165: Australian Corps Badges part 2

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Australian Corps Badges part 2

Cold War

Korean War, 1950–1953

On 25 June 1950, the North Korean army crossed the border into South Korea and advanced for the capital Seoul, which fell in less than a week. North Korean forces continued toward the port of Pusan and two days later the United States offered its assistance to South Korea. In response the United Nations Security Council requested members to assist repel the North Korean attack. Australia initially contributed P-51 Mustang fighter-bomber aircraft from No. 77 Squadron RAAF and infantry from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), both of which were stationed in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). In addition it provided the majority of supply and support personnel to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. The RAN frigate HMAS Shoalhaven and the destroyer HMAS Bataan were also committed. Later an aircraft carrier strike group aboard HMAS Sydney was added to the force.

However, by the time 3 RAR arrived in Pusan on 28 September, the North Korean army was in retreat following the Inchon landings. As a part of the invasion force under the UN Supreme Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, the battalion moved north and was involved in its first major action near Pyongyang, advancing towards the Yalu River. Following the Chinese intervention, the UN forces were defeated in successive battles and 3RAR was forced to withdraw to the 38th parallel.

Australian troops participated in two major battles in 1951, with the first at Kapyong. On 22 April, Chinese forces attacked the Kapyong valley and forced the South Korean defenders to withdraw. Australian and Canadian troops were ordered to halt this Chinese advance. After a night of fighting the Australians recaptured their positions, at the cost of 32 men killed and 59 wounded. In July 1951, the Australian battalion became part of the combined Canadian, British, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian 1st Commonwealth Division. The second major battle they fought in was during Operation Commando and occurred after the Chinese attacked a salient in a bend of the Imjin River. The 1st Commonwealth Division counter-attacked on 3 October, striking a number of objectives including Hill 355 and Hill 317, and after five days the Chinese retreated. Australian casualties included 20 dead and 104 wounded during the fighting which became known as the First Battle of Maryang San.

The belligerents then became locked in static trench warfare akin to the First World War, in which men lived in tunnels, redoubts, and sandbagged forts behind barbed wire defences. From 1951 until the end of the war, 3 RAR held trenches on the eastern side of the division’s positions in the hills northeast of the Imjin River. Across from them were heavily fortified Chinese positions. In March 1952, Australia increased its ground commitment to two battalions, sending 1 RAR. This battalion remained in Korea for 12 months, before being replaced by 2 RAR in April 1953. The Australians fought their last battle during 24–26 July 1953, with 2RAR holding off a concerted Chinese attack along the Samichon River and inflicting significant casualties for the loss of 5 killed and 24 wounded.

Hostilities were suspended on 27 July 1953. 17,808 Australians served during the war, with 341 killed, 1,216 wounded and 30 captured.

Malayan Emergency, 1950–1960

The Malayan Emergency was declared on 18 June 1948, after three estate managers were murdered by members of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). Australian involvement began in June 1950, when in response to a British request, six Lincolns from No. 1 Squadron and a flight of Dakotas from No. 38 Squadron arrived in Singapore to form part of the British Commonwealth Far East Air Force (FEAF). The Dakotas were subsequently used on cargo runs, troop movement, as well as paratroop and leaflet drops, while the Lincoln bombers carried out bombing raids against the Communist Terrorist (CT) jungle bases. The RAAF were particularly successful, and in one such mission known as Operation Termite, five Lincoln bombers destroyed 181 communist camps, killed 13 communists and forced one into surrender, in a joint operation with the RAF and ground troops.

Australian ground forces were deployed to Malaya in October 1955 as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve. In January 1956, the first Australian ground forces were deployed on Malaysian peninsula, consisting of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR). 2 RAR mainly participated in “mopping up” operations over the next 20 months, conducting extensive patrolling in and near the CT jungle bases, as part of 28th British Commonwealth Brigade. Contact with the enemy was infrequent and results small, achieving relatively few kills. 2 RAR left Malaysia October 1957 to be replaced by 3 RAR. 3 RAR underwent six weeks of jungle training and began driving MCP insurgents back into the jungle of Perak and Kedah. The new battalion extensively patrolled and was involved in food denial operations and ambushes. Again contact was limited, although 3 RAR had more success than its predecessor. By late 1959, operations against the MCP were in their final phase, and most communists had been pushed back and across the Thailand border. 3 RAR left Malaysia October 1959 and was replaced by 1 RAR. Though patrolling the border 1 RAR did not make contact with the insurgents, and in October 1960 it was replaced by 2 RAR, which stayed in Malaysia until August 1963. The Malayan Emergency officially ended on 31 July 1960.

