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

[Concluded:] That whenever possible, a Marine force, operating in an extended
land campaign as part of a field army, capitalize on its special skills in employing
naval gunfire support, the Navy-Marine system of close air support, and the
amphibious maneuver, by being assigned a zone of action near the sea . . . That
the Marines' value as an amphibious force of the mobile fleet or as a mobile
theater reserve force, be compared to their value as an ordinary component of a
ground army.54
In other words, the Navy and Marine Corps saw in the use of Marines as troops in
an extended land campaign what economists call an "opportunity cost." Though the
Marines made a very efficient and effective element within a land army as another
infantry division on the line, this cost the opportunity to use the Marines to greater effect
on the overall course of the war. Operation Wrangler was a perfect example (see
chapter summarizing the Marine's operations of 1951 prior to the Fall Offensive). So,
too, was the "Kojo Operation" mentioned by Thomas (see page thirty-five) in which the
1st Mar Div and the 8th ROK Div would make an amphibious hook around the east end
of the NKPA defensive line and destroy it from the rear and flanks.
The comparatively narrow geographical zone of action later presented by Vietnam
caused proximity to the sea to be much less of a problem. Marine experience in Korea
doubtless had an influence on Marine Corps preferences and policies in Vietnam. For
example, important Marine generals in Vietnam, such as Lt Gen Lewis Walt and Lt Gen
Victor H. Krulak, had served with the 1st Mar Div in Korea. Walt specifically had
commanded a Marine regiment during the stalemate phase on the Jamestown Line in
west Korea, and Krulak had been General Thomas's chief of staff throughout 1951.
Marines in Vietnam also had the kind of air support they wanted and depended upon.
And even though the Marine preferences for the way it was employed in
September 1951 were not followed and the division had inadequate CAS and little NGF,
54 U. S. Pacific Fleet, "Third Interim Evaluation Report," 15-6.


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 December 1, 2015.