Remembering Vietnam War's Tet Offensive through …
Giap's gamble had another side effect. When the Tet Offensive began, many US officials believed that the NLF had offered the Americans a golden opportunity by fighting a pitched battle where it could be defeated in open combat. In effect, the NLF was "leading with its chin" and the massive losses it suffered bear this out. The VC was not broken by the Tet Offensive but it was severely crippled by it and, from then on, the North took on the main burden of the war. Further fighting in 1968 and the increasing activity of the Phoenix Program further decimated the NLF's ranks and the role of the North grew even larger. The northern and southern parts of Vietnam had ancient cultural and social differences, and while the communist cadres at the center of the NLF had managed largely to suppress these natural antagonisms, there still were basic differences in goals and approach. The NLF had gone into the Tet Offensive in the hope of giving a death-blow to the Saigon Government and, if it couldn't capture power directly, it could at least gain a coalition leading to ultimate authority. The NLF's dream vanished in the rubble of South Vietnam's cities, and it would be Hanoi that conquered Saigon.
Fake News Bungles Vietnam's Tet Offensive 50 Years …
A massive artillery attack on the Marine base at Khe Sahn, near the border of South Vietnam and Laos began on Jan. 21 and became a focal point of U.S. news for the ensuing two months of siege. Perhaps the attack was planned as a diversion for the coming, widespread offensive.
Giap prepared a bold thrust on two fronts. With memories of the victory at Dien Bien Phu still in his mind, he planned an attack on the US Marines' firebase at Khe Sanh. At the same time the NVA and the NLF planned coordinated attacks on virtually all South Vietnam's major cities and provincial capitals. If the Americans opted to defend Khe Sanh, they would find themselves stretched to the limit when battles erupted elsewhere throughout the South. Forced to defend themselves everywhere at once, the US/ARVN forces would suffer a multitude of small to major defeats which would add up to an overall disaster. Khe Sanh would distract the attention of the US commanders while the NVA/VC was preparing for D-day in South Vietnam's cities but, when this full offensive was at its height, it was unlikely that the over-stretched American forces would be able to keep the base from being overrun and Giap would have repeated his triumph of fourteen years before.
"Vietnam in HD" The Tet Offensive (TV Episode 2011) - IMDb
Although the Tet Offensive represented a loss for Viet Cong and North Vietnam forces, it irreparably eroded U.S. support for the war. Peace talks began but dragged on for almost five years. Direct U.S. engagement in the war ended in January 1973.
Have the lessons of Tet been fully learned by the U.S. military?
The body of a VC lies in the streets of Saigon hardly noticed by the daily business on the first day of the Tet Offensive. The corpses of three NVA regulars lie in the streets near Saigon's Old French Cemetery. An ARVN Ranger sprints for cover through the corps-and rubble-filled streets of Cholon.
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In Saigon, nineteen VC commandos blew their way through the outer walls of the US Embassy and overran the five MP's on duty in the early hours of that morning. Two MP's were killed immediately as the action-team tried to blast their way through the main Embassy doors with anti-tank rockets. They failed and found themselves pinned-down by the Marine guards, who kept the VC in an intense firefight until a relief force of US lO1st Airborne landed by helicopter. By mid-morning, the battle had turned. All nineteen VC were killed, their bodies scattered around the Embassy courtyard. Five Americans and two Vietnamese civilians were among the other dead. The commandos had been dressed in civilian clothing and had rolled-up to the Embassy in an ancient truck. The security of the Embassy was not in serious danger after the first few minutes and the damage was slight but this attack on "American soil" captured the imagination of the media and the battle became symbolic of the Tet Offensive throughout the world. Other NVA/VC squads attacked Saigon's Presidential Palace, the radio station, the headquarters of the ARVN Chiefs of Staff, and Westmoreland's own MACV compound as part of a 7O0 man raid on the Tan Son Nhut air-base. During the heavy fighting that followed, things became sufficiently worrying for Westmoreland to order his staff to find weapons and join in the defense of the compound. When the fighting at Tan Son Nhut was over, twenty-three Americans were dead, eighty-five were wounded and up to fifteen aircraft had suffered serious damage. Two NVA/VC battalions attacked the US air-base at Bien Hoa and crippled over twenty aircraft at a cost of nearly 170 casualties. Further fighting at Bien Hoa during the Tet offensive would take the NVA/VC death total in Saigon to nearly 1200. Other VC units made stands in the French cemetery and the Pho Tho race track. The mainly Chinese suburb of Cholon became virtually a NVA/VC operations base and, as it later turned out, had been the main staging area for the attacks in Saigon and its immediate area. President Thieu declared Marshal law on January 31st but it would take over a week of intense fighting to clear-up the various pockets of resistance scattered around Saigon. Sections of the city were reduced to rubble in heavy street-by-street fighting. Tanks, helicopter gunships, and strike aircraft blasted parts of the city as entrenched guerrillas fought and then slipped off to fight somewhere else. The radio station, various industrial buildings, and a large block of low-cost public housing were leveled along with the homes of countless civilians who were forced to flee. The city dissolved into a chaos which took weeks to begin to put right.
Help locate the Missing Men from the Tet Offensive
Nearly a quarter of a century later, in 1968, the General launched a major surprise offensive against American and South Vietnamese forces on the eve of the lunar New Year celebrations. Province capitals throughout the country were seized, garrisons simultaneously attacked and, perhaps most shockingly, in Saigon the U.S. Embassy was invaded. The cost in North Vietnamese casualties was tremendous but the gambit produced a pivotal media disaster for the White House and the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Giap's strategy toppled the American commander in chief. It turned the tide of the war and sealed the General's fame as the dominant military genius of the 20th Century's second half.