In this blog post I decided to go into the upcoming of the Tet Offensive. This is a critical change in America’s viewpoint on the war. Before Tet Americans truly believed we would win the war and it was about over. After Tet that belief flipped; they no longer thought we could win the war and they believed it wasn’t about over anytime soon.
I recently found an article from the Schenectady Gazette newspaper on December 27, 1967 titled “’Greta Progress’ Noted by Westmoreland in Vietnam War in 1967.” General Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, commented on the year of 1967 as a year of “great progress.” The paper goes into statistics about causalities. The enemy had lost 80,000 troops in the year of 1967. Allied forces combined had suffered 20,000 losses, U.S. accounts for 9,002 of them. Compared to the communist losses, these are minimal numbers.
Westmoreland quotes in the paper, “However, I believe the best measure that I know of progress that has been made during 1967 is the improved attitude of the people. They have an attitude of optimism. Everywhere I go I note a feeling of encouragement. This did not exist to the same extent a year ago.”
Later in the article they talk about how Westmoreland and the military has basically figured out the enemies strategy and they don’t plan on it to change. Communist tactics have “been unchanged since they decided to take over South Vietnam by fore. From time to time they emphasize guerrilla action at the expense of main force action.” To me this is a huge advantage. By saying this it signifies that we have completely figured out how the enemy works to the point we can almost predict it. The fact is we didn’t. The Viet Cong was very smart and versatile.
The paper is very optimistic of the U.S. military progress. If I were an American at the time, I would believe that we were kicking butt and taking names. To add to the belief that we are about to end the war with sure firepower the article reads, “Westmoreland also noted the strength of the South Vietnamese armed forces will be increased in 1968 and said the regulars will be given more modern equipment, including the U.S. M19 rifle. The Saigon government expects to add 60,000 men to the 700,000 or so now in its military establishment.” Westmoreland quotes towards the end of the article that he is very confident in the progress that the South Vietnam government has made. The Tet offensive is right around the corner and brings an unwanted surprise to the Americans.