The Marine War: III MAF in Vietnam, 1965-1971
Dr. Jack Shulimson
From the Marine Corps Historical Center:
Brief History of the Corps
In this paper, I will try to describe the role of the Marine Corps in Vietnam from the perspective of its main combat component in the war, the III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF). While my interpretation is my own, these remarks are based largely upon the Marine Corps official volumes of the war.
Prior to 1965, contingency plans for Southeast Asia called for the insertion of Marines in the event of an attack on South Vietnam. After the Gulf of Tonkin crisis in August 1964, U.S. commanders activated the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (9th MEB).(1)
By early 1965, sensing victory nearly in their grasp, the Communists directed attacks against U.S. advisors. In February 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a series of retaliatory American air strikes against North Vietnam.
As the air war escalated, on 22 February 1965, U.S. Army General William C. Westmoreland, Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (ComUSMACV), asked for two U.S. Marine battalions to protect the Da Nang base in South Vietnam’s I Corps. By the end of the month, the Johnson administration agreed to the request. Finally, on 7 March 1965, the U.S. Joint Chiefs sent the long awaited signal to land the MEB.(2)
The following day, 8 March, the first wave of Marine Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/9 at Da Nang. On the beach waiting for the Marines was a host of welcoming South Vietnamese dignitaries and local schoolgirls who bedecked the 9th MEB commander, Brigadier General Frederick J. Karch, with a garland of flowers. Indeed one of the famous newsphotographs of the war shows a dour General Karch with a lei around his neck. Karch later stated “When you have a son in Vietnam and he gets killed, you don’t want a smiling general with flowers around his neck . . . .”(3) By the end of March 1965, the 9th MEB numbered nearly 5,000 Marines at Da Nang, including two infantry battalions, two helicopter squadrons, and supporting units.
Notwithstanding the Marine buildup, the U.S. involvement in Vietnam remained limited. According to the landing directive: “The U.S. Marine force will not, repeat will not, engage in day to day actions against the Viet Cong.”(4)
These constrictive conditions lasted for only a brief period. In April, the President agreed to reinforce and to permit the Marines to engage Communist insurgents. By early May 1965, the Marines had established two additional enclaves, one in Chu Lai, 57 miles south of, and at Phu Bai, 30 miles north of Da Nang.
By this time, the 9th MEB had become the III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF). It consisted of both the 3d Marine Division and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW). In midsummer 1965, in discussions with General Westmoreland, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara agreed to deploy additional U.S. troops both Marine and Army to South Vietnam. In August 1965, the first elements of the 1st Marine Division arrived at Chu Lai eventually followed by the division headquarters.
As the war expanded, command arrangements, like the American commitment, evolved over time without any master plan. Still by the end of 1965, the United States had established the outlines of the complex command structure which, with minor modifications, it would fight the remainder of the war. III MAF headed since June by Major General Lewis W. Walt reported to USMACV (Westmoreland). General Westmoreland exercised this authority through the U.S. chain of command. Formally MACV was a unified command directly subordinate to the U.S. Pacific Command under Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp in Hawaii, but Washington often “cut out Sharp.”(5)
De facto functional and geographic divisions characterized the employment of the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam. The Navy conducted the maritime anti-infiltration Market Time operations, and shared the air campaign against North Vietnam with the Air Force. Two U.S. Army Field Forces, Vietnam, under MACV, were responsible for the American ground war in South Vietnam except for I Corps. In I Corps, often referred to as “Marine land,” III MAF had authority over all U.S. ground tactical units there. The commander of the U.S. Air Force Second Air Division, later the Seventh Air Force, as Westmoreland’s Deputy for Air, coordinated the U.S. air war in South Vietnam and provided air support to U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces.
