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by his American advisors who described him as a "highly competent
tactician and administrator." Hoa positioned two of his battalions and
a mobile task group at PK 17, so named because it was located near a
road marker on Route 1, 17 kilometers north of Hue. He also retained
one battalion and the division headquarters near the city. In addition
to these forces, General Truong had under his control two airborne battalions
from the General Reserve, one at PK 17 and the other near Hue. The arrival
of the General Reserve battalions was part of a new impetus on the part
of General Westmoreland and the Vietnamese Joint General Staff to reinforce
the northern border areas and provinces.75

The Cavalry Arrives


In Saigon at MACV headquarters, General Westmoreland had been concerned for some time about the enemy intentions in the northern two provinces. While much of his attention remained riveted on Khe Sanh, the MACV commander also worried about the enemy buildup in the A Shau Valley about 30 miles southwest of Hue near the Laotian Border. Since the fall of the Special Forces camp there in the spring of 1966, the North Vietnamese had used the valley as one of their main base areas and infiltration terminals into South Vietnam. During the summer of 1967, the 4th Marines in Operation Cumberland supported by engineers improved Highway 547 and established a firebase about 20 miles southwest of Hue. From there, U.S. Army 175mm guns fired into the valley. At the onset of the fall-winter monsoon season in September, the Marines abandoned the firebase because of the demands of the DMZ front on Marine manpower and washed-out roads which seriously hampered resupply. Aerial photographic intelligence soon revealed that the North Vietnamese started their own road project in the A Shau. Lieutenant General Cushman jokingly recalled: "Lo and behold, they [the NVA] started building their share of the rural development here, and apparently, they're coming to meet the road we had built." The U.S. immediately started an air bombing interdiction campaign in the A Shau. Cushman remembered "some guy came up with a chemical or something that was supposed to turn dirt into mud. It actually worked to some extent, we really plastered the A Shau Valley with that." According to the III MAF general, the bombing did slow up the NVA in the valley.76

About this time in early December, General Westmoreland decided to
modify the plans for the York operations involving the 1st Air Cavalry
Division.* While York I was to take place in February in the enemy's
Do Xa base area in the I and II Corps Tactical Zone border region, MACV
planned, as the weather improved, to insert in April a joint task force
of the 1st Cavalry and III MAF units into the A Shau. On 16 December,
Westmoreland visited General Cushman at Da Nang to discuss accommodations
for the 1st Cavalry if the Army division was to reinforce the Marines
in the next few months. According to the MACV commander, he believed
the enemy would make his next major effort in I Corps and that III MAF
should accelerate its York logistic preparations to prepare for an early
deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division. He directed Cushman to host
a conference to include representatives from MACV, the Army division,
and III MAF to plan the necessary construction of helicopter and port
facilities to be completed by mid-January. At the same time, Westmoreland
met with Major General John J. Tolson, the 1st Air Cavalry Division
commander, and alerted him about a possible early deployment to I Corps.77


While planning for the York I and II operations continued into January, General Westmoreland and his staff began to place a higher priority on the reinforcement of northern I Corps. As reports indicated the buildup of forces at Khe Sanh and the DMZ, the MACV commander made his decision to send the 1st Cavalry Division north of the Hai Van Pass. On 10 January, he canceled the York operation in the Do Xa sector. Two days later he met with General Cushman at Da Nang to discuss the various contingency plans. Westmoreland then ordered that the 1st Cavalry send two brigades north to Thua Thien Province. These were the 1st Brigade from the 1st Cavalry and the 2d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, temporarily attached to the 1st Cavalry Division. The Cavalry's 2d Brigade remained in II Corps while the 3d Brigade stayed for the rime being in the Wheeler/Wallowa area in the Que Sons. In fact, on 13 January, General Westmoreland told Cushman not "to direct movement" of the 3d Brigade to northern I Corps without his specific approval. Two days later, he cabled Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp, CinCPac, and Army General Earle G. Wheeler, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, that the 3d Brigade would join the division at Phu Bai at a later date. On


* See Chapter 1 for discussion of the planning for the York operations.





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