Oberdorfer, p. 261, See also Palmer, p. 254, and Karnow, p. 534. The Tet Offensive was an operation that the North Vietnamese conducted that called for a simultaneous attack on every major city in South Vietnam; its shock value would prove to be a major blow to American support for the war at home even though it was a great tactical victory for Allied forces. The MACV Combined Intelligence Center, on the other hand, maintained that the number could be no more than 300,000. This would require a less aggressive strategy that was designed to protect the population of South Vietnam. After the launch of the Tet Offensive campaign on January 30, 1968, in South Vietnam, a series of battles were fought between the southern Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the Northern People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN). Tran Van Tra, PAVN's Department of warfare, 124th/TGi, document 1.103 (11-2-1969), Ang, p. 351. Popular CBS anchor Walter Cronkite stated during a news broadcast on February 27, "We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds" and added that, "we are mired in a stalemate that could only be ended by negotiation, not victory. Others: 4,124 killed19,295 wounded604 missingTotal casualties in Phase One:45,820 casualties (9,078 killed, 35,212 wounded, 1,530 missing)[7][8]123 aircraft destroyed, 214 heavily damaged and 215 medium damaged[9], The Tet Offensive (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Tết Mậu Thân 1968), or officially called The General Offensive and Uprising of Tet Mau Than 1968 (Vietnamese: Tổng Tiến công và Nổi dậy Tết Mậu Thân 1968) was a major escalation and one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War. Westmoreland himself clai… Nationalism and Imperialism in South and Southeast Asia: Essays Presented to Damodar R. SarDesai. [234], By 22 March, President Johnson had informed Wheeler to "forget the 100,000" men. According to ARVN Colonel Hoang Ngoc Lung the answer lay with the allied intelligence methodology itself, which tended to estimate the enemy's probable course of action based upon their capabilities, not their intentions. The role of the U.S. media in fostering and furthering this belief in North Vietnamese strength during that period has been a topic of study and argument, and the Tet Offensive certainly produced some of the most enduring images of the war. Journalists, political figures, and religious leaders alike—even the militant Buddhists—professed confidence in the government's plans. The first article that was insightful of the time before the Tet Offensive came from a newspaper called The Tuscalossa News in August 5, 1964 which is a day after a big attack on American Navy by the North Vietnamese. General Fillmore K. Mearns would describe this as "a classic example of a properly executed ambush." [223] The divided group's final report, issued on 4 March, "failed to seize the opportunity to change directions... and seemed to recommend that we continue rather haltingly down the same road."[224]. Tổng công kích, Tổng nổi dậy Tết mậu thân 1968 (Tet Offensive 1968) – ARVN's Đại Nam publishing in 1969, p. 35. Doyle, Lipsman and Maitland, pp. By November this total reached 3,823 and, in December, 6,315. General Westmoreland is called "boastful" and Johnson is confused 'as the man in the moon.' Routledge; 1 edition (September 7, 2016). Two interpretations of the offensive's goals have continued to dominate Western historical debate. Significantly, during this series of actions only North Vietnamese forces participated and targets were military in nature, with less concise attacks against city-targets. If Westmoreland had a grasp of the potential for danger, he did not communicate it very well to others. [206] On 28 February Robert S. McNamara, the Secretary of Defense who had overseen the escalation of the war in 1964–1965, but who had eventually turned against it, stepped down from office. [23] According to MACV's chief of intelligence, General Joseph A. McChristian, the new figures "would create a political bombshell", since they were positive proof that the North Vietnamese "had the capability and the will to continue a protracted war of attrition". The New York Times article had been released just two days before the Democratic Party's New Hampshire primary, where the President suffered an unexpected setback in the election, finishing barely ahead of Senator Eugene McCarthy. [207], During the first two weeks of February, Generals Westmoreland and Wheeler communicated as to the necessity for reinforcements or troop increases in Vietnam. The Tet Offensive consisted of simultaneous attacks by some 85,000 troops under the direction of the North Vietnamese government. The South Vietnamese government reported that 