The relationship between III MAF and the U.S. Air Force component command in South Vietnam was more complex. When in March 1965, General Westmoreland informed CinCPac that he planned to place Marine fixed-wing units under the overall operational control of his Air Force component commander, Admiral Sharp overruled him. In no uncertain terms, in a message probably drafted for him by Marine Brigadier General Keith B. McCutcheon, who later became CG 1st MAW, Sharp told Westmoreland that he would exercise operational control of Marine aviation through III MAF.(6)
While III MAF was under the operational control of MACV, General Walt also reported directly through Marine channels to the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Lieutenant General Victor H. “Brute” Krulak for administrative and logistic support. While not in the operational chain of command, General Krulak was not one to deny General Walt the benefit of his advice. Through the same Marine channels, Krulak was responsible to The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., in Washington, who also had his perceptions on the conduct of the war.(7)
From the Marine perspective, in Vietnam and in both Hawaii and Washington, the III MAF location in the densely populated rice- bowl area south of Da Nang necessitated a pacification strategy.(8)
On the other hand, General Westmoreland contended that the introduction of North Vietnamese units into the south created a new situation and wanted the Marines to engage them. He had doubts about the thrust of the Marine pacification campaign. According to a MACV analysis, the Marines were “stalled a short distance south of Da Nang,” because the ARVN was unable to “fill in behind the Marines in their expanding enclaves.” On the other hand, Westmoreland stated that he, “had no desire to deal so abruptly with General Walt . . . [to] precipitate an interservice imbroglio.”(9)
General Walt also wanted to avoid any confrontation. His basic position was that he would engage the enemy’s main force units, but first he wanted “to have good intelligence.”(10)
Both Generals Krulak in Hawaii and General Greene in Washington supported General Walt. They voiced their concerns directly to General Westmoreland and through the command channels open to them. Although differing in minor details, the two Marine generals in essence advocated increased pressure upon North Vietnam and basically an “ink blot” strategy in South Vietnam, combining civic and military efforts. Generals Greene and Krulak would engage the Communist regulars for the most part only “when a clear opportunity exists to engage the VC Main Force or North Vietnamese units on terms favorable to ourselves.”(11)
While the two Marine generals received a hearing of their views, they enjoyed little success in influencing the MACV strategy or overall U.S policy toward North Vietnam. According to Krulak, Secretary McNamara personally told him that the “ink blot” theory was “a good idea but too slow.” (12)
Despite the differences over pacification and the big unit war between MACV and the Marines, General Westmoreland’s directives were broad enough to include both approaches and in a sense paper over the real distinctions between the two. The Marines were to defend and secure their base areas; to conduct search and destroy missions against VC forces that posed an immediate threat and against distant enemy bases; to conduct clearing operations in contiguous areas; and finally, to execute contingency plans anywhere in Vietnam as directed by ComUSMACV.(13)
Working within these “all-encompassing” objectives, General Walt developed what he called his “balanced strategy.” This consisted of a three-pronged effort employing search and destroy, counter-guerrilla and pacification operations. An integral part of his concept was the Combined Action program, in which III MAF assigned a squad of Marines to a Vietnamese Popular Forces platoon. The premise was that this integration of the Vietnamese militia with the Marines would create a bond of mutual interest between the Americans and local populace. Walt’s initial plan called for III MAF to secure the entire I Corps coastal plain by the end of 1966, once it joined its two largest enclaves, Da Nang and Chu Lai.(14)
This soon proved too optimistic. In the Spring of 1966, an unforeseen internal South Vietnamese political crisis threw the situation in I Corps into chaos. Through a combination of tact and firmness, General Walt managed to keep Marine forces uninvolved. For the Marines, however, their pacification effort south of Da Nang had come to a complete standstill.(15)
Further in July, the North Vietnamese mounted their first offensive into South Vietnam directly through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). In response, the 3d Marine Division deployed north to counter. General Westmoreland, moreover, feared that the North Vietnamese might circumvent the Marine defenses and attempt to open a corridor in the western border area, near the Special Forces base at Khe Sanh. III MAF reluctantly, at the suggestion of Westmoreland, sent a battalion to Khe Sanh “just to retain that little prestige of doing it on your own volition rather than doing it with a shoe in your tail.”(16)
By the end of 1966, the two Marine divisions of III MAF were fighting two separate wars. In the north, the 3d Marine Division fought a more or less conventional campaign while the 1st Marine Division took over the counter-guerrilla operations in the populous south. Although by December 1966, III MAF numbered nearly 70,000 troops, one Marine general summed up the year’s frustrations, ” . . . too much real estate–do not have enough troops.” (17)
