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Both the ports of Cua Viet and Dong Ha as well as the troops working
on Dyemarker were under the "same fan of guns" that had blown up
the ammunition dump. According to the barrier plan, nine Marine infantry
battalions and the 11th Engineer Battalion were committed to the project.
Seven ot the nine infantry battalions provided a protective screen while
the engineers and remaining infantry units installed the obstacle system
and completed the strongpoints. General Cushman estimated that this
work would take another six weeks. During that time, troops putting
in the obstacle system would be in the open and vulnerable to enemy
fire. Cushman stated that he was ready to implement this part of the
plan if certain minimum requirements were met. He wanted more artillery,
air, and naval gunfire support, as well as a higher proportion of B-52
Arclight strikes. III MAF also needed additional supply, trucking, and
engineering units.34

Concerned about the increasing enemy strength and the progress of
the barrier. General Westmoreland met with General Cushman on 7 September
to make his own appraisal of the situation. After listening to the III
MAF commander, Westmoreland asked Cushman to estimate the cost in both
casualties and in material of continuing the emplacement ot the obstacle
system within the trace. Obviously expecting that the price tag would
be too high, the MACV commander also ordered the Marine general to begin
preparation ot an alternative plan, based on the assumption of "no continuous
obstacle . . . along present trace." III MAF's estimates of the consequences
of adhering to the schedule of installing the obstacles caused the inevitable
revision of the entire project. The Marine staff projected more than
700 men killed and at least 4,000 wounded, including both U.S. and ARVN
troops, if the present course of action were to be followed. On 13 September
1967, General Westmoreland approved a new III MAF barrier plan.35

The new Marine barrier plan postponed all work for the time being
on the trace and emphasized instead the construction ot the strongpoints
and the base areas. Strongpoints A-5 and A-6 were eliminated while a
new base area, C-4, was added just north of die Cua Viet. The ARVN was
to construct the easternmost strongpoint, A-1, while the 3d Division
was to remain responsible for the other strongpoints and the base areas.
The plan called for the 2d ARVN Regiment to man all of the strongpoints
eventually, while the Marines provided a mobile reserve force. In the
western defile system, the Marine division would establish seven combat
operating bases including Khe Sanh, Ca Lu, the Rockpile, and Camp Carroll.
These four operating bases as well as all of the eastern strongpoints
were to be completed by 1 November. As far as the trace was concerned,
the plan only read that the Marines were to install "the anti-infiltration
system in such manner as to provide the option of further development
of the obstacle system . . . ."36

The enemy and nature were to combine to frustrate the new Marine time
schedule. Through September and early October, North Vietnamese artillery,
occasionally reinforced by ground forces, in effect, laid siege to the
Marines at Con Thien. NVA artillerymen maintained an average ot 200
rounds per day on the Marine strongpoint. On 25 September, more than
1,200 shells fell upon Con Thien. In a 10-day period, 18-27 September,
the enemy gunners fired more than 5,000 rounds ot mortars, artillery,
and rockets at the embattled forward positions. Even as the enemy guns
blasted away at the Marines, some of the heaviest rains in years fell
on northern I Corps resulting in wide-range flooding. Swollen streams
and rivers rose above

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A414537

Portrait photograph of MajGen Raymond L. Murray, a
highly decorated veteran of both World War II and the Korean War who
in early 1968 served as Deputy CG III MAF. Gen Cushman, CG III MAF,
placed Gen Murray in charge of the barrier project.

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