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

hours, the most critical hours of the day because this was when the ground assault was
usually launched, were only filled 20 percent of the time.7
The lack of a firm assurance that sorties in any number would be furnished in
reply to stated requests contributed largely to the unsatisfactory nature of close
air support for the 1st Marine Division. As a general rule, requests were not
replied to, either affirmatively or negatively, in sufficient time for alternate
planning. This meant that to be absolutely safe, the division was required to plan
its operations without dependence upon air in any degree . . . Prediction of
requirements is utilized extensively in the Marine-Navy close air support process.
Requests for air are formulated sufficiently in advance to enable the air
commander to best meet varying needs. However, when the air plan is firm,
confirmation is supplied to affected ground units, in time to modify the ground
8
plan if necessary....
Allen R. Millett said the following of this aspect of the Marine/Navy system:
The Navy-Marine Corps system for both air requests and air direction
stressed rapid response and decentralized management of close air-support
sorties. After evaluating their wartime experience, principally on Luzon, Iwo Jima,
and Okinawa, by centralizing requests and direction in the battalion level Tactical
Air Control Parties (TACP). Marine aviators and ground officers created a system
that ensured that close air-support strikes would arrive within minutes . . . The
significant difference [compared to the Army/AF system] came in the degree of
influence a ground force commander could exercise in requesting and
conducting close air-support strikes....
... [T]he Navy and the Marine Corps had a quick-response close air-
support system. By eliminating the requirement that intervening ground force
headquarters process requests, and by placing aircraft on station on regular
schedules, the naval system ensured the strikes arrived only a few minutes after
the FAC [Forward Air Controller] made his request. The short response time -
supplemented by air direction skill and strike accuracy - constituted effective
close air support for Marines.9
7 Andrew Geer, New Breed, 186. "Many of the best air targets are fleeting." 1MarDiv, "Report of CAS,"
"Observations on CAS for 1MarDiv during period 5-23 September 1951," "Enclosure 1," page 3; U. S.
Pacific Fleet, "Third Interim Evaluation Report," 9-14; "Close Air Support Control in Korea: an Interview
with Major William T. Porter, USMC, 12 October 1951" (Alfred M. Gray Research Center, Quantico, VA:
Archives and Special Collections, Marine Corps Korean War document Collection, interview transcript
folder dated 15 Dec 1951, copy in my posession): 4. Response time during the battles and campaigns of
1950 was usually within "a few minutes to half an hour." - U. S. Marine Corps, "MCBS Vol.1," IV-B-13.
8 U. S. Pacific Fleet, "Third Interim Evaluation Report," 9-17.
9 Allan R. Millett, " Korea, 1950-1953," 351-353 emphasis added.

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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 October 24, 2014.