Australia also provided artillery and engineer support, along with an air-field construction squadron. The Royal Australian Navy also served in Malayan waters, firing on suspected communist positions between 1956 and 1957. The Emergency was the longest continued commitment in Australian military history; 7,000 Australians served and 51 died in Malaya—although only 15 were on operations—and another 27 were wounded.

Military and Naval growth during the 1960s

At the start of the 1960s, Prime Minister Robert Menzies greatly expanded the Australian military so that it could carry out the Government’s policy of Forward Defence in South East Asia. In 1964, Menzies announced a large increase in defence spending. The strength of the Australian Army would be increased by 50% over three years from 22,000 to 33,000; providing a full three brigade division with nine battalions. The RAAF and RAN would also both be increased by 25%. In 1964, conscription or National Service was re-introduced, under the National Service Act (1964), for selected 20-year-olds based on date of birth, for a period of two years’ continuous full-time service.

In 1961, three Charles F. Adams class destroyers were purchased from the United States to replace the aging Q class destroyers. Traditionally, the RAN had purchased designs based on those of the Royal Navy and the purchase of American destroyers was significant. HMAS Perth and HMAS Hobart joined the fleet in 1965, followed by HMAS Brisbane in 1967. Other projects included the construction of six River class frigates, the conversion of the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne to an anti-submarine role, the acquisition of ten Wessex helicopters, and the purchase of six Oberon class submarines.

The RAAF took delivery of their first Mirage fighters in 1967, equipping No. 3, No. 75 and No. 77 Squadrons with them. The service also received American F-111 strike aircraft, C-130 Hercules transports, Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft and Italian Macchi trainers.

Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, 1962–1966

The Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation was fought from 1962 to 1966 between the British Commonwealth and Indonesia over the creation of the Federation of Malaysia, with the Commonwealth attempting to safeguard the security of the new state. The war remained limited, and was fought primarily on the island of Borneo, although a number of Indonesian seaborne and airborne incursions onto the Malay Peninsula did occur. As part of Australia’s continuing military commitment to the security of Malaysia, army, naval and airforce units were based there as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve. Regardless the Australian government was wary of involvement in a war with Indonesia and initially limited it’s involvement to the defence of the Malayan peninsula only. On two occasions Australian troops from 3 RAR were used to help mop up infiltrators from seaborne and airborne incursions at Labis and Pontian, in September and October 1964.

Following these raids the government conceded to British and Malaysian requests to deploy an infantry battalion to Borneo. During the early phases, British and Malaysian troops had attempted only to control the Malaysian/Indonesian border, and to protect population centres. However, by the time the Australian battalion deployed the British had decided on more aggressive action, crossing borders to obtain information and forcing Indonesian forces to remain on the defensive, under the codename Operation Claret. The fighting took place in mountainous, jungle-clad terrain, and a debilitating climate, with operations characterised by the extensive use of company bases sited along the border, cross-border operations, the use of helicopters for troop movement and resupply, and the role of human and signals intelligence to determine enemy movements and intentions.

3 RAR deployed to Borneo in March 1965, and served in Sarawak until the end of July, operating on both sides of the border. The battalion had four major contacts with Indonesian forces and many smaller ones—including at Sungei Koemba, Kindau and Babang—as well as suffering casualties in two mine incidents. 4 RAR served a less-eventful tour between April and August 1966, and also operated over the border, clashing with the Indonesians on a number of occasions. A squadron of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) was also deployed in 1965 and again in 1966, taking part in cross-border operations and inflicting significant casualties on the Indonesians, even though they were often tasked with covert reconnaissance. Other units included artillery and engineers, while a number of RAN ships were involved in shelling Indonesian positions in Borneo and in repelling infiltrators in the Singapore Strait. The RAAF played a relatively minor role, although it would have been used far more extensively had the war escalated.

Operations in Borneo were extremely sensitive and they received little press coverage in Australia, while official acknowledgement of involvement in cross-border missions only occurred in 1996. Following a military coup in Indonesia in early 1966 which brought General Suharto to power, a peace treaty was signed in August 1966 which ended the conflict. 3,500 Australians served during Confrontation; casualties included 16 dead, with seven killed in action and eight wounded.

