The Tet Offensive

Topics: Vietnam War, South Vietnam, Vietnam Pages: 4 (1428 words) Published: April 16, 2003
The Tet Offensive was unquestionably the biggest occurrence of the Vietnam War. While the military success of the Viet Cong in mounting a sustained revolt in cities across South Vietnam was virtually non-existent, the psychological impact it had on the American public was quite simply phenomenal. This effect was partially due to the reporting of the war by the media. To completely understand the impacts of Tet, we must first understand the goals of Tet. The execution of Tet was a failure on the battlefield; however, it proved to be an astounding success on college campuses across America.

The main objectives of the Tet Offensive of 1968 were to mount numerous uprisings in cities that were supposedly secure. The cities focused on in Tet were Saigon, Hue, and Danang. The idea originally came about around 1966. The reason being was that General Westmoreland's continuous pressure constantly harried the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong (Ford 33). The US armed forces were depriving their Vietnamese aggressors of what they needed most, time to plan. Around this time General Nguyen Chi Thanh was being reprimanded for his failures in using large-scale unit operations against the devastating firepower of US forces. Basically, if Thanh continued the war under these circumstances he would have no army to continue the revolution. The decision from Hanoi was that their only hope was to use a Protracted War Strategy and outlast the Americans (Ford 33). In 1967 Thanh died and was replaced by General Giap. This gave the decision makers in Hanoi a solution to their problem of adopting a sound strategy. It wasn't hard to make a decision, they decided on fighting a long and drawn out guerilla war. Hanoi also expanded the debate to consider the views of others (Ford 34). Psychology was a factor in this war, the leaders in North Vietnam made sure of it. They realized that Vietnam was a political war for America. In fact, it was not uncommon for the North...

Cited: Braestrup, Peter. Big Story. New Haven: Westview Press, Inc., 1977.
Ford, Ronnie E. TET 1968: Understanding the Surprise. London: Frank Cass & Co. LTD, 1995
Gilbert, Marc Jason and William Head. The Tet Offensive. Westport: Praeger, 1996.
Omicinski, John. Tet Offensive – A Turning Point.
Vets With A Mission. 4 Feb. 2003
Wirtz, James J. The Tet Offensive: Intelligence Failure In War. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.
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