North Vietnamese forces attacked south Vietnam one year after the original tet offensive to test the will of President richard Nixon
The Tet Offensive of 1968 was one of the largest campaigns of the Vietnam War, and although it was a military defeat for North Vietnam, the offensive caused heavy casualties and shocked the US government and public. What is less well known is that the North Vietnamese repeated their offensive in Februarymarch 1969.
The North Vietnamese considered ‘Tet 1969’ to be a test of the resolve of the newly inaugurated president Richard Nixon, who had promised to de-escalate the war in Vietnam. From 22 February 1969, NVA and Viet Cong forces conducted a series of 125 sapper attacks and 400 artillery and rocket bombardments against military targets in South Vietnam.
Tet 1969’s concentrated, small-scale attacks included strikes against military targets near Saigon and Da Nang. However, there were a few risky operations to seize and hold ground, such as the Siege of Hue or the assault on the US Embassy in Saigon the previous year. American and South Vietnamese forces repulsed the offensive, but they suffered 2,640 fatalities during almost a month of fighting.
As a result of Tet 1969, Nixon concluded that North Vietnam had no interest in de-escalating the war to reach an honourable settlement with the United States. The offensive also convinced him that attacking communist sanctuaries in Cambodia would provide the best security for South Vietnam against North Vietnamese aggression.
From March 1969, Cambodia was subjected to US airstrikes, which destabilised the country and intensified the antiwar movement in America. Nixon would later write that the greatest mistake of his presidency was not intensively bombing North Vietnam in the wake of Tet 1969.
Richard Nixon’s controversial escalation of the Vietnam War into Cambodia was a direct result of Tet 1969 A marine carries a shredded Viet Cong flag after an attack west of Da Nang