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tion policy would confine his operations within the borders of South Vietnam. His Northeast Monsoon Campaign Plan for the period October 1967-March 1968 centered around the 1st Cavalry Division. He wanted to use the division as a "theater exploitation force" in areas where the weather favored helicopterborne tactics. His original concept delineated a four-phased campaign. The 1st Cavalry was to conduct the first three phases in III Corps and then, as the weather improved, move north to I Corps. The objective in I Corps was the enemy's Do Xa base in western Quang Ngai and Quang Tin Provinces and the suspected headquarters of Military Region V. This fourth phase was given the code name "York."66

By the end of the year, with one eye on the growing enemy strength in the north, the MACV staff modified the York plans. York, itself, was to be a four-phased operation. As part of a larger task force, the 1st Cavalry Division was to penetrate the western Do Xa in York I. Completing that phase of the operation, the division was then to be inserted into the A Shau Valley in western Thua Thien Province and the site of a former U.S. Special Forces Camp overrun by the NVA in the spring of 1966. Following York II, the 1st Cavalry, in Phase III, was to conduct operations further north in western Quang Tri Province and sweep to the Laotian border. In the fourth phase, the Army division would return to the Do Xa. III MAF was to be responsible for the planning of York II and III and General Murray, the III MAF deputy commander, was to command the A Shau Valley operation. General Westmoreland later wrote that the purpose of the York campaign was to set the "stage for the invasion of Laos that I hoped a new administration in Washington would approve."67

While planning for offensive actions in 1968, III MAF and MACV had to counter the enemy threat in the northern border regions. As early as October, General Westmoreland reinforced the Marines with a brigade from the 1st Cavalry in the Que Son sector south of Da Nang which permitted General Cushman to move one regiment, the 1st Marines, from the Da Nang area to Quang Tri Province. The arrival of the Army's 11th Infantry Brigade in December allowed a further realignment of III MAF units. General Cushman began to implement this repositioning of forces in Operation Checkers which called for the deployment of the entire 3d Marine Division to either the DMZ front or Khe Sanh. The 1st Marine Division was to shift what was in essence a two-regiment task force under the assistant division commander to Phu Bai in Thua Thien Province and cover the western approaches to Hue City.68

By the end of 1967, Operation Checkers was in full swing. The Americal Division began to take over from the Korean Brigade the TAOR (tactical area of operational responsibility) south of Chu Lai. In turn, the first Korean battalions moved to the Hoi An sector south of Da Nang, relieving units of the 5th Marines. On 20 December, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines deployed north of the strategic Hai Van Pass to the Phu Loc area of Thua Thien Province. All plans were complete. The 1st Marine Division was to activate Task Force X-Ray in early January and the remainder of the 5th Marines was to go to Phu Bai. At that time, the 3d Marine Division was then to transfer its command post (CP) from Phu Bai to Dong Ha in the eastern DMZ. Later in the month, the 1st Marines at Quang Tri was to return to its parent division by taking over from the 4th Marines the CoBi/Than Tan Sector at Camp Evans in Thua Thien Province. The 4th Marines would then rejoin the 3d Division along the DMZ. Thus as 1968 approached, III MAF was in a state of flux as units began to displace.69

The signs of progress in I Corps were mixed. Action had flared up in early December throughout the Corps area. On the 5th, the enemy overran a district headquarters in Quang Ngai Province. Along the DMZ, the North Vietnamese launched a series of company-strength attacks on Marine positions in the northeast sector above the Cua Viet River. The 1st Marine Division at Da Nang in its southern TAOR engaged strong enemy forces while the Americal Division units and the attached brigade from the 1st Cavalry Division encountered resistance from the 2d NVA Division in the important Que Son Valley along the border of Quang Tin and Quang Nam Provinces. By the end of the month, the NVA and VC took a more defensive stance toward the American units and turned on the ARVN and local forces in hit-and-run actions. Although sustaining heavy casualties in these attacks, the enemy "was successful in penetrating and damaging several positions."70

Despite the heavy fighting in December, various indicators pointed to some success in the village war in I Corps. After a dropoff in pacification measurements during the first half of 1967, there was a marked increase in the figures for the rest of the year. In December, approximately 75 percent of the village chiefs were living in their home villages as opposed to 50 percent in January 1967. Other categories-the conducting of village censuses, establishment of

 

 

 



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