Tet Offensive (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: A series of Viet Cong attacks against South Vietnam turns public opinion against the war.
Summary of Event
On the night of January 30, 1968, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese military units began a surprise offensive throughout Vietnam. They attacked thirty-nine of South Vietnam’s forty-four provincial capitals, five of its six autonomous cities, and at least seventy-one of the 245 district towns. A Viet Cong unit even penetrated the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon before being killed in a furious gun fight. All over Vietnam, cities that previously had been immune to the war were attacked, occupied, and in some cases nearly destroyed, as U.S. and Vietnamese troops moved in to liberate them. The war had been going on since 1946, but there had never been fighting like this. Two months later, on March 31, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the American people on television to announce that in the pursuit of peace, he was ordering a partial halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, and that he would neither seek nor accept the Democratic presidential nomination.
The United States had been supporting the Saigon government of South Vietnam since Vietnam was divided in 1954. The military situation had been steadily deteriorating during those years, and in July, 1965, President Johnson made a fateful decision. Henceforth, U.S. troops not only would be used in a defensive capacity to protect...
(The entire section is 1334 words.)
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Tet Offensive (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Type of action: Ground battles in the Vietnam Conflict. Result: A military failure but a political and psychological victory for the Vietnamese Communists.
On January 30, 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army opened a new phase of the war by launching surprise attacks on most major cities and towns of South Vietnam. The campaign began at the start of Tet, the Vietnamese celebration of the new year in the lunar calendar. The United States had nearly 500,000 troops stationed in Vietnam, and the army of South Vietnam was not entirely reliable. The Viet Cong guerrilla forces included about 200,000 fighters, and the North Vietnam army had some 100,000 troops in the south. The Americans enjoyed an overwhelming superiority in military technology and air power.
The leadership of North Vietnam began to prepare for the Tet Offensive in July, 1967. Defense Minister Vo Nguyen Giap’s goal was to win the war quickly in one master stroke. Influenced by Chinese Communist theory, Giap’s doctrine of a “general offensive” assumed that a coordinated attack would be followed by a “general uprising” of the Vietnamese people. To surprise the enemy, the timing and objectives of the offensive were withheld from field commanders until the last possible moment.
In the fall of 1967, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces began diverting U.S. forces from urban centers by initiating a series of random but...
(The entire section is 720 words.)