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DUTY, DUPLICITY, AND DESIGN
THE ARMY'S REACTION TO TET
by
Colonel Harry G. Summers Jr., USA (Ret.)

Debacle

"You know you never beat us on the battlefield," I said to my North Vietnamese Army (NVA) counterpart in Hanoi a week before the fall of Saigon. "That may be so," he replied, "but it is also irrelevant." His words applied not only to the war as a whole but to the 1968 Tet Offensive in particular. For the American military that offensive was a grand paradox. At the battlefield tactical level, the enemy was defeated and turned back at every turn without achieving any territorial gain. At the theater-of-war operational level, their Tong Cong Kich/Tong Khoi Ngia (General Offensive/General Uprising) campaign was an absolute failure. Not only did the South Vietnamese people fail to flock to their banners, the South Vietnamese military stood firm and their own Viet Cong guerrilla forces were so decimated that they ceased to be an effective fighting force for the remaining seven years of the war.1

But at the strategic level, the Tet Offensive was an unmitigated disaster for the United States. The American people saw it as a defeat and were confirmed in their belief, arrived at the previous October, that sending troops to Vietnam had been a mistake.2 Many believed that the media was responsible for turning a tactical and operational military victory into a strategic political defeat. But as the late Peter Braestrup argued in his classic account of media reporting on the Tet Offensive, that blame was misplaced. While some of the media reporting was distorted, the real reason for the debacle was the void created by President Lyndon Johnson's "psychological defeat." His two months of inaction after Tet allowed critics to define the terms of this perceived disaster.3

Deception and Design

A major reason for President Johnson's psychological defeat was that he had been ill served by his senior civilian and military advisors, including Secretaries of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Clark Clifford and General Earle Wheeler, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Particularly duplicitous was Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. By law the Secretary of Defense, not the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as most civilians assume, is the military's "general-in-chief." As such he is in direct command of all U.S. armed forces in the field.

That command places an enormous demand on his will and his strength of character. As the great military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz emphasized in 1832, anyone can lead when all is going well. But when disaster strikes, everything "comes to rest on the will of the commander alone." It is his spirit that "must rekindle the flame of purpose in all others." If he cannot, "the mass will drag him down to the brutish world where danger is shirked and shame is unknown." As Clausewitz concludes, "the higher the position, the greater the strength of character he needs to bear the mounting load."4

But McNamara proved to be a man of no character whatsoever. Although President Johnson had charged him with winning the war, McNamara betrayed him and the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines under his command from the outset. During his testimony in the 1984 CBS-Westmoreland libel trial, McNamara said that he had come to the belief as early as 1965 or 1966 that the war "could not be won militarily."5 That belief, however, did not prevent him from sending thousands of American men and women-myself included-into harms way in Vietnam and getting many of them killed in a war that he did not believe was winnable. To add insult to injury, in an August 3, 1992 Newsweek article he bragged that while he was sending the troops into battle he was schmoozing with the leaders of the anti-war movement to show what a sensitive and politically correct guy he had been.

The magnitude of McNamara's failings is revealed by comparing him with his counterpart, North Vietnam's Defense Secretary Vo Nguyen Giap. Where McNamara admits that his will to win was broken before the war even started, Giap's long-range strategy "was to continue to bleed the Americans until they agreed to a settlement that satisfied the Hanoi regime. . . . For him, "the Tet Offensive was not intended to be a decisive operation but one episode in a protracted war that might last 'five, ten, or twenty years'."6 While the United States was far superior to North Vietnam in the quantifiable physical dimensions of war so beloved by McNamara and his number-crunching "whiz kids," because of his lack of will we were outclassed completely in war's more important moral dimension that was not susceptible to their computer analysis.

In his 1995 apologia, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of the Vietnam War, McNamara made what former Senator Eugene McCarthy called a "Presbyterian confession" (i.e., absolving himself while blaming everyone else) for his sins in Vietnam. But this time his schmoozing fell on deaf ears. "His regret cannot be huge enough to balance the books for our dead soldiers," editorialized the New York Times on April 12, 1995. "The ghosts of those unlived lives circle around Mr. McNamara. Surely he must in every quiet and prosperous moment hear the ceaseless whispers of those poor boys in the infantry, dying in the tall grass, platoon by platoon, for no purpose. What he took from them cannot be repaid by prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades later."

