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Abel Collection Photo

LtGen Victor H. Krulak. Commanding General. Fleet Marine Pacific, left, visits with Gen Leonard F. Chapman, Commandant of the Marine Corps, in the Commandant's office in Washington. D.C.. in May 1968. LtGen Krulak had a strong influence in the development of Marine pacification concepts and had been a leading candidate, together with Gen Chapman and LtGen Lewis W. Walt, for the Commandancy.

confident that he had the situation under control. General Westmoreland, however, worried about what he perceived as the Marine command's "lack of followup in supervision," its employment of helicopters, and its generalship. By January 1968, the MACV commander seriously considered making a change in the command relations in the north.62*

An Ambivalent Outlook

Despite the signs of an enemy buildup and concerns about the Marine command, General Westmoreland just earlier had voiced his optimism about the course of the war. Called back to Washington in mid-November 1967, ostensibly tor consultation, but more to shore up public support for the administration's Vietnam policy, he assured his audiences that the end was in view and that the "ranks of the Vietcong are thinning steadily."63 Reflecting this same optimism in his directives, Westmoreland advised his subordinate commanders that the situation was "conducive to initiating an all-out offensive on all fronts: political, military, economic, and psychological."64

In drawing up plans for 1968 operations, the MACV staff accentuated this emphasis on the offensive. The 1968 Combined Plan with the Vietnamese continued to assign to the U.S. units the primary mission of destroying the NVA and VC main forces. American planners called for a three-pronged campaign: large-unit operations to keep the enemy off balance, destruction of the enemy base areas, and expanded "territorial security." General Westmoreland and his staff expected to launch "multi-brigade offensives" against enemy strongholds "not previously invaded." American contingency planning included possible operations in such enemy sanctuaries as Cambodia, Laos, and even an amphibious operation north of the Demilitarized Zone.65

Notwithstanding the flurry of contingency planning, General Westmoreland realized that adminisrra-

 


* General Anderson mentioned that since his arrival in December 19'7, he "participated in every conference or meeting held by General Cushman during mv tenure in Da Nang. Our relationship could not have been closer . . . ." Anderson allowed that on the III MAF staff there were some weak links in that "General Cushman was one prone to accept the personnel sent to him by higher headquarters without complaining, so consequentlv certain senior staff members had to till this void." Gen Earl E. Anderson, Comments on draft chapter, dtd 18Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File). Another III MAF stafl officer described General Cushman as a "perceptive gentleman [who] was content to soldier without comment as long as Westy [Westmoreland] didn't try to maneuver subordinate units in ICTZ (as he did in other Corps areas) and left Marine air under Marine control." LtCol John F. J. Kelly, Comments on draft chapter, dtd 13Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).



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