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existing Marine Corps system and the "fact that the 1st MAW continually
generates sorties in excess of the 1.2 [sortie] rate."84*


Despite the apparent happiness on the part of MACV with the new modified single-manager system, General Buse agreed with General Chapman that the best channel for reversal of the policy was through Saigon and possibly Honolulu. The FMFPac commander stated that there was possibly a means of compromise through reducing the span of control of III MAF in I Corps. He posed the possibility of dividing I Corps into two sectors, one Army and one Marine, possibly divided at the Hai Van Pass. If that occurred, Buse thought Abrams might be induced to "return control of Marine air." One disadvantage that he saw to this path might be a lopsided distribution of air support. The Marines in a reduced two-division sector might be receiving more support while "our Army neighbors, who now have no complaints, could starve." Buse preferred that General Cushman, the III MAF commander, in his June evaluation, present "a plan for restoring the integrity of the air-ground team." According to Buse, the III MAF commander "had a good feel of the pulse and have some local accommodations which can be digested at this point and still lead to full recovery." At that point. General Buse would then approach Admiral Sharp, still CinCPac, "in consonance with Cushman's efforts and rationale, adding to them the personal observation and staff data I found during my trip."85


On 29 June 1968, the III MAF commander provided both Generals Buse and Chapman his draft appraisal of the May modification to Single Management and proposed recommendations to MACV and asked for their comments. General Cushman acknowledged a definite improvement and reported a 54-percent increase during the month in Air Force sorties. For Marine air, however, he stated that the weekly and daily frags "has required an inordinately high number of scrambles and add-on sorties." He concluded that the present preplanned sortie level fell far short of the number of air missions required by the ground commanders.86

General Cushman's suggested revisions to single manager were much
more moderate than earlier proposals he had made to MACV and those already
being forwarded by the Commandant. He recommended that MACV retain the
present system, but improve its coordination with supporting arms and
basically refine the preplanned procedures. Cushman suggested that MACV
give to III MAF, in a weekly block frag order, control over all Marine
preplanned sorties, with the exception of those interdiction strikes
against Laos and North Vietnam. III MAF would determine time on target
and ordnance loads based on the needs of the respective Army and Marine
divisions in I Corps. In turn, the Marine command would provide the
Seventh Air Force control centers "real time reports" on Marine sorties.87


Both Generals Buse and Chapman were somewhat disappointed with the III MAF proposal and wanted a stronger statement from General Cushman. While agreeing with Cushman's evaluation and understanding his delicate position as a subordinate to MACV, they still desired the III MAF commander to preface his recommendations with a "positive statement reaffirming our collective position on the return of air assets" to Marine control. General Buse argued that this may be "our last shot" to reverse the situation because Abrams "and no one else will make this decision and once made we can expect it to last for the duration." According to Buse, the new MACV commander was "practical, apolitical, not necessarily bound by prior arrangements, and not intimidated by Seventh Air Force pressure." While Abrams possibly was impressed with the improvement in support of the Army divisions under the revised single-manager system, Buse believed the Army general susceptible to an appeal based on the relationship between infantry and supporting arms. The FMFPac commander thought that Cushman could make a convincing case that it was the Marine interface with the cumbersome Seventh Air Force mission control procedures that resulted in the enhanced air support for the Army divisions, not the centralization of air assets under the Seventh Air Force.88


In his revision of his reply to MACV, General Cushman made some minor cosmetic changes but decided against the direct approach suggested by General Buse. Cushman thanked the FMFPac commander for his advice, stating he incorporated "as many as possible under the circumstances prevailing." The III MAF commander declared that he had

* Lieutenant General Carey made the observation that "our salvation in operating
under the single-management concept was that our Marine Air had more
flexibility than Seventh Air Force in that we were able to generate
and maintain a higher sortie rate, we could surge to as high as a 3.0
sortie rate if required. In many informal conversations with my Air
Force counterparts they marveled at our endurance and questioned, 'How
do you do it?'" Carey Comments.







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