Page 540

Page 540 (1968: The Defining Year)




ments of the 3d Marine Division and in counter-battery fire along the eastern
DMZ.8*

By this period there had been a change in command relations in the
north. MACV (Fwd) in early March became Provisional Corps Vietnam (Prov
Corps) under Lieutenant General William B. Rosson and in a reversal
of roles became a subordinate command of III MAF.** Under III MAF, Prov
Corps was now responsible for the two northern provinces of I Corps
and took under its operational control the two Army divisions there,
the 1st Air Cavalry and the 101st Airborne, as well as the 3d Marine
Division. With the concurrence of MACV and III MAF, General Rosson changed
the designation for the Khe Sanh campaign from Operation Scotland to
Operation Pegasus. In Pegasus, Rosson placed under the 1st Air Cavalry
Division the 1st Marines, the 11th Engineers, and a Seabee battalion.***
This new operation resulted in the ending of the siege of Khe Sanh.
On 8 April, Army cavalrymen linked up with elements of the 26th Marines
and one week later Pegasus came to an end. The 1st Cavalry then deployed
into the A Shau Valley in Operation Delaware, but left one brigade in
the Khe Sanh sector under the operational control of the 3d Marine Division
in Operation Scotland II.****

The change in command relations also affected the command structure
of the artillery units in the north. Provisional Corps took over direct
control of the U.S. Army 108th Field Artillery Group and the Marine
1st 8-inch Howitzer Battery and 5th 155mm Gun Battery, which all had
been subordinate to the 12th Marines. These units were responsible for
"general support" and "reinforcing" fires of the 12th Marines, which
remained under the 3d Marine Division.9*****


The increasing deployment of both Marine and Army units to northern I Corps had already resulted in a much more complex coordination control of supporting arms. As early as the latter part of 1967, the 3d Marine Division had taken steps to automate further its fire support control systems. By March of 1968, the division had created in its fire support coordination center (FSCC), its staff agency for the coordination of all supporting arms, a fire support information center (FSIC). Using sophisticated computer techniques, the idea was to provide more realistic firing data that could be used in counter-battery fire and to refine the target list based upon previous fire missions and sightings. Limited computer memory and the use of a punch card stored data base, nevertheless, restricted '"real time' information retrieval in the FSIC."10******


General Cushman recalled several years later that the fire coordination and artillery support in the north during 1967 and early 1968 was not all that he wished that it was. While not mentioning any specific incidents such as the unusual number of "friendly fire"


* FMFPac reported that Marine and Army artillery under the operational
control of the 12th Marines fired slightly over 102,000 rounds of mixed
caliber in support of Operation Scotland at Khe Sanh from 1 November
1967 until its termination on 30 March 1968. Most of the artillery support
for Scotland was provided in the period January through March, thus
the rational for the percentage given in the text. FMFPac, MarOpsV,
Mar68, p. 3.

** See Chapter 13 for the discussion of command relations in the north.

*** Colonel Robert C. V. Hughes, who commanded the 1st Battalion,
11th Marines in 1968, related that his battalion continued to support
the 1st Marines throughout this period. He recalled that his battalion
received a field artillery digital automatic computer (FADAC) just prior
to the Hue City battle. This permitted his Fire Direction Center to
control the "fires of the varied caliber batteries" assigned to him
ranging from 4.2-inch mortars to 155mm howitzers (towed). According
to Hughes, his battalion kept the FADAC "in continuous operation through
all subsequent operations including Pegasus." When the 1st Marines relieved
the 26th Marines at Khe Sanh, 1/11 relieved 1/13. Hughes wrote that
"all of 1/1 l s rolling stock was turned over to 1/13 to permit their
departure from Khe Sanh. All of 1/13's inoperative equipment had been
pushed to the far side of the air strip along the cliff face. We were
able to place all but one of the pieces back in service." Hughes Comments.

**** See Chapters 13, 14, and 16 for Operations Pegasus, Delaware
and Scotland II.

***** Colonel James Leon, an experienced ordnance and artillery officer
who served on the III MAF staff, believed that there needed to be a
further transformation of artillery command relations at the III MAF
level. He stated there was in his opinion, "a serious deficiency in
the management of Marine artillery at the III MAF level. The 3d MarDiv
artillery operated under the opcon of Prov Corps at Phu Bai. 1st Mar
Div artillery had opcon in its area." On the III MAF staff, however,
there was only an assistant artillery operations officer "who was saddled
with additional duties that allowed him little time to perform his primary
duty." According to Leon, "There was a need for a Field Artillery Group
headquarters at the III MAF headquarters level. The allocation of resources
between the division and the performance of support services suffered
as a consequence of this deficiency." Leon wrote that as the III MAF
ordnance officer, he "worked closely with the artillery assistant ops
officer and in effect from time to time functioned beyond my regular
duties. In effect I acted as III MAF artillery officer." Col James Leon,
Comments on draft, n.d. [1993] (Vietnam Comment File).

****** Colonel Edwin S. Schick, Jr., the commander of the 12th Marines
at the time, observed that the personnel for the FSIC came from the
1st Field Artillery Group at Phu Bai. Schick Comments. For initial developments
and problems with the FSIC including its relationship with the FSCC
and its computer limitations, see LtCol C. V. Hutcheson memo to Col
Schick, dtd 4Feb68, Subj: The FSIC . . . Current Status, and 12th Marines,
draft SOP for the 3d Div Fire Support Information Center, Jan68, Ends,
Schick Comments.







Page 540 (1968: The Defining Year)