Page 027


Page 27 (1968: The Defining Year)




Photo courtesy of Col Lee R. Bendell, USMC (Ret)

Into 1968, Gen Westmoreland continued to show command
interest in completing the barrier. He is seen here, left, with LtGen
Cushman. CG III MAF, center, and Marine BGen John R. Chaisson, who headed
the MACV Combat Operations Center, visiting Marine Base Area C-2.

their banks and the onrushing waters washed away bunkers and trenches
and made a quagmire of much of the barrier area. Although the enemy
artillery was relatively silent in mid-October, the building of the
strongpoints and base areas was at a standstill. In late October, after
a period of benign neglect during the struggle for Con Thien and the
monsoon rains, MACV again put on the pressure to continue with the Strongpoint
system. The assistant division commander, General Metzger, much later
observed that there was a constantly "changing emphasis" on
the Dyemarker project. There would be high interest followed by periods
of low interest "with no materials available and response, direction,
and guidance from higher headquarters either slow or non-existent."
Metzger noted that "Those on the lower levels of the military hierarchy
became very expert at reading the indicators" of both high and
low interest.37

Aware of the difficult circumstances under which the Marines on the
DMZ labored. General Westmoreland still believed that General Cushman
and his staff should have had better control of the situation. On 22
October, he radioed Cushman that he was unhappy with the "quality
control" maintained by III MAF over the construction ot the Dyemarker
facilities. The MACV commander stated that the project had "not
been accorded a priority consistent with its operational importance."
He noted that he was "on record with higher headquarters to meet
a fixed time schedule." He realized that the schedule could be
adjusted but "any slippage . . . must be supported by factors recognized
as being beyond our control . . . ." Westmoreland then directed
General Cushman "to take immediate steps to correct deficiencies
in the construction of the strongpoints and to institute a positive
system of quality control over construction and installation of the
entire Dyemarker system." The strongly worded message concluded
with a reamrmarion that "Project Dyemarker is an operational necessity
second only to combat emergency."38




Page 27 (1968: The Defining Year)