7,721 civilians were killed in the fighting during the offensive, while an additional 18,516 were wounded. South Vietnamese-American tactical victory;[1] North Vietnamese/Viet Cong propaganda, political and strategic victory[2], In Phase One: In their memoirs, both Johnson and Westmoreland stated that they had predicted the offensive. During this crucial crisis, however, no South Vietnamese unit broke or defected to the communists. MACV was convinced that the PAVN planned to stage an attack and overrun the base as a prelude to an all-out effort to seize the two northernmost provinces of South Vietnam. On 24 April a U.S. Marine Corps patrol prematurely triggered a PAVN offensive aimed at taking Khe Sanh Combat Base, the western anchor of the Marines' defensive positions in Quảng Trị Province. If it worked, all would be well and good. It was launched on January 30, 1968 by forces of the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) against the forces of the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the United States Armed Forces and their allies. The offensive was a crushing tactical defeat for the North, but it struck a sharp psychological blow that eroded support for the war among the American public and political establishment. [122] Both sides then rushed to reinforce and resupply their forces. “Episode 3—1967-1968: CIA, the Order-of-Battle Controversy, and the Tet Offensive” Author: Harold P. Ford Published:1997 “Episode 3” is a chapter in a book about CIA’s involvement in the Vietnam war, titled, CIA and the Vietnam Policymakers: Three Episodes, 1962 – 1968. Westmoreland—and the American media, which covered the action extensively—often made inevitable comparisons between the actions at Khe Sanh and the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ, where a French base had been besieged and ultimately overrun by Viet Minh forces under the command of General Giáp during the First Indochina War. [162][163], Hanoi had underestimated the strategic mobility of the allied forces, which allowed them to redeploy at will to threatened areas; their battle plan was too complex and difficult to coordinate, which was amply demonstrated by the 30 January attacks; their violation of the principle of mass, attacking everywhere instead of concentrating their forces on a few specific targets, allowed their forces to be defeated piecemeal; the launching of massed attacks headlong into the teeth of vastly superior firepower; and last, but not least, the incorrect assumptions upon which the entire campaign was based. If it failed, it would be a failure only for the Communist Party militants. The Lê Duẩn faction, which favoured quick, decisive offensives meant to paralyse South Vietnam-United States responses, was replaced by Giáp and Trường Chinh, who favoured a strategy of more protracted, drawn-out conventional warfare. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Abrams' new "One War" policy centered the American effort on the takeover of the fighting by the South Vietnamese (through Vietnamization), the pacification of the countryside, and the destruction of communist logistics. These units included the VC 12th Main Force Battalion and the Huế City Sapper Battalion. If the general offensive failed to achieve these purposes, follow-up operations would be conducted to wear down the enemy and lead to a negotiated settlement; Phase II was scheduled to begin on 5 May and Phase III on 17 August.[63]. For the moderates and centrists, it offered the prospect of negotiations and a possible end to the American bombing of the North. Let me caution everyone not to be confused. Stanley Karnow claims he confirmed this figure in Hanoi in 1981. 118, 120. CIA Analysis of the Tet Offensive 2/12/1968. [45] Giáp had advocated a defensive, primarily guerrilla strategy against the U.S. and South Vietnam. 216 U.S. Marines and soldiers had been killed during the fighting and 1,609 were wounded. Nguyen, who came to the U.S. as a refugee child, is now a professor of history at Columbia University, where she is writing a comprehensive history of the Offensive. The operations, however, were not well coordinated at the local level. Throughout the siege, which lasted until 8 April, the allies were subjected to heavy mortar, rocket, and artillery bombardment, combined with sporadic small-scale infantry attacks on outlying positions. [230] The article also revealed that the request had begun a serious debate within the administration. This was the version given in Douglas Pike's. [227] On 4 March, Rusk reiterated the proposal, explaining that, during the rainy season in the North, bombing was less effective and that no military sacrifice would thus occur. [113] Bitter and destructive house-to-house fighting erupted in the area. Hoang offered opposing viewpoints (pp. Concurrently, a substantial threat would have to be made against the U.S. Khe Sanh Combat Base. Around the U.S. combat base at Khe Sanh, fighting continued for two more months. Tan Son Nhut Air Base, in the northwestern part of the city, was attacked by three battalions. What was the main purpose of the Tet offensive? [227] The President and his staff were refining a lesser version of the troop increase – a planned call-up of 62,000 reservists, 13,000 of whom would be sent to Vietnam. Orders cancelling leaves either came too late or were disregarded.