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Page 246 (1968: The Defining Year)



Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A371414


A Marine M67A2 flametank in a blocking position and in support of Company
l, 3d Battalion, 27th Marines aims a streak of fire at suspected enemy
positions in the Da Nang area of operations. The 27th Marines, newly
arrived in February, began conducting small unit operations in late
February and early March.

tion
materials for the barrier strongpoint system, Marine engineers completed
the strongpoint bunkers on Con Thien, made some minor repairs of bunkers
damaged by artillery, and installed an additional minefield for the
Strongpoint at Gio Linh. At Ca Lu, Marine and Army engineers and Navy
Seabees had started the building of a major base to include an airfield,
ammunition storage facilities, bunkers and helicopter revetments, and
a supporting road network.59

By the end of the month, the allies in the north were about prepared to launch
their counteroftensive tor the relief of Khe Sanh and to alleviate the
pressure on the DMZ front. On 2nd March, the 1st Air Cavalry Division
took over from the 3d Marine Division and the 4th Marines in Lancaster
II the responsibility for the combat base at Qi Lu. While the 3d Marine
Division complained that the construction of the facilities at Ca Lu
and the effort to keep Route 9 open from Dong Ha to the base restricted
its mobility to a certain extent, the division still prepared to carry
out its own limited offensive. As a counter to any enemy rank threat
in the north and to provide the Marines on the DMZ a more potent armored
punch, in March, MACV had attached to the 3d Marine Division the U.S.
Army 3d Squadron, 5th Armored Cavalry Regiment reinforced by a company
from the 2d Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment. On 29 March, General Tompkins
formed, under the command of Colonel Hull, the 3d Marines' commander,
Task Force Kilo, which consisted of the Army armored cavalry squadron
and BLT 2/4. The following day, in coordination with the 2d ARVN Regiment,
Task Force Kilo mounted an attack in the Gio Linh sector as a cover
for the Pegasus operation. The allied counreroffensive in the north
was underway.60*

March Operations in the Rest of I Corps

By the beginning of March, the enemy main force units, outside of
Thua Thien and Quang Tri Provinces, pretty much lay low. In the Americal
Division operation Wheeler-Wallowa in the Que Son Valley, the 196th
Light Infantry Brigade accounted for about the same number of enemy
dead as the previous month, while sustaining about a quarter less casualties.
As far as the Americal Division's Operation Muscatine south of Chu Lai
was concerned. III MAF listed it among several operations that "did
not have any significant combat." Still, as General Cushman observed,
the Communist forces in I Corps had largely won the countryside "by
default" as the ARVN, South Vietnamese militia forces, and Revolutionary
Development teams during Tet fell back to defend the cities and


*See Chapter 14 for further discussion of Task Force Kilo and its relationship
to Operation Pegasus.





Page 246 (1968: The Defining Year)