Tet Offensive

Topic: Tet Offensive

Outline the reasons for the Tet Offensive, outline the main aims of the campaign and evaluate their success:

The Tet Offensive was a military campaign led by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the National Liberation Front (Vietcong) against the Republic of Vietnam and the United States. It began in the early hours of the morning of the 31st January 1968. The reason it is called the Tet Offensive is because the campaign occurred during the Vietnamese holiday Tết Nguyên Đán. It is most important Vietnamese holiday as it is the first day of the traditional lunar calendar. Over 100 cities were attacked throughout South Vietnam including the capital, Saigon. Over 58,000 US soldiers were killed in the campaign and almost 1,400,000 North and South Vietnamese soldiers were killed.

The reasons for the Tet Offensive are numerous but they all boil down to one thing. North Vietnam’s Communist party believed that their tactics were not getting them anywhere. This belief came from the fact that its communist forces had taken a series of military defeats and the South Vietnamese and American forces had already pacified much of South Vietnam. The guerilla forces in South Vietnam were being pushed back and the war was beginning to reach a stalemate. Members of the NVA including Vo Nguyen Giap understood that if the United States stayed committed to the war, and if an effort was not made to try to topple the South Vietnamese government, North Vietnam would be unable to prevail. They also recognised the growing anti war movement in the United States and the tensions between the US and their Vietnamese allies. Giap decided that what was needed was Coup de Grace that could break Washington’s will to continue the war. If they were able to use military action to affect the political context of the war they may be able to accomplish that goal. The kind of military action they were looking for was one that would take place in the public eye and the eye of...