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

did not micromanage tactical control over all this air - thus there was decentralization
even though there was only one over all tactical air commander.
In an amphibious operation of large scope there is one Tactical Air Control
Center - at the Joint Expeditionary Force level. In view of the size of the
operation, however, that Center does not in fact attempt to exercise tactical air
control; it serves essentially as a means of making general distributions of
aircraft, from those available, to the various air defenses, air support, and related
missions, maintaining a certain number in reserve against unexpected
eventualities. The subordinate attack forces each have a Tactical Air Direction
Center [at corps level], under whose direct control all assigned aircraft operate...
SThis Tactical Air Direction Center should in fact exercise control over the
delivery of air support within the corps.33
The fact that Marines viewed air support doctrine and land operations through
the prism of amphibious warfare, a doctrine neither unadapted nor unsuited to
expeditionary or land warfare, as Marine experience had shown through Okinawa and
then the Inchon/Seoul and Wonsan/Chosin Reservoir campaigns, is again shown in the
following excerpt from the same document.
The present arrangement in Korea [the Army/AF JOC system] fails to exploit any
of the desirable aspects of decentralization. The tactical air control function is
discharged from the top-most level in operations which extend over a front of one
hundred and forty (140) miles. Such an attempt at centralization would be
unthinkable in an amphibious operation. You will recall that at Okinawa where the
landing attack initially extended over a front of about fifteen (15) miles there was
a Tactical Air Direction Center for each of the two (2) Attack Forces, and later
one for each of the two (2) corps after they were established ashore.34
One reason Marines did not trust over-centralization of CAS is summed up in
these words, "The statement that, 'in general, the headquarters of an Army is no more
33 1MarDiv, "Report of CAS," Letter to CG Fleet Marine Force Pacific, Lt. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, from
CG 1MarDiv, Maj. Gen. Gerald C. Thomas, 21 July 1951, page 4.
34 Ibid., page 5.


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 April 19, 2015.