Battle of Hue During the TeT Offensive - Vietnam 1968. Continuing their border-clearing operations, three PAVN regiments asserted heavy pressure on the U.S. Special Forces camp at Bu Prang, in Quang Duc Province, five kilometers from the Cambodian border. The Tet Offensive was an operation that the North Vietnamese conducted that called for a simultaneous attack on every major city in South Vietnam; its shock value would prove to be a major blow to American support for the war at home even though it was a great tactical victory for Allied forces. Although U.S. commanders generally held a low opinion of the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam (ARVN), South Vietnamese soldiers fought with bravery and tenacity during the Tet Offensive.  Khe Sanh Base was later closed on 5 July 1968 because the base was seen as having less of a strategic importance than before. Other forces would block American and ARVN reinforcement routes, mainly Highway 1. , Johnson dispatched Wheeler to Saigon on 20 February to determine military requirements in response to the offensive. General William C. Westmoreland, the commander of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), believed that if a "crossover point" could be reached by which the number of communist troops killed or captured during military operations exceeded those recruited or replaced, the Americans would win the war. At a meeting in July, Thanh briefed the plan to the Politburo. :464–7, At 03:40 on the foggy morning of 31 January, allied defensive positions north of the Perfume River in the city of Huế were mortared and rocketed and then attacked by two battalions of the PAVN 6th Regiment. Nguyen, p. 34. Translation by Merle L. Pribbenow.  Their first and most ambitious goal, producing a general uprising, had ended in a dismal failure. This time, however, allied intelligence was better prepared, stripping away the element of surprise. According to James Meecham, an analyst at the Combined Intelligence Center who attended the party: "I had no conception Tet was coming, absolutely zero ... Of the 200-odd officers present, not one I talked to knew Tet was coming, without exception.". , VC forces around Huế included six main-force battalions, while two PAVN regiments operated in the area.  No one – in either Washington or Vietnam – was expecting what happened. Early in the morning, North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong forces attacked both towns and cities in South Vietnam, breaking the ceasefire that had been called for the Vietnamese holiday of Tet (the lunar new year). Palgrave Macmillan UK. When the main operation began the next morning, the offensive was countrywide and well coordinated; eventually more than 80,000 PAVN/VC troops struck more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital. The sound of gunfire alerted base sentries who secured the gate and sounded the alarm. Much of the American public viewed the Tet Offensive as a sign of the undying North Vietnamese aggression and will. U.S. Army units participating in the defense included the 716th Military Police Battalion, seven infantry battalions (one mechanized), and six artillery battalions.  By 12 May, however, it was all over. "Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975." The Tet Offensive Analysis 1202 Words 5 Pages The Tet Offensive, which was launched on 30 January 1958 by Northern Vietnamese communist forces against the U.S. supported South Vietnamese forces, had the tactical aim of spurring a communist revolt in South Vietnam. 13 VC battalions, however, managed to slip through the cordon and once again plunged the capital into chaos. Westmoreland was "bitter" and was upset that he "had been made the goat for the war." ", To evaluate Westmoreland's request and its possible impact on domestic politics, Johnson convened the "Clifford Group" on 28 February and tasked its members with a complete policy reassessment. In mid-March 1968, 139 members of the House of Representatives sponsored a resolution asking for congressional review of U.S. policy in Vietnam.  The South Vietnamese suffered 2,788 killed, 8,299 wounded, and 587 missing in action. In the Tet Offensive of 1968, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces launched a massive countrywide attack on South Vietnam. Concurrently, a propaganda offensive to induce ARVN troops to desert and the South Vietnamese population to rise up against the government would be launched. The optimistic assessments made prior to the offensive by the administration and the Pentagon came under heavy criticism and ridicule as the "credibility gap" that had opened in 1967 widened into a chasm.  Walter Cronkite, anchorman of the CBS Evening News and a World War II combat veteran, argued for negotiations as an honorable way out in a Special Report based on his journalism in Vietnam broadcast on CBS TV in March.  General Nguyễn Chí Thanh the head of Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), headquarters for the South, was another prominent militant. The following day as US troops swept the area they were engaged by VC forces in an 8-hour battle losing 3 dead while killing 10 VC. This was especially true during the battle for Hue, where ARVN troops and U.S. Marines liberated the city after engaging in some of the fiercest close-quarters combat of the war. If Westmoreland had a grasp of the potential for danger, he did not communicate it very well to others. He said the Vietnamese had too much respect for the holiday to attack during Tet itself. 