Emergency and Confrontation

Emergency and Confrontation : Australian Military Operations in Malaya and Borneo 1950-1966

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During the 1950s and 1960s Australian military affairs were distinguished by the doctrine of 'forward defence': the assumption that it was preferable to defend Australia as far from Australia's shores as possible.

Emergency And Confrontation is the first sustained and scholarly account of Australia's military involvement in the Malayan Emergency, waged against the armed forces of the Malayan Communist Party between 1948 and 1960, and in Confrontation, an undeclared war initiated by Indonesia to destabilise the emergent Federation of Malaysia and fought largely along the common border in the northern part of Borneo between 1962 and 1966. In each case the conflict was determined by the wider movement for decolonisation in Asia, and by the context of Cold War competition which saw Western forces pitted against Communist, or Communist-backed, movements.

As part of the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve, Australian soldiers engaged in protracted operations in norther Malaya and along the Thai border, while Australian airmen flew bombing sorties against suspected enemy concentrations, usually in deep jungle. With the Emergency concluded, Australian forces saw service again in the 1960s as part of a Commonwealth force in Borneo. Operations in both campaigns were gruelling, drawn-out, and often inconclusive, but their overall success helped to protect the emergent democracy of post-colonial Malaysia, while they also provided valuable experience for Australian soldiers in the skills of jungle warfare, counter-insurgency and small unit action.

Australia's involvement in the Emergency and Confrontation form part of the prologue to the more assertive and self-reliant engagement with its region which has come to characterise Australian policy in southeast Asia in the 1980s and 1990s. The defence of Malaya/Malaysia from internal subversion and external threat was a success - and an important one in the subsequent development of the ASEAN states.

Emergency And Confrontation has been written with full access to the available records in Australia and Britain, supplemented by interviews with participants in Australia, Britain and Indonesia.

This is the fifth volume of the Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948-1975.

Peter J. Dennis is Professor of History at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He is the author or editor of a number of books including Troubled Days Of Peace: Mountbatten And South-East Asia Command 1945-46 (1987), and is co-author, with Jeffrey Grey and others, of the Oxford Companion To Australian Military History (1995). Jeffrey Grey is Senior Lecturer in History at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He is the author or editor
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Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 176 x 240 x 31.75mm
  • Sydney, Australia
  • English
  • 1863733027
  • 9781863733021

Table of contents

List of Maps

List of Figures



PART 1 The Malayan Emergency

1 The Emergency

2 Early Australian involvement: the air power commitment

3 The widening involvement

4 The Australian ground commitment, 1955

5 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, 1955-56

6 2 RAR: operations 1957

7 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, 1957-59

8 The final phase

9 Conclusion

PART II Confrontation

10 The context of confrontation

11 Strategic contingencies, 1963-64

12 Borneo: the first phase, 1963-64

13 'Living Dangerously': August 1964-January 1965

14 Borneo: the second phase, 1965-66

15 3 RAR in Borneo, March-August 1965

16 4 RAR in Borneo, April-August 1966

17 Other involvement: SAS, RAA, RAE and Australians serving

with British units

18 Conclusion

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About Peter Dennis

Peter J. Dennis is Professor of History and Jeffrey Grey is Senior Lecturer in History at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
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