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‘Live Nobly, Die Gloriously’: The Battle for Saigon—Tet 1968

  • Frank Leith Jones
Chapter

Abstract

In January 1968, the North Vietnamese Politburo and the National Liberation Front, known as the Viet Cong, launched the Tet Offensive. The capture of South Vietnam’s capital, Saigon, was key. If Viet Cong units could capture the city, it would demonstrate to US and South Vietnamese leaders that the war was unwinnable. This essay separates the longstanding myth from the actual events of the battle within the larger campaign. The Viet Cong suffered a significant tactical defeat partly due to inadequate planning, overreliance on surprise and miscalculation of the political situation in the city. However, US and South Vietnam forces deserve credit for acting decisively on incomplete intelligence, conducting effective counterattacks, and taking advantage, as Clausewitz underscores, of that fickle element of war known as chance.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Leith Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of National Security and StrategyU.S. Army War CollegeCarlisleUSA

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