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

front lines in the several perimeters came abundant testimony that they were so
impressed with the power and flexibility of their supporting fires as to be
"absolutely confident" of turning back the CCF attack. In vouching for the morale
effect upon themselves of these systemized fires, they spoke as individuals who
had survived an ordeal rather than as Marines putting in a plug for their own
Marshall went on to describe the method by which Fire Support Coordination
worked among the Marines.
Under the system used in lstMarDiv, the platoon and company leaders
are relieved of the complex task of plotting, planning and then directing
supporting fires by the heavier weapons, in preparation for, and during the
course of, the fire fight. This devolves upon the SAC (Supporting Arms Center)
which operates at battalion [and regimental] level[s]. Essentially the SAC
coordinator is a sort of assistant S-3 in charge of the plan of fires, both in the
attack and on defense. In the normal situation, he operates at the battalion OP;
when in perimeter and defending all around circle, his station is at the CP, or the
S-3 tent. During the organization of a defense, he accompanies the S-3 on initial
reconnaissance; this gives him opportunity to familiarize himself with the front,
spot the HMG's, and take note of the approaches which must be covered by
artillery and mortar fire. When the reconnaissance is completed, the front lines
are plotted on a situation map. The mortar and artillery officers are then told what
fires to register. The actual conduct of fire is done by their FO's; when the
registrations are completed, this information is relayed to the SAC and the
concentrations are plotted on an overlay to the situation map. Also, when patrols
move out, the SAC keeps their positions plotted so that supporting fires can be
loosed quickly [and so that supporting fires do not hit the patrol]. The SAC
coordinator ties in closely to the Tactical Air Control Center so that if there are
targets on which his weapons are working that would also be suitable for attack
by air, coordination will be immediate and complete.
lstMarDiv's battalions attribute a great measure of the effectiveness and
total organization of their supporting fires to the perfecting of the SAC's
operations in the course of the campaign in Korea.
The enthusiasm for the technique is general in all ranks and particularly
among the line companies.10
In addition to his splendid description of the system of Fire Support Coordination
among the Marines on the defense, Marshall also described it in the attack.
The main characteristic of the 1st Mar Div in the attack is the care with
which it elaborates the employment and synchronization of all weapons which


9 Ibid., IV-C-4 through IV-C-5.
10 Ibid., IV-C-4 through IV-C-6.

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 20, 2017.