On what day did the Tet Offensive begin? What were some of the positions overrun?

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The Tet Offensive was a military operation launched during the Vietnam War. The offensive began on January 30th, 1968 during the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Both sides had agreed to a cease-fire during the festivities, but the combined forces of the North used the agreement to launch a coordinated surprise attack throughout Vietnam. 

The offensive was massive, involving nearly 80,000 communist troops. The main objective of the communist forces was Saigon, but the attack occurred throughout the country. More than 100 cities and towns were targeted, including the southern capital. Although the attack was a surprise, most of the attacks were beaten back quickly, resulting in massive casualties to Northern forces. 

In addition to the house to house fighting that broke out during the battle of Saigon where U.S. forces helped push northern insurgents from the city, other notable battles included the Battle of Hue, where Northern forces massacred villagers as they were chased out of the town and the Battle of Khe San where fighting continued for two more months.

As a result of the Tet Offensive, Americans were forced to re-evaluate the war and how it was conducted. Westmoreland and Wheeler demanded additional troops, which would cost the U.S. nearly $25 billion to outfit and deploy. The effect of this offensive on the U.S. public was to question how their government was conducting the war and if they were losing control. More opposition to the war began to develop, and soon the anti-war movement had gained new momentum.   


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