A proposed anti-infiltration barrier to be established just south of the DMZ caused further difficulties. Although credited to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, the concept of a defensive `barrier” had many authors. It received only serious consideration in the Spring of 1966 when McNamara raised the question with the Joint Chiefs. In August, a special study group of scientists reported that a unmanned air-supported barrier could be established in a year’s time.(18)
Despite serious objections by other senior commanders, General Westmoreland was not all that opposed to the barrier. Despite doubts about an unmanned barrier, he himself, was thinking of building a manned `strong point obstacle system.” He saw the proposal as an opportunity to institute his own concept.(19)
The Marine command would be at the center of the project. Very early, General Walt made known his unhappiness, contending that a barrier defense `should free Marine forces for operations elsewhere not freeze such forces in a barrier watching defensive role.”(20)
Having little choice, in April 1967, the 3d Marine Division began the erection of the strong point obstacle system (SPOS) along the DMZ. This was dubbed the `McNamara Line,” but just as easily could have been called the “Westmoreland line.” (21)
Forced to fill the gap left in southern I Corps, in April as well, General Westmoreland reinforced the Marines with the Army’s Task Force Oregon, later to become the Americal Division. The MACV commander also had requested an increase in his overall strength, planning to reinforce the Marines with at least two Army divisions. Fearful that these new numbers would necessitate a callup of the Reserves, Washington in the summer of 1967 cut Westmoreland’s request nearly in half.(22)
With this northward deployment of Marine forces, northern I Corps became the focus of Marine concern with little prospect of relief. In April, the Marines had fought an extremely bloody battle with North Vietnamese regulars for the hills overlooking Khe Sanh. While there would be a lull in that sector, the North Vietnamese in the following months would place continuing pressure upon the 3d Marine Division’s fixed positions.(23)
At about this time, the North Vietnamese Politbureau called for `a decisive blow” to `force the U.S. to accept military defeat.”(24) In the fall of 1967, the Communist forces launched the first phase of their campaign. In a reverse of their usual tactics, the North Vietnamese mounted mass assaults lasting over a period of several days. During late September and early October, the Marine outpost at Con Thien in the eastern DMZ sector came under both infantry attack and artillery bombardment. While repulsed at Con Thien, the NVA continued their offensive through November in South Vietnam’s II and III Corps.(25)
In the DMZ sector, construction of the Strong Point system under went modification. The 3d Marine Division had made limited progress. Faced with mounting casualties in November, General Westmoreland approved a major change to his original plans. In essence, the division was to halt all construction until `after the tactical situation had stabilized.” While some work on strong points continued, the situation never stabilized.(26)
Much evidence indicated that the enemy was on the move. Captured enemy documents spoke of major offensives throughout South Vietnam. One in particular mentioned a general offensive and general uprising and directed the coordination of military attacks `with the uprisings of the local population to take over towns and cities.”(27)
General Westmoreland, nevertheless, believed the enemy’s more logical targets to be the DMZ and Khe Sanh. He thought the Communist objectives to be the seizure of the two northern provinces of South Vietnam and to make Khe Sanh the American Dien Bien Phu.(28)
With the Marines strung out along the DMZ in the north, Westmoreland deployed the 1st Air Cavalry Division to I Corps. In mid-January 1968, III MAF was in actuality a small field army, consisting of what amounted to two Army divisions, two reinforced Marine Divisions, a Marine aircraft wing, and supporting forces, numbering well over 100,000. (29)
As General Westmoreland reinforced III MAF in mid-January 1968, he began to have misgivings. General Westmoreland believed that Marine Lieutenant General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., who had relieved General Walt, was “unduly complacent.”(30) Westmoreland worried about what he perceived as the Marine command’s `lack of followup in supervision,” its employment of helicopters, and its generalship. (31)
In mid-January 1968, the MACV commander decided to establish a new forward headquarters to control the war in the northern two provinces under his deputy, General Creighton W. Abrams.(32)Although both General Cushman at Da Nang and General Krulak in Hawaii had their suspicions about Westmoreland’s motivations, the two outwardly acknowledged the validity of the MACV commander to have his forward headquarters where, he believed the decisive battle of the war was about to begin.(33)
On 20 January, the North Vietnamese had attacked the Khe Sanh hill outposts and subjected the main base to both ground and artillery assaults the following day. They, however, had neither the capability nor possibly the intention to mount a full out attack. Instead, the Communist forces launched over the Tet holidays an offensive unparalleled in the Vietnam War in its sweep and intensity. From 29-31 January, the Communist forces struck through the length and breadth of South Vietnam– everywhere that is except at Khe Sanh.
