David Thomas of the Claremont Sub-branch of the RSL came to tell us about the comparison between the West’s involvement with Vietnam and Afghanistan respectively. David spent 20 years at the SAS between 1974 and 1994 and he has observed the military events of the last 45 to 50 years with great interest. The Vietnam War lasted 10 years and involved 500,000 troops, and was the largest involvement of troops since WWII. By comparison, the Afghanistan War lasted 20 years but involved only about 38,000 troops. Consequently the US deaths totalled around 58,000 in Vietnam verses 2,500 in Afghanistan. The motivation for being in Vietnam was basically to stop the spread of communism, but in Afghanistan it was aimed at suppressing terrorism. In the end the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam was staged whereas in the case of Afghanistan it was very quick – just a matter of months. It is estimated that Australia has spent $16.5 billion on various conflicts over the last 25 years, and this doesn’t take into account the costs associated with resultant physical injuries, PTSD, other mental disorders, and suicides. From the perspective of individual service personnel, war is bitter sweet: the bitterness is caused by commitments made by politicians and the sweetness comes from the camaraderie. David also advised that the Claremont RSL is now thriving, and he thanked our Club for assisting with the Poppy Day collection at the Floreat Forum last Friday by presenting us with a framed Certificate of Appreciation.