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  #1  
Old 08-12-2012, 16:30
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default The Vietnam Tet Offensive

SUMMARY
Tet Offensive (1968): U.S. troops had been in Vietnam for three years before the Tet Offensive, and most of the fighting they had encountered were small skirmishes involving guerilla tactics. Although the U.S. had more aircraft, better weapons, and hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers, they were stuck in a stalemate against the Communist forces in North Vietnam and the guerilla forces in South Vietnam (known as the Viet Cong). The United States was discovering that traditional warfare tactics did not necessarily work well in the jungle against the guerilla warfare tactics they were facing.In early 1968, General Vo Nguyen Giap, the man in charge of North Vietnam's army, believed it was time for the North Vietnamese to make a major surprise attack on South Vietnam. After coordinating with the Viet Cong and moving troops and supplies into position, the Communists made a diversionary attack against the American base at Khe Sanh on January 21, 1968.

On January 30, 1968, the real Tet Offensive began. Early in the morning, North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong forces attacked both towns and cities in South Vietnam, breaking the ceasefire that had been called for the Vietnamese holiday of Tet (the lunar new year).
The Communists attacked around 100 major cities and towns in South Vietnam. The size and ferocity of the attack surprised both the Americans and the South Vietnamese, but they fought back. The Communists, who had hoped for an uprising from the populous in support of their actions, met heavy resistance instead.In some towns and cities, the Communists were repelled quickly, within hours. In others, it took weeks of fighting. In Saigon, the Communists succeeded in occupying the U.S. embassy, once thought impregnable, for eight hours before they were overtaken by U.S. soldiers. It took about two weeks for U.S. troops and South Vietnamese forces to regain control of Saigon; it took them nearly a month to retake the city of Hue.

In military terms, the United States was the victor of the Tet Offensive for the Communists did not succeed in maintaining control over any part of South Vietnam. The Communist forces also suffered very heavy losses (an estimated 45,000 killed). However, the Tet Offensive showed another side of the war to Americans, one which they did not like. The coordination, strength, and surprise instigated by the Communists led the U.S. to realize that their foe was much stronger than they had expected.
However faced with an unhappy American public and depressing news from his military leaders, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to end the escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.


jainso31

http://history1900s.about.com/od/196...toffensive.htm
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  #2  
Old 08-12-2012, 18:09
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

ADDENDUM TO THE FOREGOING

In the early hours of 31st January 1968, 70,000 North Vietnamese soldiers, together with guerrilla fighters of the NLF, launched one of the most daring military campaigns in history. The Tet Offensive was the real turning point in the Vietnam War. On its 40th anniversary, Alan Woods analyses the events that led to the Vietnam War and the significance of the Tet Offensive in bringing about the defeat of US imperialism, and draws some parallels with Iraq.The Vietnamese call it "Chien Tranh Chong My Curu Nuoc" or "The War against the Americans to save the nation." In the course of this war, some 58,000 US soldiers were killed in action, as well as 304,000 wounded. But these figures pale in insignificance beside the horrific casualties suffered by the Vietnamese. Almost 1,400,000 North and South Vietnamese were killed in action.

To this we must add 2,100,000 wounded. It was one of the bloodiest wars in history, and one that took a particularly high toll of civilian lives. The total number of Vietnamese people killed in this conflict will never be known but was probably not fewer than three million, and the total number of casualties not fewer than 8 million.

The number of American soldiers in Vietnam rose from 23,300 in 1963 to 184,000 in 1966. In January 1969 the total number of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam reached its peak - 542,000. Despite this the U.S. Army was unable to subdue Vietnam. This was the first time in history that the USA has been defeated in a war (Korea was a draw).

In August 1963 the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered the first bombing of North Vietnam, operation "Rolling Thunder". The purpose was to break the Vietnamese will to struggle through "shock and awe". The number of bombs dropped over Vietnam in this campaign alone was greater than the total dropped during the entire Second World War: the equivalent of roughly 15 kilograms of bombs for every man, woman and child in Vietnam. Chemical weapons defoliated 10 percent of the country's surface.

But the numbers of dead and wounded do not tell the whole story. The country was devastated by years of carpet-bombing. Thousands of square miles were laid waste. Billions of dollars were wasted. Thousands of acres of forest were destroyed by the dropping of poisonous chemicals by the US air force ("defoliants"). This, in plain English, is known as chemical warfare.

Many US soldiers developed serious illnesses through contact with these chemical agents. But for a huge number of Vietnamese it meant generations of deformed babies, miscarriages, cancers and all manner of hideous illnesses.

jainso31
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  #3  
Old 08-12-2012, 23:19
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Don Boyer Don Boyer is offline
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

I've always found it interesting that the Vietnamese always refer to the "defeat of US Imperialism" rather than to the defeat of US morale and backbone, since the US was not engaged in "Imperialist" activities there. Had it been so, we would have taken both North and South Vietnam and turned them into chattels of the state which is the prime definition of imperialism -- sort of like what the communists do when they take over a country, which shows you the great difference between the two competing philosophies.

