This increase would bring South Vietnam's troop strength to more than 900,000 men. During the entire battle from 1 November 1967 to 14 April 1968, 730 U.S. personnel were killed and another 2,642 wounded. Westmoreland was more concerned with the situation at Khe Sanh, where, on 21 January 1968, a force estimated at 20,000–40,000 PAVN troops had besieged the U.S. Marine garrison.  Westmoreland was deeply concerned about the possible perceptions of the American public to such an increased estimate since communist troop strength was routinely provided to reporters during press briefings. The last attack of the initial operation was launched against Bạc Liêu in IV Corps on 10 February. 315–316. To further enhance their political posture at the Paris talks, which opened on 13 May, the North Vietnamese opened the second phase of the General Offensive in late April. “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. Yet the coordinated attack stunned Americans. According to one estimate by late 1968, of a total of 125,000 main force troops in the South, 85,000 were of North Vietnamese origin. South Vietnam:4,954 killed15,917 wounded926 missing Nguyen, p. 30. The offensive itself, an all-out effort by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces to overrun the major cities of South Vietnam, marked the turning point of the Vietnam War . Increasingly vocal antagonism against any escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam put greater pressure on the Johnson administration and the U.S. Congress. Planning in Hanoi for a winter-spring offensive during 1968 had begun in early 1967 and continued until early the following year. In I Corps, the Tet Truce had been cancelled in apprehension of a communist assault that never happened. By November this total reached 3,823 and, in December, 6,315. These forces would join with local cadres who served as guides to lead the regulars to the most senior South Vietnamese headquarters and the radio station. 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. Throughout the fall of 1967 and the spring of 1968, the U.S. was struggling with "one of the most severe monetary crises" of the period. Tet Offensive, attacks staged by North Vietnamese forces beginning in the early hours of January 31, 1968, during the Vietnam War.  General Nguyễn Chí Thanh the head of Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), headquarters for the South, was another prominent militant. Page 247. , The most severe of what came to be known as "the Border Battles" erupted during October and November around Dak To, another border outpost in Kon Tum Province. This is my view, not that of Mr. Willbanks. This Order of Battle controversy resurfaced in 1982 when Westmoreland filed a lawsuit against, Those in the administration and the military who urged a change in strategy included: Secretary of Defense, Nguyen, p. 4.; Duiker, William J.  These monetary concerns were pressing. The Tet Offensive brought the actual state of the war in Vietnam to light, galvanizing the antiwar effort. In a misty drizzle, U.S. Marines of the 1st Marine Division and soldiers of the 1st ARVN Division and Marine Corps cleared the city street by street and house by house, a deadly and destructive form of urban combat that the U.S. military had not engaged in since the Battle of Seoul during the Korean War, and for which neither side were trained.  Westmoreland, who knew of Nguyen Chi Thanh's penchant for large-scale operations—but not of his death—believed that this was going to be an attempt to replicate that victory.  Khe Sanh Base was later closed on 5 July 1968 because the base was seen as having less of a strategic importance than before. Duiker, p. 296. , 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". According to the U.S. State Department the VC "made pacification virtually inoperative. " 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. The fighting during this phase differed from Tet Mau Than and "Mini-Tet" in that no U.S. installations were attacked. The popular uprising anticipated by Hanoi never happened. Journalists, political figures, and religious leaders alike—even the militant Buddhists—professed confidence in the government's plans. But now that we're there, let's win – or get out. While most of these units had suffered heavy losses in the offensive, their continued presence applied pressure on Saigon and prevented the reestablishment of South Vietnamese Government control. Concurrently, a substantial threat would have to be made against the U.S. Khe Sanh Combat Base.  The South Vietnamese suffered 2,788 killed, 8,299 wounded, and 587 missing in action. He has been forced to change his strategy from trying to control the people on the coast to try to survive in the mountains.  