Tet Offensive Research Paper

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The Tet Offensive, which occurred on January 31, 1968, proved to be a political and a psychological triumph for the Vietnamese Communists. And, although it merely lasted for approximately one month, it was one of America’s most noteworthy conflicts that taught the Americans and the Vietnamese valuable lessons about life and war. The background of the Tet-Offensive is really interesting, one hidden within the struggle of the Vietnam War. While the offense was being planned, there were anti-war presentations taking topographic point in the U.S. against the Vietnam War. Lyndon B. Johnson, in a close election, won the primary over McCarthy who happened to be against the war, and so went on to running the state with few jobs.

In Vietnam, General Vo Nguyen Giap of North Vietnam told his political members that the chance for a general offense or rebellion was within range. The violative began in August of 1967, when following Hanoi’s determination to continue with Giap s rebellion, Giap began a monolithic buildup of military personnels, equipment, and supplies in South Vietnam.

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First, 1000s of guns and weaponries were bought southerly along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was the critical Vietcong ( besides known as the South Vietnamese ) supply line that twisted through the jungles of North Vietnam in a due south way . This trail besides served as a transit path for nutrient and medical supplies being brought to the south portion of Vietnam. Tens of 1000s of military personnels poured down from the North, infiltrated the countryside, and have oning civilian apparels, easy blended with the local people. By mid-January, 1968, about 84,000 of the North Vietnamese Army ( NVA ) , and the Vietcong military personnels were in South Vietnam  And, two hebdomads before the existent onslaught would even take topographic point, Giap’s military personnels were positioned and ready for an onslaught ( Coteau 2 ) .

The U.S. began to hold intuitions about some kind of originating taking topographic point. So the violative did, in fact, non take Americans by surprise. American intelligence beginnings had started bring outing grounds that indicated a displacement in enemy scheme in the late summer/early autumn of 1967. The 101st Airborne Division, on November 19, seized an onslaught order stating that the offense was near, and some somewhat elaborate programs of what was traveling to go on and how it was traveling to go on.

The U.S. intelligence officers took this grounds as propaganda and disregarded it wholly. The found onslaught order was so published on January 5th, but still attracted really small attending. As 1968 approached, the U.S. appeared to be winning the war, but in Washington, on December 18th, General Earle G. Wheeler, joint Chief of Staff, cautioned that? it is wholly possible that there may be a Communist push similar to the despairing attempt of the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II ( Young 27-28 ) .

The U.S.  s intuitions about a possible rebellion became stronger as the Tet-Offensive grew closer. In Saigon, on December 20th, General William C. Westmoreland of the U.S. Army cabled Washington that he expected the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong to? set about an intensified countrywide attempt, possibly a maximal attempt over a comparatively short period ( 73-74 ) .

On the same twenty-four hours, December 20th, the President warned the universe that? we face dark yearss in front? ( Mueller 3 ) . These events began to bode the Vietnamese’s coming psychological triumph. In January of 1968, American forces captured a brace of NVA operation orders naming for an onslaught on Pleiku before the Tet, and aiming Ban Me Thuot for assault. Two yearss prior to the Tet, agents of the South Vietnamese Military Service arrested eleven Vietcong leaders that were caught keeping a secret meeting .

The U.S. and its functionaries had strongly doubted that the Vietcong and the NVA would strike during the vacation. The Tet is a really of import and spiritual vacation in the Chinese and Vietnamese civilizations which is another ground why the Vietnamese’s triumph was psychological. Some smaller conflicts started to interrupt out in Vietnam before the existent Tet-Offensive did. In the autumn of 1967, Vietcong and the NVA units suffered heavy losingss during several turns with the U.S. and the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam ( ARVN ) forces. Get downing on October 27th, and go oning for 22 yearss, the American and South Vietnamese military personnels killed over 1,600 more enemy soldiers, about destructing the 4 NVA regiments .

When the ineluctable Tet-Offensive came, someplace between 15,000 and 20,000 military personnels launched an all-out onslaught on the Mariness at Khe Sanh on January 21, 1968 ( Porter 5 ) . The inquiry that started to be asked by American military personnels and its citizens was: ? Is this the violative or non The reply to that inquiry was yes, the conflict ended up being called the most of import conflict of the universe? ( Anzalone 4 ) . The first onslaught was non the Tet-Offensive. This larger conflict was composed of many smaller conflicts. On January 21st, 1968, at 12:30 ante meridiem, the North Vietnamese 325 division launched an assault against Hill 861, a Marine outstation Northwest of the chief combat base.

Following that conflict, there were many other conflicts, until mid/late February. And stop to the Tet-Offensive eventually came into position. On February 20th, there were 47 Mariness killed, 240 severely wounded, and 60 wounded, but still contending . The Americans had really killed more than four times the figure of dead on their side. They started contending the Platoon Task Force, which included a sniper squad. They had two edifices to procure before they could take over the tower. Amazingly, there was no opposition in the two edifices of the tower itself.

On February 21st, the nor’-east wall of the Citadel fell to Major Thompson’s 1st Battalion Mariness. The Mariness so hoisted an American flag over the liberated South Vietnamese dirt ( more specifically, the Citadel ) . The Tet-Offensive eventually came to an terminal. The Black Panther Company of the 1st ARVN Division’s 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment, secured the chief range pole at the Midday Gate of the Imperial Palace. At 5:00 ante meridiem, they hauled down the NLF ( National Liberation Front ) flag, that ran up the yellow and ruddy criterion of the Republic of Vietnam . Although the conflict was so officially over, there were still many losingss. There were 5,113 NVA/VC dead in Hue, and 89 captured ( Young 65 ) .

The ARVN had 384 casualties, and 1,830 wounded ( 73 ) . Among the civilians of Hue, there were 5,800 listed as dead or losing, most of whom had been killed by communist decease squads and buried in mass Gravess in the interior metropolis ( 98 ) . The U.S. Army had 74 dead and 507 earnestly wounded ( 15 ) . And, the Marine Corps had 147 dead, and 857 earnestly wounded ( Anzalone 2 ) . From the experience of the Tet-Offensive, the American’s learned to ne’er undervalue the abilities of their enemies. In this conflict, each side proved something to the other. The Vietnamese Communists proved that they were able to draw off a large-scale rebellion and besides still fight with a batch of power. The Americans proved that they excessively could keep up their side of the battle, but they besides learned that sometimes there are no true victors in a conflict, each side has its casualties and failures.


  1. Young, Marilyn B. The Vietnam Wars: 1945-1990. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. Slaughter at Hue. 25 November 1999. Excerpt from the Viet Cong Strategy of Panic. 6 Apr. 2000.
  2. Couteau, Robert. Home Page. New Insights Into the Spirit of Place. 6 Apr. 2000. . Anzalone, Tom. Home Page. Tet 1968. 6 Apr. 2000. . Porter, D. Gareth. Home Page. University of Texas. The 1968 Hue Massacre. 6 Apr. 2000. .


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