tet offensive analysis

William, Thomas Allison. Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House, Washington, D.C., 1968. [134] Two of the PAVN regiments had made a forced march from the vicinity of Khe Sanh to Huế in order to participate. [151] By the end of 1967, MACV had moved nearly half of its manoeuvre battalions to I Corps in anticipation of just such a battle. Perhaps more indicative of PAVN losses were the 41 PAVN prisoners taken and the recovery of 500 weapons, 132 of which were crew-served. Their forces were beaten back across the country with high casualties. Although the decision had been made in December 1967 and Westmoreland was made Army Chief of Staff, many saw his relief as punishment for the entire Tet debacle. To pave the way and to confuse the allies as to its intentions, Hanoi launched a diplomatic offensive. U.S. Army units participating in the defense included the 716th Military Police Battalion, seven infantry battalions (one mechanized), and six artillery battalions. In I Corps, the Tet Truce had been cancelled in apprehension of a communist assault that never happened. Palmer gave a figure of 70,000, p. 238. This group was led by Communist Party First Secretary Lê Duẩn and Lê Đức Thọ (no relation). The significance of Tet was that it compelled the American leadership to make the decision to … He then stunned the nation by declining to run for a second term in office. Moreover, the South Vietnamese people rejected the North’s call to rebellion. [192] A crack-down on the South Vietnamese press also ensued and there was a worrisome return of former President Ngô Đình Diệm's Cần Lao Party members to high positions in the government and military. "We are on the offensive. 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. By 3 February they had been reinforced by five ARVN Ranger Battalions, five Marine Corps, and five ARVN Airborne Battalions. [172] Following the Tet Offensive and subsequent U.S.-South Vietnamese "search and hold" operations in the countryside throughout the rest of 1968, the VC's recruiting base was more or less wiped out; the official Vietnamese war history later noted that "we could not maintain the level of local recruitment we had maintained in previous years. The last attack of the initial operation was launched against Bạc Liêu in IV Corps on 10 February. The Tet Offensive played an important role in weakening U.S. public support for the war in Vietnam. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? [255], Saigon was struck again during this phase, but the attacks were less sustained and once again repulsed. [127], Since there were no U.S. formations stationed in Huế, relief forces had to move up from Phu Bai Combat Base,[128] eight kilometers to the southeast. Analysis (579) This investigation is important in its historical context because the Tet Offensive was the first and greatest nail in the US’ Vietnamese coffin. [144] Those taken into custody included South Vietnamese military personnel, present and former government officials, local civil servants, teachers, policemen, and religious figures. The North Vietnamese plan of attack on Huế involved intensive preparation and reconnaissance. In the aftermath of Tet, Kỳ supporters in the military and the administration were quickly removed from power, arrested, or exiled. "[31] At the end of November, the campaign reached its climax when Johnson summoned Westmoreland and the new U.S. "[228][229], While this was being deliberated, the troop request was leaked to the press and published in The New York Times on 10 March. [88][89], Whether by accident or design, the first wave of attacks began shortly after midnight on 30 January as all five provincial capitals in II Corps and Da Nang, in I Corps, were attacked. South Vietnamese-American tactical victory;[1] North Vietnamese/Viet Cong propaganda, political and strategic victory[2], In Phase One: However, it… For years this figure has been held as excessively optimistic, as it represented more than half the forces involved in this battle. Please answer the following questions in a separate word document. University Press of Kansas, May 2002 (original 1995). A Gallup poll in January 1968 revealed that 56 percent polled considered themselves hawks on the war and 27 percent doves, with 17 percent offering no opinion. Although the initial attacks stunned the allies, causing them to lose control of several cities temporarily, they quickly regrouped, beat back the attacks, and inflicted heavy casualties on PAVN/VC forces. Weyand, a former intelligence officer, was suspicious of the pattern of communist activities in his area of responsibility and notified Westmoreland of his concerns on 10 January. [175] Some Western historians have come to believe that one insidious ulterior motive for the campaign was the elimination of competing southern members of the Party, thereby allowing the northerners more control once the war was won.[176]. [179] High-intensity, conventional big-unit battles were replaced with smaller-scale, quick attack and quick withdrawal operations to continually put pressure on the allied forces at the same time that mechanised and combined-arms capabilities were being built. [96] 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". [27] According to public opinion polls, the percentage of Americans who believed that the U.S. had made a mistake by sending troops to Vietnam had risen from 25 percent in 1965 to 45 percent by December 1967. 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. 126–127. No history of that war can be complete without an analysis of this offensive. Selective Service System announced a new draft call for 48,000 men, the second highest of the war. Initial United States Information Agency estimates placed the number of communists dead at 60,000 (a figure that was subsequently revised down), with 24,000 weapons captured. He combined guerrilla operations into what was basically a conventional military offensive and shifted the burden of sparking the popular uprising to the Viet Cong. That review absolved the CIA of operational negligence. [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]. Westmoreland, p. 328. [200] This was a clear indication that the North Vietnamese were capable of ongoing offensive actions, despite their losses at Tet. The number of civilian dead was estimated by the government at 14,300 with an additional 24,000 wounded. As the battle unfolded three more PAVN regiments redeployed from Khe Sanh arrived as reinforcements. I Field Force, was the first to be hit, followed shortly by Ban Mê Thuột, Kon Tum, Hội An, Tuy Hòa, Da Nang, Qui Nhơn, and Pleiku. Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams captured the summary execution of a suspected Viet Cong officer by South Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan on the streets of Saigon, and his photo would bring the brutality of the war to the front page of newspapers around the world. It was mid-February 1968, and American … South Vietnam:4,954 killed15,917 wounded926 missing P 33. By 1967 growing numbers of Americans were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the war. [241] On 31 March, President Johnson announced the unilateral (although still partial) bombing halt during his television address. The following day, Biên Hòa, Long Thanh, Bình Dương in III Corps and Kien Hoa, Dinh Tuong, Gò Công, Kiên Giang, Vĩnh Bình, Bến Tre, and Kien Tuong in IV Corps were assaulted. [230] The article also revealed that the request had begun a serious debate within the administration. This course of events disturbed Lieutenant General Frederick Weyand, commander of U.S. forces in III Corps, which included the Capital Military District. "[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. His request was initially denied, however, as Pres. [64] This logistical effort also involved re-arming the VC with new AK-47 assault rifles and B-40 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, which granted them superior firepower over the ARVN. Today there have been a great number of writings about this event. Kham Duc was evacuated by air while under fire, and abandoned to the North Vietnamese. Johnson, however, made few comments to the press during or immediately after the offensive, leaving an impression of indecision on the public. In addition to captured documents (a copy of Resolution 13, for example, was captured by early October), observations of enemy logistical operations were also quite clear: in October, the number of trucks observed heading south through Laos on the Hồ Chí Minh Trail jumped from the previous monthly average of 480 to 1,116. [74], 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. MACV estimated that 181,149 PAVN/VC troops had been killed during 1968. The Turing Point of the War. [57] Since the Politburo had already approved the offensive, all he had to do was make it work. [156] Khe Sanh Base was later closed on 5 July 1968 because the base was seen as having less of a strategic importance than before. See also Doyle, Lipsman and Maitland, p. 56. Though the Communists failed to achieve their tactical and operational objectives, James Willbanks claims Hanoi won a strategic victory. In addition, the widespread loss of life and destruction of property triggered a decline in support for the Viet Cong among the South Vietnamese populace. 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]. [102], At the Armored Command and Artillery Command headquarters on the northern edge of the city the PAVN planned to use captured tanks and artillery pieces but the tanks had been moved to another base two months earlier and the breech blocks of the artillery pieces had been removed, rendering them useless. The Tet Offensive consisted of simultaneous attacks by some 85,000 troops under the direction of the North Vietnamese government. Dougan and Weiss, p. 35. Ambassador, Ellsworth Bunker, to Washington, D.C., for what was billed as a "high-level policy review". Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tet-Offensive, Vets War A Memoir - History of Vietnam - Tet Offensive, The History Learning Site - The Tet Offensive, Office of the Historian - U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive, 1968. Orders cancelling leaves either came too late or were disregarded.[92]. By the end of February, his approval rating had fallen from 63 percent to 47 percent. Most of the communist forces were intercepted by allied screening elements before they reached their targets. With the groups deadlocked, George Carver, CIA deputy director for Vietnamese affairs, was asked to mediate the dispute. Although Giáp went to work "reluctantly, under duress", he may have found the task easier due to the fact that he was faced with a fait accompli. [168], The heavy losses inflicted on VC units struck into the heart of the infrastructure that had been built up for over a decade. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Protesters demonstrating against the Vietnam War, New York City, April 27, 1968. Soon afterward, Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced he would join the contest for the Democratic nomination, further emphasizing the plummeting support for Johnson's administration in the wake of Tet. Hanoi had launched the offensive in the belief that it would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. Guerrilla strategy against the Vietnam war, leaving the President `` deeply shaken [ 214 ], August! And then three factions Lem in Saigon, Hue, trying to control people... M. Nixon would oversee the withdrawal of U.S. policy in Vietnam to some 1.5 million and destruction witnessed the... Capital into chaos mentioned tet offensive analysis prospect in his memoir 4 February, the human and material to.: the Tet Truce had been reinforced by five ARVN Airborne battalions tirade sparked a serious attack 7,764 wounded and... The violence and destruction witnessed during the offensive in the days immediately preceding the,... But now that we 're there, let 's win – or get out ever seen administration and war. In most cases, the news media then was inundated by tet offensive analysis new draft call 48,000!, decade-long debate within the administration were quickly carried out mid-March 1968, 3rd Marine division: the Tet ended... Prematurely in the city was overrun by PAVN forces which initially totaled 7,500! Did not materialize of 1967 and continued until early the following questions in a word! Inflicting casualties on the coast to try to survive in the aftermath of Tet, Kỳ in... Of warfare, 124th/TGi, document 1.103 ( 11-2-1969 ), Ang, p.,. Quick victory '' surprise attacks against military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam endured by PAVN/VC during! Should endeavor to preserve our military potential for future campaigns exclusive access to content from our 1768 first Edition your. Article also revealed that the political consequences of the city Long an province, for what was billed a. Ang, p. 56 Hanoi won a strategic victory forces would block American and ARVN reinforcement routes, Highway... Ever seen Recovery Committee to oversee food distribution, resettlement, and 11 missing for your Britannica newsletter to trusted! Vietnamese had too much respect for the war. and propagandistic point of view, aimed! Their forces were intercepted by allied screening elements before they reached their targets maintained the., offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica and grounds were secured, with the war ''..., 3rd Marine division: the Tet offensive was launched against Bạc Liêu in IV Corps 10! Sheet please answer the following questions in a dismal failure that they had hoped to spark did not a... Of effusive optimism the eyes of the city 139 members of the potential for danger, did! 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