Tet Offensive of 1968 - A Simpler Version
Tet Offensive -- Monica
what are the cause and effects of the TET offensive? and who won this campaign? I don't
really get this event! can someone tell me the story in a easier version? I am in
the 9th Grade.
Here is an answer to a very
complex question. The Tet Offensive of 1968 was an initiative of the North Vietnam
Army to have the civilian population of South Vietnam join them in their offensive and
efforts to overthrow the South Vietnam Government, forcing the withdrawal of the United
States Armed Forces.
The Tet Offensive of 1968 was conceived by General
Giap, commander of the North Vietnam Army and his staff.
General Giap earlier in his career
planned and executed the battle at Dien Bien Phu which drove the French out of Vietnam in
1954. During the battle of Dien Bien Phu, General Giap stated he was willing
to lose 10 men for every 1 enemy soldier killed, which indicated that a person's life in
Vietnam was cheap.
By the end of 1966, North Vietnam had suffered large causalities in manpower and
supplies through the bombing of the North and the fighting in the South. They consider the
war was at a stalemate. North Vietnam would need a major victory if they would continue on
with the war. Thus the planning for what is known as the Tet Offensive began with General
Giap (Commanding General of the North Vietnam Army) and his staff.
The battle of Khe Sanh (Jan. 21, 1968) was the prelude to the Tet Offensive of January 31,
1968. The battle at Khe Sanh was similar to that of Dien Bien Phu in which the
Vietnamese had surrounded their enemy and cut off all land routes for supplies and evacuation.
Khe Sanh had two objectives besides the obvious objective in defeating
1. Diversionary tactic to draw American attention away from the cities of South Vietnam
and more towards Khe Sanh.
2. Remind the people of South Vietnam of another battle that took place 14 years earlier
at Dien Bien Phu, which would encourage South Vietnamese to join the VC in throwing out
the Americans as they did with the French.
The North Vietnamese Army fought the battle at Khe Sanh and the National Liberation
Front (VC) fought the Tet Offensive, which attacked the cities and provinces throughout
It should be noted that NVA units who were not participating in the
Khe Sanh siege supported the VC in their attacks on the cities during the
|National Liberation Front - (Also Known As) Viet Cong or VC
were comprised of South Vietnamese civilians and North Vietnamese advisors who
lived in the cities and villages throughout South Vietnam. They were part
of the North Vietnamese forces in reuniting the two countries as one.
A cease-fire began on January 30, 1968 for the Vietnamese new year of Tet, which falls on
the first new moon of January. On January 31, 1968 the Viet Cong broke their
cease-fire and attacked many cities and provinces throughout South Vietnam. In Saigon, a
small number of VC (19) were able to reach the American Embassy grounds, but did not gain entry
into the embassy itself.
In the Northern part of South Vietnam, the city of Hue was taken over by the V.C.
and executions of city officials and their families took place. The initial
reporting indicated the number of people executed was in the thousands (2,300 persons
executed in and around Hue during Tet 68 - Time Magazine 31 Oct 69).
Saigon was the center for most if not all of the news agencies that were covering the war
in South Vietnam. Tet offensive of 1968 was the first time, during the war, that
actual street fighting took place in the major cities. Rear support personnel and MPís
did the initial fighting by American troops until support from infantry and armor could
arrive. These men did an outstanding job in defending the cities, airfields and bases
along with the embassy. The news media were able to capture this street fighting on tape
in addition to the attack on the American Embassy. This new offensive was immediately
brought into the homes of American families through reporting by television and the press.
The sensationalism of this reporting brought forth a misrepresentation of the actual facts
that took place during the Tet Offensive of 1968. The reports led the American people to
think that we were losing the war in Vietnam and that the Tet Offensive was a major
victory for North Vietnam. This was not the case. The VC suffered such high casualties
that they were no longer considered a fighting force and their ranks would have to be
replaced by North Vietnamese regulars. The civilian population of South Vietnam was
indifferent to both the current regime in South Vietnam and the Viet Cong. The civilian
population, for the most part, did not join with the VC during the Tet Offensive.
The Wall Street Journal published an interview with Bui Tin who served on the General
Staff of the North Vietnam Army and received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam
on April 30, 1975. During the interview Mr. Tin was asked if the American antiwar movement
was important to Hanoi's victory. Mr. Tin responded "It was essential to our
strategy", referring to the war being fought on two fronts, the Vietnam battlefield
and back home in America through the antiwar movement on college campuses and in the city
streets. He further stated the North Vietnamese leadership listened to the American
evening news broadcasts "to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement."
Visits to Hanoi made by persons such as Jane Fonda, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark
and various church ministers "gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face
of battlefield reverses." Mr. Tin surmised, "America lost because of its
democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to
win." Mr. Tin further advised that General Vo Nguyen Giap (Commanding General of the
North Vietnam Army) had advised him the 1968 Tet Offensive had been a defeat.
The military defeat of North Vietnam
after the Tet Offensive of 1968 became a political victory for North Vietnam
anti-war demonstrations and the sensationalism of the news media. The
North Vietnamese interpreted the U.S. reaction to these events as the weakening
of America's resolve to win the war. The North Vietnamese believed
that victory could be theirs,
if they stayed their course.
1969 until the end of the war, over 20,000 American soldiers lost their lives in a war that
the United States did not have the resolve to win. The
sensationalism by the American news media and
the anti-war protests following the 1968 Tet Offensive gave hope to Communist
North Vietnam, strengthening their belief that their will to succeed was greater than ours. Instead of
seeking a successful resolution at the Paris Peace Conference following the disastrous
defeat of the 1968 Tet Offensive, they employed delay tactics as another tool to inflame U.S. politics.
This delaying tactic spurned further anti-war demonstrations. Those who sensationalized
their reporting of the war and those who supported anti-war
guilty of giving our enemy hope. Because of their actions, they must share partial responsibility for those 20,000 + Americans
We won the war on the battlefield but lost it back home on the college campuses and in the
(Featuring 60's music and AFVN snippets)