Title: Ted Serong – The Life of an Australian Counter-Insurgency Expert
Author: Blair, Anne
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 2002
Cover: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket – 238 pages
Comments: The biography of Colonel Ted Sarong, Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV).
Brigadier Francis Philip “Ted” Serong DSO, OBE (11 November 1915 – 1 October 2002) was a senior officer of the Australian Army, most notable for his contributions to counter-insurgency and jungle warfare tactics, and as commander of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam from 1962 until 1965.
In Vietnam, as well as heading the Australian training team, Serong was appointed senior adviser on counterinsurgency to the commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, serving under General Paul D. Harkins and then General William Westmoreland. These links, forged with the US military, were to determine his future career path. When his command of the AATTV ended in 1965, he was seconded to the US State Department, essentially under the auspices of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to become senior adviser to South Vietnam’s Police Field Force to develop paramilitary security, death squads, terror action and political assassinations.
That began his separation from the Australian Army, before he left formally in 1968 with the rank of brigadier. He was later to say of that decision, that his “relationship with the Australian Army, by and large, was a very happy one”, adding, “I left it because I found a way of being of more service to the country outside it than in it. It was a matter of staying in the wagon and trying to steer it or getting out and pushing, so I got out and pushed.”
He stayed on in Vietnam, where various roles came his way. He was a security and intelligence adviser to the South Vietnamese government for some years as well as preparing strategic analyses for the Rand Organisation, the Hudson Institute and other US corporations. During those Vietnam years he was also a consultant to The Pentagon and to the policy planners of three American presidents—John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. He was one of the last to leave, flying out in the final helicopter airlift by from the US Embassy, Saigon on 29 April 1975, the day before the fall of Saigon.
Serong became a hawk on the prosecution of the war in Vietnam, believing a victory for the US and South Vietnamese forces would help prevent the new independent countries of South-East Asia falling under the communist orbit. The hoped-for victory did not eventuate, nor did communism engulf the so-called “domino” countries. But what had been gained, in Serong’s view, was time for the threatened nations to strengthen their political and economic structures, enhancing their ability to deal with any insurgencies.