[92]. Naval Institute Press, 2008. [208] Westmoreland was tempted, however, when Wheeler emphasized that the White House might loosen restraints and allow operations in Laos, Cambodia, or possibly even North Vietnam itself. [170] PRG Justice Minister Trương Như Tảng said that the Tet Offensive had wiped out half of the VC's strength,[171] while the official Vietnamese war history notes that by 1969, very little communist-held territory ("liberated zones") existed in South Vietnam. 25. Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops occupied the walled fortress of Hue, Vietnam’s ancient capital, until they were finally driven out by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces on February 24. [125], During the first days of the North Vietnamese occupation, U.S. intelligence vastly underestimated the number of PAVN troops and little appreciated the effort that was going to be necessary to evict them. This time, however, allied intelligence was better prepared, stripping away the element of surprise. [125], In the aftermath of the recapture of the city, the discovery of several mass graves (the last of which were uncovered in 1970) of South Vietnamese citizens of Huế sparked a controversy that has not diminished with time. The Tet Offensive Analysis 1202 Words | 5 Pages. All eight of the attacks were controlled by the North Vietnamese headquarters of Military Region 5. Just ten days after the attack began on Khe Sanh, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces staged brutal attacks on … In 1967 the Vietnam-American War was stalled. General Westmoreland, who had already cancelled the truce in I Corps, requested that South Vietnam cancel the upcoming cease-fire, but President Thiệu (who had already reduced the cease-fire to 36 hours), refused to do so, claiming that it would damage troop morale and only benefit communist propagandists. "[30] This prompted the administration to launch a so-called "Success Offensive", a concerted effort to alter the widespread public perception that the war had reached a stalemate and to convince the American people that the administration's policies were succeeding. Thus began the Tet Offensive, in which thousands of communist-backed Viet Cong fighters waged a series of major assaults on big cities, provincial hamlets and … Translation by Merle L. Pribbenow. [142] The victims had either been clubbed or shot to death or simply buried alive. The Tet Offensive would later be utilized in a textbook at. "[35] During a discussion with an interviewer from Time magazine, Westmoreland defied the communists to launch an attack: "I hope they try something because we are looking for a fight."[36]. Much of the American public viewed the Tet Offensive as a sign of the undying North Vietnamese aggression and will. The term "Tet Offensive" usually refers to the January–February 1968 offensive, but it can also include the so-called "Mini-Tet" offensive that took place in May and the Phase III Offensive in August, or the 21 weeks of unusually intense combat which followed the initial attacks in January.[20]. In sudden attacks on urban areas throughout South Vietnam, North Vietnamese forces struck and briefly held portions of Saigon and 36 of the country’s 44 provincial capitals. As explained in the book’s forward, it “reviews the Intelligence Community's analytic performance during the chaotic Vietnam era, with particular focus … [60] Attacks on other U.S. forces were of secondary, or even tertiary importance, since Giáp considered his main objective to be weakening or destroying the South Vietnamese military and government through popular revolt. The allies, however, still responded without any real sense of urgency. [112] A total of 35 PAVN/VC battalions, many of whose troops were undercover cadres who had lived and worked within the capital or its environs for years, had been committed to the Saigon objectives. This course of events disturbed Lieutenant General Frederick Weyand, commander of U.S. forces in III Corps, which included the Capital Military District. Foreign Minister Trinh announced on 30 December that Hanoi would rather than could open negotiations if the U.S. unconditionally