Book Review: Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Royal Australian Navy's Role, Vietnam, 1965-1972

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by John R. Carroll

Dural, NSW: Rosenberg / Portland, Or.: International Specialized Book Services, 2013. Pp. 264. Illus., maps, tables, appends,, notes, biblio., index. $29.95 paper. ISBN: 1922013498

A Neglected Ally and a Fogotten Mission in the Vietnam War

Out of Sight, Out of Mind is unusual for several reasons.  To begin with, it deals with one of the allies who took part in the Vietnam War, all of whom have been rather poorly treated in the literature.  In addition, it’s about the naval service, again an overlooked subject in regard to the Korean War.  Finally, rather than focus on the role of the RAN in providing gunfire support to the troops in the jungles, Carroll, RAN veteran, naval architect, academic, and more, deals with what is both the dullest and the most vital of military activities, logistics. 

Carroll opens with a discussion of the role of logistics in war, noting the relative neglect of the subject by most histories.  He follows this with a brief overview of Australian defense policy on the eve of the war and a survey of the Commonwealth’s role in the conflict. 

Carroll then devotes a series of chapters to the role of RAN support of logistical operations.  These are primarily about the light carrier HMS Sydney, a veteran of the Korean War and the “Malaya Confrontation” with Indonesia.  Rather than launching air strikes and close support missions, Sydney made 25 voyages between Australia and South Vietnam carrying troops, equipment, and supplies. 

Although his primary purpose it to cover the role of the RAN in the logistical support of the war, Carroll does gives us brief looks at events in the war zone and even provides a short discussion of Agent Orange.  Carroll ends the book with thoughts on the neglect of logistical operations in histories of the war, a problem that tends to affect most military histories.

A very useful read for anyone interested in the Vietnam War,  Out of Sight, Out of Mind will also prove rewarding for students of logistics.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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