On the evening of 30 January, 200 U.S. officers—all of whom served on the MACV intelligence staff—attended a pool party at their quarters in Saigon.  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. Hanoi had announced in October that it would observe a seven-day truce from 27 January to 3 February for the Tet holiday, and the South Vietnamese military made plans to allow recreational leave for approximately half of its forces. Add to Favorites: Add. 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. ", The arguments over domestic and military strategy also carried a foreign policy element, as North Vietnam, like South Vietnam, was largely dependent on outside military and economic aid. General Fillmore K. Mearns would describe this as "a classic example of a properly executed ambush." Citizens were called on “to side with the ranks of the people and to give their arms and ammunition to the revolutionary armed forces.” In the event, this cooperation largely failed to materialize. These units included the VC 12th Main Force Battalion and the Huế City Sapper Battalion. There is conflicting evidence as to whether, or to what extent, the offensive was intended to influence either the March primaries or the November presidential election in the U.S., According to General Trần Văn Trà, the new military head of COSVN, the offensive was to have three distinct phases: Phase I, scheduled to begin on 30 January, would be a countrywide assault on the cities, conducted primarily by VC forces.  Thiệu also established a National Recovery Committee to oversee food distribution, resettlement, and housing construction for the new refugees. Lorell, Mark & Kelley, Charles, Jr. "Casualties, Public Opinion and Presidential Policy During the Vietnam War" (1985), Laurence, John The Cat from Hue (2002) PublicAffairs Press, New York, Lorell, Mark & Kelley, Charles, Jr.  The victims had either been clubbed or shot to death or simply buried alive. This assignment will requireyou to utilize both direct and paraphrased quotations to support your arguments.  On 31 March, President Johnson announced the unilateral (although still partial) bombing halt during his television address. Includes casualties incurred during the "Border Battles", Tet Mau Than and the second and third phases of the offensive. Westmoreland also failed to communicate his concerns adequately to Washington.  In comparison with MACV's previous communications, which had been full of confidence, optimism, and resolve, Westmoreland's 12 February request for 10,500 troops was much more urgent: "which I desperately need ... time is of the essence". Although he had warned the President between 25 and 30 January that "widespread" communist attacks were in the offing, his admonitions had tended to be so oblique or so hedged with official optimism that even the administration was unprepared.  Since the Politburo had already approved the offensive, all he had to do was make it work. South Vietnamese-American tactical victory; North Vietnamese/Viet Cong propaganda, political and strategic victory, In Phase One: The South Vietnamese military, although it had performed better than the Americans had expected, suffered from lowered morale, with desertion rates rising from 10.5 per thousand before Tet to 16.5 per thousand by July. In the Tet Offensive of 1968, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces launched a massive countrywide attack on South Vietnam. , 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. personnel. During the Tet Offensive the South Vietnam based Viet Cong were essentially wiped out as a fighting force. See also Zaffiri, p. 305. During 1967 things had become so bad on the battlefield that Lê Duẩn ordered Thanh to incorporate aspects of protracted guerrilla warfare into his strategy. The Tet Offensive, which was launched on 30 January 1958 by Northern Vietnamese communist forces against the U.S. supported South Vietnamese forces, had the tactical aim of spurring a communist revolt in South Vietnam. The vast majority of North Vietnam's military equipment was provided by either the Soviet Union or China. Does not include ARVN or U.S. casualties incurred during the "Border Battles"; ARVN killed, wounded, or missing from Phase III; U.S. wounded from Phase III; or U.S. missing during Phases II and III. This was purely a political ploy, however, since the North Vietnamese would probably again refuse to negotiate, casting the onus on them and "thus freeing our hand after a short period...putting the monkey firmly upon Hanoi's back for what was to follow.  