Tet Offensive The Tet Offensive was a military campaign during the Vietnam War that began on January 31, 1968. Regular and irregular forces of the People's Army of Vietnam fought against the forces of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the United States, and their allies. The operations are referred to as the Tet Offensive because they began during the early morning hours of 31 January 1968, Táº¿t NguyÃªn ÄÃ¡n, the first day of the year on a traditional lunar calendar and the most important Vietnamese holiday. Both North and South Vietnam announced on national radio broadcasts that there would be a two-day cease-fire during the holiday. In Vietnamese, the offensive is called Cuá»™c Tá»•ng tiáº¿n cÃ´ng vÃ ná»•i dáºy ("General Offensive and Uprising"), or Táº¿t Máºu ThÃ¢n (Tet, year of the monkey). The NLF launched a wave of attacks on the morning of 31 January in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam. This early attack did not, however, cause undue alarm or lead to widespread defensive measures. When the main NLF operation began the next morning, the offensive was countrywide in scope and well coordinated, with more than 80,000 communist troops striking more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital. The offensive was the largest military operation yet conducted by either side up to that point in the war. The initial attacks stunned the US and South Vietnamese armies and took them by surprise, but most were quickly contained and beaten back, inflicting massive casualties on communist forces. During the Battle of Hue intense fighting lasted for a month and the NLF executed thousands of residents in the Massacre at Huáº¿. Around the US combat base at Khe Sanh fighting continued for two more months. Although the offensive was a military defeat for the communists, it had a profound effect on the US government and shocked the US public, which had been led to believe by its political and military leaders that the communists were, due to previous defeats, incapable of launching such a massive effort. The term "Tet offensive" usually refers to the January-February 1968 NLF offensive, but it can also include the so-called "mini-Tet" offensives that took place in May and August. According to General Tráº§n VÄƒn TrÃ , the new military head of COSVN, the offensive was to have three distinct phases: Phase I, scheduled to begin on 31 January, was to be a country-wide assault on the cities conducted primarily by Vietcong forces. Concurrently, a propaganda offensive to induce ARVN troops to desert and the South Vietnamese population to rise up against the government would be launched. If outright victory was not achieved, the battle might still lead to the creation of a coalition government and the withdrawal of the Americans. If the general offensive failed to achieve these purposes, followup operations would be conducted to wear down the enemy and lead to a negotiated settlement; Phase II was scheduled to begin on 5 May; and Phase III on 17 August. Preparations for the offensive were already underway. The logistical build-up began in mid-year, and by January 1968, 81,000 tons of supplies and 200,000 troops, including seven complete infantry regiments and 20 independent battalions made the trip south on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This logistical effort also involved re-arming the Viet Cong with new AK-47 assault rifles and B-40 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, which granted them superior firepower over their less well-armed ARVN opponents. To pave the way and to confuse the allies as to its intentions, Hanoi launched a diplomatic offensive. Foreign Minister Trinh announced on 30 December that Hanoi would rather than could open negotiations if the U.S. unconditionally ended Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign against North Vietnam. This announcement provoked a flurry of diplomatic activity (which amounted to nothing) during the last weeks of the year. South Vietnamese and U.S. military intelligence estimated that communist forces in South Vietnam during January 1968 totaled 323,000 men, including 130,000 North Vietnamese regulars, 160,000 Viet Cong and members of the infrastructure, and 33,000 service and support troops. They were organized into nine divisions composed of 35 infantry and 20 artillery or anti-aircraft artillery regiments, which were, in turn, composed of 230 infantry and six sapper battalions.