tet offensive analysis

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. : The Turning Point in the Vietnam War. Omissions? Now they were gone, used up, heros, dead heros. [209] On 8 February, Westmoreland responded that he could use another division "if operations in Laos are authorized". On 27 February, Secretary of State Dean Rusk had proposed that a partial bombing halt be implemented in North Vietnam and that an offer to negotiate be extended to Hanoi. 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. [187] This increase would bring South Vietnam's troop strength to more than 900,000 men. [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. In their memoirs, both Johnson and Westmoreland stated that they had predicted the offensive. Stanley Karnowclaims he confirmed this figure in Hanoi in 1981. His "faction-bashing" tirade sparked a serious debate within the party leadership which lasted for four months. [41] As a result, there were more strident calls by the moderates for negotiations and a revision of strategy. [236] With few exceptions, all of the members of the group had formerly been accounted as hawks on the war. [94] The outcome in each instance was usually dictated by the ability of local commanders—some were outstanding, others were cowardly or incompetent. 1969 - U.S. troop strength reaches high at 536,100 servicemen, President Nixon makes peace offer, North Vietnamese forms Provisional Revolutionary Government. 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. This redeployment may have been one of the most critical tactical decisions of the war. By 09:20 the embassy and grounds were secured, with the loss of five U.S. For years this figure has been held as excessively optimistic, as it represented more than half the forces involved in this battle. During this crucial crisis, however, no South Vietnamese unit broke or defected to the communists. Planning in Hanoi for a winter-spring offensive during 1968 had begun in early 1967 and continued until early the following year. [160][161] Their first and most ambitious goal, producing a general uprising, had ended in a dismal failure. VC forces withdrew from the area leaving behind over 3,000 dead. The fiercest fighting once again took place in Cholon. Hanoi had launched the offensive in the belief that it would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. "We are beginning to win this struggle", asserted Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey on NBC's Today show in mid-November. [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. [74][75] MACV intelligence was confused by the possible motives of the North Vietnamese in prompting such large-scale actions in remote regions where U.S. artillery and aerial firepower could be applied indiscriminately, which meant that tactically and strategically, these operations made no sense. [199] In 1969, the year after the Tet battles, the US suffered 11,780 killed, the second highest annual total in the war. 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. [101] By dawn most of the attacks within the city center had been eliminated, but severe fighting between VC and allied forces erupted in the Chinese neighborhood of Cholon around the Phú Thọ racetrack, southwest of the city center, which was being used as a staging area and command and control center by the PAVN/VC. "[181], The PAVN official history describes the first phase of the Tet Offensive as a "great strategic victory" that "killed or dispersed 150,000 enemy soldiers including 43,000 Americans, destroyed 34 percent of the American war reserve supplies in Vietnam, destroyed 4,200 strategic hamlets and liberated an additional 1.4 million people. Westmoreland insisted that he only needed those forces either in-country or already scheduled for deployment and he was puzzled by the sense of unwarranted urgency in Wheeler's queries. [113], On the morning of 2 March 1968, while patrolling 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Tan Son Nhut Air Base near the small village of Quoi Xuan to locate VC rocket sites, Company C, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment walked into an ambush losing 48 killed in just 8 minutes. [180] The plan for a popular uprising or people's war was abandoned for a greater combination of guerrilla and conventional warfare. Page 247. 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. "[49], In October, the Politburo decided on the Tet holiday as the launch date and met again in December to reaffirm its decision and formalize it at the 14th Plenary session of the Party Central Committee in January 1968. South Vietnam:4,954 killed15,917 wounded926 missing Johnson was depressed and despondent at the course of recent events. The significance of Tet was that it compelled the American leadership to make the decision to … [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. "[145] The North Vietnamese officer, Bùi Tín, later further muddied the waters by stating that their forces had indeed rounded up "reactionary" captives for transport to the North, but that local commanders, under battlefield exigencies, had executed them for expediency's sake. The offensive derives its name from the Vietnamese New Year holiday, during which the attacks occurred. Westmoreland's fixation upon the base continued even as the battle raged around him in Saigon. On January 30, 1968, the real Tet Offensive began. "[194][195] Lyndon Johnson's unilateral decision on 31 March to curtail the bombing of North Vietnam only confirmed what Thiệu already feared, that the Americans were going to abandon South Vietnam to the communists. [234], By 22 March, President Johnson had informed Wheeler to "forget the 100,000" men. [46] Thanh's position was that Giáp and his adherents were centered on their experiences during the First Indochina War and that they were too "conservative and captive to old methods and past experience... mechanically repeating the past. The South Vietnamese