A month after the Tet Offensive began, McNamara resigned as secretary of defense. Unfortunately his successor, Washington lobbyist Clark Clifford, was no improvement. Although a longtime Johnson crony, he too betrayed the president. In his 1991 memoir, Counsel to the President, Clifford admits that he was brought in because Johnson wanted "a secretary of defense who supported his policy." As retired Colonel Lewis Sorely noted in his review of Clifford's book in the September 1991 issue of Army, "Clifford set about ensuring that . . . American involvement in the war and American support for the South Vietnamese would be progressively and inexorably eroded. What is more significant he did this not in furtherance of his president's policy and direction but in defiance of it, forcing the president into one untenable position after another and ultimately usurping the role of commander-in-chief."

As Sorely concludes, "It is one thing to seek to influence the formulation of policy, quite another to faithlessly undermine that policy once formulated. Clifford represents himself as being very proud in doing the latter."

Sadly, the advice and support the president received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) was no better. As I related earlier in my "Turning Point of the War," in a February 1993 piece in Vietnam, "While the chiefs of staff did not consciously betray their commander-in-chief, neither did they provide him with the kind of straight-forward military advice to which he was rightfully entitled."

As then Army Vice Chief of Staff General Bruce Palmer wrote, "The JCS seemed to be unable to articulate an effective military strategy that they could persuade the commander-in-chief and secretary of defense to adopt." As he goes on to say, "There was one glaring omission in the advice the JCS provided. Not once during the war did the JCS advise . . . that the strategy being pursued most probably would fail and the United States would be unable to achieve its objectives.

The only explanation of this failure," Palmer concludes, "is that the chiefs were imbued with the 'can do' spirit and could not bring themselves to make such a negative statement or to appear to be disloyal."7

Far from rallying to the president's support at Tet, the Joint Chiefs further undermined his will and resolve. Instead of convincing LBJ that things were not as bad as they seemed, they used the enemy attack as a pretext for pushing for mobilization of the reserves to shore up America's depleted strategic reserves. From their perspective, the deception appeared justified. As General Palmer noted, the JCS had earlier "lost control of the overall strategic direction of the American armed forces as the burgeoning force demands of Southeast Asia quickly consumed the strategic reserve of forces in the United States previously earmarked for the reinforcement of Europe or Korea, or for an unforeseen contingency elsewhere."8

With the Tet crisis coinciding with the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo and with intelligence reports indicating a developing crisis in Berlin, "the administration could not be certain," wrote retired Colonel Herbert Y. Schandler, that these events did not represent a concerted Communist offensive designed to embarrass and defeat the United States not only in Vietnam but elsewhere in the world." With that threat in mind, says Schandler, JCS Chairman General Earle Wheeler and the chiefs of staff "saw Tet as an opportunity to force the president's hand and achieve their long-sought goal of a mobilization of the reserves." To that end they "elaborately solicited an 'emergency' request for reinforcements from a supposedly beleaguered field commander."9

Thus by design General Wheeler and the JCS set out to deceive not only the president and the secretary of defense, but also their military commander in the field, General William C. Westmoreland, Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (COMUSMACV). Westmoreland was led to believe that "the administration was ready to abandon the strategy of gradualism it had been pursuing and perhaps allow him the troops and authority he had long wanted in order to end the war in a reasonable timeframe." For his part, Westmoreland "envisaged a new approach to the war that would take timely advantage of the enemy's apparent weakness, for whereas our setback on the battlefield was temporary, the situation for him as it developed during February indicated that the enemy's setbacks were, for him, traumatic."10

But General Wheeler had his own agenda. In his report to Clark Clifford, the new Secretary of Defense, Wheeler "emphasized the gravity of the situation in South Vietnam and said nothing about a new strategy, about contingencies that would determine the level of forces required there, or about reconstituting the strategic reserve for possible use independent of Vietnam." Instead, "his report contained a very somber and pessimistic picture of the South Vietnamese government and army."11

