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In Honolulu, Lieutenant General Krulak was not sanguine about the
probability ot the Secretary of Defense overruling Westmoreland. As
he told General Cushman, he expected the Secretary to hold a hearing
on the subject, but "knowing how those things operate, I do not believe
that General Wheeler would have permitted the matter to [go] forward
to SecDef [Secretary of Defense] without first laying the groundwork
for the decision he seeks." Krulak suggested to General Cushman another
alternative means ot attack. He recommended that the III MAF commander
should avail himself of the "complaint channel to CinCPac," referring
to the 30-day evaluation period called for in the initiating directive.
Since all concerned agreed that the system had not really been implemented
until 22 March, this would extend the original trial period until 22
April. General Krulak warned: "When we go down this track, we have to
have the aces to a degree that will make it absolutely impossible for
CinCPac to ignore us or brush us off."46

The FMFPac commander then proceeded to advise both Generals Cushman
and Anderson about how to proceed. He counseled that General Anderson
as the senior aviation commander for III MAF should begin his presentation
with Marine concurrence to the proposition chat within a joint force
there should be "single management" in that the senior Air Force commander
should be the joint commander's "coordinating authority for all air
operations." As far as matters relating to air defense and to the interdiction
air campaign over Laos and North Vietnam, there was no debate that there
should be a single authority. Krulak then observed, however, chat Anderson
needed co stress that for the Marine commander, "his air support is
as inseparable to his combat ream as is his artillery, his tanks, or
even his infantryman's M16." He then pointed out that the Marine commander
made close air support a "cardinal element in his tactical plan, and,
if it is diverted to meet a need elsewhere his operation is compromised."47

General Krulak then cautioned the III MAF commanders not to get into a pure numbers game of how many sorties were flown and ordnance dropped, but rather to provide the context for the statistics. For example, he declared that in the case of immediate requests for support, the single-manager system

Photo from the Abel Collection

LtGen Lewis W. Walt, Assistant Commandant of the
Marine Corps, talks to Marines during a visit to Vietnam. LtGen Walt
made a strong presentation of the Marine position to Gen Westmoreland.

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