Did international events and relationships affect Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War came about as a consequence of their military skills in jungle warfare. Although Australian military were initially sent to Vietnam as advisers, they soon began to send conscripted troops over as well, which became a source of protest and debate.

Generally speaking, Australia entered Vietnam to support the United States, who was its most powerful ally. However, the assassination of John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B Johnson's escalation of military activity in Vietnam spurred Australian leaders to expand their own involvement beyond their initial role as advisers. Vietnam became Australia's longest military action. As the war dragged on, international disapproval mounted, with internal protests against both the war itself and the involuntary conscription of troops. The Battle of Long Tan was a decisive victory for Australian troops; the Tet Offensive spurred Australia to announce that their involvement would remain stable instead of increasing. Australian troops were hailed for their ability to fight in the jungle, but eventually Prime Minister William McMahon announced full withdrawal. Interestingly, Australia then became a haven for South Vietnamese refugees.