regime estimated North Vietnamese forces at 323,000, including 130,000 regulars and 160,000 guerrillas. However this offensive had far reaching consequences due to its effect on the views of the Vietnam War by the American public. [39] General Nguyễn Chí Thanh the head of Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), headquarters for the South, was another prominent militant. [81], In the days immediately preceding the offensive, the preparedness of allied forces was relatively relaxed. "[225] Between the results of Tet and the meetings of the group that bore his name, he became convinced that deescalation was the only solution for the United States. It was mid-February 1968, and American … To cite the article, simply follow the citation format discussed in class. Duiker, p. 288. The fighting during this phase differed from Tet Mau Than and "Mini-Tet" in that no U.S. installations were attacked. 13 VC battalions, however, managed to slip through the cordon and once again plunged the capital into chaos. By December 1967 there were indications to U.S. military commanders in the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were preparing for a major military campaign. He intended to stage his own "Dien Bien Phu in reverse. His only real political rival was Vice President Kỳ, the former Air Force commander, who had been outmaneuvered by Thiệu in the presidential election of 1967. [24] The agency responded that such a notion was ridiculous since the militias were directly responsible for half of the casualties inflicted on U.S. forces. Further information on the U.S. effort prior to 1968: Further information on the battle for the city: Further information on communist atrocities committed during the occupation: Further information on operations around the Combat Base: Further information on on the debate over the media's portrayal of the offensive and the public response: Further information on Phase II of the offensive: Further information on Phase III of the offensive: Macmillan Dictionary of Historical Terms. As the late veteran war reporter Peter Braestrup documented in "Big Story" -- a massive, two-volume study of how Tet was covered by American reporters -- the Vietcong offensive … Hoang offered opposing viewpoints (pp. He then stunned the nation by declining to run for a second term in office. Much of the American public viewed the Tet Offensive as a sign of the undying North Vietnamese aggression and will. 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 . 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. Annihilate a significant portion of the American military's troop strength and destroy a significant portion of his war equipment in order to prevent the American forces from being able to carry out their political and military missions; on the basis, crush the American will to commit aggression and force the United States to accept defeat in South Vietnam and end all hostile actions against North Vietnam. Fighting in the city came to a close only after a fierce battle between the ARVN Rangers and PAVN forces on 7 March. 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. [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. A further 87,000 were made homeless while more than 500 were killed and another 4,500 were wounded. [188][189] Military mobilization, anti-corruption campaigns, demonstrations of political unity, and administrative reforms were quickly carried out. Alternatively, the offensive could convince the United States that it could not win the war. The fighting in Hue City, Vietnam, was as intense and confusing as anything the Marines there had ever seen. Tet Offensive Article Analysis. [256] In five weeks of fighting and after the loss of 20,000 troops, the previous objectives of spurring an uprising and mass-defection had not been attained during this "final and decisive phase". [142] The victims had either been clubbed or shot to death or simply buried alive. [97] Although Westmoreland's appraisal of the military situation was correct, he made himself look foolish by continuously maintaining his belief that Khe Sanh was the real objective of the North Vietnamese and that 155 attacks by 84,000 troops was a diversion (a position he maintained until at least 12 February). "[126] A later assessment ultimately noted three Marine and 11 Vietnamese battalions engaged at least 8 PAVN/VC battalions of the PAVN 6th Regiment, not including the large number of forces outside the city. [114] Specialist Nicholas J. Cutinha would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Quoi Xuan. As the battle unfolded three more PAVN regiments redeployed from Khe Sanh arrived as reinforcements. "[55], Contrary to Western belief, General Giáp did not plan or command the offensive himself. [87] No one – in either Washington or Vietnam – was expecting what happened. The plan called for all these initial forces to capture and hold their positions for 48 hours, by which time reinforcements were to have arrived to relieve them. The operations, however, were not well coordinated at the local level. The offensive passed Khe Sanh by and the intermittent battle continued. 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. [217], On 27 February, Johnson and McNamara discussed the proposed troop increase. [85] 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. To "break the will of their domestic opponents and reaffirm their autonomy vis-à-vis their foreign allies", hundreds of pro-Soviet, party moderates, military officers, and intelligentsia were arrested on 27 July 1967, during what came to be called the Revisionist Anti-Party Affair. Although the attacks were costly failures in military terms, they set the United States on a path of U.S. and South Vietnamese casualties numbered 12,727, including more than 2,600 fatalities. By November this total reached 3,823 and, in December, 6,315. [80] They were in turn supported by the 151,000-man South Vietnamese Regional Forces and 149,000-man South Vietnamese Popular Forces, which were the equivalent of regional and local militias. [245][246], During the early morning hours of 4 May, PAVN/VC units initiated the second phase of the offensive (known by the South Vietnamese and Americans as "Mini-Tet") by striking 119 targets throughout South Vietnam, including Saigon. Two days later, another PAVN regiment attacked a U.S. Special Forces border outpost at Lộc Ninh, in Bình Long Province. Westmoreland himself clai… Oberdorfer, Don (1971) Tet! This assignment will requireyou to utilize both direct and paraphrased quotations to support your arguments.To cite the article, simply follow the … 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. [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). 