Page 014

Page 14 (1968: The Defining Year)



we don't do well in organizing defenses." Murray commented that "in
many units, the concept of a defensive position seemed to be a big long
trench and just put a bunch of Marines there and shoot at any thing
that came along rather than truly organizing the defense in some depth."54*

Logistics was another area where the Marines and MACV had their problems.
The Marine experience with the M16 rifle was a case in point. In December
1967, Marine inspectors found 75 percent of 8,413 rifles in the 3d Marine
Division with pitted chambers, which could result in misfirings. Marine
logisticians planned an extensive replacement of these M 16s with ones
equipped with chromed chambers. Another logistic complicating factor
was the temporary closing in December of the two LST ports in the north,
Tan My in Thua Thien Province and Dong Ha in Quang Tri Province, because
of bad weather and silting in the shipping channels. If MACV was to
reinforce the Marines with further Army units, General Westmoreland
had obvious reasons for concern. Still, the Marines believed that MACV
put undue logistic burdens upon them. At the end of the year, III MAF
and FMFPac protested a MACV requirement for a reduction in the level
of stockpiled supplies. General Murray called such peacetime accounting
economies in Vietnam part of a "balance sheet war." Although acknowledging
that these procedures "may have saved on waste," Murray maintained they
also "took an awful lot of time and effort that a military man felt
would be better spent in other ways."55

A myriad of elements compounded the difficulties in the relationship
between MACV and III MAF, not the least of which were personality traits
and service considerations. As General Tompkins observed, some Army
and Marine rivalry was natural, "it's the dog and cat business . . .
nothing Machiavellian or anything else."56 Army generals
spoke about Marines using unimaginative tactics, either putting their
heads down and charging or sitting tight on "top of Semper Fidelis."57
Marines replied that they trained from the same manuals as the Army
and employed basically the same infantry tactics of fire and maneuver.58
For their part, many Marines believed that their performance in Vietnam
would determine the survival of their Corps. General Krulak remarked
that the war would not last forever and "as soon as it is over, and
perhaps before, the Marines are going to be faced with the same problems
that has faced us after every conflict . . . self-defense." The Marines
would require "a fund of irrefutable facts which portray our combat
effectiveness, our competence, and most of all our readiness to fight
when the whistle blows."59

General Westmoreland hardly endeared himself to the Marines when inadvertently
he became involved in the succession for the Commandancy of the Marine
Corps. Both Generals Krulak and Walt, the former III MAF commander,
were leading candidates to succeed General Greene. A newspaper account
in late November 1967 carried the story that General Westmoreland supported
General Walt and had recommended him to the President. General Westmoreland
later wrote that in making out General Walt's fitness or efficiency
report in 1966, he had observed "that General Walt was fully qualified
to be Commandant of the Marine Corps," and that this was not meant to
be an endorsement of Walt's candidacy.60 With the selection of Lieutenant
General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., then Chief of Staff at Headquarters
Marine Corps, as the new Commandant, the furor soon blew over.

In more germane matters relating to the war, the differing personalities
and styles of Generals Westmoreland and Cushman impacted upon the MACV-III
MAF command relations. A large bulky man, the bespectacled Cushman offered
a sharp contrast to the rigid military bearing of Westmoreland, who
appeared to be "standing at attention while on the tennis court."61
The MACV commander insisted on detailed plans of operations with no
loose ends. On the other hand. General Cushman maintained an informal
staff structure, confiding in few persons and relying largely on his
chief of staff, Brigadier General Earl E. Anderson. Although concerned
about the enemy buildup in the north, reinforcing Khe Sanh in December
with another battalion, Cushman was


* Other Marine officers also commented about Marine deficiencies relative
to digging bunkers. Colonel John C. Studt recalled that when he was
operations officer of the 9th Marines General Westmoreland was unhappy
"with inadequate Marine bunkers" and directed that the Marines send
representatives to the U.S. Army's 1st Division "to learn how to construct
bunkers. As humiliating as this was for Marines, Gen Westmoreland was
absolutely right: Marines didn't have a clue how to construct good bunkers.
We taught hasty field fortification and that was it." Col John C. Studt,
Comments on draft chapter, dtd 22Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File). Major
Gary E. Todd, who served on the 3d Marine Division staff, observed that
field fortifications "seemed to end up with as much of the thing above
ground as below, filling sandbags with soil to raise walls and parapets."
Maj Gary E. Todd, Comments on draft chapters, dtd 28Oct and ?Nov94 (Vietnam
Comment File), hereafter Todd Comments.





Page 14 (1968: The Defining Year)