Secretary Clifford was shaken by what he heard. As he later told Schandler, "Wheeler's report had really ominous overtones to it. It seemed to me he was saying that the whole situation was a precarious one, and that we had to have additional troops. I thought (and everyone did) that he was saying he needed 206,000 additional troops in Vietnam. Whatever the reasons, he made a case for 206,000 more men. He came back [from a February 1968 visit to Saigon] with a story that was frightening. We didn't know if we would get hit again, many South Vietnamese units had disappeared; the place might fall apart politically."12

Westmoreland had been set up. In stressing the negative aspects of the situation in Vietnam, General Wheeler "saw Tet and the reaction to it as an opportunity, perhaps the last opportunity, to convince the administration to call up the reserve forces and to reconstitute a military capability within the United States that would allow some military flexibility to meet other contingencies. Vietnam was the excuse but was not necessarily to be the major beneficiary of a call-up of reserve forces."13

But General Wheeler had been too clever by half. Instead of precipitating a reserve call-up as he had intended, his duplicity backfired and unwittingly gave what would prove to be the coup de grace to American involvement in Vietnam. When President Johnson was briefed on Wheeler's report, he told Defense Secretary Clifford to conduct a major re-evaluation of the war. "Give me the lesser of evils," he said.14

Unfortunately, what he got was evil itself. Before the re-evaluation even began, the troop request was leaked to the press by a disgruntled official. As Lieutenant Colonel (later Lieutenant General) Dave Palmer related in Summons of the Trumpet, his landmark 1978 analysis of the war, the news broke in headlines spread across three columns of the Sunday edition of the 10 March 1968 New York Times. "Looked upon erroneously but understandably by readers as a desperate move to avert defeat, news of the request for 206,000 men confirmed the suspicions of many that the result of the Tet Offensive had not been depicted accurately by the president or his spokesmen. If the Communists had suffered such a grievous setback, why would we need to increase our forces by 40 percent?"

"It was too much. The public rebelled. From that moment on the majority of Americans no longer supported the president in his conduct of the fighting." As Dave Palmer concluded, "the nation and its president had received a wrenching psychological defeat, had suffered a galling defeat of the very soul. That the defeat was largely self-inflicted made it no less real or crippling."15

Duty

The contrast between the duplicity and design of the senior civilian and military advisors to the president in Washington during the Tet Offensive, and the dedication to duty of those doing the fighting could not have been more stark. As far as the Army was concerned, three senior generals were key to the enemy's defeat-General William C. Westmoreland, Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Lieutenant General Fred C. Weyand, the commander of II Field Force Vietnam, who fought the battle for Saigon during Tet 1968, and Lieutenant General Creighton Abrams, the Deputy COMUSMACV, who was sent north to command the effort to recapture Hue. Unlike General Wheeler, an Army bureaucrat who had never heard a shot fired in anger, all were front-line combat veterans of World War II and Westmoreland and Weyand were also combat veterans of Korea. All would subsequently serve as Army Chief of Staff after their assignment in Vietnam.

Of the three, by far the most controversial was General Westmoreland, who many blamed unfairly for our loss of the war. As recently as 1998 he was being castigated for his actions during the Tet Offensive. Earlier that year Bright Shining Lie, an HBO movie based on the life of John Paul Vann, severely distorted General Westmorelands' actions during the 1968 Tet Offensive and accused him of attempting to thwart General Weyand's efforts to defend against that attack.

But in his critique of that movie, Weyand himself called that characterization "shameful." The pre-Tet briefing by Westmoreland as depicted "is totally fictitious," says Weyand. "He certainly did not order me to move my units north immediately prior to Tet [and] was in total agreement in bringing my units back around Saigon. To my knowledge he never denied me anything I asked of him. The film version continues to malign a brave and courageous man who understood the war in all its complexities. . . . Considering his overall responsibilities, Westy looked at the war from a different perspective than I did with my attention focused almost entirely on the II Field Force area. [i.e., III and IV Corps and the Capital Military Region]. He had two wars to fight-the terroristic Viet Cong on the one hand and the North Vietnamese conventional forces on the other."16

It was Westmoreland's concentration on that "other war" that drew him the most flak. Critics are still arguing about the Tet Offensive's center of gravity. Were the border clashes that preceded Tet an attempt by the enemy to fake U.S. forces away from the population centers and increase their vulnerability to attack, as many critics still claim, or were the attacks on the cities themselves a diversion, with the real prizes being the two northern provinces of South Vietnam, Quang Tri and Thua Tien? Westmoreland addressed that question in an article in a February 1993 issue of Vietnam.

