Page 005

Page 5 (1968: The Defining Year)

Cushman the benefit of his advice.* The other service components also
had divisions of authority. General Momyer's Seventh Air Force reported
not only administratively to U.S. Air Forces, Pacific, but operationally
to that command for the "Rolling Thunder" air campaign over North Vietnam.
Moreover, the question of control of Marine fixed-wing air remained
a matter of contention between Generals Momyer and Cushman, with General
Westmoreland often acting as mediator.8

Rear Admiral Kenneth L. Veth, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam,
also had multiple responsibilities and mixed channels of command. While
under the operational control of MACV, he reported administratively
through the Seventh Fleet chain of command to the Commander-in-Chief,
Pacific Fleet. In addition to his logistic responsibilities, Admiral
Veth directed the coastal and maritime anti-infiltration campaign and
was the overall commander of the Navy's segment of the Mobile Riverine
Force operating with an Army brigade in the Mekong Delta. In this divided
jurisdiction, both the senior Army commander and Admiral Veth permitted
the flotilla and brigade commanders flexibility in making local command

Obfuscating the command lines even further were MACV relations with
external U.S. commands, the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam, and the South
Vietnamese themselves. For naval gunfire support and use of the Marine
Special Landing Forces on board the ships of the Navy Amphibious Ready
Groups, General Westmoreland had to coordinate with the Seventh Fleet
through CinCPac channels. In addition to the amphibious forces, MACV
also coordinated through the same Navy channels the carrier aircraft
of Seventh Fleet Task Force 77 to supplement the Seventh Air Force and
Marine air support of ground forces in South Vietnam. Another chain
of command existed with the Strategic Air Command in order to process
requests for the use of Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses in bombing missions
over the south.10

General Westmoreland had a unique relationship with the U.S. Embassy.
In April of 1967 he had taken over from the Embassy responsibility for
the U.S. pacification assistance program. The newly created Civil Operations
and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) agency became part of
MACV and its head, the outspoken former presidential advisor, Robert
J. Komer, served as Deputy ComUSMACV for CORDS under Westmoreland. Yet
the MACV commander shared overall policy formulation in South Vietnam
with the U.S. Ambassador, Ellsworth Bunker, a distinguished career diplomat.
Ambassador Bunker chaired and General Westmoreland was a member of the
Mission Council, the central U.S. policy and coordinating body within
the country. Westmoreland and the Ambassador worked in harmony. The
MACV commander later wrote: "My military colleagues and I gained a staunch
supporter in Ellsworth Bunker. Although his military experience was
limited to artillery ROTC at Yale University 50 years before, he understood
the application of power."11**

The U.S. relationship with the South Vietnamese military was a delicate
one. General Westmoreland did not have command of the South Vietnamese
Armed Forces and, indeed, rejected the idea of a combined U.S./RVN command
headquarters. He believed it important that the South Vietnamese knew
"that I recognized that they were running their own country, that I
was no pro-consul or high commissioner."12 In his opinion, his role
as senior U.S. advisor to the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff gave
him "defacto control over the scope of operations."13 The watchwords
were close consultation and coordination. As one historian observed,
the command arrangements for the Vietnam War "were not the best they
could have been, but they did work."14

* The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Wallace M. Greene, Jr.,
in Washington also had his perceptions on the conduct of the war. In
his comments on the draft of this chapter, General Greene wrote that
he was in daily communication with General Krulak in Hawaii. The latter
"kept me fully informed and enabled me to efficiently do business with
the Joint Chiefs . . . and with the White House and other echelons."
According to Greene, he did not believe the other Chiefs were kept "fully
informed by Gen Westmoreland" and that he [Greene] personally "briefed
the Vice President regularly-once a week-privately at the White House-at
his request
-since he was not kept properly informed by the Pres[ident]
or the White House staff!" General Greene believed that General Westmoreland
"objected to my liaison with General Krulak," but never made an issue
of the matter. Gen Wallace M. Greene, Jr., Comments on draft Ms, dtd
11Oct94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Greene Comments, 1994.

** Army historian Graham A. Cosmas observed that the CORDS relationship
with MACV was more complex than it appeared on chain of command charrs:
"The CORDS organization was a part of the MACV staff, although in practice
it functioned with a high degree of autonomy." Cosmas also noted that
when MACV was established in 1962, the State Department and Department
of Defense "informally agreed that on policy matters the Ambassador
in SVN was 'primus inter pares' [first among equals], and this
remained the case in 1968. Bunker was head of the US country team, and
ComUSMACV while as a field commander nominally independent of him, in
practice deferred to Bunker on political and policy matters." Dr. Graham
A. Cosmas, CMH, Comments on draft chapter, dtd 23Nov94 (Vietnam Comment

Page 5 (1968: The Defining Year)