Vietnam War, 1962–1973

Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War was driven largely by the rise of communism in Southeast Asia after the Second World War, and the fear of its spread which developed in Australia during the 1950s and early 1960s. As a consequence, Australia supported South Vietnam throughout the early 1960s. In 1961 and 1962, the leader of the South Vietnamese government, Ngo Dinh Diem, asked for assistance from the US and its allies in response to a growing insurgency supported by communist North Vietnam. Australia offered 30 military advisors from the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, which became known simply as “The Team”. They arrived in July and August 1962, beginning Australia’s involvement in the war. Later in August 1964, the RAAF sent a flight of Caribou transport aircraft to the port city of Vung Tau.

However with the security situation in South Vietnam continuing to deteriorate, the US increased its involvement to 200,000 combat troops by early 1965. Australia also committed ground forces, dispatching the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) to serve with the US 173rd Airborne Brigade in Bien Hoa province in June 1965 and it subsequently fought a number of significant actions including at Gang Toi, Ho Bo Woods and Suoi Bong Trang. In March 1966, the Australian government announced the deployment of a brigade-sized unit—the 1st Australian Task Force—to replace 1 RAR. Included were a large number of conscripts, under the increasingly controversial National Service scheme. Consisting of two infantry battalions as well as armour, aviation, artillery and other support arms, the task force was assigned primary responsibility for its own area and was based at Nui Dat, in Phuoc Tuy Province. Included were the Iroquois helicopters of No. 9 Squadron RAAF. At the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966, D Company, 6 RAR with considerable artillery support held off and defeated a Viet Cong force that was at least six times bigger than itself. 18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded, while 245 communist dead were later recovered from the battlefield.

With the Phuoc Tuy province coming progressively under control throughout 1967, the Australians increasingly spent a significant period of time conducting operations further afield. 1ATF was subsequently deployed astride infiltration routes leading to Saigon in order to interdict communist movement against the capital as part of Operation Coburg during the 1968 Tet Offensive and later during the Battle of Coral-Balmoral in May and June 1968. At Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral the Australians had clashed with regular North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong main force units operating in battalion and regimental strength for the first time in near conventional warfare, ultimately fighting their largest, most hazardous and most sustained battle of the war. During 26 days of fighting Australian casaulties included 25 killed and 99 wounded, while communist casualties included 267 killed confirmed by body count, 60 possibly killed, 7 wounded and 11 captured. Other significant Australian actions included Binh Ba in June 1969, Hat Dich in late-December 1968 and early 1969 and Long Khanh in June 1971. At the height of the Australian commitment, 1 ATF numbered 8,500 troops, including three infantry battalions, armour, artillery, engineers, logistics and aviation units in support. A third RAAF unit, No. 2 Squadron RAAF, flying Canberra bombers, was sent in 1967, and four RAN destroyers joined US patrols in the waters off North Vietnam.

The Australian withdrawal effectively commenced in November 1970. As a consequence of the overall allied strategy of Vietnamization and with the Australian government keen to reduce its own commitment to the war, 8RAR was not replaced at the end of its tour of duty. 1ATF was again reduced to just two infantry battalions, albeit with significant armour, artillery and aviation support remaining. Australian combat forces were further reduced during 1971 as part of a phased withdrawal, and 1ATF ceased operations in October. Meanwhile the advisors remained to train South Vietnamese troops until withdrawn on 18 December 1972 by the newly elected Labor government of Gough Whitlam. The last Australian forces were finally withdrawn in 1973. The Vietnam War was Australia’s longest and most controversial war and although initially enjoying broad support, as its military involvement increased a vocal anti-war movement developed. More than 50,000 Australians served in Vietnam; 519 were killed and 2,398 were wounded. Four were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Post-Vietnam era

Creation of the Australian Defence Force, 1976

Although the importance of ‘joint’ warfare had been highlighted during Second World War when Australian naval, ground and air units frequently served as part of single commands, the absence of a central authority continued to result in poor coordination between the services in the post-war era, with each organising and operating on the basis of a different military doctrine. The need for an integrated command structured received more emphasis during the Australian military’s experiences in the Vietnam War. In 1973, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Arthur Tange, submitted a report to the Government that recommended the unification of the separate departments supporting each service into a single department and the creation of the post of Chief of the Defence Force Staff.

