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Why was the Tet Offensive of such significant importance?

Uploaded by Kerrytom on Aug 10, 2013

The 1968 Tet Offensive is widely regarded as the most significant event which occurred during the Vietnam War and a major turning point. The United States had been fighting a ground war in Vietnam for three years prior to the launching of the Tet offensive in January 1968. The Tet offensive was a stark change in strategy by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Vietcong, who had been fighting a guerrilla campaign up to this point. “Communists used new weapons, new tactics and actually stayed to fight for prolonged periods.” Over the course of this essay many important questions will be posed which are vital, in terms of understanding why Tet was of such massive importance. What aims did the North Vietnamese government have for the Tet offensive and what did they expect it to achieve? Did they achieve these goals? What role did the US media have to play in altering the popular opinion of the US population on the war? How much of an impact did US grandstanding and deception to the US people before the Tet offensive, have on the losing the people’s trust in their ability to win the war?


We will first look at what the planning process of the North Vietnamese was and discuss what they hoped to achieve with the attacks. The North Vietnamese had not taken the decision to launch this attack lightly and the original plan for what they called ‘The General Offensive-General Uprising’ was created by General Nguyen Chi Thanh. It called for “amassing both military and political strength to carry out a series of surprise attacks in places where the enemy least expected, specifically Saigon, Hue and Danang; drawing out and striking at US forces in the mountainous region of Tri Thien, Tay Nguyen(Central Highlands) and in the south-east region.” “The decision to embark on the General Offensive-General Uprising was not taken at one particular meeting. Rather it was a process which began in Spring 1967 when the Vietnamese communist leadership came to accept that it could not afford to prolong the war indefinitely.” It was only after Thanh’s death on 6 July 1967, that Defence Minister Vo Nguyen Giap took control of overseeing the application of the plan. The ultimate communist aim for Tet before it was enacted was that they were striving for “a withdrawal of American forces from South Vietnam to...

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Uploaded by:   Kerrytom

Date:   08/10/2013

Category:   American

Length:   17 pages (3,720 words)

Views:   2129

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