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

have acquired a lot of experience. My recent action, as you know, has been far
from hasty [in regards to pushing the issue of inadequate CAS with the FAF (Fifth
Air Force) and EUSAK (Eighth U. S. Army in Korea) and CINCFEC (Commander
in Chief Far East Command)] . . . I know what I am talking about when I say that
a great percentage of those casualties could have been saved by adequate and
timely close air support.26
The effects of artillery compared to CAS were further obviated by the fact that
there was usually a pattern to it. "Enemy prisoners indicated that they had been able to
march into attack positions through artillery fire simply by studying its pattern." An
airstrike was not predictable if done right and quickly, and napalm covered a wide
enough area in its blast that no troops could plot any avoidable pattern.27
Centralization on the highest level and decentralization at any lower level (down
to the battalion) (centralized command of CAS, and coordination was at the battalion
level with the Marines, as opposed to division or even corps level in the Army, so even
though command of an air strike was under a single officer of the battalion Tactical Air
Control Party, there was decentralization in that units as low as the battalion could make
these decisions instead of only one single operations center for an entire corps or army
like the JOC of the Air Force). This meant that Marine CAS would be provided by
Marine "planes under the direct control of the ground commander which could not be
diverted to other employment by a higher echelon." In other words, "Over-all control of
aircraft is highly centralized, but control of aircraft employed on close support missions
is decentralized to the maximum extent." So while the TACC (Tactical Air Control
Center - the highest echelon of tactical air control) would be in control of all tactical
support aircraft in general, the ground commander requesting an air strike would be in
26 Letter to CG Fleet Marine Force Pacific, Lt. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, from CG 1MarDiv, Maj. Gen.
Gerald C. Thomas, undated, page, 3.
27 Headquarters, Eighth U. S. Army Korea, "Enemy Tactics," 17.


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. Accessed January 22, 2017.