Page 518

Page 518 (1968: The Defining Year)

of Defense (USMC) Unnumbered Photo

A Marine Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter frinn HMM-165 approaches
the helicopter carrier USS Tripoli (LPH 10) for a landing. Because of
concern for space on board amphibious ships, Marines depended on larger
capacity helicopters to carry the assault force so as to require fewer
helicopters on board ship.

related that "there has been considerable fuss and fury' over the responsiveness
of the helicopters, and both division commanders are complaining . .
. ." It may have been a matter of perspective, but General Cushman even
had some doubts about the dedication of Marine helicopter pilots. The
III MAF commander remembered that "some of the helicopter pilots from
Marble Mountain would go up to Phu Bai to provide some support and hell,
they'd come all the way back ro Marble Mountain to eat lunch, just .
. . baloney as that." According to Cushman "we had a long battle to
utilize helicopters efficiently and it took great overhaul on the part
of the divisions and the way they ran their logistics and a great overhaul
on the pan of the wing and the way they ran their helicopters."5*

General Westmoreland also believed that the Marines had problems with
their helicopter organization. While he accepted the Air Force argument
about the need of centralized fixed-wing air control by the air commander,
he disagreed with the Marine concept of keeping the helicopter assets
under the wing rather than the division. He believed the Marine Corps
system was nx) inflexible. While crediting the Marines as the originators
of the air assault doctrine, he confided to Brigadier General Chaisson,
"You ve got yourself so wedded to this centralized control of all your
air assets over in the wing and the air-ground team, that down ac the
working level, the battalion, the infantry battalion, he has to ask
for helicopters like he normally would have to ask for tactical air
support." He believed the Army had advanced "way ahead of you in the
way we've married our helicopters right in with the tactical infantry

Marine aviation commanders, on the other hand, believed that the Army system, especially that of the 1st Air Cavalry, provided very little control and endangered not only helicopters, but also fixed-wing aircraft that were in the sector." The Marine Direct Air Sup-

* Observing that the Marine wins supported two and a third Marine divisions,
plus ARVNs and Koreans, General Condon wrote that "with assigned missions
of that scope tor the hclos, it seems reasonable to me to take a centralized
C&C {command and control) stand." Condon went on to say, nevertheless,
"If full cwrainatea {iliinning hdft been anoMplisheJ h) both members
u/ /Ac A tr-drwrta Team as a meticulous doctrinal observance in all
helicopterborne operations, l don't think there u'vuld eiw halt been
an) 'aifficiill)' to In Jisciisud [Emphasis in the original}." Condon
Comments. Lieutenant General Carey, also remarked on the dilemma of
the wing with the "total overcommitment" of its helicopter assets to
support not only Marine units hut also other forces. The wing, then
was "taken to task by our own Marines for not being able to respond
to a commitment . . . ." Carey, nevertheless, wrote that the "argument
of ground commanders chat helo assets are designed for the direct support
ot the division and should consequently be assigned to them for operational
control has merit." He believed that while valid, "the aviation argument
. . . that with the Corps' limited assets, training, employment, and
logistic support is optimized with central control," there was still
room tor compromise. He believed that by task organizing "we . . . would
have been more effective in supporting our Marines in Vietnam by selective
assignment of certain Helo assets to the Divisions for operational control."
Carey Comments.

** Lieutenant General Carey, who at the time was in the G-3 section
of the wing, wrote that the "Army employment of their organic helos
was totally unorthodox to us. In the Marine system the HDC in the DASC
controlled helo movement and coordination of fires. In those cases where
large helo operations were scheduled we considered it absolutely essential
to lift or shift fires as required to ensure sate passage ot our helos.
On the other hand, as we observed Army operations they appeared to ignore
the requirement to monitor their helo flights to ensure safe passage
through hot areas. They generally by-passed

Page 518 (1968: The Defining Year)