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their counter-view to the MACV perspective, but with little effect
either in Washington or Saigon.43

In Vietnam, from the very inception of its responsibility for I Corps,
III MAF, the Marine command, first under General Walt and then by General
Cushman, had placed a great deal of emphasis on the small-unit war in
the villages. The Marines had developed several new pacification programs
to win over the people in the hamlets to the government cause. These
included: a vigorous civic action effort to meet the needs of the local
villagers, cordon and search "County Fair" operations with psychological
warfare overtones in the hamlets, coordination of pacification through
the I Corps Joint Coordinating Council (ICJCC), and perhaps most significant,
the Combined Action Program. This latter program involved the assignment
of a squad of Marines to a Vietnamese Popular Forces platoon. The premise
was that this integration of the Vietnamese militia with the Marines
would create a bond of understanding and mutual interest with the local
populace. The Marines maintained that with the villagers on their side,
they could, as General Cushman stated, "break the connection between
the guerrillas and the infrastructure, and the enemy main forces . .
. ."44

Despite the III MAF efforts. General Westmoreland and his staff continued
to perceive the principal mission of the U.S. troops to be the defeat
of the enemy main forces. The U.S.-South Vietnamese 1967 Combined Plan
basically reflected the MACV concept: the South Vietnamese now had responsibility
for pacification while the U.S. forces were to conduct the large-unit
war. General Krulak, the FMFPac commander, expressed the Marine displeasure
in July 1967, declaring: "We have seen what we sincerely believe to
be a maldeployment of forces, a misapplication of power . . . ."45
Years later the Marine general wrote that these differences between
the Marines and Westmoreland over pacification went "to the heart of
the war."46

Despite their differences, the dispute between the Marines and MACV
never came to a head. Although the 1967 Combined Plan called for the
Americans to take over most of the war against the enemy's conventional
forces, there was "no clear-cut division of responsibility" with the
ARVN in this area or in pacification.47 Moreover, III MAF
still operated under its 6 March 1966 Letter of Instruction which gave
the Marine command a broad all-inclusive mission to carry out operations
"in support of and in coordination with CG I ARVN Corps and in other
areas of RVN as directed by ComUSMACV in order to defeat the VC/NVA
and extend GVN control over all of South Vietnam."48 Rather
than directly challenge the authority of the Marine commanders, General
Westmoreland preferred to issue "orders for specific projects that as
time passed would gradually get the Marines out of their beach-heads."49
While continuing the "discussion" with MACV over pacification, General
Cushman also wanted no controversies. He remembered, "I soon figured
out how Westy [General Westmoreland] liked to operate and tried to operate
the same way, and get on with the war and not cause a lot of friction
for no good reason."50

In spite of the efforts of both Westmoreland and Cushman to keep relations
on an even keel, substantive differences continued to exist, and not
only over pacification. The "McNamara Line" was a constant irritant.
General Cushman recalled that he:

really
got in a fit with some of the engineer colonels that would come roaring
up from Saigon to see how the fence was doing and ... I'd say "Well
it's doing fine, go up and take a look," which they did. Always had
a few people around, but we just weren't going out getting everybody
killed building that stupid fence.51

In what appeared to be an inconsistency, MACV, on the one hand, criticized
III MAF for lack of mobile operations in the rest of I Corps, while,
on the other, placed a Marine division in fixed positions along the
DMZ and at Khe Sanh. Major General Rathvon McC. Tompkins, the soft-spoken
but blunt commander of the 3d Marine Division, voiced the opinion of
most Marines when he later called the entire barrier effort "absurd."
He pointed out that the original design was to stop infiltration, but
by the time actual construction began, the North Vietnamese were in
strength in the DMZ "supported by first class artillery." Tompkins caustically
observed, "it was perfectly obvious that if there would be an incursion,
it would be by NVA divisions and not by sneaky-peekies coming through
at night."52

Unhappy about the Marine defensive measures in northern I Corps, General
Westmoreland believed that General Cushman and his staff "were unduly
complacent."53 Westmoreland may have had some justification about the
Marine defenses. Major General Raymond L. Murray, Cushman's deputy and
a highly decorated veteran of both World War II and Korea, remarked
that the Marines were an offensive organization, and "often






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