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May - June 1962:
Exercise ‘AIR COBRA’.
24 May 1962:
Australian Government Announces the Plan to Deploy a Team of Army Instructors to the South Vietnamese Army.
14 July 1962:
Captain G. Cohen assumed command of the 1st SAS Company Royal Australian Regiment from Major L.G. Clark.
14 July 1962:
The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV).
Exercise ‘SALT SHAKER I and II'. These exercises were conducted in the Avon Valley area to the north-east of Perth to train and prepare for Exercise ‘NUTCRACKER’.
October – November 1962:
As 1962 drew to a close, events in and near Malaya were developing in such a way that would have a fundamental influence on the role and organisation of the SAS and would demonstrate that Special Forces were a vital capability for any nation in modern warfare.
In its critical and often rocky formative years from 1957 to 1962, under the firm guidance of firstly Major Eyles then Major Clark, the 1st SAS Company was able to evolve, develop and set the foundations that would enable the SAS to go forward with confidence in performing its primary roles when required.
Exercise ‘AIR COBRA’
May - June 1962: The 1st SAS Company took part in its first South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) exercise – Exercise ‘AIR COBRA’, in Thailand. 3 Platoon 1st SAS Company, flew to Bangkok, and from there to Korat, a Royal Thai Air Force recruit-training depot about 300km north-east of Bangkok. The platoon was attached to the United States 4th Marine Light Reconnaissance Company. The exercise involved a 65km patrol in four-wheel drive vehicles, one patrol per vehicle, with the tasks of reconnaissance and calling in airstrikes. The Platoon spent six weeks in Thailand, however as it was primarily an air force exercise, it did not prove to be particularly realistic. Exercise ‘AIR COBRA’ was a salutary reminder that the strategic situation in South East Asia was deteriorating. Throughout 1961 there had been concerns about a communist take-over in Laos, and the SEATO exercise was an effective means of raising the confidence of the Government of Thailand. On 23 May 1962, while 3 Platoon of the SAS Company was in Thailand, Australian Minister for External Affairs announced that Australia had agreed to help ‘maintain the territorial integrity’ of Thailand. Five days later he revealed that a detachment of Royal Australian Airforce Sabre jet fighter aircraft would be stationed at Ubon in Thailand.
Team of Australian Army
Instructors to Assist the
South Vietnamese Army
24 May 1962: The Minister for the Army announced that Australia would provide a team of 30 Army Instructors to assist the South Vietnamese Army with jungle warfare techniques, village defence, engineering and signals.
Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV)
14 July 1962: Two Officers and four Senior Non-Commisioned Officers (SNCO) from the 1st SAS Company deployed with the initial Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) group. The officers were Major Clark and Captain Brian Wade. The SNCOs were Sergeant Joe Flannery, Sergeant Des Kennedy, Sergeant Ray Simpson and Sergeant Roy Weir. These soldiers all had previous operational service.
October - November 1962:This exercise was conducted in the Colo – Putty region (Hunter Valley area) of New South Wales in October and November 1962. One platoon arrived at Singleton on 14 September 1962 to participate in an exercise with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. A small reconnaissance group of 1st SAS Company personnel arrived at Singleton on 7 October 1962 to join the SAS Platoon already there and were tasked to draw stores and vehicles for use by the SAS Company during the exercise period. The remainder of the SAS Company moved by train from Perth, spending five days sitting ‘shoulder to shoulder’ in carriages that were described as ‘dog boxes’ and arrived at Singleton New South Wales on 12 October 1962. During the period 14 - 21 October 1962, the SAS Company conducted training which included field firing for two days, parachute training, casualty evacuation by helicopter training and a short patrol training exercise. This period of training was designed to train about 30 soldiers, who had recently been accepted into the Company, in SAS techniques prior to deploying on Exercise ‘NUTCRACKER’. 1st SAS Company deployed to Exercise ‘NUTCRACKER’ on 22 October and completed their involvement on 9 November 1962. The Company departed by train for Perth on 11 November 1962. Exercise ‘NUTCRACKER’ was a conventional war exercise involving nearly 8000 troops. For the first time since it was raised in 1957, the 1st SAS Company was exercised in its main role of providing medium and long-range reconnaissance for a large conventional force.
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