Tet Offensive Essay Research Paper The Tet
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Tet Offensive Essay, Research Paper The Tet Offensive, which occurred on January 31, 1968, proved to be a political and a psychological victory for the Vietnamese communists. And, although it only lasted for about one month, it was one of America?s most notable battles that taught the Americans and the Vietnamese valuable lessons about life and war. The background of the Tet-Offensive is very interesting, one hidden within the conflict of the Vietnam War. While the offensive was being planned, there were anti-war demonstrations taking place in the U.S. against the Vietnam War. Lyndon B. Johnson, in a close election, won the primary over McCarthy who happened to be against the war, and then went on to running the country with few problems. In Vietnam, General Vo Nguyen Giap of North Vietnam told his political members that the opportunity for a general offensive or uprising was within reach. The offensive began in August of 1967, when following Hanoi?s decision to proceed with Giap?s ?uprising,? Giap began a massive buildup of troops, equipment, and supplies in South Vietnam. First, thousands of guns and munitions were bought southward along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was the vital Vietcong (also known as the South Vietnamese) supply line that twisted through the jungles of North Vietnam in a southward direction (?Vietnam?). This trail also served as a transportation route for food and medical supplies being brought to the south part of Vietnam. Tens of thousands of troops poured down from the North, infiltrated the countryside, and wearing civilian clothes, easily blended with the local people. By mid-January, 1968, about 84,000 of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), and the Vietcong troops were in South Vietnam (?Massacre?). And, two weeks before the actual attack would even take place, Giap?s troops were positioned and ready for an attack (Coteau 2). The U.S. began to have suspicions about some sort of uprising taking place. So the offensive did, in fact, not take Americans by surprise. American intelligence sources had started uncovering evidence that indicated a shift in enemy strategy in the late summer/early fall of 1967. The 101st Airborne Division, on November 19, seized an attack order telling that the offensive was near, and some slightly detailed plans of what was going to happen and how it was going to happen (?Vietnam?). The U.S. intelligence officers took this evidence as propaganda and disregarded it completely. The found attack order was then published on January 5th, but still attracted very little attention. As 1968 approached, the U.S. appeared to be winning the war, but in Washington, on December 18th, General Earle G. Wheeler, joint Chief of Staff, cautioned that ?it is entirely possible that there may be a Communist thrust similar to the desperate effort of the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II? (Young 27-28). The U.S.?s suspicions about a possible uprising became stronger as the Tet-Offensive grew closer. In Saigon, on December 20th, General William C. Westmoreland of the U.S. Army cabled Washington that he expected the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong to ?undertake an intensified countrywide effort, perhaps a maximum effort over a relatively short period? (73-74). On the same day, December 20th, the President warned the world that ?we face dark days ahead? (Mueller 3). These events began to foreshadow the Vietnamese?s coming psychological victory. In January of 1968, American forces captured a pair of NVA operation orders calling for an attack on Pleiku before the Tet, and targeting Ban Me Thuot for assault. Two days prior to the Tet, agents of the South Vietnamese Military Service arrested eleven Vietcong leaders that were caught holding a secret meeting (?More?). The eleven had two tapes that had messages about the liberation of Saigon, Hue, and other cities. Too many warnings of the offensive were ignored.