was by far more devastating to enemy morale; it more effectively softened a position in
minutes than could hours of preparatory artillery fire.
S. L. A. Marshall interviewed many Marines during the Chosin Reservoir
operation. He concluded the following (never published before) of the Marine CAS
system in regards to both friendly and enemy morale:
Line companies in the attack noted that artillery fire, even when generously used,
and accurately delivered upon the target area, was not a marked depressant to
CCF fire except at the moment when the shells were impacting. As these fires
lifted, CCF automatic weapons immediately resumed the engagement. With the
air strike, however, the shock to morale was noticeable and immediate. The
position would go silent, even though CCF had not been eliminated by the
bombing and strafing. From the examination of repeated instances of this
character, it is even possible to hypothesize that the shock interval, in which the
defender is unable so to command himself as to make use of such weapons as
remain available to his hand, varies between 12 and 25 minutes, seemingly
according to the extent of material damage and disarrangement done the
defender. The transcendent morale value deriving from close air support is best
explained in the words of one battalion commander in 1st Mar Div: "An air strike
puts new zest and determination in our line in a way that no amount of artillery
fire delivered before our eyes could do. The men see our pilots; they watch them
come in low and take terrible chances. It makes them want to go forward again.
The effect is as if they were drawn by a magnet ...."17
"Special loading," is another aspect of CAS that is important to accuracy. Under
the JOC system, planes were loaded mostly for armed reconnaissance missions. But as
one Marine CAS expert observed in 1951, it was more effective on a ground target to
have a single plane loaded with the proper armament for CAS than to have many
planes loaded for armed reconnaissance. Under JOC, an Air Force officer far from the
scene of the combat decided on armament to hit a ground target, not the ground
commander requesting the strike. Planes on strip alert or aboard a carrier could be
special loaded for an air strike within minutes, and be airborne to carry it out with the
17 Ibid., IV-C-7.
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 30, 2015.