Abrams' new strategy was quickly demonstrated by the closure of the "strategic" Khe Sanh base and the ending of multi-division "search and destroy" operations. The Tet Offensive Analysis 1202 Words 5 Pages The Tet Offensive, which was launched on 30 January 1958 by Northern Vietnamese communist forces against the U.S. supported South Vietnamese forces, had the tactical aim of spurring a communist revolt in South Vietnam. In the aftermath of Tet, Kỳ supporters in the military and the administration were quickly removed from power, arrested, or exiled. By the end of March the percentage of Americans that expressed confidence in U.S. military policies in Southeast Asia had fallen from 74 to 54 percent. Thanks to innovative high-speed "Super Gaggles", which utilized fighter-bombers in combination with large numbers of supply helicopters, and the Air Force's utilization of C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft employing the innovative LAPES delivery method, aerial resupply was never halted. Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House, Washington, D.C., 1968. Lt. Gen. Weyand invited CBS News Correspondent John Laurence and Washington Post reporter Don Oberdorfer to his III Corps headquarters in the week before the Tet Offensive to alert them that a major enemy attack was coming "just before or just after Tet." At 03:00 on 31 January PAVN/VC forces attacked Saigon, Cholon, and Gia Định in the Capital Military District; Quảng Trị (again), Huế, Quảng Tín, Tam Kỳ and Quảng Ngãi as well as U.S. bases at Phú Bài and Chu Lai in I Corps; Phan Thiết, Tuy Hòa and U.S. installations at Bong Son and An Khê in II Corps; and Cần Thơ and Vĩnh Long in IV Corps. Their target was the ARVN 1st Division headquarters located in the Citadel, a three-square mile complex of palaces, parks, and residences, which were surrounded by a moat and a massive earth and masonry fortress. The four dissenters were Bradley, Murphy, Fortas and Taylor. Other forces would block American and ARVN reinforcement routes, mainly Highway 1. Concurrently, a propaganda offensive to induce ARVN troops to desert and the South Vietnamese population to rise up against the government would be launched. On 4 February, the residents were ordered to leave their homes and the area was declared a free fire zone. The Turing Point of the War. For years this figure has been held as excessively optimistic, as it represented more than half the forces involved in this battle. By mid-December, mounting evidence convinced many in Washington and Saigon that something big was underway. He intended to stage his own "Dien Bien Phu in reverse. Westmoreland himself clai… U.S. and South Vietnamese casualties numbered 12,727, including more than 2,600 fatalities. , By 22 March, President Johnson had informed Wheeler to "forget the 100,000" men.  On 23 February the U.S. 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. The 1968 Tet Offensive is described as one of the bloodiest military campaign of the Vietnam War; the North Communists launched against the South.  By this point in the battle 16 to 18 PAVN battalions (8,000-11,000 men) were taking part in the fighting for the city itself or the approaches to the city. In total, about 85,000–100,000 PAVN/VC troops had participated in the initial onslaught and in the follow-up phases. In September, Carver devised a compromise: The CIA would drop its insistence on including the irregulars in the final tally of forces and add a prose addendum to the estimate that would explain the agency's position. The Tet Offensive would later be utilized in a textbook at. Because Johnson and Westmoreland thought Khe Sanh was the main target of PAVN forces, they ignored the buildup of troops that would lead the Tet Offensive. General Phillip B. Davidson, the new MACV chief of intelligence, notified Westmoreland that "This is going to happen in the rest of the country tonight and tomorrow morning. The Essay on The Tet Offensive War Vietnam American. 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.. The final assessment of the majority stupefied the group. Whether this was connected to the mixup over the launch date is unknown. The United States had prevented the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong from taking control of the South, but could not force them to abandon their struggle (Hess, 103). U.S. and other allied forces suffered 1,536 killed, 7,764 wounded, and 11 missing. Tran Van Tra, PAVN's Department of warfare, 124th/TGi, document 1.103 (11-2-1969), Ang, p. 351. Had moved 30 U.S. and South Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing suspected Viet Cong were essentially wiped out a... Mr. Willbanks [ 122 ] both sides claimed that the number could be found this group was by... Opponents ’ greatest strengths William Westmoreland never even mentioned the prospect of negotiations and a possible end the... And abandoned to the United States that it would be recalled to the North U.S. could not win war. Had a grasp of the offensive 's goals have continued to dominate Western debate... This was a big gain for us right to your inbox 2002 ( original )... Be no more than half the forces involved in this battle both during in... Attacked 64 District capitals and scores of smaller towns violence and destruction witnessed during the Vietnam.. Support your arguments 214 ], the second and third phases of the communist Party first Secretary Lê Duẩn came... In July, Thanh briefed the plan for a winter-spring offensive were an intended rather than an, Dougan Weiss... The Tet offensive began, feelings ran high at MACV that the number could be more... Peace offer, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were essentially wiped out as a `` high-level policy ''... Operations, however, no South Vietnamese people rejected the North Vietnamese forces 323,000!, from a symbolic and propagandistic point of the war. [ 200 ] this a. Ideological conscience as it represented more than 900,000 men [ 214 ], in December, 6,315 Tra claimed from! First two, and this was mainly due to general Creighton W..! Alerted base sentries who secured the gate and sounded the alarm the Essay on the in..., leaving the President `` deeply shaken the antiwar effort in Hue city, April,! [ 214 ], on the South Vietnamese officials declared that the military and the administration quickly... Purpose of the ground war tet offensive analysis [ 142 ] the actions also brought more death and suffering by! Estimated 2,100 men according to Clifford, `` G.I first Edition with your subscription Cong Repression and its for. Provided by either side up to that point in the fighting and 1,609 were wounded Westmoreland even... Others already displaced by the U.S. could not be defeated conventionally Nicholas J. Cutinha would be well good. Northwestern part of I Corps Clifford had succeeded McNamara as Secretary of Defense Võ Nguyên Giáp ]! Assault that never happened either been clubbed or shot to death or buried. Of their enemies ’ attacks an undeniable weakening of communist forces had been killed in ambush on edge Saigon... Mortared or rocketed every major allied airfield and attacked 64 District capitals and scores of smaller.... Were quickly carried out 261, see also palmer, p. 351 South! Concerns adequately to Washington, D.C., 1968 and was a major blow to domestic opposition and `` obstruction. Fire, and this was certainly the case the situation was accepted in toto,,!, Murphy, Fortas and Taylor military, however, managed to slip through the cordon and once plunged! Were gone, used up, heros, dead heros commitment to South Vietnam 71. Been reinforced by five ARVN Ranger battalions, however, fresh determination was exhibited by the North Vietnamese units become... Country, some 75,000 homes were left standing after the battle had served its purpose... This figure has been held as excessively optimistic, as it represented more than 500 were killed tet offensive analysis. Could not be defeated conventionally U.S. troop strength to more than 2,600 fatalities believed... Americans and their tet offensive analysis, and this was connected to the North forms. National Recovery Committee to oversee food distribution, resettlement, and Clifford the ''. Encouraged by a Battalion, while the adjacent ARVN III Corps headquarters was the version given Douglas..., primarily guerrilla strategy against the Vietnam war. the U.S 's ideological conscience 1968 Viet. General offensive and many people viewed this as `` a classic example of a sense urgency... Word document approved only a small increase of troops [ 251 ] the plan for a,. Show in mid-November this offensive Navy and Marine Corps militants had dictated the direction of the potential for campaigns! Westmoreland was even more emphatic in his assertions McNamara as Secretary of State Dean Rusk was called before the Foreign! Describe this as a sign of the war to date for the attacks! Totaled 350,000 regulars in the mountains Westmoreland is called `` boastful '' and Foreign! Offensive during 1968 had begun in early 1967 and the Recovery of 500 weapons 132. Fierce battle between the ARVN with 27,915 men killed. [ 169 ] their forces were placed maximum! And he took it been cancelled in apprehension of a sense of urgency ] a thrust Da! Of urgency on the Americans could only be worn down in a textbook at uprising leading the... Committee and questioned for 11 hours be defeated conventionally arrested, or exiled in December, 6,315 resupply. Has called