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Reflecting on this situation, the 3d Reconnaissance Battalion commander. Lieutenant Colonel Van Cleve, recalled:

They were being used for any mission that might come up. If you didn't have somebody else to do it, why. give it to recon. They ended up on some raider-type missions; they ended up as CP security frequently on operations. As a result of this. General Walt decided that the reconnaissance effort should be controlled at the reconnaissance battalion level, and that any request for reconnaissance type missions would come through the Division staff. the Division reconnaissance officer, G-3/G-2, advising, 'Yes. this is a reconnaissance type mission,' or 'No, this is not a reconnaissance type mission.' Division would task reconnaissance battalion to provide to whatever organization was asking for the necessary forces. People were realizing there was a lot of talent in the Recon Battalion that was not being used for strictly recon purposes, and the Divisions and MAF were losing a lot of potentially valuable information.29

Were reconnaissance Marines 'fighters' or 'finders'? When the first revision of the provisional M-Series table of organization was published on 20 February 1958, it stated that 'The [Division] Reconnaissance Battalion may be employed as a unit to screen the advance of the Division or execute counter reconnaissance missions.' These were dearly defined fighting missions. The publication of the approved M-1428 (Division Reconnaissance Battalion) Table of Organization, 5 March 1961, reversed this concept stating 'The Reconnaissance Battalion . . . will be employed to gain intelligence,' and 'It is not equipped for decisive or sustained combat .... It is not capable of screening or counter reconnaissance missions,' but, the concept went on to explain, commanders supported by division reconnaissance could, in the event the reconnaissance element was in danger of being 'overwhelmed,' 'reinforce the reconnaissance force, directing that force to destroy the enemy.'30

Revision l of 23 September 1963, still in effect in 1965, carried the transition a step further by deleting the 'destroy the enemy' option, and reiterated the 'not equipped for decisive or sustained combat' restriction, but some damage had been done. Misinterpretation of mission and the natural aggressiveness engendered by the demanding physical conditioning program required by reconnaissance units produced a strange analgam of 'fighting' and 'finding' reconnaissance Marines.31

Many senior Marines had been members of special units during World War II, notably the raider and parachute battalions, and all Marines were familiar with their legendary exploits. Of the senior commanders in Vietnam in 1965, four were raider battalion veterans: Major General Walt and three of his regimental commanders, Colonels Wheeler, Dupras, and Peatross. There was bound to be some 'raider' thinking, but the Commanding General, FMFPac, Lieutenant General Krulak, resolutely insisted that 'Combat assault operations, including amphibious raids, are missions to be conducted by rifle companies, rather than reconnaissance units.'32 Nevertheless, during the summer and fall of 1964, Company C, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion had actually trained as the battalion's 'raid' company.33 The die was cast.

By 12 March 1965, Company D, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion had been reconstituted in Vietnam. It was the 9th MEB's reconnaissance company, and, as such, in April it claimed more VC 'kills' than all of the 'in country' infantry units, even through patrolling beyond the Da Nang and Chu Lai TAORS was not authorized until 20 April. The company commander. Captain Patrick G. Collins, recalled: '... surveillance and observation

USMC Photo A185989

Marines from the 3d Reconnaissance Battalion prepare to make camp during Operation TRAILBLAZER in an enemy base area. The VC had used the hut in the background for food storage, class rooms, living area, and as a medical aid station.

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