Page 025

[Image
1: Photo courtsy
of
VMA(AW)-533. An
F-4 Phantom
and A-6 Intruder
of the Marine
Corps, and
an Air Force
F-4, conduct
electronic,
Loran-assisted'bombing
over Cambodia.
The U.S. set
up a Loran
transmitter
site in Phnom
Penh to provide
close air support
to the Cambodian
government
troops.]

Page 25(The Bitter End)


tary affairs pertinent only to the Royal Thai Government would continue to be handled by the commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command, Thailand (ComUSMACThai).7


The Joint Chiefs of Staff designated the Com-mander-in-Chief, Pacific (CinCPac), Admiral Noel A. M. Gayler, as operational commander ofUSSAG, but authorized General Vogt as USSAG/Seventh Air Force's commander to exercise control over all Thailand-based aircraft with the exception of Strategic Air Command and Pacific Air Traffic Management Agency units, B-52s and C-130s, respectively. Despite this restriction, USSAG served as tactical manager of the air war until it ended in 1973. Besides Vogt, JCS transferred many other members of MACV's staff to Thailand to fill the nearly 600 authorized billets at USSAG headquarters. General Vogt moved to Nakhon Phanom on 15 February and assumed his new duties while retaining his former title and functions. Those functions officially ceased on 29 March when MACV was disestablished at 1900 Saigon time. At that moment, the commander of USSAG/Seventh Air Force added to his list of duties oversight of all military and intelligence activities in Southeast Asia and operational command of the Defense Attache Office, Saigon. Control of this organization, occupying MACV's old offices, did not extend to defense attache matters, but it did cover security assistance planning, intelligence collection and analysis, and interfacing with regional military commanders, both American and Vietnamese, as well as the Vietnamese Joint General Staff (JGS)8


The JCS had created the USSAG/Seventh Air Force headquarters to ensure that there would not be a joint command void in Southeast Asia as a result of compliance with the Vietnam cease-fire agreements. The United States felt that the Defense Attache Office, Saigon, could not perform the joint command task and still abide by the spirit of the Accords. As a consequence, USSAG acquired most of MACV's combat-related functions including air contingency planning. Shortly thereafter. Congress mandated a cessation to combat air operations in Southeast Asia (15 August 1973) and USSAG adjusted to the change by shifting its emphasis from combat to preparations for other air contingencies. Planning for the possible evacuation of U.S. citizens from Indochina, in particular Cambodia, began to occupy an ever increasing amount of USSAG's time. In addition to this demanding task, its commander still retained responsibility for a diverse range of Southeast Asian operations. One member of the staff. Lieutenant Colonel Edward A. Grimm, recalled, "USSAG had a lot of other 'irons in the fire' including a vast array of different contingency plans-








Page 25(The Bitter End)