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50 Years Ago Today The Tet Offensive Started


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#1 JWB

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 1540 PM

Former SecDef Hagel, Army historians dispel Tet Offensive myths

https://www.army.mil...offensive_myths

 

 

https://history.army...F/Chapter11.pdf


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#2 shep854

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 1926 PM

I watched the coverage as a 13 year-old and I could tell that we defeated the Communists decisively, despite the yammering of the talking heads.


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#3 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 0254 AM

 You did, but it came with a basic problem. A basic military incapability to understand there was a political battlefield as well as a military one.

 

Westmoreland in 1967 'We are winning. Can we have more troops?'

Westmoreland in 1968 after Tet. 'We are even more winning. Can we have some more troops?'

 

The VC was pretty much destroyed by that offensive, and from that point on the NVA had to step more up to the plate. It was militarily a disaster. Politically, it was a stunning success that nobody in Washington had an answer to.

 

 

Thanks for the link, Ill read that with interest.


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 31 January 2018 - 0254 AM.

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#4 shep854

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 0852 AM

It also saved the North the bother of liquidating the VC. 


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#5 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1109 AM

I never thought of that, but yes, you are probably right. :D


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#6 shep854

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1132 AM

I have no doubt the idea was floated...Wipe out future opposition while scoring a propaganda coup.
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#7 rmgill

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1251 PM

The VC represented true believers, they are dangerous to communists. 


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#8 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1308 PM

Same with Fascists too when you think about it. Look at what happened to Ernst Rohm.


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#9 shep854

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1339 PM

The first casualties of a successful revolution...
Our 76 tiff being an extremely rare exception.
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#10 JWB

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1345 PM

 You did, but it came with a basic problem. A basic military incapability to understand there was a political battlefield as well as a military one.

 

Westmoreland in 1967 'We are winning. Can we have more troops?'

Westmoreland in 1968 after Tet. 'We are even more winning. Can we have some more troops?'

 

The VC was pretty much destroyed by that offensive, and from that point on the NVA had to step more up to the plate. It was militarily a disaster. Politically, it was a stunning success that nobody in Washington had an answer to.

 

 

Thanks for the link, Ill read that with interest.

NVA was increasing its role at least as far back as late 1966. VC attrition was greater than Westmoreland was claiming. To make up for the VC losses NVA were taking off the green unis and donning VC black pjs upon reaching SVN. CIA finally figured that out in early 1967. Westy had to quietly alter the strategy from attrition to pacification. Tet only reinforced that change. Certainly pacification would have been if a few hundred thousand more troops were deployed. There were several problems with pacification, First it was irrelevant because it was about defeating the VC and that force had been neutralized. He was chasing ghosts. Second was deploying US troops into areas that were pro Hanoi and the local population was hostile. Which is what caused the My Lai massacre. The French tried the same thing and got the same results. Third was the economic cost. LBJ had to raise taxes in 1967 just to pay for the force that was deployed at that time. Doubling the force would have required another tax increase which Congress probably would not allow. 

 

The real requirement post Tet was strengthening the ARVN and interdicting the HMT. 


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#11 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1345 PM

Yeah, its pretty remarkable how unbloody that was.

 

Just thinking of the French revolution, many of the early ringleaders (Robespere, Marat) were either executed or murdered. Fairly typical in revolutions, you destroy one powerbase, it takes a long time (decades sometimes) to recreate stability.


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#12 Ken Estes

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1743 PM

It is never that easy, The side we supported was corrupt to the gills, and the ARVN had been penetrated considerably. The US population expected victory and an early return of the troops; the 1973 Easter Offensive ruined any such notion, rendering Tet an insignificant event, since the NVA remained in the field in force and within the borders of RVN at the time of the 1973 'peace settlement.' 

 

Do not forget the Kissinger formula amounted to a 'Decent Interval' for the US to withdraw from the pending debacle, 1975. 

 

Siagon-falls.jpg

 

The%2BFall%2Bof%2BSaigon%2C%2B1975%2B(1)


Edited by Ken Estes, 31 January 2018 - 1745 PM.

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#13 Ken Estes

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1747 PM

You can always trust your government.


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#14 rmgill

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 1752 PM

The ideals were adhered to by the leadership. Unlike in the marxist dogmas because the real objective is power. 

Bezmenov mentions the targeting of the true believers in a revolution when power was consolidated. 





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#15 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 0306 AM

It is never that easy, The side we supported was corrupt to the gills, and the ARVN had been penetrated considerably. The US population expected victory and an early return of the troops; the 1973 Easter Offensive ruined any such notion, rendering Tet an insignificant event, since the NVA remained in the field in force and within the borders of RVN at the time of the 1973 'peace settlement.' 

 

Do not forget the Kissinger formula amounted to a 'Decent Interval' for the US to withdraw from the pending debacle, 1975. 

 

Siagon-falls.jpg

 

The%2BFall%2Bof%2BSaigon%2C%2B1975%2B(1)

 

I wouldnt go so far as to say it was insignificant. I mean, you can draw a straight line between Tet, the final discrediting of Johnson and his resignation, and the election of Richard Nixon.  And Kissinger from the Niall Ferguson book confessed he thought they would have to pull out without stabilizing the south as early as 1965. In fact, the US State Department was telling him as early as that date, the only way out of Vietnam was to 'cut the balls off the South Vietnamese'. All it took was a president to realize that was the only way out. And you are right, all Vietnamization  was for was to create an interval before the Vietnamese regime collapsed. Preferably so it would happened on another Presidents watch.

