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

control of aircraft assigned that strike specifically, and he would have this control
through his TACP (Tactical Air Control Party), wherein resided his FAC (Forward Air
Controller). TACPs were assigned in Marine doctrine from the battalion level and up
(the lowest echelon that could receive permanent assignment of a TACP under the
Army/AF system was the division). This meant that under the Marine system a battalion
commander could get on the line and request air directly from the TACC (Tactical Air
Control Center) or TADC (Tactical Air Direction Center -- a subordinate part of the
TACC located at Corps level) without having to go through intervening levels of
In the words of the "Marine Corps Board Study: Evaluation of the Influence of
Marine Corps Forces on the Course of the Korean War," this was as follows:
Marine Corps and Navy air units are trained to conduct tactical air
supporting operations under a single force commander who commands or
controls all forces in a prescribed area. These operations involve gaining air
superiority, general and close air support, observation, reconnaissance, liaison,
air transport, and general utility and miscellaneous air operations including
transport of troops in helicopters.
The system for tactical air support involves positive control of all air
operations through a central control agency at the headquarters of the force
commander and subordinate control agencies, as integral parts of subordinate
units down to and including Marine battalions. The system further provides for a
request procedure whereby a unit commander of a battalion or larger unit may
request air support direct by radio to the highest control agency and for a control
procedure whereby the requesting unit commander controls the aircraft
dispatched in answer to his request.29
Under the Air Force system, a battalion commander would have to request the
air up through his chain of command the day before to regiment, division, corps, and
28 Andrew Geer, New Breed, 184; U. S. Marine Corps, "MCBS Vol. 1," IV-B-8; Allan R. Millett, " Korea,
1950-1953," 350. "Ground commander" here means the battalion, regimental, or division commander had
command of his FACs and through them, the plane making the strike. This did not mean ground
commanders allocated overall air applications or commanded the Marine air wing.
29 U. S. Marine Corps, "MCBS Vol. 1," IV-B-3 and B-4 (emphasis added).


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 July 10, 2014.