that this thing [single manager] was generated by Air Force roles
and mission. It was his idea-his decision and not a maneuver by the
Air Force." General Westmoreland stressed that he wanted "this point
included in the briefing."65
The Honolulu Conference for the most part proved to be a restatement of already established positions. As planned, on 10 May, the representatives from the respective services and commands of MACV made their standard briefings before Admiral Sharp. General Blood once more represented the Seventh Air Force. As General Anderson, who made the case for III MAF, remembered, the Seventh Air Force indicated its willingness to make adjustments "in accordance with any criticism that we might have, which had the effect of taking the rug right out from under us." As the wing commander recalled, Admiral Sharp "elected to not intervene." Anderson observed that Sharp was near the end of his tour and "must have felt that further protest would have to be at [a] higher level. . . ."66
Admiral Sharp may have been aware that the Department of Defense was about to act upon the referral of the single-management issue to the Secretary by the Joint Chiefs. Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, who replaced Robert S. McNamara in February, delegated the decision to Deputy Secretary Paul H. Nitze. On 15 May, after listening to the formal presentations and reviewing the various position papers by the respective Services, Deputy Secretary Nitze generally supported the position of Generals Wheeler and Westmoreland. The secretary stated that he agreed with the Chairman that "the unified combat commander on the scene should be presumed to be the best judge of how the combat forces assigned to him are to be organized . . . ." Nitze added that he considered this a temporary measure and not a precedent and believed that MACV would return control of the Marine air to III MAF "when the tactical situation permits." He, nevertheless, expressed concern about the apparent weakness of the present single-manager system relative to responsive-ness, but presumed that General Westmoreland was taking action to rectify the situation. Nitze directed General Wheeler "to review personally the single-management arrangement in I Corps to determine, in coordination with CinCPac and ComUSMACV such changes as he considers necessary to minimize delays between requests for air support and execution ... ."67*
In reply to the Deputy Secretary, General Wheeler stated that he was
also troubled about the lack of responsiveness to preplanned air requests.
Although he argued that the Marines may have exaggerated the length
of time required for such requests and that some of the deadlines were
self-imposed, the Chairman admitted that the system needed modification.
He mentioned that MACV was looking to a partial decentralization "based
on resource considerations" which would permit "the majority of preplanned
requests" to be coordinated between III MAF and the "collocated DASCs."
Wheeler stated that General Westmoreland's basic interest was to "have
the flexibility to employ the tactical air resources most effectively
where and when support is required."68
By this time, all concerned with the issue were looking toward some settlement of the dispute. In one instance. General McCutcheon recommended to General Chapman, the Marine Corps Commandant, that the latter meet with the Air Force Chief of Staff, General McConnell. McCutcheon believed that a frank discussion between the Service chiefs might result in McConnell "to tell Momyer to back off a little." On 17 May, after learning about Deputy Secretary Nitze's decision, McCutcheon told Major General Anderson, the 1st MAW commander, about a new Marine Corps tack, "which is to get the opcon back, let them keep 'single management' and get on with the war."69
Lieutenant General Krulak outlined this Marine Corps proposal in a back-channel message to Admiral Sharp. Krulak conceded that MACV under the old system had some reason for dissatisfaction. He observed that while MACV had controlled about 75 percent of the fixed-wing sorties in South Vietnam which included those sorties that the 1st MAW made available, General Westmoreland "was never sure of what number of sorties the Marines would make available . . . ."
* General Chapman, the Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1968, remembered
that about the time Deputy Secretary Nitze made his decision the House
Armed Services Committee "held a hearing on the state of the War with
JCS. Single management came up and was strongly criticized by [the chairman'
of the committee} for loss by Marines of immediate (emphasis in original],
responsive close air support. Gen Wheeler presented the standard arguments
to support S/M [single manager}, l ... elected to remain silent, as
did the other chiefs, because I believed Congress was no place to solve
a war-time operational problem." Gen Leonard F. Chapman, Comments on
draft, dtd 17Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Chapman Comments.
Army historian Graham A. Cosmas noted the "very lukewarm nature of even
Wheeler's and Nitze's support of Westmoreland. Both indicated grave
doubts about the practical workings of single management, but were unwilling
to overrule their theater commander on a question of organization of
his forces. However, both emphasized this was a temporary tactical expedient
and urged ComUSMACV to restore the former command arrangement as soon
as he felt the situation warranted, which of course ComUSMACV never
did." Cosmas Comments.