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Sharp, CinCPac, on 14 May for approval, Westmoreland and Johnson observed that the planning guide for the raids "insofar as possible will be Doctrine for Amphibious Operations (FM 31-11/NWP 22 (A))." The two commanders noted that although the South Vietnamese Armed Forces were to request such raids, "in fact ComUSMACV will stimulate RVNAF requests for operations desired by the U.S."3

Although General Westmoreland was enthusiastic about the prospects of amphibious raids, he wanted them to be conducted solely by South Vietnamese forces.4 It soon became obvious that the South Vietnamese Armed Forces were so overextended that they could not carry out these operations alone. On 9 June, General Westmoreland informed Admiral Sharp that U.S. amphibious operations would be welcome and inquired about the status of the 14 March agreement. The CinCPac commander replied that the agreement was still under review, but that U.S. raids could be conducted.5 By mid-June, General Krulak radioed General Walt:

We should get the SLF reconstituted as soon as possible, because it is plain that CinCPac and MACV are getting serious about amphibious raids as a part of MARKET TIME. I am asking CinCPacFleet to press 7th Fleet to get the SLF shipping to Okinawa in advance of the currently l July date.6

The Reestablishment of the SLF

On 19 June, FMFPac reactivated the Marine special landing force for planning purposes. It was to consist of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Bodley's BLT 3/7, which had arrived on Okinawa from Camp Pendleton, and Lieutenant Colonel Norman G. Ewers' HMM-163, which had arrived on Okinawa from Da Nang. Since Ewers was the senior of the two, he became the SLF commander as well as retaining command of his squadron. On 24 June, the two units embarked in the ships of Task Group 76.5, the Seventh Fleet designation for its amphibious ready group. Commanded by Captain David A. Scott, USN, the task group was composed of the USS Iwo Jima (LPH 2), USS Point Defiance (LSD 31), and the USS Talladega (APA 208). The force sailed from Buckner Bay, Okinawa on 26 June for South Vietnam.

Because of increased enemy activity in II Corps during May and June and the fear of a general Communist offensive there, the first mission of the SLF was the protection of the U.S. Army's large logistic facilities at Qui Nhon. General Westmoreland had requested the deployment of a Marine battalion to Qui Nhon until U.S. infantry forces arrived. On l July, Bodley's BLT 3/7 made an administrative landing at Qui Nhon. The battalion remained ashore for six days until relieved by Lieutenant Colonel Leon N. Utter's BLT 2/7. Reembarked, the SLF remained offshore. Ewers' squadron, flying from the Iwo Jima, provided helicopter support for Utter's battalion at Qui Nhon. On 20 July, HMM-163 was relieved of this support mission when a 10-plane detachment from HMM-161 arrived at Qui Nhon from Da Nang. The ARG/SLF reverted to its role as the Pacific Fleet's ready reserve and sailed for Subic Bay.

Command and Control Changes

At the time Seventh Fleet and FMFPac reconstituted the SLF, some changes were made in the administrative chain of command of the fleet's amphibious forces. With the deployment of the 3d Marine Division and skeleton III MAF headquarters from Okinawa to Vietnam, General Collins relinquished the designation Commanding General, FMF, Seventh Fleet (CG TF 79). This role was assumed by Brigadier General Melvin D. Hen-derson, the assistant 3d Marine Division commander, commanding the division's forces remaining on Okinawa.

Admiral Blackburn wanted Henderson's assignment as CG TF 79 to be made a primary duty; General Krulak demurred. He explained that the position had always been an additional duty task, "discharged by the senior officer of those FMFPac Forces assigned to the operational control of Com7thFlt." According to Krulak, that senior officer's primary mission was to the ''total command responsibilities related to his force." Specifically referring to General Henderson, Krulak continued:

The obligation implicit in his duties, pivoting as they will upon readying forces for service in Vietnam and supervision of 3d MarDiv (Rear) administrative and logistic matters related to support of our forces engaged in the conflict, mitigate against changing the basic procedure followed in the past. However, am confident that Henderson will be able to fulfill the TF 79 responsibilities to your satisfaction following the past system, and I will ensure that he is provided with proper staff support to do the job.7

Krulak ended his message to Blackburn mentioning

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