25. Weyand said he had moved 30 U.S. and South Vietnamese battalions closer to Saigon to defend the city. No history of that war can be complete without an analysis of this offensive. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Karnow, p. 562. The offensive itself, an all-out effort by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces to overrun the major cities of South Vietnam, marked the turning point of the Vietnam War .  1968 became the deadliest year of the war to date for the ARVN with 27,915 men killed.. Westmoreland himself clai… To a lesser extent characterised as mere disappointment in the official history (a heavy characterisation for an official history), Duiker, William J. Throughout the country, some 75,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The National Archives is proud to serve veterans and their families, especially through our work at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. The North Vietnamese plan of attack on Huế involved intensive preparation and reconnaissance. CIA Analysis of the Tet Offensive 2/12/1968. 421 ARVN troops were killed, another 2,123 were wounded, and 31 were missing. 1968 Tet offensive . Although the north Vietnamese suffered massive casualties it gained a psychological and political victory for the communists, dramatically contradicting optimistic claims by … The 1968 Tet Offensive is described as one of the bloodiest military campaign of the Vietnam War; the North Communists launched against the South. During the second half of 1967 the administration had become alarmed by criticism, both inside and outside the government, and by reports of declining public support for its Vietnam policies.  All of the arrests were based on the individual's stance on the Politburo's choice of tactics and strategy for the proposed General Offensive. :460–1 From 11 March to 7 April, Allied forces launched Operation Quyet Thang to pacify the area around Saigon. Yet, there was still a lack of a sense of urgency on the part of the allies.  According to General Tran Van Tra: "We did not correctly evaluate the specific balance of forces between ourselves and the enemy, did not fully realize that the enemy still had considerable capabilities, and that our capabilities were limited, and set requirements that were beyond our actual strength. ", Westmoreland was even more emphatic in his assertions. A total of approximately 84,000 PAVN/VC troops participated in the attacks while thousands of others stood by to act as reinforcements or as blocking forces.  On 8 February, Westmoreland responded that he could use another division "if operations in Laos are authorized". In what became known as the Battle of Dai Do, the PAVN clashed savagely with U.S. Marine, Army and ARVN forces before withdrawing. General Phillip B. Davidson, the new MACV chief of intelligence, notified Westmoreland that "This is going to happen in the rest of the country tonight and tomorrow morning. Westmoreland was more concerned with the situation at Khe Sanh, where, on 21 January 1968, a force estimated at 20,000–40,000 PAVN troops had besieged the U.S. Marine garrison. P 33. According to it, many high-level officials believed that the U.S. troop increase would be matched by the communists and would simply maintain a stalemate at a higher level of violence.  On 23 February the U.S. , In the wake of the offensive, however, fresh determination was exhibited by the Thiệu government. At the same time, he announced that Westmoreland would be recalled to the United States to become chief of staff of the army. This assignment will requireyou to utilize both direct and paraphrased quotations to support your arguments.To cite the article, simply follow the … 118, 120. For years this figure has been held as excessively optimistic, as it represented more than half the forces involved in this battle. Page 247. " This prompted the administration to launch a so-called "Success Offensive", a concerted effort to alter the widespread public perception that the war had reached a stalemate and to convince the American people that the administration's policies were succeeding. The territory is being gained. On 1 March, Clifford had succeeded McNamara as Secretary of Defense. During the Tet Offensive the South Vietnam based Viet Cong were essentially wiped out as a fighting force. MACV was convinced that the PAVN planned to stage an attack and overrun the base as a prelude to an all-out effort to seize the two northernmost provinces of South Vietnam. , The most severe of what came to be known as "the Border Battles" erupted during October and November around Dak To, another border outpost in Kon Tum Province. Although the initial attacks stunned the allies, causing them to lose control of several cities temporarily, they quickly regrouped, beat back the attacks, and inflicted heavy casualties on PAVN/VC forces. By 09:20 the embassy and grounds were secured, with the loss of five U.S. However, it… If outright victory was not achieved, the battle might still lead to the creation of a coalition government and the withdrawal of the Americans. Every statistical indicator of progress, from "kill ratios" and "body counts" to village pacification, was fed to the press and to the Congress.  