JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1844TET OFFENSIVE BEGAN 48 YEARS AGO TODAY
Saigon, South Vietnam (JFK+50) Forty-eight years ago today, January 30, 1968, communist forces launched their largest offensive of the war in Vietnam. It was known as the TET OFFENSIVE because it was fought during the traditional lunar new year holiday.
Before the attacks began, the following message was sent from headquarters to the North Vietnamese army...
"Crack the sky, shake the earth!"
More than a hundred towns along with military bases came under attack across the South as well as the United States Embassy in Saigon.
The offensive, which included 80,000 North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front forces, was planned by General Vo Nguyen Giap (PAVN). The purposes of the operation were to "foment rebellion" among the people of the south and "encourage the United States to scale back...support of...the Saigon regime."
The Battle of Hue was particularly difficult for American and South Vietnam forces. 150 Marines were killed there along with 1400 South Vietnamese troops. Communist losses were estimated to be 5000.
The offensive came to an end on February 22, 1968 with President Lyndon B. Johnson labeling it a complete failure. Despite the fact that North Vietnam lost twenty times the number of casualties as her enemies, defense positions, previously thought to be solid, had proven to be suspect.
As a result of TET, General William Westmoreland requested an additional 200,000 American combat soldiers be sent to Southeast Asia.