Page 507

Page 507 (1968: The Defining Year)



Moreover, even the MACV emergency authority did not permit "a day-in,
day-out diversion of additional Marine sorties" to other missions. Krulak
observed, however, that the single-manager system as instituted by General
Westmoreland resulted in too severe a "surgery . . . that has left the
patient extremely weak, with his Marine leg partially paralyzed." The
FMFPac commander suggested instead return to III MAF operational control
of Marine fixed-wing tactical and reconnaissance aircraft sorties. In
turn, III MAF would make available to the Seventh Air Force "such sorties
as ComUSMACV regards necessary to ensure a proper weight of tactical
air effort." Krulak would not limit this MACV authority to preplanned
sorties, but would permit the preemption of additional Marine air resources,
when "in MACV's judgement, the overall tactical effort so requires."
The III MAF TADC would provide the MACV TASE "with real time information
on Marine air availability and status at all times." According to General
Krulak this Marine solution "would legitimize single managership without
question and would still leave essential operational direction of III
MAF organic air resources in CG III MAF hands." In a memorandum to the
Joint Chiefs on 18 May 1968, General Chapman presented much the same
argument and concluded that the Marine proposal would provide a transition
to normal command relations and also increase responsiveness.70

While the Marine Corps continued to present alternative policies.
General Westmoreland's staff worked upon modifications relative to air
control procedures. On 18 May, at a meeting with Admiral Sharp, General
Westmoreland discussed his intention to make some changes in the working
of the single-management system at the end of the month. The MACV commander
wanted a 30-day trial period until the end of June and planned to ask
"III MAF to withhold comments" until that time. Admiral Sharp indicated
his general approval of Westmoreland's course of action. According to
Marine Brigadier General Chats-son, the head of the MACV Combat Operations
Center, General Westmoreland was well aware of both the Marine objections
and suggested revisions and tried to accommodate them. On 20 May, Chaisson
jotted in his notebook diary, "Got Gen Westmoreland] to go along with
our approach to single management. Momyer is next hurdle." General Westmoreland
also received prodding from General Wheeler, who directed that MACV
in conjunction with both III MAF and the Seventh Air Force, "continue
to evaluate the effectiveness" of single manager. Westmoreland was to
inform both CinCPac and the Chairman of JCS "each month of the results
of his evaluation and of any modification he has made to the system."71


While neither General Westmoreland nor Momyer was willing to return to III MAF full authority over Marine fixed-wing sorties, they made a drastic change in the scheduling of preplanned ground support missions. On 21 May, General Westmoreland outlined the new procedures. MACV now divided preplanned strikes into two categories, one to be determined weekly and the other daily in two separate frag orders. According to the modified system, 70 percent of all preplanned sorties were to be contained in the Seventh Air Force TACC weekly frag order. While the frag order designated number of aircraft, time on target, and basic ordnance load, the supported ground commander could use these sorties any way he desired, "consistent with aircraft and control capabilities." The Seventh Air Force daily frag order designated the remaining preplanned missions to meet "justified requests for additional support and increased enemy threats as they occur." In essence, as General Krulak observed, III MAF made available all its air "attack and reconnaissance capability" to the Seventh Air Force, who in turn hands about 70 percent back "to the Marine command."72


The new procedures were to go into effect on 30 May for a 30-day test period. At the end of that time, the concerned commands were to provide constructive criticism. General Cushman observed that he was under orders not to forward any comments on the modifications to CinCPac until after completion of the evaluation period. The III MAF commander, nevertheless, stated that he would provide ComUSMACV with his views and would share them with CMC and CGFMFPac "to preclude any action that cross pending proposals to Dep Sec Def or JCS." At the same time, General Cushman looked favorably on the new MACV directive, remarking that it "appears to offer us a considerable opportunity to regain control of our assets."73


Admitting that the modification provided more flexibility, Marine commanders and staff officers still pointed to several continuing disadvantages. While prescribed ordnance loads and time on targets could be adjusted, III MAF still had to match the ground requirements of its subordinate Army and Marine units with the predetermined 70 percent sorties in the weekly frag order. As far as the remaining 30 percent preplanned sorties outlined in the Seventh Air Force daily frag report, with the exception of less required detailed information, III MAF was to follow the same procedures as before.







Page 507 (1968: The Defining Year)