"I believed then, and I continue to believe," he wrote, "that the 'General Uprising' was in reality a feint, a secondary attack. Like any secondary attack, if it had succeeded, so much the better, and the enemy would have reinforced it for all that it was worth. But the General Uprising did not succeed. The main effort continued to be directed elsewhere, and that was to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. Some have claimed that the enemy instigated a series of border fights, Khe Sanh in particular, to draw my forces away from the cities. I believe the opposite was true. The attack on the cities, and the earlier attacks at Loc Ninh in III Corps in October 1967 and Dak To in II Corps in November 1967 were designed strategically to divert our attention away from the vulnerable northern provinces of I Corps."

"I knew that if the enemy was willing to accept the catastrophic losses that would surely ensue, he might well get into the towns and cities, since no impenetrable breastworks surrounded them. I also knew it would be impossible for the enemy to hold them. If that was to be his main attack, it was doomed to certain defeat from the start."

" The most logical course for the enemy, it seemed to me, was to make a strong effort to overrun the two northern provinces while at the same time launching lesser attacks throughout the country to try to tie down American forces that might be moved to reinforce northern South Vietnam, the most vulnerable part of the country. Although the enemy could cause trouble in other areas, it was only in the north that I saw a possibility of other than temporary enemy success."

"As I anticipated, the enemy's main attack was centered on the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. There the two major battles of the Tet Offensive developed, at the old imperial capital at Hue in Thua Tien province and at the Marine base at Khe Sanh in Quang Tri province. . . . Unlike the fighting further south, the enemy reinforced its initial success by committing the NVA 5th and 324B Divisions into the ensuing battle. A further indication that the northern provinces were the focus of the enemy's main attack was the formation in Hue of a revolutionary government."

At the tactical and operational levels of war, Westmoreland had correctly gauged the enemy's intentions and had successfully frustrated them. But, as discussed earlier, at the strategic level in Washington, chaos reigned. "On March 31, 1968," Westmoreland noted, "just as the enemy's offensive petered out, President Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection, which was interpreted by many as a loss in national will. . . . Despite the valiant sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, we had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."17

Fortunately for General Westmoreland, his MACV headquarters at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in the suburbs of Saigon remained secure throughout the entire attack, as did the headquarters of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) Joint General Staff which was also located here. But it was a near thing. "On January 10, 1968," he wrote, "Lt. General Fred C. Weyand, the commander of [the corps-level] II Field Force, concluded that the enemy in III Corps zone was attempting to shift away from his border sanctuaries toward the population centers, including Saigon. Weyand thought I should cancel the preemptive border attacks in his area of responsibility that had been planned for the dry season. His information reinforced doubts that had been rising in my own mind, and I ordered the projected attacks cancelled so that American troops would be better able to react to enemy moves."18 That decision was one of the most critical of the Vietnam War.

The penetration of the walls of the U.S. Embassy in downtown Saigon by a VC sapper squad at the outset of the Tet Offensive was militarily insignificant, but it send shock waves across the United States. If the U.S. and South Vietnamese military headquarters at Tan Son Nhut had been overrun, it would have been catastrophic. The enemy planned to do just that, as they launched 35 battalions from their 5th, 7th, and 9th VC Divisions against the Saigon defenses, with the nerve center at Tan Son Nhut Air Base as their major prize.

If the original campaign plan had been carried out, Weyand would have had only 14 U.S. infantry, armor, and cavalry maneuver battalions within what Washington Post war correspondent Don Oberdorfer called the "Saigon circle," a 45 kilometer or 29 mile circle anchored on Saigon containing three-quarters of the people of III Corps tactical zone and nearly all of the important military and government headquarters. His other 39 maneuver battalions would have been deployed to the border regions. But thanks to his earlier suspicions, and with General Westmoreland's approval, General Weyand had 27 battalions within the Saigon circle ready to meet the attack.

