Cau Do and prepared to reinforce the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines which sent two of its companies from Duong Son (l) westward into the Cam Ne complex. For two days, the Marines searched and cleared the entire village without encountering difficulties; the Viet Cong were not to be found.
During this period the 9th Marines also took over the new TAOR on the Tiensha Peninsula east of the airbase, extending from Monkey Mountain south to the north face of Marble Mountain. The Seabees had begun construction of an helicopter air facility there for MAG-16 to relieve congestion at the main airbase. Lieutenant Colonel Ludwig had begun to move his battalion into this area at the end of July. By the end of August he had secured the entire peninsula. Ludwig's 1st Battalion then tied to the west with the 2d Battalion whose area extended to the Yen River.
During July, the Johnson Administration concluded its internal debate concerning the manpower level of U. S. forces in Vietnam and made some far-reaching decisions for the future. Secretary of Defense McNamara decided to visit Vietnam to discuss with the field commanders the various alternatives. The Secretary, accompanied by the outgoing U. S. Ambassador to RVN, Maxwell D. Taylor, and his successor, Henry Cabot Lodge, who was beginning his second tour as U. S. Ambassador, arrived in Saigon on 16 July. During a four-day period, McNamara and the MACV commander made a complete review of the military situation. Westmoreland stated that the ARVN troops were no longer able to hold critical rural areas and were unable to cope with the VC threat and that it was obvious that unless further American and allied forces were deployed, "there was little chance of arresting the trend." Apparently the MACV commander convinced McNamara, for, on 28 July, President Johnson announced to the American people that the U.S. force level in Vietnam would be raised to 125,000 and that General Westmoreland would receive reinforcements as needed.38
During the first week in August, another conference was held in Honolulu, attended by representatives of the Joint Chiefs, CinCPac, and ComUSMACV to determine what units would be deployed and when. The troops to arrive in Vietnam during 1965 were referred to as Phase I forces. For the Marine Corps, the immediate result of the conference was the decision to reinforce III MAF with the 7th Marines regimental headquarters and the remaining two battalions on Okinawa, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines and the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines. The arrival of the 7th Marines at Chu Lai on 14 August was to signal the beginning of the first major Marine offensive against a main force Viet Cong unit.*
* The regimental headquarters and BLT 1/7 landed at Chu Lai on this date. BLT 3/9 arrived at Da Nang and relieved the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines of the responsibility for airfield defense.
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