Supporting the War: Britain's Decision to send the Thompson ‘Mission to Vietnam’

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The British Advisory Mission (BRIAM) to Vietnam was established in September 1961. Its official task was to help the South Vietnamese to cope with the administrative challenges of the insurgency. This article deals with the origins of this mission. It shows that the British decision to form BRIAM was not made in response to American pressure. It was a genuine British initiative, and London even had to overcome substantial opposition to an increased British involvement in Vietnam from the American military. The Macmillan government's reasons for sending an advisory mission were twofold. First, London believed that BRIAM could make a valuable contribution because of Britain's experience of defeating the communist insurgency in Malaya in the 1950s. Second, the British wanted to demonstrate particularly to the Americans - but also to their Commonwealth allies Australia and New Zealand - that they were willing to share the burden of the cold war struggle in Asia, and that Britain had a very useful and important contribution to make.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69 - 94
Number of pages26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001


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