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accelerated tempo . . . increased complexity of command and control, and for continuity," General Fields was assigning a Marine colonel "with an initial staff of 3 officers and 5 enlisted men" to the SLF.24 General Fields decided to make his TF 79 chief of staff, Colonel John R. Burnett, the new SLF commander, rather than Colonel Winstead, who remained as TF 78 and RAMAB commander. According to General Fields:

It was obvious that the commander of the RAMAB was of little consequence to me at the time and particularly to the operations of the SLF. He, naturally, could advise CTF 76, but he could never command the SLF as such. I decided to let him be and designated my Chief of Staff, Colonel Burnett, who had been a naval aviator and was an excellent solid Marine versed in all aspects of operations in the area, as Commander of the SLF.25

The SLF kept the 78.5 designator, and thus, on paper, remained subordinate to RAMAB. Nevertheless, Krulak and Fields, without directly challenging Admiral Blackburn, not only strengthened the SLF commander's position vis-a-vis his Navy counterpart, but made the RAMAB headquarters obviously superfluous. Colonel Burnett assumed command of the SLF from Lieutenant Colonel Porter on 18 October. With the SLF reconstituted and restructured, American planners began discussing a second series of DAGGER THRUST raids.

The Saigon Conference

The Marines were not the only ones who were unhappy with the command and control of the SLF and the DAGGER THRUST raids. During a discussion with General Walt in July, General Westmoreland indicated his dissatisfaction with the limited authority he enjoyed over the force.26 The MACV commander wanted an arrangement in which it would be unnecessary for him to go to the Seventh Fleet when he wanted the SLF. Furthermore, MACV and CinCPacFlt had debated, since the Chu Lai landing in May, what criteria should be used to establish an amphibious objective area (AOA) during an amphibious landing or raid in Vietnam. According to doctrine, the amphibious task force commander controlled all air, land, and sea forces in the geographical area delineated as the AOA during an amphibious operation. In Vietnam, this raised two specific questions which impinged upon Westmoreland's authority and South Vietnam's sovereignty "the control of air traffic within the AOA . . . and coordination with friendly ground forces who are conducting operations inland within the perimeter of the AOA.''27

After the first DAGGER THRUST raids, on 8 October General Westmoreland proposed a joint MACV-CinCPacFleet conference in Saigon to discuss the raids and to plan future ones. He suggested a 10-point agenda which included critiques of DAGGER THRUST I, II, and III from both Seventh Fleet and MACV perspectives; intelligence for furture raids; target acquisitions; and ''resolution of amphibious objective area and restricted air space problems for future raids."28 Admiral Johnson' agreed to the conference and added some agenda items of his own. The CinCPacFleet Commander, like General Westmoreland, wanted to resolve the AOA problem and was willing to make some concessions. He directed that Navy and FMFPac representatives to the conference hold to a ''Navy/Marine position which will allow flexibility within the AOA, but will not weaken the doctrine. . . ."29

The conference took place on 26-28 October 1965 in Saigon. Captain Weschler, the ARG comander, as the senior officer present, served as chairman. There were representatives from the various MACV component commands, including III MAF and 2d Air Division, as well as the amphibious commands under the jurisdiction of CinCPacFleet. During the two-day meeting, the conferees came to several understandings. They agreed on three specific targets for the next series of DAGGER THRUST raids, but at the same time called for a revision of the criteria for establishing targets. They planned for the new series of raids to take place from 25 November through 7 December and allowed that "predicated on the early approval and dissemination of revised target list and success of in-country briefings, the requirement for specific raid notification can be reduced" from 60 to 24 hours. They settled the sensitive issue of command and control of air and ground units in the AOA by simply reducing the AOAs used during the previous DAGGER THRUST raids "to a 10-mile arc inland and a 25-mile arc seaward unless specific target situation dictates an increase." This decision satisfied both sides, for the time being. MACV could work with the restrictions imposed on it by the 10-mile inland

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