View the H-War Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-War's January 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-War's January 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-War home page.
1. "Kuehn, John Dr CIV USA TRADOC" <email@example.com> 2. firstname.lastname@example.org 3. email@example.com 4. Mac McIntosh <firstname.lastname@example.org> -----Message from: "Kuehn, John Dr CIV USA TRADOC" <email@example.com>----- " The Tet Offensive, 1968. With the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong pulling off the greatest confidence trick by convincing the South Vietnamese Government, and their Allies that there was to be a Truce throughout South Viet Nam and neighbouring regions" Gordon Angus Mackinlay My own view is in part derivative from a book written several years ago by co-authors Douglas Brinkley and Ronald Drez, _Voices of Courage_ about Khe Sanh within the context of Tet. First let me say that I think Gordon has identified the deception correctly. However, many have an alternate view, or what I call The traditional position, advanced by Karnow and re-iterated in many other works ever since. In a nutshell, the all-wise and prescient Politburo in Hanoi decided that they would attack a remote Marine outpost near the DMZ, on the order of what they did at Dien Bien Phu--while a larger Khoi Nghia (general uprising), an aspect of Dau Tranh (armed struggle) occurred in the remainder of S.Vietnam, especially the urban areas. Final victory was to come from both social and military offensive action while the bulk of US combat power was pre-occupied with saving Khe Sanh. In this traditional narrative, MACV led by Westmoreland, took the bait and allowed the NVA, NLF and Vietcong to achieve a strategic victory, despite comprehensive operational and tactical military defeat, by convincing the US media, population and political leadership that final military victory in Vietnam was impossible. The only problem with much of this is the assumption that the NVA and the Politburo had ever anticipated defeat, either during Tet or at Khe Sanh. They sure seemed to believe they were winning when they took Hue. Brinkley, Drez, and others have proposed instead that Khe Sanh was the most important military objective. If all the other things failed military victory at Khe Sanh would still achieve victory over the United States in the same manner that occurred with the French 14 years earlier at Dien Bien Phu. However, the same might be said of Tet's other major military objectives (such as Hue)--winning at Khe Sanh would be irrelevant if one won everywhere else. But the NVA/NLF lost tactically (and I would argue operationally) in BOTH scenarios. Bottom line, the viewpoint, which I ascribe to, sees no deliberate operational or strategic deception in play at Khe Sanh. The offensive operations were all mutually supporting, but Khe Sanh was assigned the most precious assets that Ho and Giap had, ergo it was not a diversion, it was an all-important objective or what we call the main effort here at CGSC. Deception did occur during Tet as to its timing, as Gordon has noted. Tactical, operational and even strategic surprise were achieved in the launching of the offensive. However, once launched, the deception piece pretty much ended--at least at the operational and strategic levels. There has been considerable deception since in the rewriting of history to portray the prescience of the North Vietnamese political and military leadership (often the same people as one would expect in a Marxist state). However, I suspect they were as surprised by the results of Tet/Khe Sanh--unpleasantly at first--as the US and ARVN forces and leadership were. Only later, as the NVA continued its attacks into 1969 and attempted retrieve some measure of success did the Hanoi leadership realize the unanticipated dividend of victory--when the American polity (in all its complexity) decided once and for all that Vietnam was no longer worth such efforts. Thus the claim that this result was what Giap et al. had intended all along. To that I say, "Oh Really?" However, it is best for folks to make up their own minds, and James Willbanks' recent book revisiting this topic provides, I think, all the factual data for someone to make up their own mind. Vr, John John T. Kuehn, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Military History Curriculum Developer Department of Military History U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, KS "Kuehn, John Dr CIV USA TRADOC" <firstname.lastname@example.org> -----Message from: email@example.com----- Napoleon carefully studied the campaigns of Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, and not only admired but was greatly influenced by him. Turenne spent much of the 17th century leading one campaign after another, and was a master of deceit. Thomas Longueville, in his biography of Turenne, describes one instance (the quotes are from an earlier biography of Turenne by Andrew Michael Ramsey. "The next spring (1640) at Casal, a town a few miles to the north of Turin, Count d'Harcourt, with 10,000 men, defeated Leganez, the Spanish general, who had 20,000 ; and this battle is interesting, because it is the first instance we meet with of Turenne's wonderful skill in deceiving his enemies. At one moment of that battle, Harcourt was nearly sur- rounded and taken prisoner by the enemy's cavalry; but Turenne "immediately drew up all the cavalry of the army together so close in one single front that the enemy could not discern whether they were supported or not. Deceived by this disposition, their courage failed them, and they fled to the right and to the left. Turenne pursued them till night, took twelve pieces of cannon, six mortars, and the greatest part of their baggage ; 3,000 men were killed in the field of battle, 1 ,800 were made prisoners, great numbers were drowned in the Po, and the rest owed their safety to the night only." (Ramsay). "In the tactics of Turenne, deception of the enemy as to the numerical strength of his troops took a very prominent position. Among the maxims attributed to him are these : — "If your army be small, you must give it more front and less depth ; and let the same troops pass in the sight of the enemy several times ; widen your intervals, let your drums beat and your trumpets sound out of sight of the enemy, and where you have no troops. On the contrary, if you are strong, hide part of your troops behind some cover, and let your front be narrow, by giving depth to your regiments and drawing one or more in the rear of the other." And again, " To throw terror and consternation into the enemy's country, separate your troops into several bodies as secretly as you can, to execute several enter- prises at the same time. Let it be reported abroad that your troops are more numerous than they are, and to confirm this opinion let bodies of them appear in different places at the same time." Aaron Elson World War II Oral History @ audiomurphy.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com -----Message from: firstname.lastname@example.org----- The Professor has called attention to Tet as one example. This 1968 uprising by the Communist in Vietnam had been signaled in information for a couple of months and the US was aware something was brewing. Exactly what and when, had not been determined, just vague reports and awarness that something was planned. Tet actually happened at Christmas 1968. This is what caught the US off guard. Previous to that Christmas, the US and Ciommunist had informally, a 'truce' understanding which allowed for the holiday to be celebrated peacefully. This strike, 1968, not only violated that informal practice in the war but suggested, the Communist were equally capable of the form of treachery practiced at Pearl Harbor in 1941 by surprise attacks. This psychological shock was both an indication of the military abilities and the ability to deceive in time of war. Unfortuantely, the US had probably all but forgotten by 9-11 in New York and this also contributed to the success of that AQ attack. Wyatt Reader UCLA___Whittier College email@example.com -----Message from: Mac McIntosh <firstname.lastname@example.org>----- J. Bowyer Bell has written a very interesting article on the issue of war trickery. While he names many specific deception operations such as Operation Overlord, Plan Bodyguard, OperationFortitude's Quicksilver Plan , Army Group Patton etc. ; the article goes into far more detail about the deception cycle in all its stages. The article is titled : Toward a Theory of Deception. It was published in the Journal of Strategic Studies. Also Bell and Barton Whaley covered the same information in a 1991 book titled Cheating and Deception . Walter James McIntosh Bluff, New Zealand Mac McIntosh <email@example.com> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----