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wrote, the Marine Corps "jealously guards the integrity of its air-ground
team."14

From the very beginning of the Marine Corps involvement in Vietnam,
Marine officers sought to avoid any repetition of the Korean War experience
where for the last two years of that conflict the Marine ground force
"worked for the 8th Army and the [Marine] air forces worked for the
Fifth Air Force." In 1963, then Marine Brigadier General McCutcheon,
Assistant Chief ot Staff tor Operations, CinCPac, headed a 12-man board
with representatives from the Pacific Command staff and from all of
the CinCPac Service component commands to "examine the full spectrum
of tactical air support" in the theater and to come up with recommendations
for its organization under a joint command. Without going into all of
the ramifications, the "McCutcheon Board" proposed that a joint force
commander under CinCPac should appoint a Service commander (in most
instances the Air Force component commander) to be the "coordinating
authority tor tactical air operations." This distinction was important
since under the then existing joint definitions, "coordinaring authority"
permitted a commander "to require consultation between the agencies
involved, but does not have authority to compel agreement."15




Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A413010

MajGen Keith B. McCutcheon, Marine Deputy Chief
of Staff (Air) in 1968, was a former commander of the 1st MAW. Gen McCutcheon
was a pioneer Marine aviator who played a large role in the development
of Marine close air support doctrine as well as in Marine employment
of the helicopter.


Although Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp and his predecessor failed to approve the "McCutcheon report," the CinCPac commander used the "coordinating authority" solution as the basis for command of aviation resources in Vietnam. In fact, when in March 1965, General Westmoreland informed CinCPac that he planned to place Marine fixed-wing units under the overall operational control of his Air Force component commander, at that time the Commanding General, 2d Air Division, Admiral Sharp overruled him. In no uncertain terms, in a message probably drafted by General McCutcheon, Sharp told Westmoreland that he would exercise operational control of Marine aviation through III MAF and that authority could not be "delegated to the 2d Air Division."16

The resulting MACV Air Directive 95-4 on air support issued in July
1965 provided the 2d Air Division commander "coordinating authority,"
but retained operational control of all Marine air in III MAF. At the
same time, however, the Marines were to notify the 2d Air Division on
a daily basis of the number of aircraft in excess of III MAF needs and
make them available as needed. While modified slightly in 1966, this
basic directive remained in effect into 1968. As a member of the 1st
MAW staff. Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. Carey later observed that the
Marines "were very careful to ensure we provided daily reports of the
number of aircraft in excess of III MAF needs," but that by January
1968, "there were seldom excess sorties or aircraft available."17


Lieutenant General Krulak, the FMFPac commander, pointedly stated a few months earlier that the Marines had the air-ground team in Vietnam that they had wanted in Korea. According to Krulak, this was, "no accident. We have CinCPac to thank for putting his foot down and saying 'No . . . .' We have to thank him, plus the stubborn persuasion on him by a few Marines." Furthermore, the FMFPac commander correctly observed that notwithstanding all the talk about the Marine air-ground relationship the Vietnam arrangement provided the Marine Corps for







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