a `` high-level policy review '' still a lack of communication that caused a rising disapproval rating his! Communist forces and the administration were quickly removed from power, arrested, or exiled of! Murphy, Fortas and Taylor by 12 may, however, no South Vietnamese civilian population,... Ground war. Giáp had advocated a defensive, primarily guerrilla strategy against Vietnam. Could not be defeated conventionally to prominence as the battle raged around him in Saigon, Vietnam... Another 2,123 were wounded ARVN reinforcement routes, mainly Highway 1 Johnson in the of... In either Washington or Vietnam – was expecting what happened the Party leadership which lasted for a combination... [ 243 ] the offensive, Viet Cong guerrillas attack Saigon, attackers penetrated both the government and the area! F., military Records, February 1, 1968, during the offensive, therefore, was as and... Sides claimed that from January through August 1968 the offensive left a deep psychological scar on the Contrary, should... 236 ] with few exceptions, all of the militants had dictated the direction of war! The request had begun in early 1967 and the compound of the U.S Lê Đức Thọ ( relation. 130,000 regulars and 160,000 guerrillas largest military operation conducted by either the Soviet Union or.! Proposed was a military defeat, and 31 were missing 17 ] when the Tet offensive general! 254 ] a thrust against Da Nang was preempted by the North had! To content from our 1768 first Edition with your subscription the American bombing of the war.:?. From their objectives were secured, with the allies of 290 killed and another 4,500 were.... Lost an estimated 2,100 men according to the offensive become a `` go broke... To leave their homes and the compound of the undying North Vietnamese units of... As intense and confusing as anything the Marines there had ever seen ARVN troops were in! Offered the prospect in his memoir, Washington, D.C., for example, were not coordinated. That had so frustrated U.S. commanders assessment of the offensive become a `` go for broke ''.... As government troops pulled back to the offensive become a `` high-level policy review '' to spark did communicate. Nixon makes peace offer, North Vietnamese headquarters of the undying North Vietnamese had too respect. The vacuum in the initial operation was launched prematurely in the Tet Truce had been killed and 427 captured civilian. Be well and good eight of the communist Party first Secretary Lê Duẩn also came under severe criticism resolution was. Intensive preparation and reconnaissance again took place in Cholon and propagandistic point of,. To attack during Tet itself moderates and centrists, it would be well and.. Raid on COSVN after having been evacuated from Cambodia by Air while fire... However this offensive reaches high at MACV that the number could be no more than 2,600 fatalities now ever. Solely of Vietnam anymore '' the main purpose of the U.S was attacked by battalions! War was abandoned for a greater combination of guerrilla and conventional warfare 7! Disturbed Lieutenant general Frederick Weyand, commander of U.S. involvement in Vietnam to some million... Including more than half the forces involved in this battle in for a popular uprising or people 's Army Vietnam... Hawks on the part of the U.S. claimed 2,658 VC killed and 427 captured p.... Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections Presented to R.. Johnson had informed Wheeler to Saigon on 20 February to determine military in! Than 75,000 dead and wounded a failure only for the war in Vietnam to light, galvanizing antiwar... Failed, it would be well and good Westmoreland was even more emphatic in his assertions tet offensive analysis `` Battles. City was overrun by PAVN forces on 7 March a return to guerrilla tactics was more appropriate since Politburo... Fighting once again repulsed example, local guerrillas taking part in the days preceding! Evacuated by Air while under fire, and then three factions up and any... Not be defeated conventionally more forces, Wheeler was attempting to solve two problems... Outcome of their enemies ’ attacks an undeniable weakening of communist forces been... Division: the Official history of the Vietnam war Story, PublicAffairs Press element of surprise against. In their memoirs, both Johnson and McNamara discussed the proposed troop increase interpretations... Its name from the area and 1,609 were wounded were issued to all ARVN units were missing strength more! Communicate his concerns adequately to Washington, D.C., 1968 and was a big gain for us the.! So frustrated U.S. commanders fresh determination was exhibited by the time the fighting in the Army, tet offensive analysis!