The Whitlam Labor Government subsequently amalgamated the five defence ministries (Defence, Navy, Army, Air Force, and Supply) into a single Department of Defence in 1973, while conscription under the National Service scheme was abolished. On 1 January 1976, the three branches of the Australian military were brought together as a unified, all-volunteer, professional force known as the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Today, the ADF is headquartered at Russell Offices in Canberra and is divided into Air, Land, Maritime and Special Operations Commands. In addition, Northern Command is based in Darwin, and is responsible for operations in Northern Australia.

Defence of Australia, 1980s and 1990s

Until the 1970s, Australia’s military strategy centred on the concept of Forward Defence, in which the role of the Australian military was to cooperate with Allied forces to counter threats in Australia’s region. In 1969, when the United States began the Guam Doctrine and the British withdrew ‘east of Suez‘, Australia developed a defence policy emphasising self-reliance of the Australian continent. This policy was known as the Defence of Australia Policy, under which the focus of Australian defence planning was to protect the nation’s northern maritime approaches (the ‘air-sea gap’) against possible attack.

In line with this goal, the ADF was restructured to increase its ability to strike at enemy forces from Australian bases and to counter raids on continental Australia. The ADF achieved this by increasing the capabilities of the RAN and RAAF and relocating regular Army units to Northern Australia. During this time the ADF had no military units on operational deployment outside Australia. However in 1987 the ADF made its first operational deployment as part of Operation Morris Dance, in which several warships and a rifle company deployed to the waters off Fiji in response to the 1987 Fijian coups d’état. While broadly successful, this deployment highlighted the need for the ADF to improve its capability to rapidly respond to unforeseen events.

Gulf War, 1991

Australia was a member of the international coalition which contributed military forces to the 1991 Gulf War, deploying a naval task group of two warships, a support ship and a clearance diving team; in total about 750 personnel. The Australian contribution was the first time Australian personnel were deployed to an active war zone since the establishment of the ADF and the deployment tested the it’s capabilities and command structure. However the Australian force did not see combat, and instead playing a significant role in enforcing the sanctions put in place against Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait. Some ADF personnel serving on exchange with British and American units did see combat, and a few were later decorated for their actions. ] Following the war, the Navy regularly deployed a frigate to the Persian Gulf or Red Sea to enforce the trade sanctions which continued to be applied to Iraq.

Global security, late-1990s

Since the late 1980s, the Australian government had increasingly called upon the ADF to contribute forces to peacekeeping missions around the world. While most of these deployments involved only small numbers of specialists, several led to the deployment of hundreds of personnel. Large peacekeeping deployments were made to Namibia in early 1989, Cambodia between 1992 and 1993, Somalia in 1993, Rwanda between 1994 and 1995 and Bougainville in 1994 and from 1997 onwards. The 1996 election of the Howard Liberal government resulted in significant reforms to the ADF’s force structure and role, with the new government’s defence strategy placed less singular emphasis on defending Australia from direct attack and greater emphasis on working in cooperation with regional states and Australia’s allies to manage potential security threats in recognition of Australia’s global security interests. In line with this new focus, the ADF’s force structure changed in an attempt to increase the proportion of combat units to support units and to improve the ADF’s combat effectiveness.

New Millennium

East Timor, 1999–present

The former-Portuguese colony of East Timor was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, however, following years of violent struggle the new Indonesian government of President B.J. Habibie subsequently agreed to allow the East Timorese to vote on autonomy in 1999. The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was established to organise and conduct the vote, which was held at the end of August 1999 and resulted with 78.5% of voters deciding in favour of independence. However, following the announcement of the results pro-Indonesian militias supported by elements of the Indonesian military, launched a campaign of violence, looting and arson and many East Timorese were killed, while perhaps more than 500,000 were displaced. Unable to control the violence, Indonesia subsequently agreed to the deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force. Australia, which had contributed police to UNAMET, organised and led an international military coaltion, known as the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), a non-UN force operating in accordance with UN resolutions. Total Australian forces committed included 5,500 personnel.

Under the overall command of Australian Major General Peter Cosgrove, INTERFET began arriving on 12 September 1999 and was tasked with restoring peace and security, protecting and supporting UNAMET, and facilitating humanitarian assistance operations. With the withdrawal of the Indonesian armed forces, police and government officials from East Timor, UNAMET re-established its headquarters in Dili on 28 September. On 19 October 1999, Indonesia formally recognised the result of the referendum and shortly thereafter a UN peacekeeping force, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established, becoming fully responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence. The hand-over of command of military operations from INTERFET to UNTAET was completed on 28 February 2000. Australia continued to support the UN peacekeeping operation with between 1,500 and 2,000 personnel, as well as landing craft and Blackhawk helicopters and remained the largest contributor of personnel to the peacekeeping mission. During these operations Australian forces regularly clashed with pro-Indonesian militia and on a number of occasions Indonesian forces as well, especially along the border with West Timor. Significant actions occurred in Suai, Mota’ain and at Aidabasalala in October 1999. However with the security situation stabilised the bulk of the Australian and UN forces were withdrawn by 2005. Two Australians died from non-battle related causes, while a number of Australians were wounded in action.

