Dates: 30JAN1968 – 31MAR1968
Area of Operation: Over 100 cities across South Vietnam, most notably Saigon and Hue
Allied Units: US Army, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, ARVN, VNMC
Allied Casualties: US 3895 KIA, ARVN 4954 KIA, other allies 214 KIA, civilians 14300 killed
Enemy Units: NVA, VC
Enemy Casualties: Estimated 17000 KIA
- A decisive victory to break the current stalemate and which could be used in negotiations with the United States
- To inspire a “general uprising” among the South Vietnamese civilians
- To destroy the fighting capabilities of South Vietnam
- To extinguish the American will to be involved in South Vietnam
Significance/Notes: Though there are numerous details still debated among historians, the Tet Offensive is accepted as the turning point of the Vietnam War. The media is largely credited, in both positive and negative lights, for their portrayal of the battles of Tet. Called the General Offensive-General Uprising by the communists, they failed to hold any of the cities they attacked. Despite this incredible tactical defeat, they managed a strategic victory nonetheless as public disapproval in the US soared and President Johnson announced a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam. In the same address, he proclaimed, “I will not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
Also of note:
- Between 30 Jan and 31 Jan 1968 the communists attacked: 5 of 6 autonomous cities; 36 of 44 provincial capitals; 64 of 245 district capitals; 50 hamlets
- From September to December of 1967, multiple attacks occurred along the Cambodia and Laos borders with South Vietnam. These served to pull American troops away from the cities and towns; to mask the movement of North Vietnamese troops and supplies into South Vietnam; and to provide the opportunity for NVA and VC units to rehearse coordinated attack efforts. Most notable among these are the attacks on Con Thien in Sept, Song Be and Loc Ninh in Oct, and Dak To in Nov.
- The most well known events of the Tet Offensive were the Battle of Saigon (and the attack on the US Embassy there), the Battle of Hue, and the Siege of Khe Sanh.
- The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History edited by Spencer C Tucker
- The Tet Offensive: A Concise History by James H Willbanks
- This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive by James S Robbins
The Tet Offensive: Politics, War, and Public Opinionby David F Schmitz
Tet!: The Turning Point in the Vietnam Warby Don Oberdorfer (First published in 1971)
- Big Story by Peter Braestrup
- Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam by Lien-Hang T Nguyen (Published in 2012, challenges the majority of thought presented in books prior to this. She uses a vast amount of resources previously unavailable to researchers and historians.)
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