Page 496

Page 496 (1968: The Defining Year)



gauche. Stupid, he ain't." In a later message, General Krulak remarked
that HQMC learned from the Department of Defense Public Affairs office
that it had no knowledge about an announcement relative to the single-manager
issue. The FMFPac commander suspected that the reporter was trying to
use the guise of a press statement, "to lend an official flavor to what
appears to be a leak."31


While the story about the change in air control arrangements received some play in the press, it for the most part remained somewhat muted as did the single-manager issue for a time. Part of the reason may have been that the single-manager system remained in a somewhat grey zone until the later part of March. According to the MACV command history, that although the directive was issued on 7 March, the actual preplanning only began on 21 March and the first programmed missions did not occur until 22 March. MACV considered the entire period from 10 March, when the single manager system supposedly went into effect, until the end of the month, "a period for training and indoctrinating air crews and controller personnel."32


Major General Anderson, the wing commander, had a harsher judgement. On 23 March, Anderson reported to Generals Cushman and Krulak that the past week had been one of "initial confusion. This had to be expected in view of the urge to implement without proper and prior planning." The wing commander gave specific examples. On the night of 21-22 March, I DASC scrambled three nights of Marine attack and fighter/attack aircraft "for what was termed an immediate mission." A planned rendezvous with a flare and a forward control aircraft over Laos failed to occur and the Marine planes returned to base nearly out of fuel. According to Anderson, a ground radar TPQ team provided one of the Marine flight sections with a secondary mission, but the other two sections jettisoned their ordnance. On the following day, 22 March, I DASC told the Marine TADC that several sorties planned for the 1st Marine Division, "had been canceled by the 'user'." The 1st Division air officer, however, denied making any such request and declared the division "wanted all the air that it could get." Anderson also mentioned problems with obtaining clearance from the Air Force Khe Sanh airborne command and control center (ABCCC). On two occasions, the ABCCC diverted two A6As from missions in support of Khe Sanh because of bad weather. Apparently the Air Force controllers were unaware of the capability of the A6A to operate under all weather conditions.33

Anderson mentioned that the new system also began to place an added
strain on Marine air control resources. Because of the necessity to
send personnel to help man the Air Force control centers, the Marine
wing decided to close its Chu Lai DASC.* The Americal Division immediately
protested and asked the wing to reconsider or "to provide them some
means to replace our control." General Anderson reactivated the DASC
in the interim until the Air Force decided how it was going to take
over. The wing commander also mentioned problems of overcrowding and
air traffic control problems at the Phu Bai terminal. While the Army
and Air Force helped with equipment and the assignment of additional
personnel, Anderson suggested that the Marines might want to consider
"a possible withdrawal of some of our air control assets from northern
ICTZ." With the expansion of Army forces north of the Hai Van Pass,
General Anderson argued that the Marines were not a major logistical
and support organization and would be better off to realign to the south;
"refurbish and reestablish a mount out capability; and reduce to some
extent the stretch we have on our current personnel assets."34


These and many other questions about the implications of single manager remained largely unanswered during this initial period. On 25 March, at the weekly meeting of the Joint Chiefs, General Chapman** formally brought up the subject. Major General McCutcheon accompanied the Commandant and made the presentation before the Chiefs. Generals Wheeler, the Chairman, and Harold K. Johnson, the Army Chief of Staff, were both absent. Major General Haines, Army Deputy Chief of Staff, represented the Army; General John P. McConnell, the Air Force Chief of Staff, the Air Force; and Admiral Moorer, the Navy. According to both Generals Chapman and McCutcheon, the reception was much what they expected. Admiral Moorer openly supported the Marines. The two Marine generals believed that the Army's actual position was favor-


* According to the wing commander, he provided two additional naval
aviators to the Seventh Air Force TACC in Saigon making for a total
of four to assist with the daily frag order. He also provided seven
personnel each to I DASC and DASC Victor: two lieutenant colonels, six
captains or lieutenants, and six noncommissioned officers. CGlstMAW
to CGFMFPac and CGIIIMAF, dtd 23Mar68, Doc No. 23, III MAF Incoming
Msgs, 15-27 Mar68.

** While not a formal member of the Joint Chiefs at that time, the
Marine Corps Commandant had a vote on all matters relating to the Marine
Corps, which was usually interpreted in the broadest terms. For all
practical purposes, the Commandant was a sitting member of the Joint
Chiefs.







Page 496 (1968: The Defining Year)