and Provisional Corps. He also opposed any proposal to place Task Force X-Ray
under Prov Corps or any change in operational control or coordination
in relation to other U.S. or South Vietnamese forces in I Corps. The
III MAF commander also asked that there be no diminishment in his authority
over the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing to support both the 1st and 3d Marine
Divisions. Relative to the logistic setup, Cushman recommended that
the III MAF FLC and the Army Logistic Command at Qui Nhon support their
respective Services and that they work out an agreement on mutual support.41
The proposed letter of instruction for Provisional Corps continued to be refined. On 27 February, General Abrams sent a revised draft to General Westmoreland that incorporated some of the wishes of the Marines. The new draft still called for the establishment of an Army logistic headquarters in I Corps and left unresolved the boundary between the 1st Marine Division and Provisional Corps. It also failed to mention the command relationship between Task Force X-Ray and Provisional Corps. In a message to General Westmoreland, General Cushman asked for a clearer demarcation of his authority. He wanted the letter of instruction to state specifically that Prov Corps would exercise operational control "of only ground tactical units" and that III MAF would retain control of all wing assets in I Corps. Again Cushman argued strongly that the 1st Division retain operational control of Task Force X-Ray and that its area of operations include the Phu Loc District as well as the Hai Van Pass sector of Thua Thien Province.42
On 3 March 1968, General Westmoreland finally issued the letter of instruction for Provisional (Prov) Corps. The final approved version designated Lieutenant General Rosson as the commanding general and 10 March as the effective date for the formal establishment of the new command. Marine Major General Raymond G. Davis became the deputy commander under General Rosson. General Westmoreland also incorporated into the directive most of the changes recommended by General Cushman. Still, Westmoreland's final directive clearly indicated that there was a special relationship between Prov Corps and MACV Although General Cushman was to be his immediate superior, General Rosson was to submit reports "simultaneously" to MACV and III MAF "to insure timely reporting." On the cover sheet of the III MAF copy of the LOI, a III MAF staff officer wrote, "I wonder why they don't want 1st Div and Americal Division reports direct?" General Cushman initialed the routing slip without comment. He had already lost one major battle. On 7 March, General Westmoreland ordered, "all Marine fixed-wing strike and reconnaissance aircraft, and their associated Marine air control assets, be assigned effective 10 March 1968, to the mission direction of Deputy for Air Operations, the Commanding General, Seventh Air Force."43*
While assured, at least temporarily, of the primacy of his authority in northern I Corps, at least over all ground forces, and despite denials to the contrary, General Cushman and his staff still harbored suspicions about the Army's, if not Westmoreland's, motivations.** As Brigadier General Hoffman later declared, "it became necessary, or it became desirable, from our viewpoint to be sure that the Army didn't take over everything that we'd built up in that particular area." Colonel Franklin Smith of the III MAF staff remembered that the transition of MACV (Forward) into Provisional Corps was rather painful. The PCV staff was largely composed of the same personnel that made up the forward headquarters and "they tended to carry over the authority they had as MACV Forward people." According to Smith, "we would have from time to time to pick up the phone and say you can't do this." Aware that the PCV G-3 was to be a brigadier general, Cushman assigned Brigadier General Hoffman temporarily to be the III MAF G-3.*** As General Cushman concluded, III MAF was a Marine command only in relation to Marine peculiar things, "but for tactical operations it's a joint command."44
* See Chapters 23 and 24 for discussion of the Single Manager issue
relative to Marine aviation.
** In his interviews, Cushman supported both the creation of MACV
(Fwd) headquarters and the establishment of Provisional Corps. At the
same time, however, his remarks indicated a suspicion that the Army
was attempting to move into northern I Corps and that he took measures
to guard against this. See Cushman Mar69 intvw, pp. 459-60 and 465-66
and Cushman Presentation, tab F, pp. 18-9. Army historian Graham A.
Cosmas observed: "It seems clear that Westmoreland expected a much bigger
Communist offensive in the north than actually developed. He did not
trust III MAF to handle it and wanted Abrams on rhe scene with a headquarters
ro control the battle if necessary. Westmoreland authorized Abrams at
MACV Fwd to give tactical direction to III MAF's subordinate units if
the situation required. ProvCorps did ease III MAF's span of control
problems, but its presence raised Marine suspicions, although Rosson
evidently did a good job of smoothing out relations with III MAF." Dr.
Graham A. Cosmas, CMH, Comments on draft, dtd 23Nov94 (Vietnam Comment
*** Hoffman nominally continued to be 3d Marine Division assistant division commander, but was carried on the 3d Marine Division rolls as TAD (temporary additional duty) at III MAF. 3d MarDiv and III MAF ComdCs, Feb-Apr68.