Following the end of the operation, higher headquarters wanted to know the reasons for the Marine battalion suffering such heavy casualties. As Brigadier General Glick later stated, "any time that something like that happened, there was a lot of pressure all the way from the White House down of'what happened.'" On 30 December, General Glick ordered a full investigation of the matter. The investigating officer. Lieutenant Colonel George H. Benskin, Jr., visited the village the next day and began taking testimony from various commanders and staff officers, including Lieutenant Colonel McQuown, the BLT 3/1 company commanders, and the SLF Bravo intelligence officer or S-2. Completing his fact-finding mission on 2 January, Lieutenant Colonel Benskin sent his preliminary findings three days later to General Glick. In this initial report, Benskin emphasized the strength of the enemy positions with "fields of fire" permitting them to "neutralize efforts of all attacking units except Company K when supported by tanks." The enemy had withheld its fire "on all fronts until attacking units were drawn into the killing zones." According to all accounts, the terrain together with the village defenses combined in the favor of the enemy "in every respect."5*
On 15 January, General Glick forwarded the complete report to Lieutenant General Krulak, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific. In his covering message, General Glick observed: "I purposely did not make a recommendation in the investigation report concerning replacement of the BLT commander because of the channels which the report may go through and the possible political implications of relief of commanders concerned." In that message and in a interview over 20 years after the incident, he insisted that Lieutenant Colonel McQuown "was an exceptionally good battalion commander." He also observed in the interview that BLT 3/1 "was not the first unit that ran into trouble in that 'Street Without Joy.'" Glick's main concern was that MACV would use the casualties sustained by BLT 3/1 as "justification for reopening the entire question of command relations for SLF/ARG operations." He believed that "any relief of the BLT commander at this time might add weight to any implications that serious deficiencies do exist in present arrangement." According to Glick, "the tactical decisions made in Badger Tooth were in no way dictated by the command arrangements in effect."6"
Despite the 9th MAB commander's attempt to separate the investigation of Badger Tooth from the subject of general amphibious command relations, there was to be a reexamination of the entire subject. While representatives of MACV, III MAF, FMFPac, PacFIt, and Seventh Fleet had worked out an agreement to streamline the procedures for SLF operations in Vietnam during the spring of 1966, some friction between the in-counrry and the amphibious commands, especially the 9th MAB, continued to exist. Lieutenant General Krulak the FMFPac commander in October 1967 outlined the various perspectives on the SLF in a long extended message. According to the FMFPac commander, "MACV would like to see Ninth MAB units in-country continually ... he pretty much sees them as so many battalions, helo squadrons . . . etc." From what Krulak called a "parochial Marine Corps view" the best system would be to maintain the SLFs as a separate organization, but "employed in a manner completely responsive to the will of CG III MAF . . . ." While sympathizing and identifying himself with this latter viewpoint, Krulak believed in the necessity of intra-theater rotation of Vietnam-based units between the SLF and rehabilitation for a brief period on Okinawa. He also insisted that "some accommodation with the Navy as essential to preserve our use of the amphibious shipping. . . ." According to the FMFPac commander, unless the Marines worked "hand and glove with them, the Navy
*Colonel McQuown stared that he reported to General Glick after he reembarked upon the Seventh Fleet Amphibious Ready Group shipping and made several observations. He pointed out that the AOA [amphibious objective area] was not a free fire zone and that Company L followed the rules of engagement "to the letter." He noted that when the company was 25 meters from the village, "the lead elements of Lima Company were blown away. This was, in part, a major cause of the heavy casualties of this fight." McQuown related that he had "opposed Operation Badger Tooth from the onset because it was ill conceived and tactically unsound. It failed to use any of BLT 3/1's Task Organization, except the LVT's that would have enabled the BLT to conduct a sustained operation ashore." Furthermore the village was "occupied and defended by a major NVA force. The village had been turned into a well concealed, skillfully constructed-almost impregnable defensive position that withstood heavy air strikes and naval gunfire. To conquer the defenders was an extremely difficult task made more difficult because the BLT landed without its key supporting elements-the tanks, Ontos, artillery, and heavy mortars." According to McQuown, "Badger Tooth was an SLF operation in name only because SLF Marines were involved. In reality it was a water-borne/helicopter landing of a 'bare bones' unsupported [emphasis in the original] Marine infantry battalion moving 8 to 10 miles from the waters edge to objectives that lacked even a shred of intelligence to justify the operation." McQuown Comments.
**Colonel Maynard W. Schmidt, the SLF Bravo commander through February 1968, wrote that at the time he did "not realize that Operation Badger Tooth caused that much attention at the higher echelons." Colonel Maynard W. Schmidt, Comments on draft, n.d. [19941 (Vietnam Comment File).