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due to his close working relationship with General Rosson, Davis had
the promise of Army helicopter support if needed.

This
was a fine thing about my command out there, Rosson...guaranteed me
that when we'd go into these tactical operations, I never needed to
look back over my shoulder a single time and wonder if I was going to
be supported. I knew that they were going to give me the helicopters
I would need."5*

More important, however, was the creation of Provisional Marine Aircraft
Group 39 at Quang Tri in April and the assignment later, initially on
a temporary basis, of Assistant Wing Commander, Brigadier General Homer
S. Hill, to the 3d Division headquarters. Acting as the Marine air commander
for northern I Corps, General Hill, as Davis noted, "had enough authority
delegated to him from the wing, where he could execute things, he could
order air units to do things." Highly flexible mobile operations and
the lives of individual Marines taking part in such operations would
be totally dependent upon air. Without a responsive air commander on
the scene, these operations, Davis continued, would be "a shambles"
and Marines would suffer.6 With helicopter transport assured, division
Marines would begin to move from relatively static positions south of
the Demilitarized Zone, into the mountainous regions of Quang Tri Province
in search of the enemy, his infiltration routes, and his supplies.**

In addition to moving the division toward a more mobile posture, General
Davis reinstituted unit integrity. As a result of the promulgation of
the M series table of organization, Marine battalions were delegated
the capability of self-administration. The regiment was to be "responsive
to an administrative concept in which fiscal, personnel, supply and
maintenance functions and transactions usually proceed directly from
subordinate elements to the division."7 The regiment, therefore, was
essentially a tactical headquarters.

Prior to the reinstitution of unit integrity, there was a constant
rotation of battalions among regiments. The 4th Marines in early June,
for example, controlled a battalion of the 1st Marines, two battalions
of the 9th Marines, and only one of its organic battalions. Under such
circumstances, one of Davis' regimental commanders termed regiments
"warlords" and the battalions "roving bands of mercenaries. The regiments
had little interest in the logistics, personnel, supply, and maintenance
fields of the battalions."8 Battalions, on the other hand,
"felt . . . they were commanded by strangers. Every unit has kind of
a personality of its own, often reflecting the personality of the commander,
so you never got to know who did what best, or who would you give this
mission to."9 Davis gradually changed that; each regiment,
under normal operating circumstances, would now control its organic
battalions. With the change came unit cohesion, cooperation, esprit
de corps, and "a greater awareness on the part of the staff officers
in the regiment and their counterparts in the battalions, about one
another's capabilities and personalities."10*** Davis later commented
that this was "the key to our success."11

The most lucrative targets for the division's first mobile operation
were the large enemy formations which remained to the south and west
of Khe Sanh. These included remnants of the defeated 304th NVA Division
and at least two regiments of the recently infiltrated 308th NVA
Division.
Elements of the two enemy divisions were concentrating
their main efforts at interdicting the segment of Route 9 between Ca
Lu and Khe Sanh and in constructing a new supply route from


* Colonel Vaughn R. Stuart, who assumed command of the 3d Marines
in July, commented, however, that there were very few Army helicopters
available to the 3d Marine Division except for command and control and
the Army Sikorsky CH-54 Flying Crane. He recalled a situation when he
was sent only two CH-46 helicopters and that "it took all day and all
that night to get the infantry and artillery into position and ready
to fire missions at first light the next morning." He wondered where
the helicopter support from the Army and Provisional Corps was on that
occasion. Col Vaughn R. Stuart, Comments on draft, dtd 20Dec94 (Vietnam
Comment File), hereafter Stuart Comments.

** See Chapter 25 for further discussion of the relationship between
the 3d Marine Division and the Wing over the employment of helicopters.

*** Colonel Stuart, who assumed command of the 3d Marines on 15 July
68, took exception to the above statements. He wrote that the regiment
"had absolute tactical authority over those organizations under its
Operational] Con[trol}, and the regimental commander with any leadership
ability at all knew the full status of the subordinate units. If there
were any deficiencies in supply, maintenance, or personnel, he had all
of the authority necessary to get those deficiencies corrected." He
also took exception to terms such as "warlord" and "roving bands of
mercenaries." According to Stuart, the battalions "had missions directed
by the regiments in response to missions given by the division." As
regimental commander, he could not worry about such niceties concerning
the personality or ability of a particular battalion commander to carry
out a particular mission. During this period, his selection usually
depended upon whatever "battalion was the least occupied." Stuart Comments.
On the other hand. Colonel Billy R. Duncan, who commanded the 2d Battalion,
1st Marines from January to August 1968, wrote that the relationships
of the attached battalions to the regiments was ". . . difficult at
best." He stated that the regiments had little interest in the logistics
and support elements of the battalions. Col Billy R. Duncan, Comments
on draft, dtd 15Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).









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