The Tet Offensive

By Marc Jason Gilbert; William Head | Go to book overview

6
The Tet Offensive and Its Aftermath

Ngo Vinh Long


INTRODUCTION: BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION

By 1967 the American "war of attrition" and its "pacification program" had failed in Vietnam, allowing the National Liberation Front (NLF) to control most of the countryside in South Vietnam. Confronted by the deteriorating situation in the South, the United States intensified its air campaign against North Vietnam to unprecedented levels. Throughout 1967, the United States hoped that the bombing would persuade the North to end NLF attacks in exchange for a bombing halt. It was under these circumstances, in October, that the Central Committee of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) decided to carry out a series of widespread offensive operations against urban centers in South Vietnam. The NLF leaders wanted to remind U.S. leaders that their main enemy was in the South and not in the North. They also hoped that these operations would convince the United States to end the bombing of the North and begin negotiations.

The attacks began during the Vietnamese New Year in 1968, and thus were labeled the "Tet Offensive" in the West. The offensive was composed of three phases, lasting until October of that year. During the first phase, which lasted from the end of January to the beginning of March, the NLF strike force achieved dramatic gains while receiving relatively light casualties. In my opinion, at this point the attacks should have been broken off, with military forces retreating into the countryside to consolidate their gains in newly liberated areas. Instead, Politburo members decided to mount the second and third phases of the offensive. As a result, the revolutionary units were left too long in forward positions around the urban

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The Tet Offensive
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • Notes 15
  • 2 - The Tet Offensive 17
  • Notes 43
  • 3 - The Tet Offensive and Sino-Vietnamese Relations 45
  • Notes 59
  • 4 - The Nlf and the Tet Offensive 63
  • Notes 69
  • 5 - Giap and Tet Mau Than 1968: The Year of the Monkey 73
  • Notes 85
  • 6 - The Tet Offensive and Its Aftermath 89
  • Notes 119
  • 7 - My Recollections of the Tet Offensive 125
  • Notes 134
  • 8 - The Tet Offensive and Middletown: A Study in Contradiction 135
  • Notes 141
  • 9 - The Warning That Left Something to Chance: Intelligence at Tet 143
  • Notes 163
  • 10 - Don't Bother Me with the Facts; I've Made Up My Mind: The Tet Offensive in The Context of Intelligence and U.S. Strategy 167
  • Notes 179
  • 11 - Tet Beyond the Wire: TCK/TKN, the General Offensive/General Uprising 181
  • Notes 189
  • 12 - The Battle of Khe Sanh, 1968 191
  • Notes 210
  • 13 - President Johnson and the Decision To Curtail Rolling Thunder 215
  • Notes 228
  • 14 - The Myth of Tet: American Failure and The Politics of War 231
  • Notes 249
  • Selected Bibliography 259
  • Index 269
  • About the Authors and Editors 283
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