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From Operations of US Marine Forces Vietnam 1968. Source: FMFPac, MarOpsV, Dec68

commander.* General Cushman, the III MAF commander, admitted that
"splitting the helicopters was sort of against our philosophy," but
observed that they needed the helicopters near the 3d Division in the
DMZ sector: "We had to move them up there so they'd have them."28

Despite the establishment of Prov MAG-39, the new group was unable to meet the demands ot the new 3d Marine Division commander, Major General Davis, who wanted to undertake more mobile operations. According to Davis, the way he wanted to use helicopters "was a whole new learning experience" for both the wing and the division. Davis declared, "instead of sitting down and looking around and saying, 'Where can we go? Where is it easier to put the helicopters?' We never said that." Instead, Davis insisted, "We said, we're going to put the helicopters here by making whatever effort is required to prepare the place for the helicopters." The idea was to be "totally flexible and responsive to the ground commander's needs." The new division commander contended that the Marine Corps had given some thought to high-mobility operations, "but we really hadn't done it." He stared that he was not advocating the Army Air Cavalry solution which had too many helicopters and not enough control, but a middle course in which his regimental and battalion commanders at least had their own helicopters.29

From the ground commander and especially the division commander's viewpoint, the main advantage of the Army system was that he owned the helicopter assets. The 1st Air Cavalry brigade and battalion commanders not only had their own personal helicopters, but also could depend on helicopter support almost on call. According to General Davis, in comparison, the Marine helicopter "system was so centralized that you have got to work out in detail the day before exactly

*In May, HMM-161 arrived directly from the United States equipped
with the new redesigned CH-46D models and replaced HMM-163, a UH-34
squadron at Quang Tri. According to Colonel Hansen, "this represented
a substantial increase in the lift capability of Prov MAG-39 when you
consider that HMM-161 arrived with essentially 100 percent aircraft
availability versus . . . older [and less lift capacity] H-34s with
reduced availability." Col John E. Hansen, Comments on draft, dtd 17Nov94
(Vietnam Comment File).

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