With few exceptions, all of the members of the group had formerly been accounted as hawks on the war. The Tet Offensive played an important role in weakening U.S. public support for the war in Vietnam. Clark Clifford, with Richard Holbrooke.  Washington Post reporter Peter Braestrup summed up the feelings of his colleagues by asking "How could any effort against Saigon, especially downtown Saigon, be a diversion?". 1859 Words 7 Pages. Without a new tax bill and budgetary cuts, the nation would face even higher inflation "and the possible collapse of the monetary system". To probe this question, we must review briefly the details of the Tet offensive. 126–127. Let me caution everyone not to be confused. U.S. and other allied forces suffered 1,536 killed, 7,764 wounded, and 11 missing. " Between the results of Tet and the meetings of the group that bore his name, he became convinced that deescalation was the only solution for the United States.  Johnson's friend Clifford was concerned about what the American public would think of the escalation: "How do we avoid creating the feeling that we are pounding troops down a rathole? He believed that "it was a political problem ... [Helms] didn't want the agency ... contravening the policy interest of the administration.".  By dawn most of the attacks within the city center had been eliminated, but severe fighting between VC and allied forces erupted in the Chinese neighborhood of Cholon around the Phú Thọ racetrack, southwest of the city center, which was being used as a staging area and command and control center by the PAVN/VC. 1,800 U.S. and ARVN troops were isolated and under intense attack when MACV made the decision to avoid a situation reminiscent of that at Khe Sanh. During the initial phase of the offensive, the U.S. death toll in Vietnam increased to more than 500 per week, and, as the casualty numbers rose, U.S. public support for the war effort declined. “Episode 3—1967-1968: CIA, the Order-of-Battle Controversy, and the Tet Offensive” Author: Harold P. Ford Published:1997 “Episode 3” is a chapter in a book about CIA’s involvement in the Vietnam war, titled, CIA and the Vietnam Policymakers: Three Episodes, 1962 – 1968. Both the government and the Americans were encouraged by a new determination that was exhibited among the ordinary citizens of South Vietnam. These forces would join with local cadres who served as guides to lead the regulars to the most senior South Vietnamese headquarters and the radio station.  A crack-down on the South Vietnamese press also ensued and there was a worrisome return of former President Ngô Đình Diệm's Cần Lao Party members to high positions in the government and military.  Attacks on other U.S. forces were of secondary, or even tertiary importance, since Giáp considered his main objective to be weakening or destroying the South Vietnamese military and government through popular revolt. " As also noted by the official history, "because our armed local forces had suffered severe losses, guerrilla operations had declined. Initial United States Information Agency estimates placed the number of communists dead at 60,000 (a figure that was subsequently revised down), with 24,000 weapons captured. As the late veteran war reporter Peter Braestrup documented in "Big Story" -- a massive, two-volume study of how Tet was covered by American reporters -- the Vietcong offensive … Except at Huế and mopping-up operations in and around Saigon, the first surge of the offensive was over by the second week of February.  Since the Politburo had already approved the offensive, all he had to do was make it work. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login).  The resultant Resolution 14 was a major blow to domestic opposition and "foreign obstruction". They felt that a return to guerrilla tactics was more appropriate since the U.S. could not be defeated conventionally. There is conflicting evidence as to whether, or to what extent, the offensive was intended to influence either the March primaries or the November presidential election in the U.S., According to General Trần Văn Trà, the new military head of COSVN, the offensive was to have three distinct phases: Phase I, scheduled to begin on 30 January, would be a countrywide assault on the cities, conducted primarily by VC forces. Alternatively, the offensive could convince the United States that it could not win the war. A study of North Vietnamese documentation by James Wirtz led him to conclude that Giáp believed that the American people would have to endure two more years of military stalemate (post-offensive) before turning decisively against the war. Since, in the allied estimation, the communists hardly had the capability to launch such an ambitious enterprise: "There was little possibility that the enemy could initiate a general offensive, regardless of his intentions. By the time the fighting was over, between 1,200 and 1,600 PAVN and 262 U.S. troops had lost their lives.  40-50% of Huế was destroyed by the end of the battle. Johnson, however, made few comments to the press during or immediately after the offensive, leaving an impression of indecision on the public. No history of that war can be complete without an analysis of this offensive. ", While this was being deliberated, the troop request was leaked to the press and published in The New York Times on 10 March. 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