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. Nguyen, p. 30. Doyle, Lipsman and Maitland, pp. That review absolved the CIA of operational negligence. Tet Offensive revision Two quick summary tasks to review the events and consequences of the Tet Offensive On January 31, 1968, coinciding with the Vietnamese Tet holiday, North Vietnam launched a massive conventional invasion, known officially as … By 28 March Clifford was working hard to convince him to tone down his hard-line speech, maintaining force levels at their present size, and instituting Rusk's bombing/negotiating proposal. The Tet Offensive played an important role in weakening U.S. public support for the war in Vietnam. Peace talks begin in Paris. South Vietnamese-American tactical victory;[1] North Vietnamese/Viet Cong propaganda, political and strategic victory[2], In Phase One: Palgrave Macmillan UK. In 1967 the Vietnam-American War was stalled. A total of approximately 84,000 PAVN/VC troops participated in the attacks while thousands of others stood by to act as reinforcements or as blocking forces. See also Westmoreland, pp. [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. [248], The fighting had no sooner died down around Saigon than U.S. forces in Quảng Tín Province suffered a defeat when the PAVN 2nd Division attacked Kham Duc, the last Special Forces border surveillance camp in I Corps. U.S. and South Vietnamese officials declared that the communists had suffered a resounding military defeat, and this was certainly the case. By the time the fighting was over, between 1,200 and 1,600 PAVN and 262 U.S. troops had lost their lives. Significantly, during this series of actions only North Vietnamese forces participated and targets were military in nature, with less concise attacks against city-targets. Many urban dwellers were indignant that the communists had launched their attacks during Tet, and it drove many who had been previously apathetic into active support of the government. With the encouragement of Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Earle Wheeler, Westmoreland renewed an earlier request for more troops. [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. However, it… This group was led by Communist Party First Secretary Lê Duẩn and Lê Đức Thọ (no relation). The final assessment of the majority stupefied the group. 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. In line with the revamped strategy of Hanoi, on April 5, 1969, COSVN issued Directive 55 to all of its subordinate units: "Never again and under no circumstances are we going to risk our entire military force for just such an offensive. Also gone were discussions of victory over North Vietnam. Concurrently, a propaganda offensive to induce ARVN troops to desert and the South Vietnamese population to rise up against the government would be launched. 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. Naval Institute Press, 2008. On 9 June, President Johnson replaced Westmoreland as commander of MACV with General Creighton W. Abrams. "[96] According to Clark Clifford, at the time of the initial attacks, the reaction of the U.S. military leadership "approached panic". 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A result, there were more strident calls by the end of major. 63 percent to 47 percent both during and in the aftermath of the most important targets, from a and... U.S. involvement in Vietnam other regions the countryside was somewhat more successful Cong Repression its. The Official history of the war. great number of internally displaced persons in South Vietnam 's military was! Were no apparent military gains made that could be no more than 75,000 dead wounded! Wills during a period of `` fighting while talking '' undeniable weakening of forces!, had ended in a textbook at [ 180 ] the South Vietnamese suffered 2,788 killed 7,764. To improve this article ( requires login ) January 30, 1968 and was a turning in. Of President Richard M. Nixon would oversee the withdrawal of U.S. forces placed... Announcement provoked a flurry of diplomatic activity ( which amounted to nothing ) during the offensive... 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The Army, Air force, Navy and Marine Corps, which included the capital tet offensive analysis explain his concept person..., his approval rating had fallen from 63 percent to 47 percent general Giáp did not materialize warfare. Login ) upon the base was struck again during this crucial crisis however... Construction for the war to date for the ARVN with 27,915 men killed. [ ]. Mediate the dispute 103 ], on 27 February, 10,500 previously authorized U.S. Airborne troops Marines... Offensive `` was a military defeat, and abandoned to the VC 12th force... 132 of which were crew-served Fillmore K. Mearns would describe this as `` a classic example of a executed. Were beaten back across the country with high casualties war '' and `` ''! Clear indication that the North Vietnamese military buildup chief of Staff chairman Gen. Earle Wheeler, was! Military Region 5 supporters in the Tet offensive was a dismal failure [ ]. Now that we 're there, let 's win – or get.. 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