At 0300 on 31 January 1968 the enemy attack began with the explosion of the ammunition dump next to Weyand's II Field Force headquarters at Long Binh north of Saigon. Between 0300 and 0500, Oberdorfer reported, Weyand "ordered nearly 5,000 mechanized and airborne troops into battle. . . . Mostly to defend United States installations at Long Binh, Bien Hoa Air Base and Tan Son Nhut Air Base."19 The most critical of those battles, perhaps the most critical of the Vietnam War, was the repulse of the enemy attack on Tan Son Nhut. The enemy main assault came from the west. Two VC battalions had infiltrated the city and staged at the Vinatexco cotton mill just outside the air base perimeter. Their initial attack was delayed by Air Force Security Police and two South Vietnamese airborne companies, but they were not strong enough to halt the advance.

At dawn, however, the enemy force was struck on the flank by the 25th Infantry Division's C Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, which on General Weyand's orders had moved overland from its base camp at Cu Chi, some 25 miles to the northwest. They had been guided into their attack position by flares dropped from his helicopter by their squadron commander, Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Glenn Otis.

"Armored vehicles fighting infantry in the open can do frightful damage," noted Professor Eric M. Bergerud in his history of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, "and C Troop did. But they were in over their heads. Their opponents were armed to the teeth with antitank weapons and they greatly outnumbered the Americans. After fierce fighting, C Troop was nearly destroyed." With his A Troop pinned down by an NVA unit, Otis ordered his B Troop to reinforce C Troop. They attacked on line and broke the back of the enemy attack. "We can see in retrospect," Bergerud writes, "that the first day's actions, repeated by other U.S. and South Vietnamese units around Saigon, doomed the [enemy's] attack on the capital."20

"Except at Hue and Khe Sanh," said General Westmoreland, "most of the combat that could be considered part of the Tet Offensive was over by February 11, a fortnight after it began. All towns and cities south of the two northern provinces had been cleared. While sporadic fighting continued around Saigon, survival of the South Vietnamese capital was no longer in question."21 For that, Westmoreland had General Fred Weyand, "the savior of Saigon," to thank. A modest man, Weyand rejects that title. "The orders may have come from my headquarters," he said 25 years later, "but the 'saving of Saigon' was done by the men who laid their lives on the line and fought the battles."22

As was discussed earlier, General Westmoreland believed the Tet Offensive's main attack would come at Khe Sanh and Hue in the two northern provinces of I Corps, then under the control of the corp-level III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) commanded by Marine Lieutenant General Robert E. Cushman, Jr. Shortly after the Tet Offensive began, Westmoreland dispatched his deputy, General Creighton Abrams, to establish a forward MACV headquarters in I Corps and take overall command of the battle. Establishing his headquarters at Phu Bai near Hue, Abrams directed the redeployment of the some 45,000 Army reinforcements, including the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and elements of the 101st Airborne Division.

According to his biographer, "Abrams was direct in the steps he took to get on with the war. He brought in 8-inch artillery, the only weapon that could penetrate the thick walls of the old Citadel in the heart of Hue, the last position held by tenacious enemy forces. And he issued some very strong and very specific instructions to Cushman at III MAF. "I recognize the efforts being made by all concerned to reduce the siege of Hue," he said. "However I consider the measures taken so far to be inadequate and not in consonance with the urgency of the problem, or the resources you command."

"Then he spelled out what he wanted done: give the forces fighting within the city exclusive priority for fires of the 8-inch guns, priority of air support, and of necessary gunship and aerial rocket artillery support-even at the expense of other areas. . . . As any experienced field commander would immediately recognize, that kind of detailed instruction revealed a very high degree of dissatisfaction with the way Cushman had been running the operation."23

The subsequent battles at Hue and Khe Sanh were primarily Marine Corps affairs, and I will leave the discussion of those battles, as well as the defense of General Cushman and III MAF in the capable hands of the Marine Corps Historical Center's Dr. Jack Shulimson, whose U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Defining Year 1968 has just been released. Suffice it to say here that by 25 February, the enemy had been cleared from Hue and the offensive in I Corps ended. MACV Forward was disbanded on 10 March and Abrams returned to Saigon, leaving the Army forces there under a new headquarters, "Provisional Corps Vietnam" (later XXIV Corps) subordinate to III MAF.

