The Tet Offensive and the Media
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Communist Party: evaluation of the Tet Offensive (1968)

The Tet Offensive were a series of coordinanted attacks  by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army which began January 30, 1968 on the night of the Lunar New Year. While militarily considered a failure, the overall effect was to present a serious psychological impact against the United States and Southern Vietnamese forces in Vietnam as well as create more doubt in the minds of those on the homefront in the United States. This document is a report on the actions of the Tet Offensive by a member of the North Vietnamese leadership.

I. Great and unprecedented successes recorded in all fields during the first-month phase of the General Offensive and General Uprising.

Since the beginning of Spring this year, the "Anti-U.S. National Salvation" resistance war of our people in the South has entered a new phase:

In this phase of General Offensive and General Uprising, after a month of continuous offensives and simultaneous uprisings conducted on all battlefields in the South, we have recorded great and unprecedented victories in all fields, inflicting on the enemy heavier losses than those he had suffered in any previous period.

1. We wore down, annihilated and disintegrated almost one-third of the puppet troops' strength, wore down and annihilated about one-fifth of U.S. combat forces, one-third of the total number of aircraft, one-third of the total number of mechanized vehicles, and an important part of U.S. and puppet material installations; destroyed and forced to surrender or withdraw one-third of the enemy military posts, driving the enemy into an unprecedentedly awkward situation: from the position of the aggressor striving to gain the initiative through a two-prong tactic [military action and rural pacification], the enemy has withdrawn into a purely passive and defensive position, with his forces dispersed on all battlefields in the South for the purpose of defending the towns, cities and the main lines of cornmunications. The struggle potential and morale of U.S. and puppet troops have seriously weakened because our army and people have dealt thundering blows at them everywhere, even at their principal lairs, and because they are facing great difficulties in replenishing troops and replacing war facilities destroyed during the past month.

2. We attacked all U.S.-puppet nerve centers, occupied and exerted our control for a definite period and at varying degrees over almost all towns, cities and municipalities in the South, and destroyed and disintegrated an important part of puppet installations at all levels, seriously damaging the puppet administrative machinery.

3. We liberated additional wide areas in the countryside containing a population of 1.5 million inhabitants; consolidated and widened our rear areas, shifted immense resources of manpower and material, which had been previously robbed by the enemy in these areas, to the support of the front-line and of victory; encircled and isolated the enemy, and reduced the enemy's reserves of human and material resources, driving him into a very difficult economic and financial situation.

4. We have quantitatively and qualitatively improved our armed forces and political forces which have become outstandingly mature during the struggle in the past month. Our armed forces have progressed in many aspects, political organizations are being consolidated and have stepped forward, much progress has been realized in leadership activities and methods and we have gained richer experiences.

The above-mentioned great and unprecedented successes in all fields have strongly encouraged and motivated compatriots in towns and cities and areas under temporary enemy control to arise to seize the state power, have created a lively and enthusiastic atmosphere and inspired a strong confidence in final victory among compatriots in both the North and the South. These successes have moreover won the sympathy and support of the socialist countries and the world's progressive people (including the U.S. progressive people) for our people's revolutionary cause, seriously isolated the U.S. imperialists and their lackeys, deepened their internal contradictions and thereby weakened the U.S. will of aggression.The above-mentioned great successes in all fields have been recorded thanks to the clear-sighted and correct policy, line and strategic determination of the Party, the wise and resolute leadership of the Party Central Committee, the correct implementation of the Party's policy and line by Nam Truong and Party committee echelons, the sacrifice and devotion of all Party cadres and members who have in an exemplary manner carried out the Party's strategic determination, the eagerness for independence and freedom of the people in the South who are ready to shed their blood in exchange for independence and freedom, the absolute loyalty to the Party's and masses' revolution of the People's armed forces who have fought with infinite courage, the great assistance from the northern rear area and brotherly socialist countries, and the sympathy and support from the world people.

We have won great successes but still have many deficiencies and weak points:

1. In the military field—From the beginning, we have not been able to annihilate much of the enemy's live force and much of the reactionary clique. Our armed forces have not fulfilled their role as "lever" and have not created favorable conditions for motivating the masses to arise in towns and cities.

2. In the political field—Organized popular forces were not broad and strong enough. We have not had specific plans for motivating the masses to the extent that they would indulge in violent armed uprisings in coordination with and supporting the military offensives.

3. The puppet troop proselyting failed to create a military revolt movement in which the troops would arise and return to the people's side. The enemy troop proselyting task to be carried out in coordination with the armed struggle and political struggle has not been performed, and inadequate attention had been paid to this in particular.

4. There has not been enough consciousness about specific plans for the widening and development of liberated rural areas and the appropriate mobilization of manpower, material resources and the great capabilities of the masses to support the front line.

5. The building of real strength and particularly the replenishment of troops and development of political forces of the infrastructure has been slow and has not met the requirements of continuous offensives and uprisings of the new phase.

6. In providing leadership and guidance to various echelons, we failed to give them a profound and thorough understanding of the Party's policy, line and strategic determination so that they have a correct and full realization of this phase of General Offensive and General Uprising. The implementation of our policies has not been sharply and closely conducted. We lacked concreteness, our plans were simple, our coordination poor, control and prodding were absent, reporting and requests for instructions were much delayed.

The above-mentioned deficiencies and weak points have limited our successes and are, at the same time, difficulties which we must resolutely overcome.

II. The present form of the war between the enemy and us and prospects of future developments.

1. Our present "Anti-U.S. National Salvation" resistance war has a very new form and is more favorable to us than ever.

a. We are in a completely active and offensive position; we have brought the war into towns and cities, the enemy's rear areas and important and densely populated areas close to towns and cities; our rear areas have increasingly expanded to form a strong, linked-up position which gradually and tightly encircles the enemy's last strong points. Throughout the three areas, the masses have continuously risen up and strengthened their position of mastery with a higher and higher revolutionary spirit. In towns and cities particularly, in the face of the enemy's recent murderous and savage actions against the people, including puppet troops' and civil servants' dependents, the masses, boiling with anger, have been supporting our troops and awaiting favorable occasions to arise, eradicating wicked [enemy] individuals, sweeping the enemy's state power, and building the people's revolutionary state power. All intermediary classes of people are leaning toward the revolution's side.

b. The enemy is in a passive position, being encircled, divided and dispersed on all battlefields. He is facing difficulties in all aspects such as: a stalemate in strategy; passiveness in tactics; difficulties in replenishing troops and replacing war facilities which had been destroyed; difficulties in the economic field because of the restriction of their reserve of manpower and material resources. Because of their serious isolation in the political field and the state of confusion of the puppet army, the puppet regime is gradually losing authority and running toward total failure.

2. Although the enemy is suffering heavy defeat and is in a passive and confused situation, he still has strength and is very stubborn. In his death throes he will resort to more murderous and savage actions. He will massacre the people, thrust out to break the encirclement and create many new difficulties for us. The struggle between the enemy and us will become fiercer, particularly in areas adjoining the towns and cities. Therefore, we must be extremely vigilant, urgently and actively exploit our past successes, overcome all difficulties and hardships with determination to secure final victory and be ready to fight vigorously should the war be prolonged and widened.

However, it must be clearly realized that this will be but the enemy's convulsions before death, his reaction from a weak, not a strong position. The situation will continue to develop in a way favorable to us and detrimental to the enemy with the possibility of sudden developments which we must be ready to take advantage of in order to secure final victory.

 

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