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Page 555 (1968: The Defining Year)





Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

No. of Patrols

133

147

143

165

158

105*

851

Average Duration

2.13

2.45

2.36

3.19

8.60

3.89 -

3.77

Average Size

6.09

6.61

6.72

7.22

7.10

6.50 1

6.72

No. of Sightings

45

54

78

71

55

20 1

323

No. of Enemy Sighted

288

778

508

289

314

114 1

2291

No. of Contacts

20

52

52

34

31

22 1

211

No. of Fire Missions

16

28

39

64

64

22 -

233

No. Rounds Fired

416

1203

914

1742

1363

249 1

5887

5 1

No. of Air Strikes

5

14

5

24

^^^Hu*^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^l

Enemy KIA (C)

22

63

102

25

23

13 1

^^^^^^^^^^1

Enemy Captured

0

0

0

1

0

0 1

Weapons Captured

2

5

8

0

7

1 -

Friendly KIA

4

1

5

1

3

1 1

Friendly WIA

26

5

20

4

6

^^^^^^^^^^1

* Includes 31 teams dep

loyed in

the field as of

12 December 1968


Still there remained some question among infantry and reconnaissance Marines whether III MAF was making the best use of its reconnaissance assets. This was especially true in the 3d Marine Division. Lieutenant Colonel William D. Kent, the commander ot the 3d Reconnaissance Battalion until early July 1968, several years later expressed his concerns that the reconnaissance patrols were 'tighten' the NVA rather than 'watching them,' thereby losing 'a lot of long-range intelligence.' He believed there was an overreliance on radio intercepts and that the North Vietnamese 'were smart enough not to talk.' Kent commented that this was especially true in the NVA offensive in the Dong Ha sector at the end of April and beginning of May. He believed the system awarded 'pats on the back for KlAs,' but not for obtaining the elements of combat information.w

Both Lieutenant Colonel Kent and Major General Davis, the former deputy commander ProvCoq->s and new 3d Marine Division commander, were influenced by the tactics of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. According to Lieutenant Colonel Kent, after the relief of Khe Sanh in mid-April, he began exchanging patrol leaders with the Army units and sending some of the reconnaissance Marines to the Army schools. According to its doctrine, the Air Cavalry employed rapid helicopter inserts ot small reconnaissance teams ot four to five men to explore a given terrain, often using decoy aircraft to keep any watching enemy forces off balance. Combining 'Red' {usually gunships] and 'White' [aero scout] teams, the Air Cavalry could make a rapid reconnaissance and either call in the 'Blues' [the aero infantry] or move on elsewhere.'''

Lieutenant Colonel Kent observed, however, that the reconnaissance Marines also had things to teach their Army counteqiarrs. According to Kent, the Marines taught them how to call in supporting arms, especially fixed-wing airstrikes, and, surprisingly enough, map reading. He stated that his patrol leaders explained to him that for the Air Cavalry, 'land navigation was not a big thing . . . .' They told him that the Air Cavalry reconnaissance tnops 'didn't have to read maps. They depended on the airplanes. There were airplanes up there all the time.''1

In any event, encouraged by General Davis, the 3d Reconnaissance Battalion began, as Lieutenant Colonel Kent observed, to 'kx)sen up' and do more 'snoopen and poopen.' While still using 10-man Stingray teams, the battalion also started deploying

reported extensive enemy casualties killed by supporting arms. When asked why his battalion had found so few enemy dead, he turned to his questioner and replied (hat he was 'standing on top of what should have been 197 dead NVA.' Col James W. Stcmple, Comments on draft n.d. [19951 (Vietnam Comment File).




Page 555 (1968: The Defining Year)