In I Corps, the enemy hit all of the major population centers including Da Nang and Hue. U.S. and Vietnamese troops successfully repulsed all of these attacks except at Hue. It took 26 days of fierce, determined, house-to-house fighting for U.S. Marines and soldiers as well as ARVN troops to rid the city of the invaders.
At Da Nang, the delicate issue over command relations once more arose complicated by events near Khe Sanh. While the 1st Marine Division at Da Nang during Tet had thrown back with heavy losses the first enemy assaults, on 5-6 February, North Vietnamese battalions from the 2d NVA Division had penetrated the Da Nang perimeter.(34) At the same time, North Vietnamese troops overran the Special Forces Camp at Lang Vei, south of Khe Sanh.
These two events led to a strange confrontation with General Westmoreland. Believing that III MAF should have relieved Lang Vei, General Westmoreland called a special meeting on 7 February, where he became even more upset as he learned about the situation at Da Nang.(35)
Apparently, however, General Cushman was unaware of Westmoreland’s unhappiness. His view was that the purpose of the meeting was to obtain Westmoreland’s approval for the reinforcement of Da Nang. In any event the Marines at Da Nang received the reinforcements. As far as Lang Vei, Cushman later related that he was “criticized because I didn’t send the whole outfit from Khe Sanh down there [Lang Vei], but I decided . . . that it wasn’t the thing to do.” Intelligence indicated that the NVA would attempt to ambush any relief force.(36)
By the end of February and the beginning of March with the securing of the city of Hue, the enemy’s countrywide Tet offensive had about spent its initial bolt. Still while the enemy offensive failed, public opinion polls in the United States revealed a continuing disillusionment upon the part of the American public. President Johnson also decided upon a change of course. On 31 March, President Johnson announced his decision not to stand for reelection, to restrict the bombing campaign over North Vietnam, and to authorize only a limited reinforcement of American troops to Vietnam.(37)
Notwithstanding the mood in Washington and ready to begin his counter-offensive, General Westmoreland altered again his command arrangements in I Corps. On 10 March, he disestablished his MACV (Forward) Headquarters. He replaced it with Provisional Corps whose commander, an Army lieutenant general, was directly subordinate to III MAF. At the same time, however, General Westmoreland designated the 7th Air Force commander, as “single manager for air” and gave him “mission direction” over Marine fixed-wing aircraft. Despite Marine Corps protests, Westmoreland’s order prevailed. While obtaining major modifications to the ruling, Marine air in Vietnam would operate under the single manager system to the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.(38)
With the end of the enemy offensive, the allies planned to breakout from Khe Sanh. While North Vietnamese ground forces did not follow up on their Lang Vei attack, they incessantly probed the hill outposts and perimeter. Employing innovative air tactics, Marine and Air Force transport and helicopter pilots kept the base supplied. Finally on 14 April, the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division reinforced by a Marine regiment relieved the base. On 14 April, the 77 day “siege” of Khe Sanh was over.(39)
The North Vietnamese were far from defeated, however, and in early May launched their “mini-Tet offensive”. Except for increased fighting in the capital city of Saigon, the North Vietnamese May offensive was largely limited to attacks by fire at allied bases and acts of terrorism in the hamlets and villages. In I Corps, the major attempt was to cut the supply lines in the DMZ sector which led to very bloody fighting, but the defeat again of the North Vietnamese forces.(40)
By mid-1968, the allied forces were on the offensive throughout I Corps. The closing out of the base at Khe Sanh in July 1968 permitted the 3d Marine Division under Major General Raymond G. Davis to launch a series of mobile firebase operations ranging the length and breadth of the northern border area. In one of its most impressive operations, Dewey Canyon, the division crossed the Laotian border in 1969 and destroyed an enemy supply bastion.(41)
From the outset of his Presidency in January 1969, Richard M. Nixon made as one of his chief aims the reduction of U.S. troop levels in South Vietnam. At his behest, the Joint Chiefs of Staff developed a plan for the removal of U.S. forces in six successive stages. The Marine Corps Commandant General Leonard F. Chapman remembered, “I felt, and I think that most Marines felt, that the time had come to get out of Vietnam.” The first Marine redeployments started in mid-1969, and by the end of the year the entire 3d Marine Division had departed.
