More than 670,000 people were declared refugees, raising the total number of internally displaced persons in South Vietnam to some 1.5 million. Around the U.S. combat base at Khe Sanh, fighting continued for two more months. 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. [83] The following afternoon, General Cao Văn Viên, chief of the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff,[84] ordered his four Corps' commanders to place their troops on alert. [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]. If outright victory was not achieved, the battle might still lead to the creation of a coalition government and the withdrawal of the Americans. 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. [215] Wheeler's written report of the trip, however, contained no mention of any new contingencies, strategies, or the building up the strategic reserve. [25] George Allen, Carver's deputy, laid responsibility for the agency's capitulation at the feet of Richard Helms, the director of the CIA. 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. [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. Provided with "blacklists" of military officers and civil servants, they began to round up and execute any that could be found. 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. The logistical build-up began in mid-year, and by January 1968, 81,000 tons of supplies and 200,000 troops, including seven complete infantry regiments and 20 independent battalions made the trip south on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Concurrently, a substantial threat would have to be made against the U.S. Khe Sanh Combat Base. [17] When the offensive did begin, a total of 27 allied maneuver battalions defended the city and the surrounding area. The attacks were carried out against five major South Vietnamese cities, dozens of military installations, and scores of towns and villages throughout South Vietnam. Today there have been a great number of writings about this event. [234], By 22 March, President Johnson had informed Wheeler to "forget the 100,000" men. During the month, Clifford, who had entered office as a staunch supporter of the Vietnam commitment and who had opposed McNamara's de-escalatory views, turned against the war. [106], At 03:00 on 31 January, twelve VC sappers approached the Vietnamese Navy Headquarters in two civilian cars, killing two guards at a barricade at Me Linh Square and then advanced towards the base gate. [78], By the beginning of January 1968, the U.S. had deployed 331,098 Army personnel and 78,013 Marines in nine divisions, an armoured cavalry regiment, and two separate brigades to South Vietnam. 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. [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. Only in the eyes of the militants, therefore, did the offensive become a "go for broke" effort. 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. This was mainly due to General Creighton Abrams' new "One War" strategy and the CIA/South Vietnamese. The Tet Offensive played an important role in weakening U.S. public support for the war in Vietnam. During the late summer and fall of 1967 both South Vietnamese and U.S. intelligence agencies collected clues that indicated a significant shift in communist strategic planning. Kham Duc was evacuated by air while under fire, and abandoned to the North Vietnamese. Scenes of the Tet Offensive, South Vietnam, January–February 1968. The offensive was launched prematurely in the late night hours of 30 January in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam. Both sides claimed that the battle had served its intended purpose. Stephen T. Hosmer, Viet Cong Repression and its Implications for the Future (Rand Corporation, 1970), pp. The PAVN lost an estimated 2,100 men according to US/ARVN claims, after inflicting casualties on the allies of 290 killed and 946 wounded. 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. 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. However, it… On the contrary, we should endeavor to preserve our military potential for future campaigns. Despite these advance warnings, when the North Vietnamese offensive began in the early morning hours of January 30–31, 1968, it was larger and more intense than U.S. intelligence had anticipated. The Tet Offensive consisted of simultaneous attacks by some 85,000 troops under the direction of the North Vietnamese government. Much of the American public viewed the Tet Offensive as a sign of the undying North Vietnamese aggression and will. 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. [138][139] 40-50%[140][141] of Huế was destroyed by the end of the battle. By mid-December, mounting evidence convinced many in Washington and Saigon that something big was underway. Writes Marilyn B. 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. Weyand said he had moved 30 U.S. and South Vietnamese battalions closer to Saigon to defend the city. They also resisted the idea of negotiating with the allies. The attacks were carried out against five major South Vietnamese cities, dozens of military installations, and scores of towns and villages … What the North Vietnamese had done was carry out the first stage of their plan: to fix the attention of the U.S. command on the borders and draw the bulk of U.S. forces away from the heavily populated coastal lowlands and cities.[76]. The following day as US troops swept the area they were engaged by VC forces in an 8-hour battle losing 3 dead while killing 10 VC. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The multi-pronged offensive, named Tet after the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, proved to be a military defeat for the Communists. The MACV Combined Intelligence Center, on the other hand, maintained that the number could be no more than 300,000. [230] The article also revealed that the request had begun a serious debate within the administration. Arnold P. Kaminsky, Roger D. Long. Two interpretations of the offensive's goals have continued to dominate Western historical debate. It was followed immediately by Operation Toan Thang I (8 April - 31 May) which expanded the security operation across III Corps and resulted in a further 7645 VC killed and 1708 captured for South Vietnamese losses of 708 killed, U.S. losses of 564 killed and other Allied losses of 23 killed. Print. [134] More than 5,800 civilians had lost their lives during the battle and 116,000 were left homeless out of an original population