What was defeated was American political will manifested in the machinations designed to discourage the Soviets and Chinese from escalating the war and thereby making it absolutely impossible for the US military to engage in the kind of warfare that would have concluded the war post haste. Instead, they had to engage in jungle ballroom dancing to the latest political caveats and get themselves killed to no good end whatsoever.

Almost exactly the same kind of thing we've ended up doing in Iraq, and Afghanistan. When politicians become too spineless and worthless to allow the military the ability to enagage in winning warfare you end up with wasted dead bodies and worthless political compromise. One's national honor disappears in the fears of the electable and the knee-jerk reactions of the stoned.

As to civilian casualties, considering the battleground (everywhere) and the fact that the civilians were most often indistinguishable from the enemy (the enemy liked it that way---makes for good bleeding-heart PR) there is no surprise inherent in the high number of civilian casualties at all. As we all saw in the NVA propaganda, American bombs were apparently only capable of hitting schools, orphanages, hospitals and refugee camps. As to the troops in the field, one becomes hardened to the civilian casualties in a hurry. For the most part it was felt that if they ran, they were NVA or VC and if they stood still they were well-disciplined NVA or VC. Bothering to make any distinction in the heat of combat could get you killed.

The Tet offensive failed as a military operation, but succeeded as a PR ploy, as Ho had intended. The sacrifice was well worth the problems it caused for America at home, and the Vietcong were willing to expend millions of lives to get America out of Vietnam if that's what it took, and it did.
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:35
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

Don: Unless the hearts and minds of the people can be won over, no amount of bombs, bullets, and troops can attain real victory. We will probably see the same result in Afghanistan after 2014 when the US and NATO forces withdraw. Politicians and generals have to be smart enough to pick their wars carefully. They have a spotty record.
Brian
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:17
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

Agreed, Brian:

One of my jobs with the US Army is publishing our bi-weekly Bulletin, and I have to include in it each week the official "Claims of Indebtedness", which are one part of the notifications of the death of a Soldier attached to a Hawaii Army unit. There are four in this week's issue, and I don't have the heart to go back and count all that have been posted during the course of this past year. I'm getting really tired of publishing them when one see's no good results at the point of the sword. It is especially depressing at this time of the year to think of those who won't be opening presents with their family on Christmas day....
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  #6  
Old 09-12-2012, 08:08
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

One can only wonder what military input went into the decisions to join these 'wars' . ? I don't care what anyone says, if guys are shooting one another try telling them that war has never been declared.

IMO neither Korea. Vietnam nor Afghanistan were winnable in the first place. Historians could tell them that, surely. What a huge price in lives they took, the cream of nations' young men. If I had lost a son in these wars, I could not accept that he died defending his county. More like sacrificed by politicians. But I do respect them from the bottom of my heart that they gave their lives willingly in the service of their country. RIP faithful sons.

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Old 09-12-2012, 11:18
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

The US got involved in Vietnam because they wanted to stop the spread of communism (domino theory) and after France left Vietnam the US felt they needed to take matters into their own hands.
When France pulled-out of Vietnam in 1955-56, the U.S. basically felt it had to fill the void in order to prevent Ho Chi Minh from unifying Vietnam under communist rule (the 1956 peace accords with France had divided Vietnam in half). So starting in 1955, the U.S. started sending military advisers to assist the South Vietnamese Army. The conflict continued to escalate as communist rebels in the South gained more control of the countryside, which required more & more U.S. military advisers & equipment to prop-up the South Vietnamese army. Finally, in 1965, the US sent combat troops to prop-up South Vietnam.

American leaders feared that Communist forces would gain control of Vietnam. After that, nation after nation might fall to Communism. Communism is a political and economic system that the United States strongly opposed-the Domino Effect. Vietnam had been split in half in 1954, after fighting a war to gain independence from France. When French forces withdrew, Vietnamese Communists gained control of North Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh was the leader of the North Vietnamese Communists. South Vietnam had a non-Communist government. This government was weak. But the United States supported it in order to keep the Communists from taking control of all of Vietnam.

At first, the United States supported South Vietnam with only money and military advisers. The number of advisers in Vietnam jumped from 800 to nearly 17,000 during the early 1960s while John F. Kennedy was U.S. president. In 1964, U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson reported that North Vietnam had attacked U.S. Navy ships along Vietnam's coast. Nearly 80,000 U.S. troops were in South Vietnam by the end of 1965. . The United States conducted a brutal air war against North Vietnam. In one year, the air force flew 150,000 bombing missions. By 1967, the United States had dropped more bombs on North Vietnam than it dropped on its enemies during World War II (1939-1945). By 1969, at the height of the war, the United States had about 543,000 troops in Vietnam. Many of them were teenagers. The average age of Americans fighting in Vietnam was 19.

Although Nixon increased the bombing of North Vietnam, he began withdrawing U.S. troops. Without U.S. support, South Vietnam's government collapsed. North Vietnam won the war in 1975. Vietnam was reunited as a Communist nation. Millions of people died in the Vietnam War. Many of them were civilians, not soldiers. The war created about 10 million homeless Vietnamese refugees. It left hundreds of thousands of orphans.