The end was in sight for the Marine or at least the III MAF involvement in Vietnam. By the end of March 1970, the number of Marines in III MAF numbered slightly more than 42,000, a reduction of over half since the fall of 1969. With the reduced number of Marines in I Corps, III MAF reversed roles with XXIV Corps and now became a subordinate component of that command. On 14 April, III MAF shifted its headquarters to Okinawa, leaving the 13,000 3d Marine Amphibious Brigade in Vietnam.(42) At the end of June, the 3d MAB also departed. For all practical purposes, the Vietnam War reverted to that of an advisory effort for the Marines, except for the temporary deployment of Marine aviation units in 1972. Finally in April 1975, the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade would enter Saigon to evacuate the last Americans from the American Embassy to ships of the Seventh Fleet.
For the Marine Corps, like the nation at large and especially for the two Vietnams, the Communist “Tet Offensive” of 1968, including the Mini-Tets later in 1968, was the defining period of the war. While Tet was a military setback for the Communist forces with the decimation of their Viet Cong and many of their political cadre in the South, the American government, people, and military establishment realized that there was no quick solution to this war. Both the Americans and the North Vietnamese reassessed their strategy. After the last mini-Tet in the fall of 1968, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong scaled down their large unit war, both out of weakness and the expectation that the Americans would eventually withdraw. On the other hand, the United States determined the limits of its commitment and began to turn over more of the war to the South Vietnamese.
For the Marine Corps, as for all the U.S. Services, the post Tet period was a “Time of Troubles” and was in part a motivating factor to be among the first to redeploy its units from Vietnam. By mid-1968, marijuana use had reached in the words of one Marine Corps historian, “epidemic” proportions.(43) Racial tension increased as young Blacks impatient with vestiges of discrimination forcibly protested. In an almost unprecedented occurrence in their history, Marines attempted to murder their own officers and noncommissioned officers using grenades in so- called fragging incidents. The 1st Marine Division reported 47 such cases in which resulted in one dead and 47 wounded.(44) While the Marine Command in Vietnam operated at a high level of operational effectiveness until its final departure in May of 1971, it too suffered from the stresses that the long unpopular war had imposed on both the American people and their Armed Forces. In a sense by being among the first to redeploy, the Marines escaped the worst aspects of the indiscipline and organizational breakdown that plagued the residual American forces in Vietnam.
Would the Marine Corps pacification approach have made a difference? This is one of the unanswered questions of the war. My suspicion is that it probably would not have, but might have resulted in fewer American casualties. In reality, the Marine Corps never had an opportunity to practice what it preached. For the most part, the 3d Marine Division in the thinly populated DMZ was engaged in a large unit border war. The 1st Marine Division through 1968 was spread too thin to pacify the large Da Nang and Phu Bai sectors. After 1968, however, according to American pacification statistics, the Da Nang sector began to show a diminishing of Communist strength and influence leading one III MAF commander, Lieutenant General Herman Nickerson, to boast in 1970 that the Viet Cong “had lost the people war.” His successor, however, Lieutenant General McCutcheon was more skeptical and observed that despite “improved ratings in the Hamlet Evaluation system,” most of the population was “apathetic” in relation to either the government forces or Communists and considered the American Vietnamization program as “an euphemism for U.S. withdrawal.” (45) In the end, U.S. forces would leave and it would be up to the South Vietnamese to save their own country.
