recce Notes," Serong Papers.

4. For change of name of AATTV, Serong postscript to Kenneth Grenville, The Saving of South Vietnam (Sydney: Alpha Books, 1972), 214; "we will do the lurking," in Ian Mackay, Australians in Vietnam (Adelaide, Australia: Rigby Limited, 1968), 14. For details of Canungra contact drills, see Kenneth Maddock (ed.), Memories of Vietnam (Sydney: Random House Australia, 1991), 50-51.

5. Francis Philip Serong Diary (hereafter FPSD) 1, entry for 21 Sept., 1962.

6. Timmes quotation from FPSD 1, entry for 21 June, 1963; observation on Harkins, entry for 19 February, 1963. The first diary, July 1962 to September 1963, is the most informative regarding Serong's training methods.

7. From September 1962 Serong monitored the CIA "Weekly Summaries" to gauge how much of his analyses appeared (author's interviews, January 1996). For use of Serong's war progress reports, author's interview with David Halberstam, New York, November 1995 and with Rufus C. Phillips III, formerly Assistant Director of Rural Development for South Vietnam, Washington, November 1995. The Fort Bragg speech, 5 May 1963, is from the Serong Papers.

8. For Serong's training methods integrated into courses at Fort Bragg, letter to author from Maj. Gen. Yarborough, September 1995, and for further information on Serong's May 1963 visit to Washington, author's interview with Lt. Gen. Victor H. Krulak, U.S. Marine Corps, San Diego, October 1995, and with William E. Colby, Chief of the Far East Division of the CIA in 1963, November 1995. See also David Halberstam, The Best and The Brightest (New York: Ballantine, 1993), 276.

9. The notes on the National Strategy for South Vietnam are from the back flyleaf of the FPSD 1, pending location of the more substantial document submitted to General Harkins and distributed through the Canberra Committee, the chief Third Country National liaison body of the U.S. Mission in South Vietnam in 1962 and 1963. For a recent North Vietnamese comment on U.S. failure to cut off the Ho Chi Minh Trail, see Colonel Bui Tin's interview with Stephen Young, Wall Street Journal, 3 Aug., 1995.

10. The evidence for Cawthorn's "Get me ten years" instruction is Serong's recollection; the phrase does not appear in the FPSD entries for October 1964. Serong replied to a General Walsh expressing interest in an Agency offer and suggesting that his release from Australian Army duties might be effected by Australian Intelligence headquarters in Melbourne rather than Army channels in a letter dated May 1964 (Serong as commander AATT, Vietnam to General Walsh, 15 May 1964, Serong Papers). A 1967 letter from Cawthorn to Serong, directed secretly through the Australian Embassy in Saigon, states "one of the conditions made when agreement was given for your secondment to CIA was that you would not be employed outside Vietnam" (Cawthorn's Personal, No. 9052/10, to Serong, 31 October 1967, Serong Papers), and seems evidence that Cawthorn intended Serong to have a key role in the "holding" of South Vietnam. Cawthorn's discussions with CIA Station Chief Peer de Silva and de Silva's then second in command, George Jorgenson, on a secondment to State, to be arranged through Australian Intelligence channels, are noted in entries for 8, 9 and 22 October 1964, FPSD 4, 7 October 1964-May 1965.

11. The backgrounds of Crozier et al. are set out in an undated file labelled "Personnel", Serong Papers. Unsolicited letters from applicants for positions with the PFF are to be found in many of the correspondence files of the Serong Papers for the period 1965 to 1968.

12. The FPSD entries for April and May 1966 give graphic evidence of inter-agency competition to influence possible emergent Vietnamese leaders. For the inter-agency rivalries in general, see Robert W. Komer, Bureaucracy at War (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1986) and for the 1964 period, see my Lodge in Vietnam: A Patriot Abroad (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 127-129.

13. Memorandum for Ambassador Lodge from United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Subject: National Police Field Force, 9 November 1965, Lodge Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston. "Why they're soldiers" anecdote from Serong letter to the author, November 1991.

14. For Komer on PFF, author's interview with Robert W. Komer, Washington, November 1995. "Why not an American?" in Barry Petersen with John Cribbin, An Australian Soldier's Secret War in Vietnam: Tiger Men (South Melbourne: Macmillan Company, 1988), 133.

15. The details of Serong's various contracts after his retirement from the Australian Army in 1968 can be found in the diaries for the period, and most particularly in a file entitled "Chronological File, March 1968 Thru September 1970," Serong Papers. For "ran out of bullets," see Francis Philip Serong Oral History (OH), 1994, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library (LBJL), Austin, Texas, II, 45.

16. Quotation from "One Month in September," a thirty page manuscript with three full day entries completed, Serong Papers, 2.

17. The logistical plans for the pull back, as presented to Gen. Thieu in December 1974, are among the Serong Papers; a summary appears in Denis Warner, Not With Guns Alone: How Hanoi Won the War (Sydney: Hutchinson, 1977), 13-14. A member of the North Vietnamese Army has recently claimed the NVA had these plans at the same time as Thieu. See Gen. Tran Bach Dang interview in Larry Englemann, Tears Before the Rain: An Oral History of the Fall of South Vietnam (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 305-309. The account here and below is based on the Serong OH, LBJL, II, 22-45.

18. Frank Snepp, Decent Interval (New York: Random House, 1978), 109-110.

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