The whole affair was a dreadful mess-with a horrific "butcher's bill" for both sides.Next attempt was to stop the proliferation of WMD=bovine effluent! Now it is Regime Change- also BS!

PS I do however, agree with Don the tet Offensive WAS good PR for the Vietcong

jainso31
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Old 09-12-2012, 16:29
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

The woes of Vietnam go back a lot farther than the French loss of their former empire following their defeat at Dien Bien Phu when American influence began to tell.

At the end of WWII, France -- not unlike several other countries -- was concerned with regaining their empire in Asia and faced the full realization that they could expect no support from the US in the process. They faced the same dilemna as the British -- if they went all out, they were just trying to re-establish themselves in the colonies. If they did not, then they were not supporting America in the Pacific war, letting them fight on their own after they had just pulled all the European chestnuts out of the fire.

Some felt the US was thinking both things simultaneously (as Max Hastings points out in "Retribution"), which they probably were. If anything, the US was more hostile to the French retaining Vietnam than they were about other post-war colonial aspirations, probably due to having to deal with the ever-obnoxious DeGaulle and his lackeys (one perceptive American noted that DeGaulle "...will stand tall in the pages of history only because of his height...").

In the early part of 1945 the deGaulle government felt that they would only regain control if the French were seen to be far more active in liberating the country. This might have been plausible had the French had a real fighting army there, which they did not -- the Japanese easily crushed all French efforts to jump-start resistance, killing thousands of French soldiers and capturing at least 8500 more. This was occuring at the same time as the nationalist Vietminh movement under Ho Chi Minh was gaining ground amongst the native population, in essence leaving the French with two enemies to deal with -- a great number of French soldiers and civilians who were able to escape the Japanese were killed by the Vietminh.

The US adamantly refused to help the French, even under pressure from the British government, who saw the possible fall of Indo-China as a real bad precedent for Burma and Malaya. Instead, the American policy of the Roosevelt Administration, anti-colonialist to the core, was supported by the American OSS teams operating in support of the Vietminh nationalists and the French were ignored, marginalized and left to die on the vine.

The end result was entirely predictable -- once the war was over and the French tried to return in strength, the Vietminh had the upper hand and the British were shown to have been foolish to assume the French status might be restored, while the Americans lost all credibility in Indo-China when they withdrew their support from the Vietminh once the real communist agenda reared it's ugly head.

Only the tremendous political fear of "communist agression" in SE Asia brought America back into the fold, the driving political force of the last half of the 20th century. Having learned nothing of political value about tip-toeing around with war against communists in Korea, the political machine in America continued the policy of "fighting communism" as long as it didn't look like it might draw in direct Soviet or Chinese support, which would only happen (if at all) if the communist forces faced total defeat. There's a "no-win" situation if ever there was one, and the American military, including a number of good friends of mine, paid the full price for that while Johnson and Nixon and McNamera and the rest lived high on the hog at taxpayer expense.
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  #9  
Old 09-12-2012, 17:17
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

QUOTE
Only the tremendous political fear of "communist agression" in SE Asia brought America back into the fold, the driving political force of the last half of the 20th century.
Having learned nothing of political value about tip-toeing around with war against communists in Korea, the politcal machine in America continued the policy of "fighting communism" as long as it didn't look like it might draw in direct Soviet or Chinese support, which would only happen (if at all) if the communist forces faced total defeat.
There's a "no-win" situation if ever there was one, and the American military, including a number of good friends of mine, paid the full price for that while Johnson and Nixon and McNamera and the rest lived high on the hog at taxpayer expense.

That for me Don-says it all. The sheer futility of waging war against "enemies! perceived or imaginary.

Vietnam Casualties as of 9 September 2012:

58,282 KIA or non-combat deaths (including the missing & deaths in captivity)
303,644 WIA (including 153,303 who required hospitalization and 150,341 who didn't)
1,655 MIA (originally 2,646)[
725-779 POW (660 freed/escaped,[48] 65-119 died in captivity)

When will it ever end!!????

jainso31
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Old 09-12-2012, 17:20
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: The Vietnam Tet Offensive

QUOTE
Only the tremendous political fear of "communist agression" in SE Asia brought America back into the fold, the driving political force of the last half of the 20th century.
Having learned nothing of political value about tip-toeing around with war against communists in Korea, the politcal machine in America continued the policy of "fighting communism" as long as it didn't look like it might draw in direct Soviet or Chinese support, which would only happen (if at all) if the communist forces faced total defeat.
There's a "no-win" situation if ever there was one, and the American military, including a number of good friends of mine, paid the full price for that while Johnson and Nixon and McNamera and the rest lived high on the hog at taxpayer expense.

That for me Don-says it all. The sheer futility of waging war against "enemies! perceived or imaginary.

Vietnam Casualties as of 9 September 2012:

58,282 KIA or non-combat deaths (including the missing & deaths in captivity)
303,644 WIA (including 153,303 who required hospitalization and 150,341 who didn't)
1,655 MIA (originally 2,646)[
725-779 POW (660 freed/escaped,[48] 65-119 died in captivity)

When will it ever end!!???? Not in our life times.

jainso31
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