1. Jack Shulimson and Lt Col John J. Cahill, “U.S. Marines in Vietnam, Jan-Jun65” (unpublished Ms in MCHC). Back to text
2. Jack Shulimson and Major Charles M. Johnson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1965, The Landing and the Buildup, (Washington, 1978) pp. 7-9, hereafter Shulimson and Johnson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1965. Back to text
3. Ibid., p. 12. Back to text
4. JCS msg to CinCPac, dtd 6Mar65 as cited in “Marine Combat Units Go to Da Nang,” in Department of Defense, United States- Vietnam Relations 1965-1967, 12 Bks, (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1971) Bk IV, Sec IV-C-4, p. 1.Back to text
5. Mil HistBr, Office of the Secretary, Joint Staff MACV, Command History, 1967, Adm Ulysses S. Grant Sharp, USN, CinCPac, and Gen William C. Westmoreland, USA, ComUSMACV, Report on the War in Vietnam (As of 30 Jun 1968) (Washington: GPO, 1968), pp. ii-iii, 79, 156, 291-4, hereafter Sharp and Westmoreland, Report on the War; Gen William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co, Inc., 1976), passim, hereafter Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports; Dr. Wayne Thompson, Air Force History Support Office, Comments on 1968 draft chapter, dtd 23Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File, MCHC). Back to text
6. LtGen Keith B. McCutcheon, “Marine Aviation in Vietnam, 1962- 70,” Naval Review 1971 (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1971), pp. 122-55, pp. 134-36, hereafter McCutcheon, “Marine Aviation in Vietnam, 1962-70;” Gen Keith B. McCutcheon intvw, Apr 1971, (Oral HistColl, MCHC) pp. 1-4, 6; Shulimson and Johnson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1965, pp. 151-2; Jack Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, An Expanding War, 1966, (Washington: Hist&MusDiv, HQMC 1982), pp. 268-9, hereafter Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966. Back to text
7. For relations between MACV, FMFPac, CMC, and III MAF, see Shulimson and Johnson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1965; Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966; and Maj Gary F. Telfer, LtCol Lane Rogers, and Victor K. Fleming, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1967: Fighting the North Vietnamese Army, (Washington: Hist&MusDiv, HQMC, 1984), passim., hereafter Telfer, Rogers, and Fleming, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1967. Back to text
8. Quoted in Capt William D. Parker, U.S. Marine Corps Civic Action Efforts in Vietnam, April 1966-April 1967 (Washington, 1970), p. 2. Back to text
9. Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, p. 13; BGen William E. DePuy, ACS J-3 memo to Gen Westmoreland, dtd 15Nov65, Subj: The Situation in I Corps (Gen William E DePuy Papers, Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pa); Gen William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (Garden City, N.Y., 1976), pp. 165-66. Back to text
10. Marine Bgen Edwin H. Simmons quoted in Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, p. 14. General Simmons as a colonel in 1965-1966 served as the III MAF G-3 or operations officer. Back to text
11. For examples of General Greene’s views see: CMC, Memorandum For the Record, dtd 22Jul65, Subj: Record of Conference on Southeast Asia held at White House and CMC, Memorandum for the Record, dtd 7Nov66, Subj: I Corps Estimate (“Force Requirements and Long Range Estimates for I Corps, RVN” in Operations in Vietnam Binder, General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., Papers, MCHC). For examples of General Krulak’s views see: “A Strategic Appraisal” Dec65, Box 4 (LtGen Victor H. Krulak Papers, MCHC); CGFMFPac, Pacific Opns. See also Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, pp. 11-14; Krulak, First to Fight, An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps (Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 1984), pp. 186 and 197-203, hereafter Krulak, First to Fight. Back to text
