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Seventh Fleet, and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing demonstrated remarkable
coordination over the skies of Khe Sanh. This coordination also was
tied in very closely with both the Khe Sanh ground defenses and the
Marine and Army artillery positions along the DMZ. While obviously the
massive airlift and air bombardment permitted the Marines to hold the
base and kept the enemy at bay, it still remained unclear how badly
the enemy was hurt. The amount of ordnance dropped, as one historian
observed, only measured the effort rather than the results.* Moreover,
despite the inter-Ser-vice cooperation in the Khe Sanh operation, the
Niagara Operation reopened the old dispute about the role of Marine
air in the overall air campaign. Indeed, on 10 March, with the approval
of Admiral Sharp, General Westmoreland issued his Single Manager directive
placing Marine fixed-wing tactical and reconnaissance aircraft, at least
as far as fragging purposes, under the operational control of General
Momyer. While the Single Manager issue had little impact on the Niagara
operations since it came out so late in the campaign, it would dominate,
however, MACV, III MAF, and Seventh Air Force relations throughout the
rest of the year and in reality throughout the remainder of the war.69


* Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Commander Ray W. Stubbe, who has researched
and written extensively on Khe Sanh, commented "the US Air Force's count
of 'secondary explosions' at Khe Sanh, by which MACV determined through
their complex mathematical formulae just how many NVA were killed, is
grossly faulted since many of the 'secondary explosions' they counted
were actually conjointly-fired artillery missions: What they counted
as a secondary explosion being, actually, a 'friendly explosion!" LCdr
Ray W. Stubbe, USN, Comments on draft, 25Oct94 (Vietnam Comment File).Lieutenant
Colonel Richard E. Donaghy, who served as the 26th Marines air officer,
also had his doubts, commenting that it was "nearly impossible to measure
the real effectiveness of sorties in those days (BDAs were in the eyes
of the beholder) . . . ." Donaghy, nevertheless, commended General Momyer,
the Seventh Air Force commander, for visiting Khe Sanh and "coming to
where the action was. . . . General Momyer obviously wanted to see where
he was devoting so many of his assets." Donaghy Comments.




Page 486 (1968: The Defining Year)