of 140,000. [120] The undermanned ARVN defenders, led by General Ngô Quang Trưởng, managed to hold their position, but the majority of the Citadel fell to the PAVN. The first maintained that the political consequences of the winter-spring offensive were an intended rather than an, Dougan and Weiss, p. 23. Simultaneously a U.S. Navy advisor contacted the U.S. military police who soon attacked the VC from adjoining streets, the resulting crossfire ended the attack, killing eight sappers with two captured. The Joint Chiefs then played their hand, advising President Johnson to turn down MACV's requested division-sized reinforcement unless he called up some 1,234,001 marine and army reservists. They seized the building, held it for six hours and, when running out of ammunition, the last eight attackers destroyed it and killed themselves using explosive charges, but they were unable to broadcast due to the cutting off of the audio lines from the main studio to the tower as soon as the station was seized. He believed that the troop increase would lead only to a more violent stalemate and sought out others in the administration to assist him in convincing the President to reverse the escalation, to cap force levels at 550,000 men, to seek negotiations with Hanoi, and turn responsibility for the fighting over to the South Vietnamese. They felt that a return to guerrilla tactics was more appropriate since the U.S. could not be defeated conventionally. Tet Offensive Article Analysis Question Sheet Please answer the following questions in a separate word document. [185] 1968 became the deadliest year of the war to date for the ARVN with 27,915 men killed.[169]. The violence and destruction witnessed during the offensive left a deep psychological scar on the South Vietnamese civilian population. According to American sources, there has been an extreme reluctance among Vietnamese historians to discuss the decision-making process that led to the General Offensive General Uprising, even decades after the event. More arrests followed in November and December. An alternative account is that Thanh died of injuries sustained in a U.S. bombing raid on COSVN after having been evacuated from Cambodia. Alternatively, the offensive could convince the United States that it could not win the war. [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. 1247, CIA: Intelligence Warning of the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam; An Interim Study, The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the War in Vietnam 1960-68, Part 2, Library of Congress Country Studies: Vietnam & The Tet Offensive, MILESTONES: 1961-1968, U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive, 1968, Bibliography: The Tet Offensive and the Battle of Khe Sanh, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tet_Offensive&oldid=990990055, Attacks on diplomatic missions of the United States, Battles and operations of the Vietnam War in 1968, Battles of the Vietnam War involving Australia, Battles of the Vietnam War involving New Zealand, Battles of the Vietnam War involving Thailand, Military history of the United States during the Vietnam War, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Articles containing Vietnamese-language text, Articles that include images for deletion from December 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Depletion of Viet Cong leading to the use of greater North Vietnamese manpower. personnel. [44] From October 1966 through April 1967, a very public debate over military strategy took place in print and via radio between Thanh and his rival for military power, Giáp. Most of the communist forces were intercepted by allied screening elements before they reached their targets. "[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. The defense of the Capital Military District was primarily a South Vietnamese responsibility and it was initially defended by eight ARVN infantry battalions and the local police force. [66], Signs of impending communist action were noticed among the allied intelligence collection apparatus in Saigon. [101] Elsewhere in the city or its outskirts, ten VC Local Force Battalions attacked the central police station and the Artillery Command and the Armored Command headquarters (both at Gò Vấp). Karnow, p. 562. He had single-handedly shifted the nation's war strategy and restored himself to prominence as the Party's ideological conscience. Biên Hòa Air Base was struck by a battalion, while the adjacent ARVN III Corps headquarters was the objective of another. I suspect he is also trying to draw everyone's attention from the area of greatest threat, the northern part of I Corps. [39] General Nguyễn Chí Thanh the head of Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), headquarters for the South, was another prominent militant. By 3 February they had been reinforced by five ARVN Ranger Battalions, five Marine Corps, and five ARVN Airborne Battalions. This was especially true during the battle for Hue, where ARVN troops and U.S. Marines liberated the city after engaging in some of the fiercest close-quarters combat of the war. [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. [152] 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. 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. 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. In Saigon, attackers penetrated both the presidential palace and the compound of the U.S. embassy. Some, especially students, intellectuals, academics, and clergymen, opposed the war on moral grounds, pointing out that large numbers of civilians in both the North and the South…. The final assessment of the majority stupefied the group. 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. 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. [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. Wirtz, p. 61. Tet Offensive Activity in Vietnam War: Students Examine Cronkite's Tet Analysis!This lesson on the Vietnam War is included in two bundles to save you big: Vietnam War Resource Bundle and the 12 resource Cold War Bundle!Buy a bundle and save a bundle!-----In this highly-engaging activity, students u [28] This trend was fueled not by a belief that the struggle was not worthwhile, but by mounting casualty figures, raising taxes, and the feeling that there was no end to the war in sight. 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. “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. 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