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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

How did the Tet Offensive impact the outcome of the Vietnam War?

I know all the information about the Tet Offensive, what lead up to it. But I need to know how it impacted the war as a whole.

12 Answers

  • A. T.
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    1. "All of the attacks were beaten back within a few days." FALSE

    It took weeks of some the toughest fighting of the war for the Americans to retake the city of Hue, which was held until February 24. In Saigon, one thousand armed personnel, with the aid of local political units, managed for three weeks to hold off over 11,000 U.S. and ARVN troops and police.

    On February 10, the CIA estimated that the Communists had already accomplished their main psychological, political, and military objectives, gaining control over vast new rural areas, smashing the RVN's military, economic, and political system, and at least relating to the urban sector in a more direct, influential fashion.

    As the ARVN and U.S. forces were withdrawn from the rural areas to defend the cities, the pacification program was dealt what General Earle Wheeler, head of the JCS, described as "a severe setback." The consensus in both Washington and Saigon was that thought the NLF failed in the cities, it made great advances in the countryside, from which it could replenish its manpower losses.

    2. The Tet Offensive was conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam (NVA) and the National Liberation Front (VC). TRUE

    3. "Tet led to the annihilation of the VC." FALSE

    As the soldiers and cadres from the north now replaced the dead southerners, they began a series of attacks on May 4, hitting 119 towns, cities, and bases. Units penetrated Saigon once again for a week of further street fighting. The final phase began on August 17 and lasted for 6 weeks.

    The True Impacts of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam

    1. Defeat for the PAVN and NLF in the cities; great adavnces in the country.

    2. The NLF received no popular support in the cities; but neither did the people rally to the side of the RVN government.

    3. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara resigned as of March 1, 1968.

    4. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorizes an increase of 20,000 additional troops, and not the 206,000 (!) JCS General Wheeler had asked for.

    5. President LBJ's public approval rating for the conduct of the war sank to 26%, the lowest ever, while 78% now believed the U.S. was not making any progress in Vietnam. On March 31, 1968 President LBJ declared he would not seek or accept the nomination of his party for another term as the President.

    6. On March 15, Dean Acheson, the chairman of the Senior Advisory Group of the State Department, the so-called "Wise Men," informed President Johnson that the JCS was giving him very poor advice and that it was time to disengage from what had become a very unpopular war.

  • 1 decade ago

    Militarily, it was a disaster for the communists, but politically, it showed that the claims being made by the US commanders in Vietnam of slowly approaching victory were completely wrong, and the wide spread, massive, coordinated attacks showed that the NVA was capable, despite all the air strikes and all the counter infiltration efforts, of a huge attack. It shocked the American public (along with the large death toll from the city fighting), and caused many people who had previously gone along with the war to question why we were fighting in the first place, and if the war could ever really be won with the strategy the US was following. In short, Tet marked the turning point of the war. From that point on, opposition to the war grew in the US, and morale among the troops began a steady and accelerating decline. US numbers in Vietnam peaked shortly after Tet, and then also began a decline.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Tet Offensive was a complete surprise for General Westmoreland and the American Generals. They did have the correct intelligence but ignored it. It took a few days but the US military did beat back the enemy, but it did cause a great deal more loss than necessary as well bad publicity and a loss in the propaganda war. With Cronkite and others declaring the US could not win the country came to the same realization and faith in the adminstration went to hell and LBJ decided he would not run again for the presidency.

  • 1 decade ago

    The Tet Offensive was a military defeat for the North Vietnamese. All of the attacks were beaten back within a few days. But the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive for the American TV audience. They knew that americans would lose hope of victory if they saw the violent images on their television. And Tet was when the anti-war movement in the us picked up alot of support. Even Walter Cronkite came on TV after Tet and said america could not win the war in Vietnam.

    Tet was a military defeat for North Vietnam, but a propaganda victory.

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  • Mike C
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Both answers given are essentially correct, except that the 1968 Tet Offensive was conducted not only by the North Vietnamese but also by the South's Viet Cong (though many if not most of their cadre were Northerners).

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    These answers are essentially all right. Basically Tet Offensive was known as "The Turning Point of the War". It showed a considerable degree of military preparedness, skill and bravery on the part of the Vietnamese. It shook the morale of the US army, which was forcibly made aware of its own vulnerability, and it had a profound effect on US public opinion.

    However, from a military point of view it must be seen as a defeat for the NLF. One of the main aims was to drive a wedge between the Americans and the South Vietnamese. The Embassy attack was aimed at showing up the vulnerability of the American forces. The NLF hoped that their liberation of towns and cities would lead to an uprising against the Americans by the South's war-weary soldiers, discontented peasantry and rebellious youth. However this perspective did not materialize, or did so only on a sporadic basis.

    It was a bold plan, but the perspective of a nationwide uprising was based on an incorrect reading of the situation. The NLF leadership expected large sections of the urban populace to rise up in revolt. But although the NLF had support in this cities and towns, its main base was the peasantry. The city dwellers of South Vietnam did not support the Saigon Government but were suspicious of the Stalinists. They generally remained inactive and the guerrillas did not get the support they expected. The mass executions of Catholics in Hue also alienated a section of the population that might otherwise have supported them.

    When the offensive was over, the Americans remained in control and the NLF had suffered heavy losses. NVA/NLF dead totalled some 45,000 and the number of prisoners nearly 7000, while the Americans and South Vietnamese lost 6000. Within a matter of days they were driven from most of the positions they had conquered. This was both the high point of guerrilla actions in the war and the beginning of their decline. Since the planners of the offensive expected a people upraising, the most secret cells were ordered to emerge from clandestinity. When the offensive was defeated, cell members had to flee to the jungle. Thus, the Tet offensive ended in the destruction of much of the NLF infrastructure in the South. This was a heavy blow. After the Tet offensive, the regular North Vietnamese army did most of the fighting against the U.S.

    However, the Tet Offensive brought about a different kind of turning point. It strongly influenced the opinion of the American public. For the first time in a major war, the power of television became apparent. Fifty million people watched the destruction brought on by the war. The U.S. government was no longer able to portray the war as clean, simple and easily won. Johnson and the generals had claimed the enemy was in decline. This was falsified by events. The moment Vietnamese commandos penetrated the American Embassy in Saigon, all the official propaganda crumbled to dust.

    During Tet the Americans and their ARVN ally had suffered over 4,300 killed in action, some 16,000 wounded and over 1,000 missing in action. It is true that the enemy suffered far more but to an already skeptical US public this mattered little. What mattered was that the war now seemed never-ending, just like Iraq today. And just like Iraq, it no longer had any definite, realistic objective. The scenes of slaughter and devastation in Saigon, Hue, and other cities horrified the average US citizen, to whom the conflict now seemed senseless. The senselessness of it was reflected in the notorious comment of a US officer who explained the destruction of about one-third of the provincial capital of Ben Tre: "It became necessary to destroy it in order to save it". The same words could serve pretty well as an epitaph for the invasion of Iraq.

  • 1 decade ago

    Tet Offensive helped undermine American public support for the U.S military involvement in Vietnam.

  • 1 decade ago

    It showed that the war was not over, and that despite three years of direct American involvement, the end was still not in sight. After Tet the American public turned against the war because we could not see "the light at the end of the tunnel" that our leaders were always talking about.

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    7 years ago

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  • 1 decade ago

    The Tet offensive was actually a defeat of North Vietnamese forces, but the propaganda that was generated by the ferociousness of the fighting finally sucked the US's will to win completely out of the public's stomach for the fighting.

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