ended Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Dougan and Weiss, p. 35. This is my view, not that of Mr. Willbanks. [65] This announcement provoked a flurry of diplomatic activity (which amounted to nothing) during the last weeks of the year. Whatever the impetus, the American public grew increasingly vehement in its opposition to the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, and the gulf between the inevitably politically driven administration and what the military saw as the most effective means of fighting the war became even larger. "Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975." He had single-handedly shifted the nation's war strategy and restored himself to prominence as the Party's ideological conscience. The U.S. estimated that during the first phase (30 January – 8 April) approximately 45,000 PAVN/VC soldiers were killed and an unknown number were wounded. With the exception of the overrunning of the U.S. Special Forces camp at Lang Vei, however, there was never a major ground assault on the base and the battle became largely a duel between American and North Vietnamese artillerists, combined with massive air strikes conducted by U.S. aircraft. The province itself was subjected to what one historian has called a "My Lai from the Sky" – non-stop B-52 bombing. Only 775 out of 2,018 in one section survived; another lost all but 640 out of 1,430. It was this lack of communication that caused a rising disapproval rating for his conduct of the war. [82], On 28 January, eleven VC cadres were captured in the city of Qui Nhơn while in possession of two pre-recorded audio tapes whose message appealed to the populace in "already occupied Saigon, Huế, and Da Nang". [217], On 27 February, Johnson and McNamara discussed the proposed troop increase. [190] Thiệu also established a National Recovery Committee to oversee food distribution, resettlement, and housing construction for the new refugees. 1859 Words 7 Pages. Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House, Washington, D.C., 1968. By departing from classical guerrilla tactics and assaulting southern cities, the North Vietnamese had unwittingly pitted themselves against their opponents’ greatest strengths. [205] On 23 February the U.S. [233] By early February, at the height of the first phase of the offensive, 61 percent declared themselves hawks, 23 percent doves, and 16 percent held no opinion. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Its troops had brought along a tape recording of Hồ Chi Minh announcing the liberation of Saigon and calling for a "General Uprising" against the Thiệu government. "[96] According to Clark Clifford, at the time of the initial attacks, the reaction of the U.S. military leadership "approached panic". [180] The plan for a popular uprising or people's war was abandoned for a greater combination of guerrilla and conventional warfare. Perhaps more indicative of PAVN losses were the 41 PAVN prisoners taken and the recovery of 500 weapons, 132 of which were crew-served. General Tran Do, PAVN commander at the battle of Huế, gave some insight into how defeat was translated into victory: In all honesty, we didn't achieve our main objective, which was to spur uprisings throughout the South. The number of civilian dead was estimated by the government at 14,300 with an additional 24,000 wounded. The significance of Tet was that it compelled the American leadership to make the decision to … The territory is being gained. This was mainly due to General Creighton Abrams' new "One War" strategy and the CIA/South Vietnamese. Pike, COL Thomas F., Military Records, February 1968, 3rd Marine Division: The Tet Offensive, p. 71. Moscow, on the other hand, advocated negotiations, but simultaneously armed Hanoi's forces to conduct a conventional war on the Soviet model. On 9 June, President Johnson replaced Westmoreland as commander of MACV with General Creighton W. Abrams. [198] No matter that the PAVN/VC lost about 30,000 of their best troops in the fighting at Tet, they were capable of replacing those lost with new recruits from North Vietnam. [238] All but four members called for disengagement from the war, leaving the President "deeply shaken. "[69] The answer could also be partially explained by the lack of coordination and cooperation between competing intelligence branches, both South Vietnamese and American. Other forces would block American and ARVN reinforcement routes, mainly Highway 1. Beijing advocated that North Vietnam conduct a protracted war on the Maoist model, fearing that a conventional conflict might draw China in, as had happened in the Korean War. Both sides claimed that the battle had served its intended purpose. 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