12. General Greene is quoted in Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, p. 14. See various CMC, Memorandum for the Record in Operations in Vietnam Binder, Greene Papers relative to his efforts via the Joint Chiefs and even the President to present the Marine Corps perspective. For General Krulak, see Krulak ltr to Hon Robert S. McNamara, dtd 11Nov65, Box 4, Krulak Papers and Krulak, First to Fight, p. 186. Interestingly enough, former Secretary McNamara makes no mention of this letter or these conversations with Krulak in his memoir, Robert S. McNamara with Brian VanDeMark, In Retrospect, The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (New York: Time Books, Random House, Inc., 1995), passim. Back to text
13. ComUSMACV ltr to CGIIIMAF, dtd 21Nov65, Subj: Letter of Instruction, encl 2, III MAF ComdC, Nov65. Back to text
14. Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, p. 16. Back to text
15. Ibid., pp. 73-91. Back to text
16. Ibid., pp. 139-198. Back to text
17. Bgen Lowell E. English intvw by FMFPac, n.d. (No 402, OralHistColl, Hist&MusDiv, HQMC) Back to text
18. For this and following paragraphs on the barrier see Jack Shulimson, “The 3d Marine Division and the Barrier,” MS, Chapter 2 of Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1968. There were at least three barrier proposals before the American intervention in 1965. Back to text
19. ComUSMACV msg to DCPG, dtd 25Sep66, as quoted in Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, p. 316. Back to text
20. LtGen Lewis W. Walt ltr to LtGen H. W. Buse, Jr., dtd 29 Dec66, as quoted in Ibid., p. 318. Back to text
21. Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, pp. 314-18; Telfer, Rogers, Fleming, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1967, 86-94. Back to text
22. The Pentagon Papers, The Defense Department History of United States Decisionmaking on Vietnam, The Senator Gravel Edition, 4 vols (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975), vol 4., pp. 285-89 hereafter, The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition; MACV ComdHist, 1967, pp. 143-49; Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports, pp. 227-230; Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point, Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969 (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1971), pp. 369-71, hereafter Johnson, The Vantage Point. Back to text
23. Capt Moyers S. Shore, II, The Battle for Khe Sanh (Washington, 1969), p. 17, hereafter Shore, The Battle for Khe Sanh. Back to text
24. War Experiences Recapitulation Committee of the High-Level Military Institute, The Anti-U.S. Resistance War for National Salvation, trans by Foreign Broadcast Information Service (Hanoi: People’s Army Publishing Houses, 1980) [Joint Publications Research Service No. 80968, dtd 3Jun82], pp. 100-01. For speculation about North Vietnamese internal differences, see Pike, `The Other Side;” P.J. Honey, `The Offensive, Hanoi’s Change of Strategy,” clipping from China News Analysis, dtd 22Mar68 and V. Zorza, `Hints from Hanoi,” Clipping Washington Post, dtd 10Oct68 (A&S Files, Indochina Archives); Donald Oberdorfer, Tet! (Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1971), pp. 42-46, hereafter Oberdorfer, Tet!; Col Dave R. Palmer, Summons of the Trumpet, (San Rafael, California: Presidio Press, 1978), 163-7; MACV ComdHist 1967, p. 74. Back to text
25. CGFMFPac msgs to CGIIIMAF, dtd 23 and 27Sep67 (HQMC Msg File); MACV ComdHist, 1967, pp. 75, 98. Back to text
26. For a detailed look at the barrier see Shulimson, “The 3d Marine Division and the Barrier”, draft chapter, “U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1968” MS. Back to text
27. `Dissemination of Order for the General Offensive and the General Uprising,” Trans of enemy document, dtd 12Nov67 (A&S Files, Indochina Archives). See also MACV ComdHist, 1968, pp. 881-3. Back to text
28. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports, p. 316. Back to text
29. III MAF ComdC, Jan 1968. Back to text
30. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports, p. 342. Back to text
31. Bgen John R. Chaisson, Diary, entries for 26-28 Jan68 (Chaisson Papers). For relationship between Cushman and Westmoreland, see Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports, p. 342; Cushman intvw, 82, passim. Back to text
32-44 Footnotes missing in original text
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