By Shawn P. Callahan, Marine Corps History Division
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Additional resources for Close Air Support and the Battle for Khe Sanh
While the Marine Corps enjoyed unity of command and a common culture stressing the use of air power to support ground operations, the Air Force’s establishment The Navy/Marine Corps doctrine, organization, and the equipment employed in close tactical air support of ground forces are ob- 36 as a separate service led to a heavy concentration on strategic missions at the expense of tactical support for ground forces. Inter-service disputes about the proper use of air power between the Army and the Air Force, and the Air Force’s unanticipated demands in Vietnam heightened its interest in expanding it close air support ca- pability, but this effort was a reluctant one.
Required to reduce the NVA defenses is apparent. the attack was continued in a two-battalion operation the next day to dislodge any nVA that might have remained in the twin hill complex of 881n and 881s further to the west. unfortunately, the nVA were apparently equally as determined to hold these hills as they had been on hill 861, and the Marines encountered an interlocking network of defenses. the Marines had prepared for the contingency by preplanning another massive onslaught of supporting arms, but on the first day even the 1,685 artillery rounds fired and 323,750 pounds of ordnance delivered by 118 air sorties could not crack the nVA defenses.
The strategic tension between (FOB-3), these soldiers began their operations Westmoreland and Walt would lead to problems in Khe Sanh village but eventually moved their later on, but ultimately COMUSMACV would get compound into an annex of KSCB. This left only his way as the senior officer. a small MACV advisory group in the village itself Human intelligence and smaller-scale patrols until in February 1967, the Marines sent Comcontinued to indicate that a growing NVA pres- bined Action Platoon “O” (CAP Oscar) to the ence in the area was menacing Khe Sanh, and in village.
Close Air Support and the Battle for Khe Sanh by Shawn P. Callahan, Marine Corps History Division