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Page 582 (Backing Up The Troops )



CHAPTER 28

Backing Up The Troops

A Division of

Responsibility-Naval Logistic Support-Marine Engineers-The FLC Continues to Cope

A Division of

Responsibility

By the beginning of 1968, III MAF had

hopes that its major logistical problems were over. The unexpected problems with

the new M16 rifles during the past year not only delayed the conversion from the

older M 14 rifles, but also required the modification of all of the Ml 6s.

Compounding the difficulties for III MAF logisticians were the grounding of the

CH-46s,* personnel shortages, combat losses, accidents, and continuing threat of

enemy rocket and artillery bombardment of Marine supply and ammunition points.

Still, by January 1968, Brigadier General Harry C. Olson, Commanding General,

Force Logistic Command (FLC), had taken several steps to alleviate the

situation. He had implemented an M16 repair program that was moving at an

accelerating pace. Moreover, the FLC had realigned its command structure to meet

new deployments, had created new facilities, and had attained a relatively full

logistic pipeline.

At Da Nang, General Olson had

established the headquarters of the FLC/1st Force Service Regiment together with

a supply battalion and maintenance battalion. Additional elements of the FLC at

Da Nang were the 1st and 3d Military Police Battalions, the 5th Communication

Battalion,** and the 7th Motor Transport Battalion. The FLC complex at Da Nang

provided the logistic support for both the 1st Marine Division and the Korean

Marine Brigade.

Two reinforced service battalions, the

1st and 3d, made up the major field elements of the FLC. The 3d Service

Battalion which was redesignated Force Logistic Support Group (FLSG) Alpha at

Phu Bai maintained subunits at Khe Sanh and Camp Evans. In mid-January, with the

arrival of U.S. Army units into Thua Thien, FLSG Alpha temporarily supported

elements of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division and 101st Airborne Division. On 29

January, the Army assumed responsibility for its own logistic support at Camp

Evans and the Marine logistic unit there then augmented the Marine subunit at

Khe Sanh. FLSG Alpha retained responsibility for the 1st Marine Division Task

Force X-Ray elements, newly arrived in the Phu Bai and Phu Loc areas. At Dong

Ha, in the 3d Marine Division sector, FLSG Bravo, based upon the 1st Service

Battalion, remained responsible for the logistic support of the division units

along the DMZ and at Quang Tri.*** During January 1968, III MAF supported 49,000

troops north of the Hai Van Pass, requiring about 2,000 short tons of supplies

per day.1

To support the fuel needs of the

augmented forces arriving in northern I Corps, the FLC had completed

construction in January of a 3,000-barrel capacity steel fuel tank near the Hue

LCU ramp in the city.'** Unfortunately, on 2 February, during the enemy attack

on Hue, rockets slammed into the fuel farm, destroying 110,000 gallons ofJP-4

jet aviation gas. While the enemy offensive forced the allies to close the LCU

ramp and the fuel farm temporarily, the FLC had the facility back in operation

by mid-February.

Elsewhere during their Tet offensive,

the Communist forces struck at other Marine logistic targets. At Da Nang, like

all other III MAF units, the FLC Marines were on full alert. The two military

police battalions, the 1st and 3d MP Battalions, assisted the Marine infantry

and local ARVN units in turning back

*See Chapter 25 relative to the problem

with helicopters.

**In addition to the 5th Communication

Battalion in Vietnam there was the 7th Communication Battalion directly under

the 1st Marine Division. The Wing had under its command Marine Wing

Communications Squadron l (MWCS-1) and directly under III MAF was Sub-Unit l,

1st Radio Battalion which at the beginning of the year was at Khe Sanh.

***FLSG Bravo also maintained a supply

company at Chu Lai in Quang Tin Province to provide logistic support for the

Marine aviation units that remained based there. Colonel Rex O. Dillow, the III

MAF G-4 or logistics officer, noted that with the relocation of units there were

constant requests for materials and engineers to build hospitals, headquarters

buildings, and permanent structures at the new locations. He declared that the

generators practically required armed guards because of their limited

availability. Col Rex O. Dillow, Comments on draft, dtd 10Nov94 (Vietnam Comment

File), hereafter Dillow Comments.

****The allies maintained LCU ramps at

both Hue and at Dong Ha because LCUs were the largest craft which could

negotiate the Perfume and Cua Viet Rivers, respectively, due to silting problems

in both rivers.




Page 582 (Backing Up The Troops )