The unexpected deployment to East Timor in 1999 led to significant changes in Australian defence policy and to an enhancement of the ADF’s ability to conduct operations outside Australia. This successful deployment was the first time a large Australian military force had operated outside of Australia since the Vietnam War and revealed shortcomings in the ADF’s ability to mount and sustain such operations. In response, the 2000 Defence White Paper placed a greater emphasis on preparing the ADF for overseas deployments. The Australian government committed to improve the ADF’s capabilities by improving the readiness and equipment of ADF units, expanding the ADF to 57,000 full-time personnel and increasing real Defence expenditure by 3% per year.

In May 2006, 2,000 ADF personnel were again deployed to East Timor as part of Operation Astute, following unrest between elements of the Timor Leste Defence Force. Australian forces were involved in a number skirmishes during this time, including a heavy clash with rebels commanded by Alfredo Reinado at Same on 4 March 2007. However, by early-2010 the security situation has been stabilised and just 400 Australian personnel remain to train the local security forces as part of a small international force.

Afghanistan, 2001–present

Shortly after the Islamist inspired terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, Australian forces were committed to the American-led international coalition against terrorism. The ADF’s most visible contribution—codenamed Operation Slipper—has been a special forces task group operating in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2002 and again from mid-2005 to fight against the Taliban. Over time the Australian commitment has grown, with the addition of further ground forces from 2006 to provide security, reconstruction and to mentor and train the Afghan National Army. Australia has also contributed a frigate and two AP-3 Orion surveillance aircraft and three C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to international operations in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean since 2001, supporting both the operations in Afghanistan and those in Iraq under Operation Catalyst. A detachment of four F/A-18 Hornet fighter-bombers was based at Diego Garcia from late-2001 to mid-2002, while two Boeing 707 air-to-air refuelling aircraft were also based in Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan to provide support to coalition aircraft operating in Afghan airspace but have since been withdrawn.

As of 2011 a modest Australian force numbering 1,550 personnel remains in Afghanistan where they are involved in counter-insurgency operations in Uruzgan province in conjunction United States and other coalition forces, including the Dutch prior to their withdrawal in August. The force consists of motorised infantry, special forces, engineers, cavalry, artillery and aviation elements. This includes a combined arms battalion-sized battle group known as the Mentoring Task Force, and the Special Operations Task Group, both based at Forward Operation Base Ripley outside of Tarin Kowt, as well as the Rotary Wing Group flying CH-47D Chinooks, the Force Logistics Asset and an RAAF air surveillance radar unit based in Kandahar. In addition, a further 800 Australian logistic personnel are also based in the Middle East in support, but are located outside of Afghanistan. Detachments of maritime patrol and transport aircraft continue to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, based out of Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. Also included is the deployment of one of the RAN’s frigates to the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden on counter piracy and maritime interdiction duties.

Australian forces have at times been involved in heavy fighting, and significant actions have included Operation Anaconda in 2002, Operation Perth in 2006, the Battle of Chora in 2007, the Battle of Kakarak in 2009, and the Shah Wali Kot Offensive and Battle of Derapet in 2010; although others have yet to be publicly acknowledged due to operational security requirements. Casualties include 23 killed and 168 wounded, while another Australian also died serving with the British Army. Two Australians have been awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia, the first such awards in forty years.

Iraq, 2003–present

Australian forces later joined British and American forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The initial contribution was also a modest one, consisting of just 2,058 personnel—codenamed Operation Falconer. Major force elements included special forces, rotary and fixed wing aviation and naval units. Army units included elements from the Special Air Service Regiment and 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, a CH-47 Chinook detachment and a number of other specialist units. RAN units included the amphibious ship HMAS Kanimbla and the frigates HMAS Darwin and HMAS Anzac, while the RAAF deployed 14 F/A-18 Hornets from No. 75 Squadron, a number of AP3-C Orions and C-130 Hercules. Notably the Australian Special Forces task force was one of the first coalition units forces to cross the border into Iraq, while for a few days, the closest ground troops to Baghdad were from the SASR. During the invasion the RAAF also flew its first combat missions since the Vietnam War, with No. 75 Squadron flying a total of 350 sorties and dropping 122 laser guided bombs.

