Fire Support Bases Vietnam is a meticulous documentation of the construction, location and role of fire support bases during the Vietnam War, compiled by Vietnam veteran Bruce Picken. Often makeshift bases hacked out of primary jungle, these artillery gun areas provided essential support to infantry field units during operations in South Vietnam.
In its simplest sense, a fire support base was an often hastily constructed fortified artillery base position, usually sited forward close to the centre of the area of operations in support of task force, battalion or company operations. The role of the fire support base was to bring artillery and mortar fire within range of friendly forces operating in depth.
Artillery gun areas were not unique to the Vietnam conflict. In previous wars they were deployed in allied territory to cover the front lines and to support advancing troops. The concept was first applied in Vietnam by US forces and quickly adapted by Australian forces arriving in Phuoc Tuy Province in May 1966 to fight a new kind of war. This conflict was not like its predecessors and the fire support bases were now more usually sited in territory dominated by the enemy to provide much-needed protection for forces operating in bitterly contested areas.
Fire Support Bases Vietnam is a detailed account that identifies every fire support base by date, location and role and provides an outline of the operations in which they participated. This is an essential reference book for those with a serious interest in the Vietnam War, and adds valuable detail to the study of a campaign that occupies a unique place in the Australian psyche.
“THERE have been many accounts of the experiences of Vietnam War soldiers. This one stands out from the crowd. It is a meticulous piece of research showing the “big picture” of the Australian Army’s involvement in Vietnam from 1962-73. Many accounts are seen through the eyes of the forward scout, rifleman or machine gunner out on patrol. Just about everywhere the Diggers patrolled on foot in Vietnam was within the range of a fire support base and under the protection of its artillery and mortars. Picken explains the Fire Support Base strategy and how it evolved and documents each one established for every Australian Task Force operation from the arrival of our first fighting troops in 1965 until their eventual withdrawal in 1972. …a Digger can look up the operations they took part in and read about the makeshift jungle fortresses that supported him, and maybe even saved his life. ”
MICK TOAL, Reviewed in By the Book – Sydney Daily Telegraph