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craft "fragged" for Army units increased every day, the number of
"Air Force sorties remained significantly below the programmed level
established for Army battalions." Finally, the III MAF commander recommended
"that management of Marine strike and reconnaissance aircraft ... be
returned to me and the workable procedures outlined in [MACV directive
95-4] be reinstituted."53


The Seventh Air Force evaluation of the system contrasted sharply with that of the Marines. General Momyer's command reported no significant problems "other than those associated with training and familiarity with a new system." It praised both the efforts and attitudes of Marine and Air Force officers in their attempts to link the two tactical air systems. While admitting that single manager was not perfect, the Air Force report asserted that "with better understanding by the Marine ground units and more experience on the part of all concerned . . . this system will work." The Air Force insisted that "in consideration of proposed large-scale ground offensive operations in being and planned . . . the air effort available must be concentrated, flexible and integrated to provide the tactical air support essential to all ground units."54


Bombarded by conflicting points of view, General Westmoreland held to the concept of centralized control, but began to look to the modification of some of the workings of the system. According to Marine Brigadier General Chaisson, the Director of the MACV Combat Operations Center, the visit to Saigon at the end of April by the Marine Corps Assistant Commandant and former III MAF commander, Lieutenant General Lewis W. Walt, played some part in the MACV commander's changing perspective. Chaisson wrote to his wife that when Walt met with the MACV commander, "He scared the daylights out of Westy by telling him that it was the most dangerous decision he had made-and that it would backfire." Apparently General Westmoreland then asked Walt for his specific criticisms. The Marine general repeated what the Marines had been saying all along: too long a delay in the approval of preplanned missions; too many "diverts" which often resulted in the use of the wrong ordnance on the target; and that the 3d Marine Division was not obtaining the "desired level of support."55


Whether influenced by Walt's criticisms or not, General Westmoreland ordered General Momyer to meet with Army Lieutenant General William B. Rosson, the commander of Provisional Corps, relative to what constructive changes should be made in the air support of ground forces in northern I Corps. Because of the implications for the Marine Corps, General Cushman with the approval of General Westmoreland directed that General Anderson, the wing commander, also attend. Representatives from the MACV TASE, the Seventh Air Force TACC, and DASC Victor were also present. General Momyer presided and declared that the purpose was to determine what were the flaws in the system "and how to correct them." Anderson believed that the question should have been "whether or not we should continue with Single Management."56


The conference began with a discussion about the allocation of sorties in northern I Corps. General Momyer stated that he had told General Walt that the reason for the reduced number of sorties for the 3d Marine Division were the priorities established by Provisional Corps. General Rosson agreed, explaining that for a time in the Provisional Corps sector, the 1st Air Cavalry because of Operation Pegasus received about 50 percent of the fixed-wing air sorties. The 101st Airborne and the 3d Marine Division during that period divided equally the remaining available sorties. General Rosson's perception also was that "Marines, having always had more air support tend today to ask for more than the Army units." All of the participants agreed, however, that because the Marine units had less artillery and fewer helicopter gunships than the Army, there was a natural tendency for the Marines to rely on more fixed-wing support. This was especially true relative to the escort of troop transport helicopters into landing zones. General Momyer suggested that the commands should determine the number of sorties Marines needed "in connection with helicopter operations in order to offset the lack of gunship helicopters." The Air Force general then declared that the Seventh Air Force "Frag" order would reflect the "number of sorties daily reserved" for helicopter escort.57


Even more surprising, according to Anderson, there was general unanimity on the weakness of the preplanning missions and the system of diverts. All concurred that the present preplanning only resulted "in placing a certain amount of air effort airborne and available for any use a specific ground commander may wish." General Rosson complained that the procedures were "too ponderous," although every one was trying to make them work.* Momyer acknowledged that all concerned


* General Rosson later commented that after he assumed command of Prov
Corps, "it soon became evident . . . that the system for preplanned
fixed-wing support was too slow, and that too many requests for immediate
support were being met by use of diverts. This in turn often meant different
ordnance on target." Gen William B. Rosson, USA, Comments on draft,
dtd 27Feb96 (Vietnam Comment File).







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