Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War

Marines saw this system as unique to themselves, and throughout the Korean
War, aside from U. S. X Corps, they were right. The Marine Corps and the Navy, as
opposed to the Army and the Air Force, "had different views on the relative contribution
to ground operations of interdiction strikes and close air-support missions, views that
embodied substantial differences in doctrine, organization, training, equipment, and
tactical techniques."1
These differences caused great interservice friction during the Korean War.
The basic concept for the Marine Corps-Navy doctrine and technique for tactical
air operations in support of ground forces is that the air operations are closely
integrated with and a primary supporting arm for ground force operations in the
assault and seizure of physical objectives. The plans for supporting air
operations are determined in large measure by the requirements of the ground
forces being supported. This is particularly true of the plans for close air support.
The assistance rendered by air is not only general, but is also direct; it is made
reliably available and is closely integrated with fire and maneuver of the ground
forces. The primary measure for the effectiveness of tactical air support is the
amount of direct assistance provided to the ground force in executing its scheme
of maneuver and seizing its objective. All air-ground operations are controlled by
a single commander.2
In other words, air was to support infantry and not the reverse. Unlike some of
the other services and other military forces in the world, the Marine Corps did not see
infantry as a supporting arm. It was the striking arm and the backbone of the Corps. The
1 Allen R. Millett, "Chapter Eight: Korea, 1950-1953," in Benjamin Franklin Cooling ed., Case Studies in
the Development of Close Air Support (Washington, D. C.: Office of Air Force History, U.S. Air Force,
1990): 345; "1MarDiv 'Report of CAS," Letter of CG (commanding general) 1MarDiv, MajGen Gerald C.
Thomas, to CG Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, LtGen Lemuel C. Shepherd, dated 25 August 1951, (Alfred
M. Gray Research Center, Quantico, VA: Archives and Special Collections, Marine Corps Historical
Center Oral History Collection, Marine Corps Korean War document CD collection, 1973): CD #15 of 25.
General Almond tried to adopt this system for all of X Corps, but once that corps became part of Eighth
Army, the Air Force system was forced on everybody despite Almond's and other Army officers' protests.
The Marine Corps, too, was forced to route all CAS requests through the Air Force JOC. An Army study
on CAS concluded that the "1MarDiv has achieved higher effectiveness in the tactical employment of air
support than has any other unit in Korea. . . the Marines' success is due to their organization, system and
training."
2 U. S. Marine Corps, "Marine Corps Board Study: Evaluation of the Influence Of Marine Corps Forces on
the Course of the Korean War, Vol. 1," (Quantico, VA: Alfred M. Gray Research Center Archives): IV-B-4.
Emphasis added. Hereafter the preceding document will be cited as: "MCBS Vol. 1."

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Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed July 31, 2014.