The Iraqi military quickly proved no match for coalition military power, and with their defeat the bulk of Australian forces were withdrawn. While Australia did not initially take part in the post-war occupation of Iraq, an Australian Army light armoured battlegroup—designated the Al Muthanna Task Group and including 40 ASLAV vehicles and infantry—was later deployed to Southern Iraq in April 2005 as part of Operation Catalyst. The role of this force was to protect the Japanese engineer contingent in the region and support the training of New Iraqi Army units. The AMTG later became the Overwatch Battle Group (West) (OBG(W)), following the hand back of Al Muthanna province to Iraqi control. Force levels peaked at 1,400 personnel in May 2007 including the OBG(W) in Southern Iraq, the Security Detachment in Baghdad and the Australian Army Training Team—Iraq. A RAN frigate was based in the North Persian Gulf, while RAAF assets included C-130H Hercules and AP-3C elements  Following the election of a new Labor government under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in late 2007, the bulk of these forces have been withdrawn by mid-2009 while RAAF and RAN operations were redirected to other parts of the Middle East Area of Operations as part of Operation Slipper

Low-level operations remain ongoing, however, and the Australian force in Iraq is now limited to 80 soldiers assigned to protect the Australian Embassy in Baghdad as part of SECDET under Operation Kruger, while two officers are attached to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq. Although more than 17,000 personnel served in the operations in Iraq Australian casualties to date have been light, including only two accidentally killed, while a third Australian died serving with the British Royal Air Force. A further 27 personnel have been wounded.


Australia’s involvement in international peacekeeping operations has been diverse, and included participation in both United Nations sponsored missions, as well as those as part of ad-hoc coalitions. Australians have been involved in more conflicts as peacekeepers than as belligerents; however “in comparative international terms, Australia has only been a moderately energetic peacekeeper.” Although Australia has had peacekeepers in the field continuously for 60 years—being among the very first group of UN military observers in Indonesia in 1947—its commitments have generally been limited, consisting of small numbers of high-level and technical support troops (e.g. signals, engineers or medical units) or observers and police. This pattern changed in the mid-1990s, when Australia became involved in a series of high-profile operations, deploying significantly large units of combat troops in support of a number of missions including those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, and later in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. Australia has been involved in close to 100 separate missions, involving more than 30,000 personnel; 10 Australians have died during these operations.

Military Statistics

Conflict Date Number enlisted Killed Wounded Prisoners of War Notes
New Zealand 1860–1861 Crew of HMVS Victoria
2,500 in Waikato Regiments
Sudan 1885 770 in NSW Contingent 9 3 Nil
South Africa 1899–1902 16,463 in Colonial and Commonwealth contingents 589 538 100
China 1900–1901 560 in NSW, SA and VIC colonial naval contingents 6 Unknown Nil
First World War 1914–1918 416,809 enlisted in AIF (includes AFC)
324,000 AIF members served overseas
9,000 in RAN

Total: 425,809

61,511 155,000 4,044
(397 died in captivity)
Russian Civil War 1918–1919 100–150 in NREF and NRRF
48 in Dunsterforce
Crew of HMAS Swan
10 40 Nil
Second World War 1939–1945 727,200 in 2nd AIF and Milita
48,900 in RAN
216,900 in RAAF

Total: 993,000

39,761 66,553 8,184 (against Germany and Italy)
22,376 (against Japan)
(8,031 died in captivity)
Malayan Emergency 1948–1960 7,000 in Army 39 20 Nil
Korean War 1950–1953 10,657 in Army
4,507 in RAN
2,000 in RAAF

Total: 17,164

340 1,216 29
(1 died in captivity)
Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation 1962–1966 3,500 in Army 16 9 Nil
Vietnam War 1962–1973 42,700 in Army
2,825 in RAN
4,443 in RAAF

Total: 49,968

521 2,398 Nil
Gulf War 1991 750 Nil Nil Nil
Somalia 1992–1994 1,480 1 Nil
East Timor 1999–present 2 Nil
Afghanistan 2001–present 23 168 Nil
Iraq 2003–present 17,000 3 27 Nil
Total 102,826 225,785 34,730

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