The Tet Offensive

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

12
The Battle of Khe Sanh, 1968

Peter Brush


INTRODUCTION

In late 1967, U.S. commander General William Westmoreland and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) commander General Vo Nguyen Giap deployed the forces under their commands to Khe Sanh. Giap's and Westmoreland's own tactical and strategic goals, combined with their perceptions of each other's intentions, led them into combat at this particular time and place.

The controversy surrounding this battle has lasted long after the silencing of the guns. Westmoreland was convinced that the Communists were attempting a repetition of their triumph over the French at Dien Bien Phu. Giap, on the other hand, claimed that Khe Sanh itself was not of importance, but only a diversion to draw U.S. forces away from the populated areas of South Vietnam. Both sides claimed victory at Khe Sanh, fueling a debate that continues today--was Khe Sanh a territorial imperative or a bait and switch?


BACKGROUND

It was Indochina's geography that made Khe Sanh important. The Ho Chi Minh Trail had been used as a communications link between North and South since the fighting began between the French and Viet Minh in the First Indochina War.1 This series of trails and roads began in North Vietnam and entered Laos through various mountain passes. Several branches of the Trail penetrated South Vietnam while other branches continued into Cambodia. Khe Sanh was located where North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and Laos came together. For the Communists the region around

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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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