 

Militarily, yes Tet changed nothing, except for the better. It was far more of a success politically I think. Johnson supposedly said when he saw Cronkites report, that if we lost Cronkite, we lost middle America. He might have been right at that.


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#16 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 0307 AM

The ideals were adhered to by the leadership. Unlike in the marxist dogmas because the real objective is power. 

Bezmenov mentions the targeting of the true believers in a revolution when power was consolidated. 




 

 

Its funny, I was watching that not long ago, and I was thinking of exactly the same thing. :)


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#17 JWB

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 1325 PM

1973 Easter offensive? 

 

Yes the Saigon regime was corrupt but only slightly less so than the Hanoi gang and the North in general. That is the way things were (and still are) done in that part of the world. Defeating it wasn't difficult. The CIA knew where the money was and could have reclaimed much of it through back channels if LBJ and RMN had their heads on straight. Those two knuckleheads were more interested in avoiding embarrassment than anything else. 

 

Yes we can trust our government.

 

The 2nd battle of Saigon was a closer run event than popular history claims. The disastrous failure of 1972 caused Moscow to lose patients with Hanoi and effectively cut off any more supplies of modern equipment and ammo. From wiki:

 


 

.......deficiencies of the PAVN's armored and heavy artillery forces, essential for attacks on heavily fortified ARVN regimental and divisional base camps, weighed heavily on the minds of the General Staff planners who drew up the plan presented to the Politburo in October 1974. Much attention was focused on the role ARVN's ammunition shortages played in the collapse of South Vietnam, but it is not known if the PAVN suffered similar shortages. Soviet and Chinese military aid, especially in the category of "offensive weapon" (armorand artillery), declined significantly since the Paris cease-fire.[36] Also, much of PAVN's armor and artillery was in poor condition, and spare parts were in short supply. Most PAVN artillery units, especially in the South, were still equipped only with light mortarrecoilless gun, or single-tube rocket launchers. In the COSVN (Central Office for South Vietnam) area of operations, consisting of the southern half of the country, seven infantry divisions (the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th) and one corps headquarters (4th Corps) were supported by only five battalions of field artillery, two of which were equipped with captured US-made weapons for which there was little ammunition, and three understrength armored battalions. The PAVN's 2d Corps, with three artillery regiments belonging to its three infantry divisions, a corps artillery brigade, a tank brigade, and a separate armored battalion, could field a grand total of only 89 tanks and armored personnel carrier and 87 towed artillery pieces when it set off to attack Saigon in April 1975.[37]

The most critical problem, however, was a shortage of ammunition for the PAVN's tanks and heavy artillery (field artillery and mortars 85mm or larger in caliber). By 1974, PAVN's entire stock of heavy artillery and tank ammunition, including all ammunition held by combat units at forward warehouses, and in the PAVN's strategic reserves, totaled just 100,000 rounds. The ammunition problem was so serious that the PAVN artillery command had to replace the larger weapons in a number of units with obsolete 76.2mm and 57mm artillery pieces drawn out of storage for which there still was adequate ammunition.[37]

The supply situation was even worse in the South. The AFRVN had hundreds of aircraft in those final weeks but flew few sorties because of fuel shortages. ARVN armor was abandoned in the field for the same reason. ARVN infantry averaged 3 rounds per day and one grenade per month. Ultimately the North won because the South ran out of supplies before the North did. That should never have happened. 


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#18 Rich

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 1454 PM

Militarily, yes Tet changed nothing, except for the better. It was far more of a success politically I think. Johnson supposedly said when he saw Cronkites report, that if we lost Cronkite, we lost middle America. He might have been right at that.

 

 

There is actually little or no evidence that Johnson actually saw the CBS special report on 27 February 1968. He apparently watched a recording the next day and then remarked something to the effect of, "if we've lost Cronkite, we've lost the American people", but that was ex post facto reasoning on his part if he said it. By August 1967, five months before Tet, polls were putting American public support for Johnson's policy at just 32%.

 

Nor did Cronkite say we had lost the war, rather, he closed with "To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."

 

It is interesting that Cronkite may have gotten much of his opinion from Deputy MAC-V Commander Creighton Abrams, who was disillusioned with the situation Westmoreland was handing him. The real sticking point of course was the pre and post Tet MAC-V G-2 assessments that were driving the requests for reinforcements. Before Tet it was "hey an extra 25,000 and we have this thing wrapped up". Afterwards it was "hey an extra 225,000 in addition to the 30,000 already sent and we may have this thing wrapped up". That meant that Abrams would have to present Johnson with the prospect of a nearly million-man US commitment in Vietnam, which Abrams well knew was politically impossible.

 

In the event, Johnson did exactly what Cronkite advised when he made his famous press conference on 31 March 1969, announcing he would not seek reelection and would restart negotiations with North Vietnam.


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#19 Ken Estes

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 0335 AM

Sorry, JWB, 1972 Easter Offensive. The character of the 1973 'peace' made it a complete victory for the North, which could plan and prepare at leisure for the final offensives.


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#20 JWB

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 1233 PM

Sorry, JWB, 1972 Easter Offensive. The character of the 1973 'peace' made it a complete victory for the North, which could plan and prepare at leisure for the final offensives.

RVN was doomed by the Case-Church amendment.


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