Conclusion

These three generals would have a major impact on the Army for almost the next decade. On 1 July 1968, General Abrams would replace General Westmoreland as COMUSMACV and Westmoreland would return to Washington to become Army Chief of Staff. In June 1972, General Weyand would replace General Abrams as COMUSMACV and Abrams in turn would return to Washington to replace Westmoreland as Army Chief of Staff. After the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1973 under the terms of the Paris "Peace" Accords, General Weyand would also return to Washington to become Army Vice Chief of Staff, replacing General Abrams as Army Chief of Staff after Abrams' tragic death in office in September 1974.

During their tours, they would be instrumental not only in pulling the Army up by its bootstraps as it withdrew from Vietnam, but also of ensuring no "stab-in-the-back" syndrome developed after the war. General Westmoreland in particular took the heat from the Army officer corps for "losing the war in Vietnam." While that was manifestly unfair, he did his nation a great service by deflecting that animosity from the politicians and the American people, thus avoiding the tragedy that plagued Weimar Germany after World War I and France after the withdrawal from Algeria.

Indeed, it can be argued in retrospect that General Westmoreland won his war. Sent out in 1964 to wage a counterinsurgency campaign against the Viet Cong guerrillas, he accomplished that mission, albeit through the enemy's own miscalculations. When the VC emerged from cover to spark a supposed "General Uprising," they suffered devastating losses from which they never recovered. When Westmoreland left Vietnam in July 1968, the Viet Cong were a spent force. For the remaining seven years, the war would be waged primarily by North Vietnamese regulars.

When the North Vietnamese entered Saigon on 30 April 1975, noted the late William Colby, the former head of the pacification program in Vietnam and former Director of the CIA, "an NBC camera crew caught one of the most significant pictures of the event. It filmed a huge North Vietnamese tank with its monstrous cannon as it broke open the gates of the Presidential Palace. The people's war was over, not by the work of a barefoot guerrilla but by the most conventional of military forces. . . . The ultimate irony was that the soldier's war, which the United States had insisted on fighting during the 1960s with massive military force was finally won by the enemy."24


ENDNOTES

1 By the Easter Offensive of 1972, NVA regulars accounted for about 90% of the day-to-day combat. See Douglas Pike, PAVN: People's Army of Vietnam (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1986), 49.

2 After supporting the war for some 31 months, American public opinion turned against the war in October 1967. While 44% still supported the U.S. involvement, 46% of those polled believed sending troops there had been a mistake. See John E. Mueller, War, Presidents and Public Opinion (New York: Wiley, 1973).

3 See Peter Braestrup, Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1994), 471.

4 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Michael Howard and Peter Paret, eds. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 104-105.

5 M.A. Farber, "McNamara Discusses War at CBS Libel Trial," New York Times, December 7, 1984.

6 Vo Nguyen Giap, quoted in Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History (New York: Viking, 1983), 536.

7 See Bruce Palmer, The Twenty-Five Year War (New York: Touchstone Books, 1984), 45-46.

8 Ibid., 45.

9 Herbert Schandler, The Unmaking of the President: Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), 101.

10 Ibid., 106.

11 Ibid., 111.

12 Ibid., 119.

13 Ibid., 115-116.

14 Ibid., 120.

15 Dave Palmer, Summons of the Trumpet: US-Vietnam in Perspective (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1978), 206.

16 FAX, General Fred Weyand, 2 June 1998.

17 General William C. Westmoreland, "Perspectives: What Did the North Vietnamese hope to gain with their 1968 Tet Offensive? Were they after the cities, or more?" Vietnam, Feb 1993, 62-70.

18 Ibid., 64.

19 Don Oberdorfer, Tet! (New York: DaCapo Press, 1984), 138-40.

20 For a detailed account of the Tan Son Nhut battle, see Eric M. Bergerud, Red Thunder, Tropic Lightning: The World of a Combat Division in Vietnam (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993),

170-77.

21 Westmoreland, op cite, 68.

22 Letter to the author, 22 Aug 1992. See also Harry Summers, "Personality: The Viet Cong counted on surprise for their seizure of Saigon, but General Fred C. Weyand saw them coming," Vietnam, Feb 1993, 8, 71-74.

23 Lewis Sorley, Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 213-18. See also Brigadier General Zeb B. Bradford, USA (Ret.), "With Creighton Abrams During Tet," Vietnam, Feb 1998, 42-49.

24 William Colby, Lost Victory (Chicago: Contemporary Books), 354-55.


23 September 2003